Casa Vieja Visit, Summer 2011

Casa Vieja Restaurant, in Corrales, has become a favorite client over the years. Owners Josh and Katy Gerwin emphasize fresh and locally-sourced food and take a level of pride in what they serve that only a very few restauranteurs can sniff around here. This is a good match for me and the style of food photography I've grown into. I don't use dramatic artificial lighting and heavy processing to make things look better than they are — not very well anyway.  I'm not on McDonald's shortlist to make their fish sandwich look like something that you want to eat, immediately, without knowing why. I prefer natural light and fresh ingredients that look like they were grown and not engineered.  Saveur founder Christopher Hirsheimer, with her documentary approach and evocative simplicity, is my biggest influence. She's not on McDonald's shortlist either. Well, maybe she is, but they're not on hers.

When I go to Casa Vieja I don't arrive to an assembly line of food to shoot. I photograph people, family, interiors. I take the food around the building to try for different moods. I go in the kitchen. I set up lighting in the bar sometimes and have at Kate's creations — all because they provide me the time and the latitude, to find the images they are after, even when they might not know they were after them. Don't get me wrong. Katy knows what she wants, and she and Josh are prepared every time I go. But they aren't watching the clock, cramming as much as they can in to get their 'money's worth.' At the end of the day, I think we get far more quality images as a result.

The images below were taken in the last couple of weeks during a couple of visits to the restaurant. They show Josh's unique take on Sweetbreads, sautee-ing veggies from the Casa garden, scallops cooked to marshmallow perfection, a perfect pork loin, Josh in the kitchen, Katy on the patio and their hilarious and gorgeous daughter in the back farm and on the patio. If you are after a wonderful meal, created and prepared by passionate professionals (and real people), take my advice and visit Casa Vieja.

UPDATE: I am sorry to report that the restaurant has closed. As the name implied, this was an old building, and in late July it just gave out. We'll all have to wait and see what Kate and Josh do next.