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Published: January 16th 2018
Just one of those unique smells any true New Mexican (or transplant like myself) can identify from miles away
We don't make it back to New Mexico quite as often as we want to, but we do go at least once a year. We mostly go back to see family and friends so accomplishing things is not very high on the priority list. Kind-of makes you realize that you also need to see and do the things close to you in your area while you live there, because you just never know when you are gonna be out of there.
One of the things we did manage to accomplish while on one of our visits was the GEORGIA O'KEEFFE TRAIL. A well-known painter who lived out her live in New Mexico (well she lived her for a good chunk of her life). We've already blogged about her previously since she has an entire museum dedicated to her in Santa Fe and she is pretty well known all over the world for her paintings. She lived off the beaten path in a little town called ABIQUIU. Different country out here. To get there from ALBUQUERQUE we kind of went the non-traditional way I would say by not going through Santa Fe, but instead we went through the Jemez area which
Move over Cinnabon
cuts more directly north through the mountains and the town of Los Alamos. It was the dead of winter just after a massive snow storm. Everest (yeah we had an addition to the family) was only 1 month old so we took him on his first flight (if you need any flying advice with a new born or toddler we'd be your go to for advice) to Albuquerque as well as his first overnight trip. The area was beautiful with fresh snow as far as the eye could see. We made our way there very slowly. This is New Mexico where chili is king - especially the green stuff. Blake's Lota Burger is the local New Mexico chain where everyone gets their green chile burger fix (only available in green chile season) so we stopped in Espanola at the local Blake's. The chile can be as mild where you go "what's the big deal - I don't feel a thing" or it can be where after one bite you cry like a baby and ask yourself "where do they get this stuff"? Blake's is also a good spot for a breakfast fix including a bacon burrito and a carne adovada
(some good meat with a red chile sauce) burrito.
So on we went to ABIQUIU INN where we spent the night. I was hoping for a wood fireplace, but it was gas. Either way we spent a great quiet night just lying in bed away from it all. The rooms are all in the adobe style, clean, with some nice Southwest decorations. It definitely was cold the next morning as we got ready to leave. Breakfast at the Inn was good. We drove into the town of Abiquiu, took some pictures of the little local churches on the hill with some incredible scenery in the background. Think desert, thorn bushes, sand, scrubs, bushes, dead trees, crosses out in the middle of nowhere, blue-blue skies with clouds here and there, red rocks like you have never seen before. You get some crazy, crazy beautiful pictures with a big old mountain of red rock/ dirt in front of you with the clear blue skies with clouds dancing in the background. We drove around for some pictures, chased birds, drove by of the beautiful ST. THOMAS CHURCH and made our way to Ghost Ranch. An educational center these days (Georgia use to
Red chile and tortillas
spend a lot of time here walking the land painting pictures) we went into the little gift shop. There are some really good trails and it's a beautiful area to discover, but on this day it was a little cold so we got out of there right as the snow started falling.
This time we went through Santa Fe and made a quick stop at LA CASA SENA for a nice quiet lunch as the little guy slept on one of the chairs.
The other big event that is a must on the New Mexico calendar is the ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA. A must to attend if you never have. You can also see one of my previous blogs on this glorious event. If you have little kids (any kids for that matter) then this is a must if you can stomach the flight prices into Albuquerque.
The rest of the blog is pretty much going to be a food blog as that is all we really do when we go back to New Mexico.
For breakfast there is a couple options we generally love. Little Anita's is a little local chain that serves up some
Can you tell she likes freshly made tortillas
pretty authentic New Mexican fare. We generally do the drive-through and favorites are the carne adovada burrito (lots of saucy red chile) and a breakfast burrito w/ bacon. Wecks is very similar, but more of a sit-down option. You can't go wrong with a bowl of papas w/ carne adovada which is a bowl of hash browns, with egg, shredded pork and red chile sauce. Every time we go back we see all the new restaurants that have popped-up since our last visit and it is needless to say we try them when we can. One of these is a place called Delish that we went to for brunch. Start off with a good cup of coffee and get the raspberry Aebleskiver (lemon ricotta batter stuffed with raspberries and raspberry maple syrup - really good) and traditional French toast (really good as well). If you just want a good donut then Krispy Kreme is always open.
For lunch you wanna head over to the local BBQ joint - Rudy's. When you see all these shows on tv where you just show up, stand in line, get your food, find a spot, and eat with your hands until
The little bit of light that is left reflecting in the canals
the sauce drips from your fingers - well this is your spot. It's all good. When the afternoon blues hit and you just need a good hang-out spot then you can't go wrong with Flying Star for a latte and a piece of pie. This is probably the one place we really miss since we can't find something similar on the east coast. Just a good hang out spot for pie and coffee and if you want something heartier they have it. For dinner you need to go to Los Poblanos. We had a friend who worked there and in general this is considered one of the top restaurants in the state with a farm to table concept where you can walk the property and see all the produce/ animals. Our meal consisted of:
- artisanal cheese plate (Valdean w/ apple butter, pecan currant rosemary cracker; Veigadarte w/green chili pepper jelly, butter crackers; L'Amuse Signature Gouda w/ Los Poblanos honey comb) (very, very good cheese plate that really gets you going for what's ahead)
- butternut squash soup w/ goat cheese (good)
- watermelon salad w/ goat cheese and prosciutto (really good)
- crisp w/ figs and goat cheese and
honey (really good)
- gnocchi w/ house-made cold smoked salmon, herbs, tomato and cream (very salty)
- smoked pork belly w/ local greens, green chile corn cake, apple (ok)
It's worth the price.
In recent years (or maybe even further back) Albuquerque has just become this hotbed for craft beer where it seems like anyone and everyone and their mother was/is opening a brewery. So you will never run out of options for some late night entertainment and best of all - these beers generally tend to be dirt cheap and they are good (think $4 for a nice big glass). A couple of our favorites are Bosque Brewing Company (Riverwalker and Imperial beers is what we had) and Tractor Brewing (really cheap and good). These breweries tend to be set-up in old buildings with some nice spaces to just hang out and most serve some light fare too.
On one of our visits we took a road trip to Durango, CO to visit Nikkie's brother. A great place close by Albuquerque (about a 3 hour drive) for some good skiing, mountain life and good food. Carver Brewing is a local favorite where we have had some
really good food. Start with a Carver's Bloody Mary (not very spicy, but good piece of bacon) and move on to the eggs benedict (good) and blue corn pancakes w/ bananas (if you are looking for something different that you won't find in other parts of the country then this is your dish). For lunch we tried the tatanka burger (buffalo burger w/ mushrooms, bacon, green chile, queso fresco, and garlic aioli) (really good) and the alphine winter salad (apple, greens, avocado, walnuts) (good).
East by Southwest is the local Thai/ oriental/ Chinese specialty restaurant (every town has one right). This one was actually really, really good and we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. We tried the:
- brussel sprout leaves (very oily, but good with wasabi salt)
- spicy tuna roll w/Avocado, cucumber, daikon sprout, scallion, sweet soy (big roll and good)
- Thai Chicken Satay w/ chicken breast, peanut sauce & cucumber relish (ok)
- Vegan Carrot & Ginger Bisque w/ Coconut milk, kaffir lime oil & scallions (good)
- Shiro Miso w/ white miso, dashi stock, scallion and silk tofu (good)
- Bun Bo Beef Noodles w/ rice noodles stir fried w/
beef tenderloin, jalapenos shiitakes, onion, & bean sprouts w/ cilantro & lime (good)
A good little town with lots of activities so definitely highly recommended.
And then there was that one time when we went for the balloon fiesta and ticket prices was just so out of this world (they generally tend to be that time of year). So we flew into Denver and drove to Albuquerque (a good 6 hour drive). We definitely saved a lot of money, but it definitely was a trek to get there and probably won't do it again. While sitting in the airport that night we ate at Elways (restaurant owned by the local football legend). We had the:
- steak salad w/ arugula, red onion, sundried tomatoes, candied pecans, bacon, USDA Prime Tenderloin and creamy roasted garlic dressing (good)
- mushroom burger w/ mushroom, caramelized onion and Swiss cheese (really good)
- truffle fries (lots of truffle and good sauces)
So if you are ever sitting in the Denver airport and need a good meal (sorry but the food in most airports are just terrible) then I'd actually recommend this one. Likes
- this is a different, beautiful landscape
like you can only find in the southwest. Explore it.
- the food is different than what you'll find anywhere else. Eat it.
- walking among the balloons very early in the morning while they're still inflating them Dislikes
- not much honestly Advice
- plane tickets during the balloon fiesta can be really, really expensive. As in 3 - 4 times the normal price so book these as early as you can.
- explore the pueblos and back roads
- show up really early for the balloons. It is so worth it.
And that concludes a short blog on New Mexico. Only crossing off the Georgia O'Keeffe trail so 289 down and 5,492 to go.
Til next time from the land of the Zia
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