Albuquerque’s Rooftop Patios

Hotel Chaco, on of Albuquerque's top rooftop spots

Hotel Chaco, on of Albuquerque’s top rooftop spots

With bright, sunny days that ease into cool, clear evenings, Albuquerque’s weather earns its much-lauded reputation this time of year. ’Tis the season for the outdoors, from shopping in plein-air farmers markets to imbibing on patios. With their lofty vantages, rooftop terraces level up the favored bar pastimes of people-watching, city-viewing and stargazing. Here are a few spots that offer a breath of fresh air. Continue reading

Santa Fe’s Rooftop Hot Spots

jj_nm150528_0895_V1 from the la fonda bookUp on the roof, the real world slips away, expanding the wide sky above, transforming the city below. From a rooftop bar, the sunsets seem more dramatic and the stars look brighter—nearly close enough to touch. Your cares slip away, too, as you admire the view with a craft cocktail in hand and a plateful of acclaimed fare in front of you. Now that the weather is perfect for rooftop revelry, here’s a look at some of the hottest elevated spots in Santa Fe, where you can impress out-of-town guests with dizzying views or relax and watch the sunset with that special someone. Continue reading

Let It Snow! Skiing in New Mexico

 

_DSC3862I’ve been a downhill skier all my life, starting at the age of four when my parents first put me on the bunny hill and I promptly plowed into a group of skiers, knocking them around like so many bowling pins. I wasn’t deterred, though, and not just because my grandfather owned the ski shop at Camelback, in the Pennsylvania Poconos, resulting in free ski passes every year. I simply fell head-over-heels in love early on with the thrill of the hill.

There’s something meditative about the act of skiing your way down a mountain, racing the wind, challenging yourself to ski harder, faster, better. Gliding through the glades in solitude, it’s easy to turn inward and discover more about who you are and where you’re headed. Out there alone, in nature, meeting the elements, you can let go of whatever might be bothering you. Out there, alone, with the trees, the snow, and the sky above, you may feel alone, but you are never lonely. Continue reading

Muertos y Marigolds in Albuquerque’s South Valley

diadelosmuertos-diannawrightimg_0254Querencia. Rich with cultural and emotional connotations, the word is variously translated in Spanish-English dictionaries as fondness, homing instinct, homeland, haunt, and homesickness. But it means something more than any one English word expresses. Muertos y Marigolds volunteer organizer and altar artist Sofia Martinez describes querencia as a place that makes you who you are. Sofia’s helping me understand the theme of this year’s South Valley Día de los Muertos Celebration and Marigold Parade: “Sheep don’t vote, feed the Chupacabra. Reclamando nuestra querencia!” Reclaiming our querencia.

The celebration of Day of the Dead began in this country back in the ’70s as a reclamation of querencia as cultural heritage in the midst of the Chicano Movement—a 1960s civil rights movement encompassing voting, political and land rights, along with cultural awareness that inspired literary and visual creations. Most Chicanos, Nuevo Mexicanos, and American Latinos at that time had grown up Catholic, observing not Día de los Muertos but All Soul’s Day. According to Regina Marchi, a historian of religion with expertise in ritual studies, the intentional integration of Day of the Dead reflects the efforts of Chicano Movement activists “to reaffirm and celebrate the contributions and achievements of the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas.” Continue reading

Restaurant Anasazi — Santa Fe

Inn of the Anasazi, Growing Opportunities Heirloom Tomatoes, with melon, tomato water, guanciale, avocado

Inn of the Anasazi, Growing Opportunities Heirloom Tomatoes, with melon, tomato water, guanciale, avocado

As Chef Edgar Beas and I sit down in the cozy library of the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, one of his qualities immediately stands out. “You strike me as being quite young for an executive chef,” I begin. “Yeah, I get that a lot. A lot,” he says as he rests his chin in the crook of his left hand. A tattoo of a tree climbs from his left hand and swirls around his wrist.  

The 29-year-old has been at the helm of Restaurant Anasazi for five months, but his tenure in the kitchen began during childhood. In elementary school, he cooked with his mother. They made the dishes of his Mexican heritage, honoring the ingredients, creating rich sauces, and building layers of flavor, all qualities that are hallmarks of his dishes to this day. When out to dinner, his father would sneak him into restaurant kitchens—“It was bizarre!” Chef Edgar says—so that the budding chef could observe, taste and see his future. As soon as he graduated high school, the budding chef attended culinary school in his hometown of San Diego/Tijuana at the San Diego Culinary Institute and began working professionally at age 18.

Edgar started as the garde manger, preparing salads. He was at the bottom of the kitchen hierarchy—just as he wanted it. “I worked my way through every single station in the line of the kitchen. I believe it’s important for a chef to understand everything,” he says.

Chef Edgar went on to study in Spain’s Basque Country at Martin Berasategui Restaurant, where he trained with Chef Martin Berasategui, who has a total of eight Michelin stars to his name, three of which are for his namesake restaurant. Back in the U.S., Edgar took the helm of San Francisco’s Chez Papa Resto. Most recently, he was chef de cuisine at Madera, the Michelin-starred restaurant at Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park. He took a promotion and relocated to Santa Fe for the Inn of the Anasazi position in March.

Spanish influences sprinkle his dishes, as in the Pulpo a la Plancha, Galician-style octopus, served with charred avocado, whipped potato, sofrito broth and shishito pepper. In Spain, Edgar learned to respect ingredients and balance flavors. Continue reading

Hillary Smith On The Street for Summerfest

no-easy-way-coverIt’s summer in Albuquerque—we’re in the thick of it—and it’s hot. We’re looking for cool however and wherever we can get it. Thank goodness, when evening comes, the heat subsides, the cool takes over, and it feels good to be out and on the streets.

As much a part of the season in The Duke City as the heat, is Summerfest. Dating back to the 1980s, the event has become a tradition with a wide variety of free activities, and a big part of the fun is live music performed on the streets. It’s an opportunity to be out, see friends, listen, get in the groove and dance—no matter how hot the weather, it’s a undeniably a cool reason to get outside. I recently caught up with our own “Diva of Albuquerque,” blues singer Hillary Smith, to get a sense of what live performance on the streets is all about—and to learn what makes it so special.

Meeting Hillary, immediately, I‘m aware of her soulfulness and her sense of  joy. She has lived a good slice of life with all that living entails, yet when Hillary laughs, she doesn’t hold anything back; when her face lights up, the world laughs and lights up, too.

A native of Hobbs, Hillary has made Albuquerque her home and has been performing professionally for some 30 years. “Actually, it’s more like 38,” she says. “I started singing professionally when I was in high school. Yeah. Thirty-eight years.” Hillary pauses and then exclaims, “REALLY? Yeah. And I remember a good two years of that!” Hillary’s surprised when I ask her how it feels to be a diva. With a touch of Texas in her accent, she replies, “Oh my goodness. Really? I guess that’s the title you get when you’re the oldest.” And with that great laugh, she adds, “I think everyone’s impressed just that I’m still alive! Anyone who knows me.” Continue reading