Simply delicious fare from the Southwest

Pasta with Mint and Peas

On pilgrimages to Santa Fe — what else can you call visits to this historically intense, graceful community — I’m always taken by the lack of contradiction between the old and the new. Buildings and houses conform to architectural guidelines, and interiors that would seem stark in more contemporary structures feel inviting.

This was the environment at Cafe Escalera, which just recently closed. Few of the dishes I enjoyed there laid claim to traditional ties, but the natural, uncontrived presentations showed Santa Fe’s freshest ingredients off to their advantage.

Last summer, I dined at Escalera several times with Sally, Gil, and David — longtime expedition partners. On one occasion, the pasta special created by chef Karla Helland caught our collective eye. It looked so light and appealing that warm evening. We usually chose a variety of dishes and shared tastes. But this time, the pasta got a unanimous vote.

It was a wise decision.

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