Af­ter all this el­e­men­tal din­ing, I’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate a pic­nic as the sum of its parts.

Pasatiempo - - RESTAURANT REVIEW - Del West, Don Gio­vanni la dolce vita La fan­ci­ulla abuelita

of cold water­melon and hot dogs, thick blan­kets spread on grassy slopes, beer sweating in a cooler, carne asada smok­ing on the grill, and sparklers come twi­light. For opera-go­ers, this hol­i­day week­end kicks off the first tail­gate sup­per of the year — whether at­ten­dees opt for catered set­ups on ta­bles clothed in linen and ac­cented with crys­tal or sim­ply pop down the tail­gate and take out the Tup­per­ware, vis­i­tors and lo­cals alike rel­ish Santa Fe Opera’s charm­ing preshow tra­di­tion of out­door din­ing. In an ef­fort to high­light some good eats for al­fresco feast­ing, I tra­versed the city, en­joy­ing lo­cal del­i­ca­cies on the banks of the Ace­quía Madre, at ta­bles in Fort Marcy Park, and on benches on the Plaza, find­ing some vi­able op­tions along the way. If you’ve got tick­ets for or

Cheese­mon­gers of Santa Fe of­fers a few treats for tur­ophiles. Pro­pri­etor and cheese whiz John Gu­tier­rez has de­vised some op­erath­emed plates that present a se­lec­tion of cheeses, meats, nuts, olives, mus­tards, jams, and crack­ers. The Ital­ian In­ter­lude platter pro­vides a slice of with Ital­ian cheeses, sa­lumi, and pro­sciutto sourced from pro­duc­ers across The Boot, while the Amer­i­can Aria fea­tures hand­crafted do­mes­tic cheeses and ar­ti­san char­cu­terie. Since the sea­son hadn’t started yet, I pre-or­dered the small pic­nic plate of­fered year­round ($30, serves two to four peo­ple) and went do­mes­tic, choos­ing the Mas­sachusetts-made Mag­gie’s Round from Cricket Creek Farm, Red Rock Blue ched­dar from the cheese haven of Wis­con­sin, salame Cal­abrese from Fra’Mani in Cal­i­for­nia, and Utah capoc­ollo. Cheese­mon­gers had it ready for pick-up in a tidy box along with crack­ers, Mar­cona al­monds, and Al­bu­querque’s own Lusty Monk “Orig­i­nal Sin” mus­tard. It was an in­dul­gent spread fit for lib­ertines and fron­tier women alike.

Seek­ing more pro­le­tar­ian cui­sine, I braved the Cheeks park­ing lot to pick up a whole chicken din­ner ($22) from the Pollo Asado shack. Owner Lu­dovico Ariz­mendi presents a feast in a Sty­ro­foam con­tainer — im­pos­si­bly ten­der, elab­o­rately spiced char-grilled pollo, fluffy rice, rich re­fried beans, a hefty stack of corn tor­tillas, blis­tered chiles tore­a­dos, and an adorably small que­sadilla rest­ing atop the beau­teous bird. This is food meant to be en­joyed in ball­parks and back­yards, and it’s my first stop in town when I think pic­nic.

Sit­u­ated on the other side of Ru­fina Cir­cle from Meow Wolf, Ali­cia’s Tor­tille­ria is the site of my new tamale ob­ses­sion. The small store­front of­fers a dozen moist, dis­tinc­tively fla­vor­ful red- or green­chile pork-and-masa mis­siles for $15. Their corn-husk wrap­pers pro­vide great porta­bil­ity, and Ali­cia’s also has a lengthy menu of af­ford­able food for events, in­clud­ing en­chi­ladas, chicken mole, and bar­ba­coa, all lov­ingly pre­pared and giv­ing your a run for her money in terms of home-style fla­vors.

Af­ter de­cid­ing to create a smor­gas­bord of spe­cialty items, I went to Kaune’s Neigh­bor­hood Mar­ket and filled a cart with lo­cally made del­i­ca­cies, ini­ti­at­ing an evening pic­nic by spread­ing Dream Catcher Ran­chito’s im­pos­si­bly fresh and creamy goat cheese ($9.69) on a toasted slice of Sage Bake­house’s crusty farm bread ($3.69), top­ping it with a dol­lop of Heidi’s mildly spicy rasp­berry red-chile jam ($7.59). I made a sa­vory coun­ter­part on an­other toast with the cheese, gar­licky Los Chileros pesto ($4.99), lightly sautéed squash, and roasted red chile, wash­ing it down with a dry, crisp Honoro Vera Rosé ($11.98). Dessert was a rev­e­la­tion: a not-too-sweet but­tery- crusted mini blue­berry pie from Authen­tiCookie ($5.39) — a la­bel de­voted to low­carb, low-sugar, but still ut­terly tasty goods, be­gun in Brook­lyn and re­lo­cated to Santa Fe. Authen­tiCookie also of­fers a rich green­chile chicken pot pie, also avail­able at Kaune’s.

Mind­ful of that last-minute potluck panic, wherein you’re rac­ing around town try­ing to find a mem­o­rable pre­pared item to wow your fel­low din­ers with, I headed to Fire & Hops to pick up a size­able side por­tion ($6) of their much-bal­ly­hooed Brus­sels sprouts, which are fried to a crisp, tossed with fish sauce and salt, and topped with lightly pick­led shal­lots. These in­sanely good sprouts are a sure­fire crowd-pleaser — as is a sim­i­lar item from Talin Mar­ket’s Mon­day-only dumpling pop-up menu, a con­tainer of pick­led hot-and-sour cu­cum­bers flecked with bright red chile ($1.95), which made a boon com­pan­ion to Talin’s plump, sa­vory-syrupy mini pork belly and Granny Smith ap­ple sand­wich ($3.59).

There’s no pic­nic with­out pick­les, so at Barrio Brinery, I sam­pled a plethora of fer­mented trea­sures, set­tling on hot- and- spicy cu­cum­bers brined with gar­lic and lo­cal red chiles ($8.50) and kicky es­cabeche ($5.50), a med­ley of pick­led car­rots, jalapeños, and onions, which I hap­pily de­voured on an­other bit of cros­tini spread with goat cheese. This ver­sa­tile blend could be a spicy side all on its own, but also lends it­self to other pi­quant per­mu­ta­tions — perhaps as a top­ping for grilled bratwurst.

Af­ter all this el­e­men­tal din­ing, I’ve come to ap­pre­ci­ate a pic­nic as the sum of it s parts. What­ever de­li­cious good­ies you choose to bring along will in­evitably take a back­seat to the ac­tion of the set­ting — the shad­owy San­gres, the chiaroscuro clouds of mon­soon sea­son — good com­pany, and sparkling con­ver­sa­tion. The true plea­sure lies in the sheer nov­elty of tak­ing a meal back to na­ture — where any move­able feast comes from in the first place.

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