What Brings Us Together?

When Santa Fe native Nancy Abruzzo met her future husband Richard, a renowned balloonist from Albuquerque, she was a total novice in that world. But she was also game and she was adventurous. Richard’s passion for balloons, both gas and hot air, was contagious, and Nancy found herself not only becoming an aficionado but, eventually, a pilot, herself. The son of world-famous balloonist Ben Abruzzo who founded the Albuquerque Balloon Museum, Richard had won countless awards, capped in 2004 by the Gordon Bennett Cup, a prestigious international contest he won with co-pilot Carol Rymer Davis for long distance gas ballooning.

Courtesy Nancy Abruzzo

Courtesy Nancy Abruzzo

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Chef Johnny Vee Wants to Know

Fire & Hops

slider Fire and Hops

As a longtime fan of Chef Joel Coleman’s cooking, I remember my disappointment when I heard he was leaving town after running into owner problems at his downtown venture Koi. Prior to that, Coleman had made a splash with Mauka in the Guadalupe district, serving his unique spin on Japanese and Asian inspired cooking. His frustration is one that many talented chefs feel; finding your culinary footing in this fickle industry can be tricky. I was glad to hear he was back in town and eager to check out his new gastro pub, an idea he had been playing with in his head for years. As I wrote in my round-up in the September issue of Local Flavor, when I visit a restaurant three times in a week, you know I’m intrigued. Fire & Hops has become my new “local favorite” so I was curious to hear from the chef himself, and partner Josh Johns, just how this new gamble is panning out … and to talk Spam. Continue reading

Albuquerque: The Frontier of Beer

Il Vicino

When I began this story, I set out to visit all the Albuquerque breweries. “No problem,” I thought, “it’ll only take me a few days!” Little did I realize that the number of establishments crafting locally produced, small-batch beers has positively skyrocketed in the past few years and Albuquerque is now home to some 25 or 30 microbreweries. Simply put, Albuquerque craft beer is exploding. But what’s behind this brewery boom? Continue reading

Up the Road a Piece

Here you are in Albuquerque for the International Balloon Fiesta. You got up early and went to the balloon glow, walked among the balloons, oohed and aahed over the mass ascension and posted enough photos on Facebook and Instagram that your friends are not only no longer “liking” them, they’re on the verge of blocking all further posts from you. You look at your watch at 9 a.m. and think, “What now?” You could stick around for the chainsaw carving (do you really want to?); you could go visit the other attractions in Albuquerque, of which there are many, but the other 100,000 people you were rubbing elbows with this morning will be crowding the Bio Park and the museums; or you could just go to your hotel and spend the day at the pool, thereby missing anything that the Land of Enchantment has to offer.

Visit Santa Fe

The United States is the most vacation poor country in the world. Do you really want to spend your few, precious days away from the office fighting the masses or wasting the day emulating the vultures from “The Jungle Book”? If it’s further amusement you’re seeking, there’s an option: hop in your car and travel the fifty miles up I-25 to Santa Fe. Continue reading

Calabacitas Con Carne

AutumnSquash

By Photo by M.Rehemtulla [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

From Arlene Wagner of Wagner Farms

1 1/2 pounds beef steak, cubed
2 Tablespoons shortening1/2 cup water
2 cups fresh corn cut from cob
3 medium zuchini, diced
2 medium summer squash, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green chile
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated Monterrey Jack cheese

Brown beef in shortening in a large skillet at medium-high heat. Lower heat and add water to beef. Cover and simmer at low heat until tender. Add more water if needed. Add remaining ingredients, except cheese, to beef and cook at medium heat until squash is tender. Add cheese, stir lightly and enjoy!

Wagner Farms is located at 5000 Corrales Road in Corrales. 505.459.0719, wagnerfarmscorrales.com.

Hearts a’ Fire

Photo courtesy Dick Rice

Photo courtesy Dick Rice

Like most other boys growing up in Terre Haute, Ind., Dick Rice’s head was filled with dreams and ideas, but they didn’t include flying his own hot air balloon. Outside of Jules Verne and “The Wizard of Oz,” ballooning wasn’t a real life concept to most kids in those days. Dick’s path to ballooning was much more of a long, strange—and grounded—trip, involving four years of college to become a certified public accountant and, after graduation, a job in the tax department of a firm in Chicago. Continue reading

Yanni’s Urban Garden

Nicole Kapnison and Co.

Photos by Joy Godfrey

Wisdom is often hard earned, but the true testament of the strength of that wisdom is when it is shared and honored from one generation to the next. Nicole Kapnison was 6 years old when her parents opened Yanni’s in 1993. Since 2011, she and her mother, Chris Komis, have used the accumulated wisdom of those 21 years to modernize and progress to keep pace with the shifting restaurant scene. Continue reading

All Local All the Time

CSA egg, cabbage, carrotOn a bright Thursday morning, a group of six people have set up a temporary camp of sorts at the Hillside Market in Santa Fe, packing produce into boxes and reusable grocery bags. It’s member pickup day for Beneficial Farms CSA, Steve and Colleen Warshawer’s family business. The couple is joined by three volunteers (as well as some of the volunteers’ tiny, adorable children) and Colleen’s son Thomas Swendson, who moved to Albuquerque from Denver three years ago to work for MoGro, a nonprofit mobile grocery store that supports sustainable local food distribution. “I’ve been doing more of the technical side parttime for Beneficial Farms,” he says, “but in the past month, it’s been more handson.” Despite everyone working to a tight deadline, the collective vibe is laidback and friendly. But laidback does not mean slack, as any conversation with Steve quickly demonstrates.

Though not from a farming family himself, Steve knew he wanted to go into agriculture after spending time as a teenager working on a co-op farm located in Georgia. He came to New Mexico in the late 1970s as a junior at St. John’s College; when he finished up that academic year, his path took a different turn. “The land that we live on was purchased with my senior year tuition savings, and I didn’t return to school after,” he says. Thus began the long road to creating a working farm, which didn’t come into full existence until 1993. Initially the land, about 25 miles southeast of Santa Fe, was vacant unmanaged ranch land, and all infrastructure had to be put in place. There was, says Steve, “no water, fences, roads, anything.” Continue reading

Gruet

When I walk through the front door of Gruet Winery in Albuquerque, I’m hit with the wonderful smells of wine production: the sweet, fragrant aroma of freshly pressed grapes and the earthy smell of oak barrels. I can hear the gentle, high-pitched clinking of bottles as they move through the bottling line. Laurent Gruet, the son of founder Gilbert Gruet and the company’s winemaker, shows me around the winery.

Gruet by Gabriella Marks

Photo by Gabriella Marks

There are several containers of fresh Chardonnay grapes just in from the vineyard waiting to be pressed. Nearby, a giant hydraulic grape press reaches nearly to the warehouse ceiling. Rows of tanks, the largest of which can hold 60,000 bottles of wine, fill one room. Workers scurry across the wet concrete floor busy with various tasks. Bottles ready to be sold move like little soldiers through the bottling line. Each bottle is disgorged, topped up, corked, labeled and prepared for sale—a thousand cases per day. It’s a beautiful, circular process that symbolizes how far Gruet has come in 25 years. I sat down with Laurent to talk about the history and future of Gruet, and to find out what the future may hold for the wine industry in the Land of Enchantment. Continue reading

Savory Baked Apples with Green Chile

By Hansueli Krapf         This file was uploaded with Commonist. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Hansueli Krapf This file was uploaded with Commonist. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

From Chef Jonathan Perno of Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm

4 Arkansas Black apples*, cored
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 cup green chile, finely chopped1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash and core the apples. Set them aside. In a mixing bowl, add the water, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and maple syrup. Mix until combined. Place the apples in a basking dish with room to spare. Pour the liquid mixture over the apples. In a separate bowl, mix together the green chile, the pecans and half the butter. Stuff the apples with this mixture. Divide the remaining butter into small pieces and place them around the pan. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

Check the apples with a skewer; if the skewer is removed easily, then remove the apples from the oven and allow them to cool.

Serves 4

*The Arkansas Black is a medium-size apple good for long storage (up to six months). It has thick dark skin and flesh that is tart, sweet and very juicy. Can’t find Arkansas Black apples? You can substitute Rome, Pink Lady, Jonathan or Granny Smith.

Los Poblanos is located at 4803 Rio Grande Blvd NW in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. 505.344.9297, lospoblanos.com

The Buzz October 2014

Albuquerque

According to Women’s Health magazine, Albuquerque is one of the country’s “up-and-coming” food scenes. To which we shout a resounding, duh! According to the magazine’s formula of searching for highly rated eateries, three Duke City restaurants were highlighted, all featuring creative Latin cuisine: Pollito Con Papas, Guava Tree Cafe and Pasión Latin Fusion. Kudos all around! Continue reading