Oh May!

Every spring I thank the twirling stars that I was born a May baby. By now, the hummers have returned to the mountain, and the flat lands, suffused with record breaking April snows, have bloomed a lovely translucent spring-green. I’ve been eating early season foods like strawberries and asparagus, rhubarb and artichokes, happy to relieve my taste buds of their winter doldrums. The cabin deck, once piled high with wood, now sports boxed pansies. The gas grill tank is filled and the patio table cleaned. It’s a good month to celebrate birth and rebirth: I’m juicy with anticipation and eager to get out in the world after what was a long winter in my dark little cabin.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

So in celebration of the long-awaited arrival of spring in the Rockies, the city-dwelling boyfriend and I decided to hit the road for my birthday bash. It was perfect road trip weather, sunny and warm, as we traveled south along the Front Range, listening to Flaco Jimenez and Mumford & Sons, hopping over to see the Sand Dunes before crossing into New Mexico for a few days in Taos.

The view from the casita

I have to confess, we enjoyed the high desert town primarily from our casita hot tub and patio, with its view of Taos Mountain (Wheeler Peak), but when we came up for air, there was food involved, and it was sumptuous and lovely and perfect. 

In order to make my ongoing case to Greg that all food is celebration—from the simplest picnics of bread & cheese to so-called “fancy” things like grilled lamb–I stock my grocery list with some of my favorites for our week in Taos. Rib-eye steaks for the grill, arugula for a lemon-truffle oil salad with toasted hazelnuts and shaved Parmesan, whole wheat pizza dough and fresh basil for pizza margherita, and avocados, cilantro, and white onions for Greg’s  guacamole.

St. Francis de Asis Misson Church

Being a Taurus, I don’t do anything by halves, and when it comes to my birthday, indulgence and pleasure is my motto. 
Birthday Kir Royal

On the morning of the blessed day, we have what has become my traditional breakfast:  Kir Royales (sparkling wine with Chambourd and a twist of lime) with Moe’s toasted onion bagels and lox cream cheese with tomato.  When I was single, I’d sit with my dog, elvis, outside the cabin and soak up the sun in what is often chilly mid-May air and get a little drunk, celebrating myself.  Dear Reader, A Note:  This ritual is much more fun shared with someone who kisses you back AND can lift their own champagne flute. 

Karen’s Pizza Margherita

Later in the day we drive along Arroyo Seco to the canyon that spills out from the Taos Mountains and share a picnic by the Rio Hondo.  My first date with Greg was a picnic at the farmer’s market in Boulder, where we ate local cheese and the buttermilk fried chicken I’d made, and dozed inexplicably and innocently in each other’s arms.  This time, we’ve got store bought fried chicken and some lovely Maytag blue cheese, along with good salami, green grapes, and a chewy baguette.  The water burbles by pleasantly and, yes, we slept in the sun. 

A very big steak

Back at home and after a rest (because eating is hard work), we head back to Taos for dinner at The Love Apple where share a salad of grilled asparagus and farm fresh eggs and I dine on trout baked in corn husks while Greg orders the most amazing stewed beef enchiladas either of us has ever had.  The New Mexican chile sauce is complex and layered like a mole, and the enchiladas are served in a with fat chunks of tender meat served charmingly small cast iron pan.  For dessert, we split a chocolate cardamom mousse (also a surprise for its spicy rich taste) and a fresh strawberry galette. 

Back at the casita, I think about the days of feasting and kissing, of hot-tubbing in the early morning and watching movies in bed at night.  I feel spoiled and full and happy.  “This has been the best birthday of my life.” I tell Greg.  And it’s true.  Oh May!

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