The Buzz—March 2014

Thank you to everyone who participated in our reader survey—we loved your colorful comments and insightful suggestions. Congratulations to Fionna Buck, who won a cool $250 in the survey drawing (and even promised to spend every penny of it in her favorite restaurants)!



Chris Medina, Michael Wewerka and David Boyd, the partners behind burger joint Holy Cow in East Downtown are very close to opening their newest restaurant, Gravy, in the old Milton’s space, across from Holy Cow. The menu at the upscale diner menu will reflect the space—comfort food with a sophisticated twist, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Beer and wine will be served, and it will be open seven days a week. We look forward to seeing the custom work and enjoy the next project from this talented group.

We shed a tear for the closing of Terra Bistro but leapt for joy at hearing that Peter Lukes’ new project, Piattini, opens March 8. While Peter has been perfecting the menu of small Italian plates, wife Maggie Lukes, recently retired from an architecture/interior design career, has been creating the look of the space at 1403 Girard NE, just south of Indian School. “So many people have been stopping by from the neighborhood, we’re floored by the tremendous excitement,” she says. “We’re excited to have a place that will be a comfortable neighborhood hangout for families and anyone.” For now, Piattini (which means small plates or saucers in Italian), will be open for dinner, featuring pasta, salads, small pizzas featuring local organic ingredients and a menu where 90% of the items are gluten-free. Lunch and a morning coffee bar is in the works, as is weekend brunch. Visit

Mark your calendars for the weekly Show Up Show Down speaker series at tART, 105 Gold Ave, and its rotating week-long exhibitions. March 7 debuts Kim Stringfellow’s project There It Is—Take It!, which explores the Owens Valley and the Los Angeles Aqueduct system. Stringfellow’s work is followed by Kate Daughdrill and Mira Burack’s The Edible Hut (March 14-20), then Signal Fire from Amy Harwood and Ryan Pierce (March 21-27). The month closes with Matthew Mazzotta’s Open House (March 28-April 4 ). An initiative of Downtown Action Team and MainStreet, tART: temporary art in downtown public places works in collaboration with ArtsCrawl and Creative Albuquerque to bring temporary art to underutilized sites throughout the Downtown area. Check out

Westsiders, take note that Stumbling Steer has finally opened! That pesky government shutdown last fall delayed their brewer’s license and, thus, their offering of award-winning brew master Kirk Roberts’ regular and seasonal ales and stouts. James Beard Award–nominated chef Thanawat Bates, formerly executive chef at the Brown Palace in Denver, has reinvented the concept of pub food and there’s lots of excitement from foodies in town. Visit for hours and menu.

Speaking of James Beard nominees, New Mexico is well represented in the semi-finalist list this year for best chef in the Southwest: Jennifer James of Jennifer James 101 and Jonathan Perno of La Merienda at Los Poblanos Inn are both contenders (as is Rob Connelly of The Curious Kumquat in Silver City). Finalists will be announced March 18 and awards presented May 5 at Lincoln Center in New York. Get to JJ 101 on March 10 to meet another award-winner, winemaker Merry Edwards of Merry Edwards Winery, and enjoy a multi-course winemaker’s dinner. Visit for details.

And while we talking about awards, the 2014 AAA Four Diamond list for hotels and restaurants lists several Albuquerque area hotels: Hotel Andaluz, Hotel Parq Central and Sandia Resort and Casino, as well as the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa in Bernalillo.

The regional Southwest Irish Theatre Festival kicks off in March, with productions in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Duke City contributions include Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, directed by Brian Hansen at the Vortex Theatre (March 14-April 6), Patrick Fitzgerald’s Gibraltar (a new play based on James Joyce’s Ulysses) at the AuxDog Theatre (April 11-27) and Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, directed by Leslee Richards at the Adobe Theater (April 4-27). Dublin, Ireland, native Alan Hudson, co-founder and coordinator of the festival, will be familiar to audiences as an actor and linguistics expert who taught at UNM for nearly 30 years. He’ll be discussing the plays, the authors and how he teaches dialects to actors on March 13 at Nueva Vista at La Vida Llena. For info on the festival, visit

March 23-30, Opera Southwest presents its first-ever production of Georges Bizet’s exotic opera Les Pêcheurs de Perles, a story of love and loyalty in a colonial Ceylon fishing village. Tenor Scott Ramsay, baritone Sean Anderson and soprano Shana Blake Hill (last heard here as Violetta in OSW’s 2011 La Traviata) bring to the stage the vision of guest director Nathaniel Merchant, who specializes in rediscovering rare and neglected works by composers and playwrights. See it at the National Hispanic Cultural Center; visit or call 505-243-0591 for tickets.

If live horses are your interest, come celebrate 2014—the Chinese Year of the Horse—with the New Mexico Art League’s Spirit of the Horse, a month-long invitational art show and sale, running March 22-April 25 and offering entertainment, food, Asian crafts and vendors and more on March 30. Proceeds from the sale of select art works benefits New Mexico Horse Rescue at Walkin N Circles Ranch. The Art League’s gallery is at 3409 Juan Tabo Blvd. Asian art expert Dr. Arthur Mu-Sen Kao presents a three-day workshop on traditional and modern Chinese ink painting, March 31-April 2. Dr. Kao’s work has been exhibited in Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, China and throughout the U.S. Go to for complete details on all happenings.

Pizza is on an upward trend in Albuquerque. First, Village Pizza, a Corrales staple, has opened a second location, in the North Valley at Rio Grande and Griegos, in the old Jhondi’s BBQ location. VP2 offers the same menu and buffet as the original, serving lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Second, the owners of Vernon’s Steakhouse and PRIME have also turned their hands to pizza, with WisePies at 4545 Alameda Blvd NE, near Jefferson. WisePies’s schtick is individual gourmet pies made just the way you like in under five minutes, seven days a week. With made-fromscratch doughs and sauces, WisePies offer gourmet and health-conscious options: whole wheat and gluten-free crusts, lots of fresh veggies, salads and cookie desserts. How to choose between these two pizzerias? We’ll just have to try both!

Hurrah for two popular Albuquerque museums, recognized among the best in the nation for families by USA Today readers. The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science and Old Town neighbor ¡Explora! Children’s Museum made the list, and Albuquerque was the only city with more than one winner. Says author Jennifer Boren of USA Today’s, “Having [previously] lived in Albuquerque for 26 years, I was so pleased to see that two made it in the top 10. I took my son to both of these when he was little.” Don’t think Explora’s just for kids, though. Check out their adult nights at

Bikers (the motorcycle variety) may have a tough image, but they are really softies. At least the wild hogs joining the Ride for the Cure NM event certainly are. The a two-day fundraising event (March 29 and 30) benefiting the University of New Mexico Cancer Center starts from either Santa Fe or Albuquerque, with overnight camping in Madrid. The scenic mountain ride on March 30 is free. Shane Stanford came up with the idea seven years ago, and he says his inspiration came in a dream of motorcycle riders on bikes wearing pink. There is also a crafts fair, with live bands and disc jockeys, restaurants and food vendors plus a children’s corner with age-appropriate fun, all happening March 29. For more information and to register, visit

Santa Fe

Farm to Table hosts its first Food and Film Evening on March 13 to benefit its Farm to Restaurant program. The award-winning foodie flick Like Water for Chocolate screens at the Jean Cocteau Cinema, accompanied by local eats prepared by Chef Patrick Gharrity of La Casa Sena. The Jean Cocteau will also serve beer, wine and spirits at a cash bar. Go, eat and watch, knowing that you’re supporting sustainable agriculture and healthy eating across New Mexico. For tickets, call 505.310.7405 or email

Lots of news from The Compound Restaurant. Locals have always known it’s one of the most romantic places in town, and now it’s official! just included The Compound on its list of America’s Top Ten Most Romantic Restaurants. The iconic Canyon Road establishment just reopened after a complete renovation of their interior adobe walls; diamond plaster has added an antiqued tint, softness and a subtle color to the already elegant restaurant—even more romantic. And there’s a new sous chef in the kitchen; Chef Michael Frank came on board after three years at the prestigious Phoenician in Scottsdale. Saving the best for last, you can experience the new look yourself on March 11, for a Merry Edwards Winery five-course wine dinner, with special guest Merry Edwards, who celebrated 40 years as an award-winning winemaker last year. This limited seating event is sure to sell out, so call Jane Steele at 505.982-4353 to reserve your spot.

Body has a new chef, too. Lizz Redman started cooking at a young age in Wisconsin and received her Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems from Montana State University last year. Redman draws much of her culinary inspiration from her travels; she’s been to more than 20 countries and five continents, often taking time to visit local farmers’ markets and sampling authentic cultural dishes. She also ran her own catering company, focusing on seasonal ingredients and sustainable business practices, which makes her a perfect fit for Body, a business that operates on the belief that eating habits offer a powerful way to make meaningful change to our bodies and our communities. Welcome, Lizz!

Santa Fe’s pizza choices are expanding in March. Pizza Centro has extended its reach, opening a new branch in the former Lucci’s space on the Southside. Owners Jason and Nathan Aufrichtig bring their piemaking experience from two other locations, Eldorado and the Santa Fe Design Center (Jason also owns the fun, funky Counter Culture). The south location will have a beer and wine license and an outdoor patio for pizza (whole and by the slice), sandwiches, salads and calzones. Pizza Centro is known for its gluten-free crusts and gourmet toppings, too. Visit

It seems we can’t get enough coffee in the City Different, either. (Really, who can?) Chuck and Karen Malody opened Arroyo Coffeebar at 102 East Water, next to Pinkoyote, with the philosophy that coffee is so much more than just a beverage. So imagine a hip joint with great craft drinks, small-plate food for breakfast and lunch until midafternoon. The Malodys say when summer arrives, they’ll move out onto the patio and create happy hour menus and events. We’re hearing excellent buzz about the food, too. Chef Karen brings years of foodie sensibility, and Chuck keeps customers on their toes with lively conversation. Open from 8 until 3 every day, except Sunday.

If you believe that food can be art (and we at Local Flavor absolutely do), then SITE Santa Fe is the place to be in March for Digest this, a series of food-related discussions. The first is Spirits & Poetry on March 4, with Santa Fe Spirits distiller Colin Keegan speaking about his local distillery and offering tastings of his vodka, gin, whiskey and apple brandy, followed by Hakim Bellamy, Albuquerque Poet Laureate sharing his own and others’ favorite food poems. Other events include Coffee & Etiquette, March 11, with Tai Ayers from Ohori’s Coffee Roasters and Bizia Greene from the Etiquette School of Santa Fe. On March 18 is Celebrating Family Cooking & Some Like it Hot: The History and Hospitality of New Mexico Chile, with Lynn Walters, founder and executive director of Cooking with Kids, and Carmella Padilla, author of The Chile Chronicles. The month wraps up with Izakaya Dining & Artisanal Sake, on March 25, with Deborah Fleig and Linda Tetrault of Floating World Sake Imports hosting a sake tasting and imparting Japanese cooking secrets from the kitchen of Izanami, the acclaimed new restaurant at Ten Thousand Waves. Find more info at

Speaking of Izanami, kudos to owners Duke Klauck and Deborah Fleig and chef Kim Muller for making the semi-finals in the new restaurant category in the 2014 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards. Other Santa Fe semi-finalists include Best Chef in the Southwest nominees Chef Martin Rios of Restaurant Martin and James Campbell Caruso of La Boca. Congratulations all around!

Santa Fe also led the New Mexico AAA Four Diamond 2014 list with the most designations: Eldorado Hotel and Spa, Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder, La Fonda On the Plaza, La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa, Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, the Inn and Spa at Loretto and the Inn of the Five Graces. Two Santa Fe restaurants made the list—Geronimo on Canyon Road and Terra at Encantado (at the aforementioned Four Seasons). Well done, everyone!

More kudos to Chef Andrew Cooper and his crew at Terra! Their winter squash and chorizo entry took home the prize for Best Soup and Best Savory soup at this year’s Souper Bowl, an event that benefits The Food Depot food bank. Best Cream Soup was won by El Milagro for its spicy potato and bacon potage. Best Vegetarian Soup went to Kingston Residence of Santa Fe retirement community. Their roasted poblano pepper piñon and juniper berry soup wowed the crowd. Nath’s Specialty Catering won the Best Fish Soup for their seafood version of the Thai favorite tom yum. The event raised over $54,000 to help feed people in northern New Mexico. Hurrah for the all the winners.

One restaurant not in the running at this year’s event was multi-year winner Jambo Café. The African eatery graciously decided to let others have a shot at the title this time. Owner Ahmed Obo has been busy, though. His new Jambo Imports storefront, a few doors down from the restaurant, supports Jambo Kids Foundation, dedicated to assisting the health and well-being of the people of Lamu Island off the coast of Kenya, whence Obo hails. Jambo Imports sells a wonderful selection of clothing, decorative items, spices and other treasures from Africa, so go support this worthy cause from a philanthropically minded chef.

Want to learn to cook like the best chefs? Santa Fe Culinary Academy has opened The Guesthouse, a studentrun workshop and showcase for students to learn from guest chefs. We lucky Santa Feans get to scarf up the goodies on the rotating menu, enjoy pop-up dinners on the first Thursday of the month and be treated to special culinary events. The Guesthouse, on the third floor of the Mercado Building at 112 West San Francisco Street, serves lunch on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The current session runs through March 13. Reservations are recommended; call 505.983.7445 ext. 9. Dinner begins in April. See for complete info.

Santa Fe’s contribution to the Southwest Irish Theater Festival is a series of Irish plays at Theaterwork, including The Cordelia Dream by celebrated Irish playwright Marina Carr, a bold and poignant take on the King Lear/Cordelia story. Ms. Carr is flying in from Dublin for the opening night of the festival, March 21, and will be on stage March 22 at the James A. Little Theater. Other plays in the Theaterwork series include Molly Sweeney by Brian Friel, A White Notebook: The Letters of W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne by Leslie Dillen, Cathleen ni Houlihan by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory, and All The Doors Swinging Wide!, a performance of vocal music brought to the stage by four members of the Theaterwork company. Complete details are at


Lest you think that AAA forgot about Taos in its Four Diamond list for 2014, fear not. The eco-friendly El Monte Sagrado resort was lauded again, as it has been since its opening. James Beard didn’t forget Taos, either. Chef Frederick Müller of the delicious El Meze was named a semifinalist for Best Chef in the Southwest, while Ron Cooper of Del Maguey Single Village Mezcal received another nod for his wonderful artisanal beverages.

Filmmakers and cinephiles descend on Taos in March for the Seventh Annual Taos Shortz Film Fest, March 20-23. This year’s fest includes submissions from over 40 countries, free panel discussions, networking soirees and a few surprises. Last year, the fest screened over 88 short films represented by 17 countries, 30 of which were U.S. and/or world premieres. Details are at

If you like a little mystery with your art, head to Encore Gallery and the Stables Gallery on March 16 for the second annual Sight Unseen exhibition and sale. This fundraising gala for Taos Center for the Arts features nearly 100 works of art, each 6” by 8”, created by recognized and beloved Taos artists for the price of $125 a piece. The mystery is that no one can know who created any given work of art until the piece is purchased; all works are signed on the back, thus the term “sight unseen.” The art will be exhibited in the Stables Gallery and unveiled at the designated hour of 5 p.m., when doors will open for viewing and purchase. Visit for a list of participating artists and details.

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