Oktoberfest 2012: Two Classic Recipes


Andreas and Ingeborg Dirnagl (left) enjoying the 1957 Oktoberfest, Munich*



Oktoberfrest is a 16-day festival held each year in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.  It runs from late September to the first weekend in October.  Oktoberfest is one of Germany’s most famous events and is considered the world’s largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year.  Countless communities across the world also celebrate this beer festival, and Taos Ski Valley is no exception!  Our celebration is Saturday, September 15th.


History of Oktoberfest

Theresienwiese (Photo courtesy The Oktoberfest Website)

Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King, married Princess Terese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810.  Everyone in Munich was invited to the festivities held on the fields at the city gates.  The fields were  named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s Meadow”) in honor of the Princess.  The locals refer to the field as Wies’n.

Horse races in the presence of the Royal Family marked the event’s closing that was celebrated as a festival for the whole of Bavaria.  The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.


Two Classic Dishes

Along with the ubiquitous bratwurst, pretzels, and (of course) beer, there are two other dishes that abound during Oktoberfest season:  Obatzda (cheese and beer dip on rye bread) and Datschi (fruit-topped cake).

I turned to The Blonde Bear Tavern’s Consulting Chef, Andreas Dirnagl,  for these classic recipes (klassischen Rezepten).  Andreas’s parents (pictured above) are Bavarian natives, who moved to the United States shortly after their 1957 marriage.



Photo courtesy Klaus-Maria Einwanger

Chef Andreas gives us background:

A Bavarian specialty in the beer gardens, Obatzda is really more of a spread than a dip. Use a good hearty rye or dark bread (sliced works best).  Place a slice of bread on a plate with a scoop of the spread on top.  Garnish with onion, chive, and paprika.  You can also serve radishes with salt and butter on the side.  Yum!



  • 1 pound Camembert (or Brie) cheese, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ounces cream cheese (or pungent Romadur), softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup dark German ale
  • 3 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 pinch sweet paprika
  • salt and freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup Spanish onions, finely diced
  • 1 loaf rye or French bread

Preparing Obatzda

  1. Lightly toast the caraway seeds in a dry pan
  2. Place garlic in a small baking dish, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and season with salt.  Pour a bit of water in the bottom of the dish, cover tightly with foil, and roast in 375° oven for about an hour.
  3. Place the Camembert in a medium bowl, add the cream cheese, butter, ale, garlic, and caraway seeds
  4. Add paprika, salt and pepper to taste; beat well to combine
  5. Take about 2/3 of the onions and sauté in olive oil until golden
  6. In a strainer, rinse the remaining raw onions under cold water; drain and transfer to a clean kitchen towel, squeezing out the liquid.  Combine with sautéed onions
  7. Fold onion mixture into the cheese mixture
  8. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 4 days.

Note:  For a more authentic texture, set aside about 1/3 of the Camembert in a small dice and then fold it into the finished product.  You may also use a bit of the rind.



Datschi (pronounced dah-chi) is a Bavarian word that means any of a variety of fruit-topped cake.   Again, Chef Andreas gives us background:

Photo courtesy Deutschland Card

Commonality is that the dough is pressed into a straight sided pan (Datschi comes from the verb detschen, which means “to smoosh”).  There is no rim built up on the edges of the dough, and it is topped with some form of fresh fruit.  Streusel topping is optional.  The dessert is served simply on a small plate, usually topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

These cakes are a mainstay of every Bavarian bakery and major open air festival, as they can be made in big sheets.  Fruit topping is variable, although plum is the most common.  If you want authenticity, you need Italian plums.  Remember in baking – if it eats sour, it bakes sweet and vice versa.  Italian plums look kind of like plum tomatoes (as opposed to regular plums, which are round) and are quite sour if you eat them raw.  When you bake them they become sweet / sour.

This recipe is from my mom, Inge, and is quite common in the Bavarian neighborhood where she grew up:



For the Cake

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
  • about 40 Italian plums, pitted and quartered

For the Optional Streusel

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted


Preparing Datschi

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Blend 30 seconds.
  2. Add the cubed butter and process until crumbly.
  3. Combine eggs, vanilla, and rum (it will look slightly curdled).  Add to the food processor bowl and process until the dough just begins to form (it will look and feel like soft sugar cookie dough).
  4. Turn out and roll the dough, forming a thick log the length of a 26″ by 18″ “half sheet” pan.  Place down the center of the pan and use your hands and knuckles to push dough into all corners and edges of the pan.  It should be flat, with no “rim” on the sides.
  5. Place the fruit on top in a decorative, repetitive pattern (with an eye towards cutting servings into squares or rectangles.
  6. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven until the dough rises slightly between the fruit slices and the fruit has softened and begins to brown slightly, about 30 minutes.
  7. If not topping with the optional streusel, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar after about 10 minutes of baking.


For optional streusel:

  1. Combine all ingredients except butter, and mix well.
  2. Drizzle with butter, and using fingertips, combine to form streusel.
  3. Sprinkle over fruit topping before baking.



If using apples, use a tart variety.  Peel, core, and slice into about 1/2″ wedges.  You can also use about a 1/4 inch layer of apricot or raspberry jam or jelly if you have no fruit on hand.  If using jam or jelly topping, then streusel is no longer optional – rather double the streusel recipe and completely cover the jam/ jelly topping with streusel before baking.


Oktoberfest at Taos Ski Valley

This year looks to be the biggest and best Oktoberfest in Taos Ski Valley.  And it’s FREE fun for all ages.

The day will feature an authentic Schuplatter band and dancers, German beer and food, activities for kids, Brat eating contest, Yodeling contest, Alpenhorn blowing contests, and more.

Our Village stores will be offering pre-season blowout prices on ski gear and sporting apparel.

  • Festival Times: 11am to 6pm
  • Christof Brownell 11am – 6pm
  • Schuplatter Band 2pm – 6pm
  • Comedy time with Petey Tang – 2pm
  • Bouncy Castle, face painting and Family fun


*A Note about the Black and White Photo Above:

At my request, Andreas sent me an Oktoberfest picture with his mom (whose Datschi recipe she graciously shared) and dad (who is now deceased).  He sent the following accompanying message, which I think bears repeating:

The year was 1957 and Mom was 28.  This is Oktoberfest as it used to be. Mom is on the left with my dad immediately behind her.  They would have been married all of 4 months at this point. Behind my dad is my grandfather (mom’s dad).  The woman on the right is my Aunt Maria and the man with his arm around her shoulder is her husband, my Uncle Siegried (my dad’s brother).  The other man is a stranger who photo bombed the picture.

Mom says that she and my Aunt went for a walk to see the sights at Oktoberfest and the men stayed back in the tent to save the seats.  By the time they got back, the men were ripped and as she passed by to sit down my uncle grabbed her beret and wore it for the picture.


National Geographic names Taos one of the World’s Best Ski Towns

Photograph courtesy Bud Force, Aurora

From Aaron Teasdale:

“Just what makes a classic ski town? It starts, naturally, with skiing and snowboarding so good they attract people like youth-bestowing fountains. Then add an inviting mountain burg steeped in ski heritage, amenities, and culture. These are the 25 best.”

The article describes Taos Ski Valley as “a narrow valley engulfed by precipitous peaks.  The Swiss-style chalets at the area’s base exude an old-time European character while the town itself feels like a funky Southwestern artist’s colony.”

And the skiing?

“The mountain offers some of the finest steep skiing and boarding in the U.S., with powder that rivals Utah’s for lightness. You can ski double diamonds top to bottom here. The most challenging terrain—and best powder runs—come on the hike-access West Basin and Highline ridges and the area’s highpoint, 12,481-foot Kachina Peak (check in with ski patrol before attempting). Taos operates one of the country’s most highly regarded ski schools—for beginners and the already skilled—which is good because the terrain demands it. There are no high-speed lifts here, which somehow suits the mountain’s almost mystical, apart-from-the-world vibe.”

And the best ski run:

“The classic ski run at Taos Ski Valley for experts willing to climb ten minutes is Stauffenberg, named after the Nazi army officer who plotted to assassinate Hitler. It’s a classic steep chute with hundred-mile views! For something mellower, try Honeysuckle, a long groomer that’s sunny and scenic.”

Photo courtesy Patitucci Photo

National Geographic picks another one of my favorites:  Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, with its Enoteca Cortina wine bar and of course, Il Meloncino al Camineto.

Read the whole thing.


Related:  TAOS!



Ricette Classiche: Ossobuco in Gremolata alla Milanese



Italians are masters of braising meats, and ossobuco is a perfect example. Take a relatively cheap cut of meat with lots of connective tissue,  Braise it until the tough tissues melt, coating the meat fibers, rendering them soft and silky.  As with Brasato, the meat will develop a velvety texture and delicious, earthy flavor, but with the added luxury of unctuous bone marrow.

Ossobuco is a centuries-old Lombard recipe of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine, and broth.  It is typically garnished with gremolata, a combination of lemon zest, parsley, and garlic.  The most traditional accompaniments to the dish are risotto alla milanese, polenta, or mashed potatoes.

The dish is famous world-wide, and its recipe has been published extensively outside of Italy.  It was featured in Henri-Paul Pellaprat’s famous L’Art Culinaire Moderne, published in France in 1935, and the British Italian Food, by Elizabeth David, first published in 1954.  The dish has become a part of the French home cooking tradition, known as ossobucco à la milanaise (with added butter (!)

Every January 17th — for the last five years — the Virtual Group of Italian Chefs (GVCI) promotes one authentic Italian recipe on its International Day of Italian Cuisines (IDIC).  We were honored to participate the last two years with a couple of Bellavitae signature dishes:  Tagliatelle al Ragù Bolognese, and Pesto Genovese.  The previous years featured Pasta alla Carbonara and Risotto alla Milanese.

The International Day of Italian Cuisines is born from a mission, as explained by Rosario Scarpato, GVCI Honorary President and last year’s IDIC Director:

“We certainly aim at educating worldwide consumers, but more than anything else, we want to protect their right to get what they pay for when going to eateries labeled as ‘Italian’; that is, authentic and quality Italian cuisine.”

So in celebratory spirit we participate again this year, right here at The Blonde Bear Tavern.  Ossobuco is a perfect entree after skiing all day.  Come join us this Tuesday, January 17th, for our preparation of ossobuco.


 Lombardy – Birthplace of Ossobuco

Bellagio, on the shores of Lake Como.


Ossobuco traces its beginnings to Lombardy (“Lombardia” in Italian), and many believe to Milan, although there is some controversy about that.  Lombardy is a large region in the north of Italy.  The river Po forms a natural boundary in the south, the Alps to the north, with Lakes Garda on the east and Maggiore and Como on the West.

Click to enlarge

The regional cuisine of Lombardy is based upon ingredients like maize, rice, beef, pork, butter, and lard.  Despite being a form of Italian cuisine, Lombard food tends to have little in common with Central or Southern Italian dishes, in many cases lacking the presence of tomato and olive oil, being more meat-based and buttery.  In many ways, Lombard cuisine has much in common with that of Austria and much of central Europe in general.

But as Italian cuisine, Lombard food is full of variety and every city and part of the region offers its own specialties.  A characteristic Lombard dish is risotto, most famously risotto alla milanese (which is made with saffron), with rice-based food being highly common throughout the region.  Similar to risotto, maize-based dishes such as polenta are also common.  Other famous Lombard dishes include cotoletta, cassoeula, and of course ossobuco.  The region also offers several delicacies and desserts, including mostarda and panettone.  Regional cheeses include Robiola, Crescenza, Taleggio, Gorgonzola and Grana Padano.


What to drink with Ossobuco

Which wines pair well with Ossobuco?  Ask the expert, Luca Gardini, named the world’s best sommelier last year.  His recommendations are here.


The History of Ossobuco

The word ossobuco (“oss bus” in Milanese dialect) means “bone with a hole” (osso bone, buco hole), a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank.

Milan claims to be the birth city of ossobuco and in 2007, the City Council declared it as part of the De.Co. (Denominazioni Comunali or community denominations), which is an official public acknowledgement that a dish belongs to a certain territory.

The use of marrow bones and veal shanks was common in Middle Age Italian cuisine, but there is no evidence of the presence of ossobuco as a dish at that time.  The recipe is believed to have first appeared in Pellegrino Artusi’s cookbook La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene (The Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well), the first collection of Italian national cuisine ever published.  The book celebrates both home cooking and well-known dishes from all over Italy.  These dishes were well-established, indicating the dish had been around for decades, most likely originating in one of the region’s osterie or trattorie.

 The Ingredients (for six servings)

For the Ossobuco:

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 veal shanks, cut 1 ½ inches thick, patted dry and tied tightly around the middle
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups dry white wine
  • 2 medium onions, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 medium celery ribs, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 cups veal or low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
For the Gremolata:
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons garlic cloves, chopped very, very fine
  • 2 teaspoons grated minced lemon zest
A note on the ingredients:
  • The best ossobuco is made from the meatier hind leg, so ask your butcher for this cut.
  • Have the shanks cut no thicker than 1 ½ inches.  Thicker cuts may look impressive, but need to cook longer and slower, otherwise it will end up being stringy and chewy.
  • The shanks are better with the skin left on, which helps to keep the ossobuco together while it cooks.  Moreover, the creamy consistency of the skin adds a fabulous mouth-feel and flavor to the final dish.
  • Veal  broth (not stock) is preferable in this dish, but if it’s unavailable, use chicken broth.  Beef broth is not optimal here, but you can use a mixture of half beef and half chicken broth.
  • Using stock in this recipe (instead of broth) will create disappointing results.  Broth is subtler, and will produce an optimum flavor profile.  Frankly, stock is never used in Italian cooking; if used in this recipe (with the shank’s bone marrow) will put the dish, well, over the top.
  • Sometime during the 1960s or ’70s, cooks began dredging the shanks in flour before browning.  I don’t particularly like this method, and find that the elimination of the technique produces a better flavor.  But it’s still authentic to do so.

Preparing Ossobuco

Preheat the oven to 325°F and adjust the rack to the lower middle portion, so the Dutch oven will rest in the middle of the oven.

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Season both sides of the veal shanks with salt and pepper
  2. Place 3 of the shanks in the pan and cook until they are golden on one side, about 6 minutes.  Guild the other side of the shanks, about 6 minutes longer.
  3. Remove shanks from Dutch oven and place in a bowl.  Off heat, add ½ cup of the white wine to the Dutch oven, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon.  Pour the liquid into the bowl of shanks.
  4. Return the Dutch oven to medium heat and repeat the process with the remaining 3 shanks, guilding both sides in the same amount of olive oil and butter, then placing them with the original 3 shanks.  De-glaze the Dutch oven again using 1 more cup of white wine.  Pour the liquid over the six shanks.
  5. Return the Dutch oven to medium heat and add the remaining olive oil and butter.  Saute the onion until translucent.  Then add the celery and Bay leaf and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.  Finally, add the carrot and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Increase the heat to high and add the broth and remaining 1 cup of wine. Add the tomatoes.  Return the veal shanks to the pot, arranging in a single, tight layer.   Ensure the open end (or larger opening) of each bone is facing up so the marrow doesn’t fall out during braising.  The liquid should just cover the shanks – if not, add more broth.  If there is too much liquid, remove some with a spoon.
  7. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover the pot and transfer it to the oven.   Cook the shanks until the meat is easily pierced with a fork, but not falling off the bone, about 2 hours.
Preparing the Gremolata
  1. Combine the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.
  2. Stir half of the gremolata in the pot, reserving the balance for garnish.  Let the ossobuco stand for 5 minutes, uncovered.


Assembling the Dish
  1. Remove the shanks from the pot, remove the twine, and place each shank in a bowl, perhaps over polenta.
  2. Ladle some braising liquid over each shank, and sprinkle the gremolata over each serving.


Further Reading:


Ossobuco, the perfect winter dish, most satisfying after a vigorous run down the mountain.  Too tired to make it yourself?  Join us and hundreds of other chefs around the world on January 17th.  Enjoy this famous dish, evolved over centuries, right here at The Blonde Bear Tavern.


Happy New Year!


The Pooped Blonde Bear


The week between Christmas and New Years is busy for any ski resort, and Taos Ski Valley is no exception.  But this year, the planets aligned and we were blessed with arguably the best snow in North America.  Add to that perfect New Mexico weather.  We prayed the skiers would come, and boy did they.

An avalanche maybe?  What exuberance!  Folks from all over the world converged on our village to enjoy phenomenal skiing, a happy holiday, and of course good food and wine.

One of the week’s highlights is the annual torch light parade, where skiers carrying red flares race down the mountain, followed by colorful fireworks – all against the magnificent canvas of pure white snow.

Here’s a long-exposure photograph that captures the scene:

Torchlight and fireworks



And here’s a video of the event:



Yeah, we’re a little pooped, but what a way to ring in the new year!

So from all of us at The Blonde Bear Tavern:


Delicious Wishes

Drink wine and enjoy good dishes


Here’s to a prosperous new year:

Just as you ski here

Approach with no fear.



Buon Anno!



Photo courtesy Koert Michiels


As we closed Bellavitae last year, I wrote a blog post titled “Six Magical Years“, which concluded:  “So what happens next?  All I can say is look for Bellavitae in the future – and look in unexpected places.”

Well, here I am.

Photo courtesy Altitude Asphyxiation

Back to my beloved Southwest, but this time instead of the Sonoran Desert, I live nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, nestled within the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico – in a charming village named Taos Ski Valley.

Mysterious and spiritual, dramatic yet peaceful – the scenery in this distant setting is simply breathtaking.  Taos is full of juxtapositions – of contrasts really – that give one pause.  This is a place where extreme skiers, hardy mountaineers, nature lovers, creative artists, haute cuisine, and native peoples live in harmony.


The Blonde Bear Tavern

We’ve come to Taos Ski Valley to re-create The Blonde Bear Tavern, a restaurant and wine bar within the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa.  Joining me are Chefs Sophia Vigil, Josh Tate, and consulting Chef Andreas Dirnagl.  Rounding out our team is Wine Manager and Mixologist Rushan Perera.

Skiing originated in Europe and was refined in world-famous resorts throughout the Alps.  Our menu gives a taste of classic dishes from those regions interpreted through the casual laid-back attitude for which the Taos Ski Valley is known.

We call it Alpine Comfort Food.  The flavors are very familiar to the American palate, but the origins – like those of Taos Ski Valley – are European.  We add some American classic dishes too.  When designing the menu, I asked myself, “After skiing one of the world’s famously challenging mountains, what would I want to eat?”

Our from-scratch menu uses ingredients sourced locally in New Mexico whenever possible, with an emphasis on organic producers.


Taos Ski Valley

Some 15 miles northeast from and 2,200 feet higher than Taos is the village of Taos Ski Valley.  The village lies at an elevation of 9,207 feet; however, it reaches elevations of 12,581 feet with the highest residential dwelling at 10,350 feet, making Taos Ski Valley the highest municipality in the United States.  Wheeler Peak, the tallest mountain in New Mexico at 13,161 feet, overlooks the village.

Photo courtesy OnTheSnow


As of the 2010 census, there were 69 people counted as residents of the village.  So when I moved here, the population increased nearly 1.5 percent!

Taos Ski Valley combines the founders’ Swiss/French/Austrian roots with the rich heritage of the area’s Native Americans.  Known for its dramatic peaks, black steeps and deeps, remote chutes and long blue/green cruisers,Taos Ski Valley is rapidly gaining a reputation as the ultimate ski and snowboarding destination in North America.

The skiing and snowboarding here are intense – okay – Bad Ass.  With over half the runs labeled Black Diamond or Double Black Diamond,Taos Ski Valley is world famous for its steep terrain, dry powder, and world-class skiers.  Don’t believe the bad ass part?  Check this out, filmed just days ago:


Here’s another clip that gives a flavor of the area.  It’s a sneak preview of the movie “A Season in the Life” shot at the Log Mahal, Taos Ski Valley, and various backcountry locations:


But don’t worry, Taos Ski Valley isn’t just a resort for experts.  It has many beginner and intermediate runs, and arguably the nation’s best ski school.  It also has an excellent children’s day care and ski facility.

Photo courtesy Real Adventures

My favorite thing about skiing here?  It’s a contrast from the above videos:  The wilderness.  The mountain’s solitude.  The interaction with nature.  There are no views of interstate highways, vast condominium communities, or golf courses designed by some retired pro.

With Kachina and Wheeler Peaks watching overhead, the only encounter you may have is with occasional wildlife.  The only sound you may hear is that of your skis cutting through deep powder, or perhaps the internal sound of your heart pounding from the exhilaration of accelerating down the steep grade.  Your mind now focused on maneuvering through the various runs of the mountain, forgetting your troubles, now so far away.

And when you reach the mountain’s bottom, you saunter into The Brown Bear Tavern and shout, “What’s for dinner?  I’m starving!”


And that’s where we come into play.  With Après-Ski commencing daily at 2:00, nestle into one of the overstuffed chairs by the fireplace and sip on a Decadent Hot Chocolate or Hot Toddy.  Enjoy crostini and crostone, or nibble on Native American pita bread  –  chemaith – served with black bean humus or spinach-artichoke dip.  Or consider some prosciutto di Parma served with Navajo fry bread, fried little meatballs, or an international cheese plate.



Our alpine comfort food revolves around classic dishes from the Alps:  French Boeuf Bourguignon (country French stew), Bavarian Jägerschnitzel (paillard of chicken breast with wild mushroom sauce), Swiss Côte d’Agneau Doigts Brûlés (lamb chops from New Mexico’s Talus Wind Ranch), and Alto Adige’s Salmone con Salsina di Barbaforte (sautéed salmon with green apple horseradish sauce).  Or how about an All-American Chicken Pot Pie topped with puff pastry?



Toasting with Casanova di Neri’s Giacomo Neri

We take our wine seriously, but with no pretense.  And we took great care to create an offering that compliments the food and reflects our surroundings.

We bring some of Bellavitae’s Italian favorites from wineries such as Brancaia, Canella, Casanova di Neri, Jermann, and Vietti.  Our French selections include  Château la Grange Clinet, Louis Latour, Maison Joseph DouhinMoët & Chandon, Olivier Savary, and Paul Jaboulet Aîné.

We also feature wines from New Mexico’s own Gruet Winery and Napa Valley’s  Merryvale Vineyards.  And if you’ve ever been skiing in the Alps, you expect to drink Austria’s Grüner Veltliner.  We pour ours from Loimer.


Come and Enjoy

Spectacular scenery, interesting people, serious skiers, and rich cultural heritage.  Add to the mix fabulous food and wine and you get, well, Taos Chic.  We’ll continue to blog about our experience here in Taos Ski Valley, sharing recipes, wine notes, and cultural observations.  Come join us.  There’s a lot to experience.


Taos – An Ancient Community

“Sunset over the Sangres Mountains” Photo by Geraint Smith

Taos Pueblo The Taos Pueblo has been occupied for nearly a millennium.  The pueblo was built between 1000 and 1450 A.D. and is the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States.

Photo courtesy Luca Galuzzi

It is the most northern of the New Mexico pueblos and, at some places, is five stories high; composed of many individual homes with common walls.  There are over 1,900 people in the Taos pueblo community.  Some of them have modern homes near their fields, but there are about 150 people who live at the pueblo year-around.

Spanish Colonization Taos was established around 1615 as Fernandez de Taos, following the Spanish conquest of the Indian Pueblo villages. The relationship between the Spanish settlers and Taos Pueblo was initially amicable, but eventually turned sour, leading to a revolt in 1640; Taos Indians killed their priest and a number of Spanish settlers, and fled the pueblo, not returning until 1661.

In 1680, Taos Pueblo joined the widespread Pueblo Revolt.  After the Spanish Reconquest of 1692, Taos Pueblo continued armed resistance to the Spanish until 1696, when Governor Diego de Vargas defeated the Indians at Taos Canyon.

During the 1770s, the Comanches of eastern Colorado repeatedly raided Taos.  However, in 1779, Juan Bautista de Anza, governor of the Province of New Mexico, led a successful punitive expedition against the Comanches.

U.S. territory and statehood  Mexico ceded the region to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo after the Mexican-American War.  After the U.S. takeover of New Mexico in 1847, Hispanics and American Indians in Taos staged a rebellion, known as the Taos Revolt, in which the newly appointed U.S. Governor, Charles Bent, was killed.  New Mexico became a territory of the United States in 1850 and reached statehood in 1912.  The English name Taos derives from the native Taos language, meaning “place of red willows”.

Taos Art Colony  Beginning in 1899, artists began to settle in Taos; six formed the Taos Society of Artists in 1915.  In time, the Taos Art Colony developed. Many paintings were made of local scenes, especially of Taos Pueblo and activities there, as the artists often used Native Americans from the pueblo as models in their paintings.  Some of the artists’ studios have been preserved, including the Ernest L. Blumenschein House, the Couse/Sharp Historic Site, and the Nicolai Fechin house.  Influential later 20th-century Taos artists include R. C. Gorman and Agnes Martin.