How To Plan A Last-Minute Trip To Red River, New Mexico

When you are considering possible destination spots for those spontaneous getaways, you will definitely need to keep Red River, New Mexico at the front of your list. As a resort town nestled in the scenic mountains of the Southwest, you have an endless amount of possibilities for vacation activities. From festivals to skiing to hiking to road-tripping, there is something for everyone at any time in this gem of a spot. To make the most of a visit, you may want to consider the following:

1. Consider the time of year.

Fortunately, Red River, New Mexico is an optimal place to visit, regardless of the season. This makes this resort town the ideal candidate for a last-minute stop. If you are planning a summer trip, then you will certainly want to take advantage of any one of the festivals that take place during the hottest part of the year. With the Arts and Wine Festival in June and the Dulcimer Festival, Chili Festival and so on and so forth, there is bound to be something going on no matter when you find yourself with a little extra time.

Summer and Fall play host to a beautiful backdrop, perfect for camping and geocaching while the winter months, of course, offer some excellent opportunities in the world of snow sports, including prime skiing.

2. Decide whether you want to be in nature, or in a resort setting. Or both!

The beauty in choosing Red River, New Mexico as your destination spot is that there are excellent choices for the avid naturist as well as options for those who enjoy a more luxurious setting. With hiking, camping, geocaching, horseback riding, skiing, and fishing activities around every bend, those who enjoy the outdoors will not be disappointed. The key to taking advantage of Red River’s beautiful scenery is to pack the correct gear, whether it be fishing rods, hiking shoes, tents or skis. Thankfully, if you forget to pack the necessities, you will likely find some excellent rental shop options.

If you are looking for something more relaxing, consider the historical tours, spa settings or the many culinary festivals available year-round. The key is to check ahead of time. An excellent place to start is with the Chamber of Commerce or a local hotel or resort. The locals should be able to point you in the right direction.

3. Check the surrounding area. And don’t forget the music festivals!

Red River, New Mexico offers some excellent day trip destinations. One big tip is to book your stay at a hotel or resort spot in Red River and then take a look at a few of the many day trips available for an adventure. The festivals are never-ending, as well. With the Songwriter’s Festival, Oktoberfest, Dulcimer Festival, Fourth of July Celebration, Bluegrass Festival, and Red River Folk Festival (just to name a few!) the music lover will never be short of activities to enjoy. Look online for discounts, no matter how early or late you are planning your trip.

Los Dos Cooking School in Merida, Mexico – Remembering Chef David Sterling

In pursuit of the holy grail of Yucatecan Mexican cuisine we selected the renowned “Los Dos” cooking school, created by the famous chef David Sterling, which is located in Merida, the capital of the Yucatan Peninsula… we were not disappointed.

The Los Dos Cooking School

David Sterling founded the “Slow Food Chapter of Yucatan” in 2009 and in 2014 he authored “Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition” which won the James Beard Foundation Best Cookbook of the Year Award in 2015… a huge accolade, indeed.

His school was the first to specialize in the cuisine of Yucatan and has been featured in several magazines such as Condé Nast Traveler, Gourmet, and Travel & Leisure, as well as television exposure with celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Rick Bayless, and Martha Stewart.

We asked ourselves, “What are we getting involved in? Is it over our skill set? This is some serious stuff… can we hold a spatula to it?”

The Experience Begins

After a light breakfast we hailed a taxi to Calle 68 No. 517, Colonia Centro and arrived in front of a non-descript doorway on a street of colorful but similar facades.

We hesitantly knocked on the door which opened onto an oasis garden courtyard within the walls of a magnificent colonial mansion dating back to the mid 1800s.

There, we were welcomed by our gracious host, David, and our cooking journey begins with a smile and a handshake.

Welcome to Los Dos Cooking School

We were escorted into the home and introduced to 8 other students who were mingling around a breakfast buffet of homemade pastries and fruit.

David began the session with a very knowledgeable as well as entertaining history of Yucatan and Yucatecan cooking.

The Yucatan Peninsula is located on the cusp of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean and as such the land mass became a magnet for early traders seeking access to Mexico.

The cultural tapestry of the Yucatan is based on the foundation of the ancient Maya tribes and a blending of the Spanish, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Lebanese and Caribbean merchants that visited over the centuries.

We learned about the unique cooking techniques, a wide range of spices, marinades, adobos, pastes diluted with sour orange juice, sauces from nuts, and of course, the infamous Habanero chile, one of the hottest in the world.

The knowledge transfer was reinforced by actually smelling and tasting some of these new ingredients as they were passed around the room in assorted containers during David’s discussion.

Class Field Trip to the Marketplace

The first stop was a sampling of traditional street food.

We enjoyed “tacos al pastor” which is slices of meat (usually pork) from a spit-grilled rack known as a “shawarma” (introduced by Lebanese immigrants) onto a corn tortilla topped with a slice of pineapple.

Getting Provisions for the Class

Chef David led us on a market tour in search of today’s ingredients and what a tour it was!

The blocks-long Central Mercado is in the heart of the city, and filled with everything from fresh produce, spices, raw and cooked meats, bread, pastries, and even household items, clothing and toys… a rural form of Costco.

A person could spend hours exploring and relishing the colors, the sounds, the aromas, and vibrancy. But we had a mission…

Tomatoes for the main dish and it’s sauce, sour oranges (Naranja Agria) for various marinades, banana leaves (we will explain that one later), and freshly made corn tortillas (sold by weight)… a few pounds please.

We also needed to purchase a few pounds of habanero chile peppers. We learned that the Yucatan is one of the largest producers and exporters of Habanero Chile peppers and that ingredient is used in great quantities in Yucatecan dishes.

Something like garlic and italian food… never too much garlic!

Back to the Casa and the Actual Hands-On Cooking Class

We learned to make tortillas from a ball of masa with the assistance of a great instructor. The trickiest thing about making them is the technique of getting the raw masa onto the hot griddle without burning your fingers… it was a quickly learned skill!

We converted our tortillas into a “Panucho” which is a slightly fried bean-filled tortilla that is used for the base of an appetizer know as “Panuchos Y Salbutes”. That tasty treat consists of our bean-filled tortillas with lettuce, tomato, shredded chicken and traditional pickled onions… a picture really is worth a thousand words so check out our web page.

More Hands-On Fun and No Gloves Allowed

This step was a bit messy as we had to prepare a batch of marinated chicken breasts for the main course which is “Pollo Pibil”. This is where the tomatoes, achiote paste and naranja agria marinade come together in a reddish orange somewhat thick paste dressing.

Spread out a section of a banana leaf and add the marinaded chicken, top with onions, slices of green peppers and tomatoes and wrap up the packet into a tidy bundle and tie it up with a strand of a banana leaf.

Place this packet into “Pibil” oven on top of the stove and roast the chicken for a few hours… yes it was really worth it.

The Grand Finale… ¬°Buen Provecho!

We created a delicious Yucatecan meal consisting of Crema De Cilantro (Leek and Potato Soup with cilantro), Pit-Smoked Pollo Pibil wrapped in banana leaves, and finished off with Flan De Chocolate Con Kahlua (David made this in advance).

Summary

Our class prepared an amazing, totally hands-on meal from “scratch” under the ever present and encouraging David.

The outcome was a testament to his teaching skills and talents.

We walked back to our hotel with the knowledge that we done good… hold that spatula high.

Epilogue

We recently received a Facebook message from the Los Dos website:

It is with tremendous sadness that we report that the founder of Los Dos Cooking School, David Sterling, passed away in November. His Yucatecan cuisine cooking classes were adored by everyone who participated in them over the years, not only for the wealth of culinary knowledge he shared, but for the hands-on cooking experience accompanied by David’s dry wit and original personality.