Saturday, March 7, 2009

And the Award for Best Chef Goes To...

In the weeks before our trip to Taos, the semifinalists were announced for the 2009 James Beard Awards. Often referred to as the ‘Oscars of the Food World’, the James Beard categories include Outstanding Restaurateur, Outstanding Chef and Outstanding Restaurant. Included in the nominations for Best Chef in the Southwest is Damon Simonton of Chef Damon’s in Taos, New Mexico. Knowing my love for food (and frankly Mr. Charlestown Culinary's love for eating food), my mother suggested we add a visit to our Taos itinerary.

So on a Friday night in February, my parents, Mr. Charlestown Culinary and I found ourselves enjoying a meal at Chef Damon’s, which from start to finish was excelent. We started our dinner with a dish of warm olives and a bottle of 2006 Duck Pond Pinot Noir.
Following this, we all ordered the apple curry salad. The salad topped baby greens with golden raisins, dried cranberries, pistachios and a julienne of apples and celery root with a mild curry dressing.
For an entrée, we each chose a dish off of the ‘small plates’ menu. With so many tempting dishes to choose from, each of us ended up with a different dish. Mom Culinary ordered the chipotle BBQ lamb ribs.
Dad Culinary ordered Chef Damon’s ‘Award Winning’ Lamb green chili with a flour tortilla.
Mr. Charlestown Culinary ordered the pulled pork sliders, which were topped with more of the curried apple and celery root.
Rounding out our entrées, I ordered the Pueblo squash tart, which was finished with a salty and creamy feta cheese and sweet Marcona almonds.
The nice things about ordering the ‘small plates’ for an entrée was that it left plenty of room for each of us to order our own dessert. Dad Culinary had a decadent Kahlua chocolate torte, that was finished with a dark cherry sauce.
Mom Culinary had a rich ice cream made with milk chocolate and hazelnuts.
Mr. Charlestown Culinary had the lemon walnut tarte.
While, I finished my meal with rich Crème Brulée made with duck eggs and Grand Marnier.
After finishing our meal, we had the chance to talk with Chef Damon to thank him for the wonderful meal and wish him luck with the James Beard Awards. To follow Chef Damon and the other nominees, visit the Announcement Website on March 23 - for the Nominees Announcement and May 4 - for the Awards Announcement.


  1. Another culinary knockout .... Ms. Charlestown Culinary should be a restaurant reviewer.

  2. chef damons is a very mean person...