The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 122 of 132

INGREDIENTS Red Hot story and photos by Kelly Merritt H ear that? It's the whispers of mixologists from ages past rustling through the ristras, the clusters of hanging peppers that hang throughout New Mexico. It was in the year 1598 that chile seeds would capture the passion of northern New Mexico farmers for the first time. Those historic chile seeds have been passed down through genera- tions of farmers, many of whom long ago settled in the small village of Chimayó, a community deeply steeped in faith and earth. Today, the Chimayó chile pepper widely used in New Mexico restaurants and bars is a descendant of those first peppers brought over to the New World by the Spaniards some 400-plus years ago. The flavorful Chimayó chiles remain an indelible part of the region's agricultural, culinary and cocktail scene. And nowhere do these peppers show up more colorfully than on the menu at the Hotel St. Francis in Santa Fe. Owner Jim Long has a passion to keep the Chimayó chiles alive and kicking " he employs farmers in the Chimayó region to supply his properties with Chimayó peppers used throughout his menus, including the Secreto Lounge. Mixologist Chris Milligan, Secreto Lounge Manager, uses the versatile peppers in his housemade salt for his signature Hibiscus Margarita. "Chimayó chiles are the best of the best when it comes to red because growing conditions in Chimayó are perfect, giving the chile not only heat but great flavor as well," says Milligan. "Every fall, we look forward to chile harvest and line up at the local markets to purchase the year's supply—it's a huge social event." Milligan says his Secreto chile salt has been through three incarnations over the past few years, beginning as one person's idea and evolving into his concoction. "Chiles are a staple to almost every New Mexican meal, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner—it doesn't matter," says Milligan. "We're the 122 / the tasting panel / july 2012 Chile Peppers FOUR CENTURIES AFTER ARRIVING IN NEW MEXICO, THE ANCIENT CHIMAYÓ PEPPER STILL INSPIRES Secreto Lounge Manager and chile pepper connoisseur Chris Millagan mixes his Hibiscus Margarita, featuring housemade Chimayó chile salt.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - JULY 2012