Category Archives: new mexico

Nice surprises in the giftshops at ABQ airport (frozen green chiles, Kei and Molly tea towels)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a way to take home frozen green chiles in your carry on luggage from Albuquerque – if you remember to bring a cooler or cold pack to the airport. My sister-in-law who lives in town found several places to buy the chiles but we weren’t sure if I would be able to keep them frozen so they’d get through airport screening. Turns out they are sold in airport gift shops located past the security screening point – although they’re kind of pricey.   A container costs only $5 but it’s the cooler carrier that gets you – it’s about $30, although if you buy 6 containers, it’s free. Next time, I’d consider bringing my own cooler carrier and buying a few tubs of the stuff – which is great for many dishes Mexican, New Mexican and not (meatloaf etc.)

The gift shop located before the security screening also had Kei & Molly tea towels made in Albuquerque but now sold all over. I had hoped to find the New Mexico-themed ones at the Saturday morning Farmers Market in ABQ (where I first found them) or at the Sunday morning Rail Yards Market in ABQ but didn’t so I was pleased to spot them unexpectedly at the gift shop.

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Tesuque Village Pet Memorial Park and Chimayo Santuary – near Santa Fe

I finally made it to Chimayo Santuary, a small old church in a rural village in the mountains north of Santa Fe (about a half hour drive) and it was worth the trek. Lovely, quiet, peaceful place. I tried several times to find the remains of a colonial plaza in Chimayo but despite driving up and down and around a narrow rutted dirt road that supposedly went to the plaza, I never got there. I did pass by the restaurant in Chimayo that we ate at a few years ago, Rancho de Chimayo, and Ortega’s Weaving and Marketplace.

Earlier in the day, I  ended up in Tesuque Village, picking up a cup of coffee at the funky cafe/market at the crossroads (the breakfasts looks great) and then wandering down the shady, narrow Bishops Lodge Road, dotted with the occasional impressive stucco homestead or ranch, sculpture foundry or gallery.  I landed in surprising place, a little pet cemetery/memorial called All Creatures Memorial Park, a tranquil spot at the edge of the road (before the entrance to a private estate) with pretty tiled walls with honorable mentions of pets past.

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Rail Yard Market, La Luz Trail and surprise encounters (Sam Donaldson and a rattler)  — Albuquerque 



As expected, The Rail Yard Market in downtown Albuquerque blew me away. Open seasonally, only on Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm, it’s a farmers market and crafts market inside a fantastic old Santa Fe Railroad building – an enormous brick, metal and glass structure with some busted windows to keep things authentic and almost seaglass-colored glass panes here and there — in various shades of green and yellow.  I found some great gifts (Ecuadorian jewelry, southwestern tea towels, green chili seasonings) and killer sticky buns and chili cornbread muffins at Burque Bakery.Dog with booties

Perhaps the best part was the people watching, lots of alternative types – multi-colored dreadlocks, vintage clothes, lots of tattoos and pierces, a Great Dane wearing booties.

Today we drove northeast (I am directionally challenged in this city) to the Sandia  foothills, where we went on a great hike on the La Luz Trail, once we found the trail head. Therein lies a tale. As we were driving in the foothills on a narrow winding road past a few large stucco homes, I spotted a silver haired man watering his lawn and asked if he knew where the trailhead was. He didn’t but he looked so familiar. I suddenly realized that he was a famous former TV reporter but couldn’t remember his name. In a few seconds as we were turning around in his drive, I blurted out. “Are you Sam Donaldson?” “Yes I am,” he responded. I mumbled something about appreciating his reporting and off we went. He covered the White House for years for ABC so I probably should have said I wished he was covering Trump.

Our other big encounter was with a rattlesnake, fortunately at the end of our hike. Another hiker spotted the rattler slithering across  the trail and gave us a heads up that it was in the brush at the edge of the trail but did not appear to be coiled or in strike mode so we assessed the situation and quickly walked past the brush. The  terrain reminded us a lot of our hikes in Tucson, with desert vegetation, orange and purple wild flowers and a glorious view of the mountains on our left and the valley spread out below, with downtown in the distance. One pleasant difference: the weather here is not as scalding hot as Tucson, 80s vs 100 plus weather.

One thing that has been irritating here is all the road construction, especially on Central Avenue. Driving is like an obstacle course at times with clogged streets, hard-to-discern rerouting, traffic jams. My relatives here are not happy about it and I can see why.

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BReaking Bad, Burger Boy, Farmers market and Silver Hill historic District and Airbnb — Albuquerque 

We are staying in a cool old bungalow on Silver Street in a historic district near UNM in Albuquerque, which  is a change since we usually stay with relatives here. But because there are about 30 of us, we spread out into Airbnbs all over. We arrived early enough to catch the last hour of the farmers market in Robinson Park downtown, which is always fun and has good baked goods (a fresh croissant place) and good tacos and vendors selling chilies. 

Some of those green chilies ended up on our burgers at Burger Boy, a roadside joint along the backroad to Sante Fe (the torquise trail) one of my favorite roads here (thru Madrid)  where we met up with adventurous family members who had just experienced “goat yoga'” so were in an especially jolly mood (and had hilarious photos). After our burgers and crispy fries, Wellington piled us into a van he’d rented to transport a rowdy Cuban band (who happened to be on our flight) who were playing at a Latin music festival. Off we went on a Breaking Bad tour, visiting several locations used for the famous TV show and some entrepreneurs capitalizing on the show, including “The Candy Lady” in old town where we could pose in Walter garb with rock candy resembling blue crystal meth. Kind of a weird thing to base your tourism on but whatever works!

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El Rey Inn, Salsa Under the Stars, el Patio, Frontier, UNM – Albuquerque

imageWe have breezed through Albuquerque in the past but spent more time there this trip because our daughter will soon be attending UNM there, several relatives live there and, last but not least, we’re Breaking Bad fans (which filmed in Albuquerque.)

We enjoyed some local restaurants including El Patio  (excellent New Mexican fare) and Frontier (an old-time almost all-night joint frequented by UNM students, and others.) Our brother-in-law who grew up in the Dominican Republic also took us to Salsa Under the Stars – which happens on Friday nights in the summer at the Museum. Full of a great and very diverse group of salsa dancers and large live band. Perfect on a summer night. We also enjoyed the Saturday morning farmers market downtown, picked up some green chile powder, a tacos, designer bread, an empanada filed with spinach, artichoke and feta, some “marriage equality” dish towels as wedding gifts.

With Amelia in Albuquerque

With Amelia in Albuquerque

I should probably mention that we were a bit disappointed with our longtime lodging in Sante Fe – the El Rey Inn. It’s a great old motor lodge that we’ve stayed at several times over the years. Still charming and very affordable and good service but we found our “traditional” room a bit shabby this time around – I’ve let the proprietors know (since they asked several times for our opinion) and hope things will improve so we can stay there again (not to mention recommend it to others…) Other options: the Madeleine, Nicholas, Inn at Paseo.image

 

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la Boca, 10,000 waves, railroad district, shake foundation, San Marcos Cafe–

At Ten Thousand Waves

At Ten Thousand Waves

Excellent tapas at La Boca, a tiny Spanish place Near the Plaza in Sante Fe, where we were seated next to a woman who played flamenco guitar and sang (very well). We were surprised at how quiet the Plaza was on a Thursday night, except for some kids hanging out by their cars that blared music heavy on the bass.

Overall, we found that the farther you get from the main tourist area by the plaza, the more interesting the shops, the better the art, and the slightly more real the scene. Which we like. We stopped at Ten Thousand Waves, a spa north of town with a very Zen/Japanese vibe (and good Japanese restaurant, we’re told) and made a mental note to visit next time. Also stopped at a funky cafe in Tesuque Village Market for some good local coffee (Ohari). wandering around the Railroad District, it was hard to get our bearings. It has changed a lot since our last trip 13 years ago. But found some good shops and galleries (Rainbow Gate for great ceramics with painted birds and fruit; Bon marche (brightly colored linens).

For lunch we met Leah at Shake Foundation for green chili burgers, shoe string potatoes and a shared piñon nut caramel milkshake. lovely to sit outside at picnic tables in perfect weather,that clear southwest sky and air.2015-New Mexico 040
Just south of sante Fe, we almost drove right past the San Marcos Cafe, an old adobe restaurant set back from the road and obscured by feed store stuff, supposed to have good food. Next trip.
We drove though the dusty town of Cerrillos, which was a reminder of what nearby Madrid could be like if it lost its hardy band of entrepreneurs, including the owner of Seppanen  & Daughters Fine Textiles, who sold us yet another stunning Oaxacan rug (we bought the last one from him 18 years ago.)2015-New Mexico 034

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Restaurant Martin, Bandolier National Monument, Rancho de Chimayo, Hand Arts, — sante Fe and road to Taos

Mayan Chocolate Bar  (before)

Mayan Chocolate Bar (before)

Among the travel articles and miscellaneous stuff I brought with me from my “New Mexico file,” was a copy of a hand drawn map of places in and around Sante Fe and Taos. And on the map, someone had written “rancho de chimayo” and “hand arts” (outside the tiny town of Truchas). I still don’t know whose handwriting it is but I am grateful. Rancho de Chimayo turned out to be a perfect place to eat after climbing in and out of the cliff dwellings at Bandolier National Monument. It’s an old ranch with pretty old dining rooms and a sunny patio where we had some traditional northern New Mexico food (and an excellent frozen prickly pear lemonade.) I am pretty sure the three guys sitting near us were talking movie deals.image

Hand Arts turned out to be a contemporary art gallery in a gloriously bucolic setting…a White House on the edge of the dirt road winding through the little town of Truchas (on the super scenic high road to Taos) with a sculpture garden in a bright green meadow and the blue, purple, brown mountains in the distance. We ended up buying ourselves a 25th anniversary gift.

As an extra bonus, the gallery owner gave us an excellent route home, north to Pelicoris (sp?) and then west to Dixon. Gorgeous drive.

Truchas, N.M.

Truchas, N.M.

Last night’s dinner at restaurant Martin was fantastic. I had yellowfin tuna with little sides dotting the plate – strands of artichokes, grilled onions,  a thin orange edible paper that was once sweet potatoes; Dirck had a similar deconstructed version of short ribs. Dessert was bizarre but delicious a “Mayan chocolate bar” that had some sort of chocolate mousse atop a thin layer of chocolate, with dark moist cake on either end, a scoop of popcorn flavored ice cream (not as bad as that sounds) and a white straw apparently made out of spun sugar (we think.) We were each given a fork and a small spatula to use to split it. So I didn’t have to lick the plate.

 

Mayan chocolate bar (after)

Mayan chocolate bar (after)

 

 

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