Whenever I travel, I have one guiding principle in selecting restaurants. I want to dine local–that is, ideally, I want to eat food I couldn’t find anywhere else. Which led us to the Café Pasqual, a Santa Fe landmark that serves up the sort of red and green chili based specialties that are the lifeblood of the Santa Fe diet. It’s a boisterous storefront on Water St., the walls painted with colorful murals, the ceiling festooned with paper cut outs. Not much grilling on the menu, but there’s one dish I wanted to tell you about. Maybe someone will try it.
It’s called “banon” and it’s modeled on a cheese from southern France. It consists of local goat cheese, tightly wrapped in chestnut leaves, and grilled. They keep it pretty simple at Pasqual’s–grilled cheese served with puff pastry crisps, spiced pecans, and sliced apples by way of a garnish. Here’s how I’d do it at home. (Note: this is a rough sketch, not a finished recipe.)
Take disks of goat cheese about 1 inch thick and 3 inches across. Dust the top and bottom with coarse salt, cracked black pepper, chili powder, and toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts. Wrap the pieces of cheese in grape leaves (rinse them well in several changes of cold water first.) Tie off w/ string. Grill the cheese packets over a high heat for 3 to 6 minutes per side and serve with slices of grilled bread.