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

The Railyard—Santa Fe’s Family Room

COVERRAIL_32__klCommunity. It means different things to different people. It can be a neighborhood, a city, a club, a civic organization or a collection of like-minded individuals. There are communities built around religion, retirement, lifestyles, hobbies, residence, parenthood, ancestry… the list goes on and on. But the one thing that all communities share is human connection. Communities form when people connect with each other and find they have something in common, whether it’s where they live, their values, shared experiences or a mutual goal.

Santa Fe’s Railyard Park is that connection and interdependence brought to life. The 18-acre park began as a grassroots movement to transform the reclaimed brown field off Cerrillos Road into a thriving and vibrant public space. Thousands of residents engaged in the planning process and advocated its development. The Railyard Park was created by the community, for the community. Together, citizens reimagined the space as a multi-use park that would be devoted to cultural diversity and environmental sustainability.

That vision has been fully realized. The park was completed in 2008, and today Santa Fe Railyard Park is a flourishing public garden, outdoor art exhibit and events space for all Santa Feans. If the Santa Fe Plaza is our city’s living room, Railyard Park is our family room. Couples walk amongst fragrant orchards as children tirelessly cavort in the playground. Families gather for free outdoor movie nights. Students learn about local ecosystems. Residents tend plots in the community garden or pause to inhale the fragrance of the roses. Visitors admire our artistic displays and glimpse our high-desert wildlife.

Behind the scenes, a small group of ecologists, volunteers and community members known as The Railyard Stewards oversees it all. In collaboration with The City of Santa Fe, The Trust for Public Land, The Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation, and the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, The Railyard Stewards manage the care of the park, while also providing a wide variety of educational programs and community events. Continue reading

For the Love of Lavender

conastogawagonLavender is a shape shifter, transforming from a sweet herbaceous undertone in lemonade and cupcakes, to essential oils in body products that can ease tension and heal skin. This month, two festivals—one in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and one in Abiquiu—exude purple passion, showing off our love of lavender in any and every form.    

Lavender in the Village, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque

Lavender in the Village returns after a two-year hiatus for a refreshed festival that promises to capture the community spirit that has made it a favorite for 10 years. Longtime Lavender in the Village board member Katie Snapp grew up visiting her grandparents’ farm outside Kansas City. For her, the fete has a sense of nostalgia. “This festival gives you that bucolic reminiscence,” she says.  

grey-lavenderPenny Rembe, whose family owns Los Poblanos Inn and Organic Farm, itself a major player in the world of lavender, founded the festival more than a decade ago. For nine years, a small board and community volunteers put on the two-day festival that drew 6,000 to 8,000 people to the pastoral island within metropolitan Albuquerque. For this year’s event, the board bypassed that logistical feat, hiring event creator Dean Strober of Blue River Productions. Dean’s also put on notable food fests such as Southwest Chocolate & Coffee Fest and Southwest Bacon Fest. “People love this event,” he says. “It has such an incredible following and such a long and wonderful history of bringing people together.”

Dean has several changes in store. This year’s festival will unfold on one day, July 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lavender in the Village will also take place in one location—versus several, as in previous years. Happenings will take place at the Agri-Nature Center, a working farm across the street from Los Poblanos Inn & Organic Farm that backs up to Los Poblanos Open Space. The rural oasis will host open-air yoga classes in the field—another new addition this year. Live music, from bluegrass to a Beatles tribute band, will mingle with the sounds of conversation shared over lavender sangria and craft beer. More than 100 vendors (previous years have had around 40) will tout lavender used in every way, from artists to paint it to purveyors like Old Windmill Dairy. “There’s something very healing and beautiful about it. It’s very much New Mexico at its core,” Strober says. Although the event is family friendly, if parents want to enjoy it for a couple hours by themselves, they can drop off their brood at the Kids Camp, with hands-on activities by Los Ranchos Farm Camp. No matter which aspect of the festival participants enjoy, lavender and sustainable agriculture will be at the fore. On-site parking is limited, so be sure to follow the directional signage to off-site lots and shuttles.

Lavender at Los PoblanosPrior to Lavender in the Village, on July 8 and 9, Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm will host a four-course, field-to-fork dinner.

Tickets: Ages 13 and up $8, Agri-Nature Center, 4920 Rio Grande Blvd. NW, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, lavenderinthevillage.com.

Lavender in the Valley, Abiquiu

Purple Adobe Lavender Farm may have founded this festival, but the celebration’s purple flags fly across the Abiquiu valley, July 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. The Abiquiu Inn will serve a special lavender themed menu––and lavender lemonade and lavender chocolate chip cookies are on deck at Bode’s general store. Artists will capture the purple flowers in their paintings live at Rising Moon Gallery and Art Center.

Of course, the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm is the event’s epicenter, and the happenings here are as bountiful as the crop. Visitors can join field tours, enjoy the shade under the ramada to make crafts such as Victorian wands, and listen to the flute and guitar of Ronald Roybal and Ryan Dominguez. Santa Fe-based photographer Woody Galloway is the festival’s featured artist this year; he’ll be on hand to sign commemorative posters. A favorite of farm visitors throughout the year, the teahouse will serve gluten-free goodies, such as lavender scones and house-made gelato. Attendees can also cut their own lavender from a thousand plants in a U-Pick field, new for this year. Continue reading