FARMINGTON — Easter dinner comes in many shapes and flavors. Often, the holiday provides families a chance to gather for brunch or dinner. And while certain foods will always be Easter staples — think ham, lamb and eggs — some San Juan County eateries are branching out this year and offering outside-the-box Easter meals.
The Sauce Restaurant in Farmington will serve beef stroganoff for its Easter dinner on Sunday.
The restaurant's owner, Donna Hewett, said when choosing the holiday menu, she polled her staff and most said they wanted traditional dinners with ham. But, she admitted, she wanted something different.
"I just wanted to be a little more creative," Hewett said.
She said she always wanted to make stroganoff with her noodles, which are hand rolled from a dough made using flour, eggs, water, olive oil and salt.
Hewett said her special holiday dinners are popular among customers. The restaurant, which opened last fall, has had its ups and downs.
"Opening a new restaurant is like bursting a balloon of confetti," Hewett said, explaining the process can be chaotic and hectic.
Hewett is a self-taught chef who started as food critic in Paris and New York City. After working as a critic, she said she started reading books on cooking and began experimenting with recipes for her husband.
Some of the cuisine she sampled in Paris continues to influence her cooking. All of her sauce is made using wine, and she models her French fries after those of Parisian street vendors. She said she pre-fries the potatoes until they are half done, and, once people order them, she finishes frying them.
Hewett isn't the only one who ventured off of the beaten path for Easter dinner.
Staff at Flora Vista's Farmer's Market deli have been preparing Easter platters.
Karen Williams, the deli manager, said the store sent out three Easter orders on Thursday. Predictably, the most popular order was for brisket, but Williams has also had unique orders, such as enchiladas.
On Friday, Sandra Valencia, Katrina Archuleta and Guadalupe Contreras were busily making tortillas for the weekend. They said tortillas are one of the most popular items the deli sells every day.
"We'll put out a tray and by the next day it will be empty," Valencia said.
They made extra tortillas for Easter weekend.
Williams said Easter Sunday tends to be a slow day with bursts of activity between church services. But, she said, the majority of people stop by the store earlier in the week to prepare for the dinner.
In addition to dinner items, the deli and bakery also provides desert items.
Milynda Talamante, the cake decorator and assistant manager in the deli and bakery, has been working on Easter-themed cakes and cupcakes this week.
She has created cakes in the shape of bunnies and colorful cupcakes topped with rabbits and "Happy Easter" decorations.
Talamante has been working as a cake decorator for three years. She said she enjoys the creativity holidays allow her. Her favorite one, though, isn't Easter; it's Halloween.
"She's a good artist, and she can freehand stuff," Williams said.