Vintage Albuquerque: A Beautiful Start to Summer

Grower Champagne Pairings

Champagne PairingsEasy recipes for Champagne Pairings

It’s Valentine’s Day, and only the best Champagne will do! Derek Werner, certified sommelier and wine buyer for La Casa Sena Wine Shop, suggests that you buy a Grower Champagne for this special holiday. We asked Derek to choose four of his favorite bubblies and then we went to La Casa Sena’s Chef Patrick Gharrity for dishes to pair with these limited-production Champagnes.
In combination with La Casa Sena’s sumptuous dishes, these four sommelier-selected Grower Champagnes are sure to complement an elegant evening for two. Continue reading

KGB Spirits

KGB Spirits

story by James Selby
photos by Kitty Leaken

With this issue, localflavor returns to a series chronicling some of Northern New Mexico’s independent entrepreneurs: wine shops and markets and distillers who offer their customers artisanal creations imbued with the integrity of place and craft.

New Mexico is steeped in history. Many scholars, many books, many museums chronicle its rich, complex past. Heritage that we can taste—whether in a bean or a breed or a beverage—makes history much more compelling. It is this link—from ancestor to present, from farm to table—to which we look more and more to sustain our individual cultures, health, life. Recorded history began 5000 years ago modern history as soon as you finish this article. Is a bottle of Taos Lightning whiskey, bottled in New Mexico, a touchstone of history or a portal to the future? According to John Bernasconi, the president and master distiller of KGB Spirits, located near Alcalde, it’s both.

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flirting with rose

Flirting With Rosé


Let me give you some visuals. Any patio setting or comfortable table. A loaf of a thick-crusted bread. A bowl of bouillabaisse peaked with lobster, fresh white fish and tomato, laden with a pungent garlicky aioli, tinted yellow-orange from saffron. Or a picnic with prosciutto and melon, marinated olives, salumi and cheese. A pan bagnat (meaning “bathed bread,” a sort of a Niçoise sandwich drizzled with olive oil; writer Calvin Trillin says when you eat a pan bagnat, the olive oil should run down your wrists). Or a barbecue with sweet, spicy pork ribs and grilled chicken. Or beef and vegetable kabobs accompanied by minty yogurt sauce.

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Chef Mark Connell Up Close

Santa Fe Chef Mark Connell

Since Chef Mark Connell first came on Santa Fe’s culinary scene in 2010, Local Flavor has been keeping a close eye on his career. Stints at Max’s and Tomme showed some true flashes of brilliance, and Chef Johnny Vee called Max’s the city’s “most provocative new restaurant of 2011.”

The very next month, in October 2010, Chef Johnny V did an interview with Connell, “At the Table with Mark Connell“. (Read it here.)

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At the Table with Andrea Clover and Darci Rochau

Darci Rochau Johnny Vee and Andrea Cloverphotos by Gabriella Marks
Story by Chef Johnny Vee
It was a twentieth-century writer named Ernestine Ulmer who coined the phrase, “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.” It seems to ring even truer in these uncertain times of drought, fires, debt ceilings, recession, earthquakes and Michele Bachmann. (Get the sweet stuff now, ’cause the shit is about the hit the fan!) I have an old-fashioned palate, however; once I’ve had something sweet, I’m finished for the meal and often forgo saccharin sorbet intermezzo coursesin a multi-coursed dinner for fear my taste buds will yell, “Done!” and I’ll miss out on the meat course.
Mu from Mu Du Noodles introduced me to the concept that in Asian cooking (unlike American) it is customary for dishes to flip-flop back and forth between sweet and savory. For example, on a traditional dim sum menu, sweet custard pastries may be served mid-meal, after steamed pork buns but before spicy spare ribs. Perhaps it is the yin and the yang of that yummy cuisine, but either way, thoughts of dessert light up the faces of both young and old, across every nation and political persuasion. So it was with great delight that I got to sit down with two local pastry chefs on the luminous patio at Luminaria, at Santa Fe’s Inn and Spa at Loretto, on a hot summer evening and delve in to their collective culinary psyche to see what makes them tick.

Darci Rochau, from Tamaya Resort and Spa in Bernalillo, and Andrea Clover, from Inn and Spa at Loretto, are both young, vivacious and already seemingly at the top of their (sweet) games. I learned that they share very similar ideas about the art of creating tempting desserts, despite coming from dissimilar backgrounds. The gals have been competitors in two rounds of competition at The New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation’s annual Chocolate Fantasy (Andrea won in her category last year, Darci in her category this year), and Darci has appeared on and won the Food Network’s Chocolate Challenge, taking home first prize for her amazing chocolate train straight out of the Wild West. Clearly, these are two culinary professionals worth their salt … or sugar.

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