Matt and I did some driving during Christmas break. Quite a bit, actually. We finally, after almost 10 years, moved out of NYC. It involved not only an anticlimactic exit culminating in hours of Jersey traffic, but also countless hours packing our car chock full of everything we felt was worthy of making the trip. It was a liberating and slightly nauseating experience.
We drove 2,300 miles through PA, Ohio, and Missouri, narrowly missing the snowstorm I’m sure covered many of you back east. We then met up with the Mother Road, Historic Route 66 and drove through the heartland, across the Panhandle and into the Southwest. Our little car and all our worldly possessions headed up the mountain to Santa Fe, New Mexico on Tuesday, December 22rd. The following day we surprisingly found an adorable adobe house, were all starry-eyed at how this would never have been possible on Christmas Eve in NYC, and settled in for a dry, snowy Christmas.
I’ve been on the verge of leaving NYC for years, it seems. My departure is both abrupt and also epic. But it’s from the point of departure from the “biggest” city on the planet that Matt and I seek a journey, not a destination. We will rely on a solid net connection for work and seek out any and every experience in between.
Growing up in rural Connecticut, I wanted the big city so badly I started spending one weekend a month there (more if I could have) when I was 14. Just like most who grew up rural, I hated Colonial houses, golden retrievers, polo shirts, and lawn mowers. It’s in our nature to retaliate against our childhood. As we get older, we learn to appreciate at least some of where we came from. I love bright lights, big cities, but I also love trees, clean air, and people with time to smile. I love the cacophony of noise, grittiness, and endless expanse of people going in every which direction, but I also love being in the middle of the woods without a human for miles. For now, I’ve decided not to choose between the two.
In six days, after many meals of chilies, Mexican hot chocolate, enchiladas, and tortilla soup, you could safely say we are enjoying both cooking in and eating out. While it would be too soon to say we understand the meaning of the “Land of Enchantment,” our winter respite is sizing up to be an incredibly friendly, outdoorsy, delicious, big sky creative sort of an affair. Just as those who moved here 30 years ago and never left would probably agree. While we’re only just beginning to explore this new culture, cuisine, and terrain, we are getting plenty of meat to help relieve some of the altitude weakness. This pork loin was especially tasty on this cold afternoon in December. I thought I’d share it with you all. Its fieriness reminds me of the Southwestern cuisine, its sweet richness of the people, and its bite like the refreshingly cold winter sun in Santa Fe. Happy New Year all!
Serves 2 for lunch
Ginger mustard sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil (can substitute sunflower or sesame)
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon mirin or sweeter red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
2 scallions, sliced thinly
A few grinds freshly ground black pepper
In a small sauce pan heat the peanut oil on medium. Once hot, add the garlic and ginger and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients and allow to come to a boil (it’ll bubble a bit). Simmer for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Ginger mustard seared pork loin
1/2 pound pork loin
Freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs rosemary, cut into smaller sprigs
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
2 tablespoons Dijon
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
Make shallow cuts into both sides of the loin. Season with salt and pepper. Stuff with the ginger and rosemary, and then paint with mustard. Let stand for 15 minutes.
In a saute pan, heat the oil on medium. Once hot (around 250 degrees), add the loin and sear on all sides, about 6 minutes, turning with tongs. Turn down to medium-low and covered for 8 minutes, until reaches an internal temp of 140. Let stand for 10 minutes. Slice thinly. Serve with ginger mustard sauce.
Driving along Route 66 was as much iconic and fascinating as it was barren and many times deserted. I hope you enjoy the below photo essay. Go to my flickr to see our full set of NYC to Santa Fe. These photos were taken by both Matt and myself.