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Best place for a visitor to buy local products - ABQ

Yeah, the distilleries were a nice surprise. If I'd had more time, I would have liked to visit Left Turn, which has a tasting room somewhere in ABQ. I'd skip whoever is producing that rye, though.

I wanted to get to Tia Betty Blue's, but I obviously overestimated how much I'd be able to eat. Interesting that the chile has gotten noticeably tamer. Sad to hear that, though glad I wasn't being served some mild version because I didn't look like I could handle the real stuff (as happens in some of the Chinese and Thai restaurants in Queens....) Even in Las Cruces, when I specifically asked for the hot chile, it was pretty insignificant.

Jan 23, 2015
versicle in Southwest
1

Best place for a visitor to buy local products - ABQ

Ok. This may get a bit long.

I drove straight from the airport to Barelas Coffee House. It was lunchtime, but my flight out of NYC was so early that I hadn't had breakfast yet. I ordered the huevos rancheros deluxe, which didn't disappoint. I'd forgotten how good flour tortillas can be--fluffy and chewy.

I was staying in the North Valley, very close to Farm and Table, so I had my first dinner there. I had kale, cheddar, and green chile empanadas to start, duck breast for my main course, and I've already forgotten the desert, which should say something about its memorability. The empanada was made with puff pastry, which, with the cheddar, was a bit too rich and gooey. I couldn't taste the green chile at all. It was served on a bed of greens that I'll come back to in a moment. I was impressed with the quality of the duck breast. When it came to the table, I thought they'd made a mistake and served me a beef dish--the duck was very dark and meaty, different than any duck I've had before. But it, too, was served on a bed of the same greens, only this time with some warm mushrooms mixed in. The greens were generic, like something you'd get in a box at the grocery store and their mediocrity, along with the fact that they made two appearances, was a turn-off. There was a Macedonian red wine on the menu. I tend to like unusual wines, especially Eastern European, Greek, and Georgian ones. This one, though, was port-y in the unpleasantly heavy way some Eastern wines can be--I'm not sure why they would have chosen this particular one amidst all the Italian, French, etc. bottles on the menu. Anyway, the takeaway was that the quality of the meat in the main dish was excellent, but the meal didn't come together overall. Service was inattentive, but that's a frequent issue for a woman dining alone.

The next morning I went to Downtown Java Joe's, a place that has not changed at all in the twenty years since I lived in Albuquerque. Breakfast burrito was fine comfort food, coffee was great. I found it enormously comforting that visiting there was like stepping into a time machine.

I went to Jubilation. They didn't have many New Mexican wines and didn't stock the Riesling recommended above. I was looking at a bottle of rye from a NM distiller and asked the gentleman working there what he could tell me about it. He began to explain to me what a "rye" was, but once we'd established that I knew the difference between rye and bourbon, we were able to have a non-patronizing conversation. He gave me a taste of the rye (sorry, I don't remember the distiller), but I didn't think it was all that great--tasted like pretty generic bourbon with a somewhat high rye mashbill. But one thing lead to another and I tasted the old tom gin from Left Turn Distiller in Albuquerque and the Colkegan whiskey from Santa Fe Spirits. The gin is juniper heavy, which isn't my favorite thing, but it was an interesting bottle and I like that it's such a small, local production, and I'm partial to old toms. I loved the Colkegan, which is similar to scotch and gets its smoky flavor from mesquite. I bought bottles of both of these, and a bottle of the Santa Fe Spirits apple brandy, which I didn't taste but hey, how could it be bad?

That night I ate dinner at Tito and Mary's--carne adovada enchilada. What can I say? Total classic. It was so good, I ate it too quickly and had to settle my stomach with some of the Colkegan. My only complaint here is that neither the carne nor the red sauce were very hot. This was true of everything I ate on this trip. Was it a bad year for chiles? I remember the endorphin high of eating lots of chiles when I lived in New Mexico, and the most I got anywhere on this trip was a mildly spicy flavor.

The highlight of my meals was Los Poblanos. I wouldn't even put Farm and Table in the same category as this place. I started with a celeriac remoulade, which was excellent, followed by the pork belly on a green chile corn cake with kale, also excellent. They were mixing some creative cocktails with fortified wines (no hard liquor license, I assume). The remoulade was served with a handful of salad greens that really emphasized the difference in quality between this place and Farm and Table--they were delicate, unusual, and had a real mix of flavors, including bitter. My dining experiences in Albuqerque were limited to what I could consume in a few days, but I'd be surprised to hear anyone say this isn't the best restaurant in the city. On a side note, when I left there was a pure white pea hen nesting in a tree branch above, just outside the entrance of the inn. Her feathers were fluttering in the breeze, which created a remarkable and magical vision in the crisp, dark New Mexican night.

I had breakfast one morning at Humble Coffee, a new place on Lomas. The pour over coffee was flavorful and fresh and strong.

The big disappointment was El Patio, a place I frequented and adored when I lived in Albuquerque and have dreamed of returning to. I had the chile rellenos and could barely finish them. The cheese inside the chiles was cheap and greasy and not fully cooked. The chiles themselves weren't fully cooked, either. Probably I should have sent it back. I don't know whether I caught them at an off moment or what. I was also pretty dismayed by how scuzzy that block was. That whole area was definitely pretty sketchy when I lived there, and maybe I'm just more put off by it now than when I was 19 or 20, but I don't think I'd make a repeat visit there the next time I'm in Albuquerque. Frankly, I would probably avoid that whole stretch of Central across from UNM.

As for how things have changed in 20 years...it's hard to say. I'm experiencing New Mexico as a grown up professional person, not an impoverished college student. I don't remember the names of a lot of the places I used to eat, except El Patio and Frontier (used to be 24 hours, right--surprised to see that it closes for a few hours at night), since I lived in the area and those were the places I could walk to. There was a place on Monte Vista, just off Central, where I ate many breakfasts and particularly remember the sopapillas--no longer there. I spent untold hours at E.J.'s, but not because of the food. The Anapurna Cafe is there now. The bars I drank at are gone--a place on Central across the street from the University that often had live music, One Eyed Jacks further down Central, Dingo downtown, and Downtown Louie's 66 (I think I have those names right--it's been a long time and I was drunk). Otherwise I was surprised by how little Albuquerque has changed. Parts of downtown are cleaned up a bit, and near the intersection of 25 and Central, but overall the city felt remarkably similar. The outskirts past the North Valley were much more heavily developed, and it was surprising to discover that La Montanita had become a local chain. I spent a lot of time at Double Rainbow as a student and was interested that it's also become a chain under the Flying Star name, but I didn't try any of those franchises. The biggest difference was how mild all the chile dishes were.

Oh, and I stopped by the Fruit Basket and bought a giant bag of hot dried red chile, some blue cornmeal, and pinenuts. I got Heidi's jam at La Montanita, where it was several dollars cheaper than at the Los Poblanos farm shop. Speaking of which, they don't sell their lavender honey--just serve it in the restaurant. Beautiful little farm shop, definitely worth a stop. I bought some of their yarn, which comes from a woman's cooperative in northern NM.

Wish I could have found a viable way to get some frozen green chile home--the second leg of my trip is in Arizona, otherwise I would have stopped for some on the way to the airport.

Jan 21, 2015
versicle in Southwest
1

Best place for a visitor to buy local products - ABQ

ninrn, thank you so much for this thoughtful reply. I should clarify that I lived in ABQ about 20 years ago, so I'm pretty familiar with the cuisine and am planning to eat as much chile as possible. I'm also visiting from NYC, so am only interested in the things that are specific to NM. I'd already planned on making a stop at the Fruit Basket, and have been scheming ways to pack frozen green chiles with ice packs. What I'm interested in is local products, artisanal things, not the gimmicky tourist stuff. Good to know about Cervantes--I'll definitely pick up some jars of that. The Montecito balsamic is probably a bit out of my price range, but if you can recommend any products to look out for, I'd really appreciate it--honey, chocolate, etc. I'll check out Gruet for sure.

On another note, I've read through the last year or so of ABQ posts on Chowhound and see that you're one of the few frequent posters. I'm mapping out my eating itinerary. Thinking Barela's or El Modelo for lunch tomorrow, reservations at Farm and Table tomorrow night, breakfast at Tia Betty Blue's on Saturday, lunch in the air, dinner at El Patio or Sadie's on Fourth, a stop at Java Joe's on Sunday, dinner at the Los Poblanos Inn Sunday night. There are a few meals not accounted for. Really mourning the passing of Charlie's Back Door and Sanitary Tortilla....

Jan 15, 2015
versicle in Southwest

Carne adovada

A displaced NM native recommended El Modelo to me for carne adovada. Any thoughts?

Jan 15, 2015
versicle in Southwest

Best place for a visitor to buy local products - ABQ

Where does one go to get local products to take home? I'm thinking of the actually hot salsas not available on the national market, and any other NM-specific products.

TIA

Jan 15, 2015
versicle in Southwest

Gift for chefs that scream New Mexico

Eager to hear, because I'll either have one there or in Hatch. Thanks, Rob, for the caution about the roads.

I'll probably drive up next Tuesday for lunch, mostly because I'm just really curious now, and will plan to do some sight-seeing there before heading back to the Interstate and Tucson.

Jan 13, 2015
versicle in Southwest

Gift for chefs that scream New Mexico

So you really don't think it's worth the trip off of the Interstate if I can only make it for lunch? (Referencing the other roadtrip thread....) *tries to figure out how to spend a night in Silver City instead of Las Cruces*

Jan 13, 2015
versicle in Southwest

ABQ - Las Cruces - Tucson - Cottonwood

That is very cool. I don't think I have time for a full-on tour of the facility, but it looks like there's a visitor center that's open during the week: http://www.chilepepperinstitute.org/ I'll definitely check that out on my way through town.

My tolerance for chiles is probably not what it was when I lived in ABQ 20 years ago and ate chiles all the time, but I can still take some heat.

Jan 13, 2015
versicle in Southwest

Gift for chefs that scream New Mexico

Oh hey, that was me! Nice to see the chef here on Chowhound. Following this thread to see what to buy in NM to take home to NYC. I lived in ABQ 20 years ago and have never quite gotten over it. Anyway, planning to stop in Silver City for lunch next week. Wish I could make it for dinner. What should I order?

Jan 13, 2015
versicle in Southwest

ABQ - Las Cruces - Tucson - Cottonwood

Now that is very interesting indeed. I don't think I can make it for dinner. Is the lunch as interesting?

Jan 11, 2015
versicle in Southwest

ABQ - Las Cruces - Tucson - Cottonwood

I'm taking a road trip later this month. I have a pretty good idea where to eat in Albuquerque, but is there anything interesting along the route above? Side trips up to an hour or so are fine. I'll probably take 85 out of Tucson rather than the Interstate....

Jan 06, 2015
versicle in Southwest

3-4 bourbons as a gift

He loves Blanton's. Thanks. These are great suggestions.

Nov 22, 2014
versicle in Spirits

3-4 bourbons as a gift

Thanks, but 600+ posts over seven years is a bit much and I know a fair amount about the common bourbons anyway. Looking for input from some of the connoisseurs I know are on this board about the best bottles right now and which distilleries would provide a complementary range for tasting.

To get the conversation going, Michael Dietsch responded on Twitter with suggestions for High West, esp. a Midsummer Night's Dram, and the Four Roses limited edition this year, and David Wondrich with Parker's Heritage wheat whiskey. (Thanks, guys.)

Nov 21, 2014
versicle in Spirits

3-4 bourbons as a gift

I'd like to get my husband a few bottles of bourbon as a birthday gift. I'm looking for a range of tasting notes and a group of special bottles. We tend to have Bulleit on hand. He likes Jefferson's, Elijah Craig, and Woodford for every day sipping. I prefer rye, so if there's one with a high rye content, that's appealing. I'm in NYC, so I should be able to get my hands on most brands. What are some that would be complementary but sufficiently diverse?

TIA.

Nov 21, 2014
versicle in Spirits

Myanmar in Falls Church or Mandalay in Silver Spring?

My spouse and I will be staying in Baltimore over the weekend. We're been to Myanmar and would like to make an outing to a Burmese restaurant. Are these the only two in the metro area? Is one better?

Anniversary dinner near Dead Rabbit in Financial District

Looking for somewhere for a wedding anniversary dinner in proximity to the Dead Rabbit downtown. We'd like to start with cocktails there and then on to dinner. Probably the only type of restaurant we aren't interested in is a steak house. There doesn't seem to be much else within walking distance.... Any ideas? (We're adventurous eaters and cost isn't an issue as long as we're not in the realm of Per Se.)

Sep 30, 2014
versicle in Manhattan

Sunset Park: Favorite Restaurants and the Dishes Therein

Not a destination maybe, but nice for people who work over there.

Jun 30, 2014
versicle in Outer Boroughs

Sunset Park: Favorite Restaurants and the Dishes Therein

Has anyone else checked out the new food court in Industry City? It looks like there are a lot of commercial kitchens with some opening up attached storefronts. I walked through the other day and there were maybe three places up and running, all doing a brisk lunch business. Colson Patisserie and Ninja Bubble Tea, and another whose name I've forgotten. There was a spot for Blue Marble as well, though it didn't look ready to open to the public. There's a nice outdoor courtyard with tables and chairs.

Jun 27, 2014
versicle in Outer Boroughs

Taksim Square 2 in Sunset Park

Since the OP seems reluctant to bite the bullet and just give the place a try, I decided to stop in at lunch today. This is the one on 3rd Ave. and 35th St., under the BQE. I'm not well versed in Turkish food, but this was a decent lunch. I got the meze platter--eggplant in a rich tomato sauce, a raw tomato salad, hummus, and baba ganoush. The baba was pleasantly smoky. The tomato salad tasted maybe a day old, but all in all everything was fine. The kebabs and kofte were being cooked to order. Prices were reasonable. The place was clean.

Jun 25, 2014
versicle in Outer Boroughs
1

Fernet Magnoberta

I've had Branca in cocktails, but don't have a bottle at home. Last night I made a cocktail with rye, white whiskey, simple syrup, Angostura, and the Magnoberta. Something called a *cough* Bumpass Hound according to the blogger at Cocktail Quest. I substituted the Magnoberta for the Branca. It was a delicious cocktail, actually, but I don't have anything to compare it to.

Apr 20, 2014
versicle in Spirits

Fernet Magnoberta

Picked up a bottle of Fernet Magnoberta on Arthur Ave. this weekend. Any suggestions on how to use it? Is it interchangeable with Fernet Branca?

Apr 19, 2014
versicle in Spirits

Digestivo store in Brooklyn?

I second Mt. Carmel--they have practically a whole wall of amari.

Apr 08, 2014
versicle in Outer Boroughs

Spirits local to Los Angeles

I'll be in Los Angeles for a few days and am wondering if there are any interesting liquors being made there that I wouldn't easily find on the east coast.

Feb 14, 2014
versicle in Spirits

Kopiaste - Astoria

Do they offer a vegetarian version of the meze extravaganza? It doesn't look like it from the online menu. Zenon Taverna does a meatless version of this.

Jan 30, 2014
versicle in Outer Boroughs

Astor Bakery

Well, Canelle is close enough to the Jackson Heights greenmarket, so maybe that will become part of the Sunday morning routine. Artopolis is great--I'm a sucker for their melomakarona--but they don't have much on the breakfast pastry front, which is what I'm usually looking for.

We've gotten decent baguettes at Leli, but haven't tried much else. Yaxpac, what do you like there?

Jan 30, 2014
versicle in Outer Boroughs

Astor Bakery

I definitely don't think their croissants compare to anything at a really good bakery in Manhattan, but they're the best thing going within a ten-minute walk of my apartment on a weekend morning. If anyone can suggest something better on that side of Astoria, I'm all ears.

I doubt they get a very high turnover on the desserts....

Jan 28, 2014
versicle in Outer Boroughs

Astor Bakery

To clarify, we're talking about Astor Bake Shop on Astoria Blvd.?

I've had a lot of pastries there over the years--all breakfast pastries like croissants, muffins and scones. I'd say about 3/4 of the time these are great. Sometimes they're stale, like they've put out yesterday's fare. I've never tried the desserts.

The real problem for me is that the staff there is untrained and inexperienced, and the place generally is not sure whether it's a cafe or a sit-down restaurant. I've had a couple of lunches there and service is very, very slow even in an empty room. I've also gone there in the morning wanting to eat a muffin and drink a cup of coffee at a table. They insist that you have table service for that, instead of ordering at the counter, and it takes much longer to get someone to come take the order, go get it, bring it back, get the check, pay, get change, etc. than if you'd just been allowed to get it yourself.

Their coffee has also gone way downhill. When they opened, they served a nice robust brew from a local roaster and you could even buy beans there. Now the coffee is so weak that one time I had to check that the liquid in my cup was even coffee-colored.

It's a lovely, light-filled space and I like the croissants enough to keep going back, but I always wish it was a little better and a little better managed.

Jan 27, 2014
versicle in Outer Boroughs

M. Wells Steakhouse

My husband and I had dinner there last night. We started with cocktails: their version of a Manhattan and the Queens Cocktail, which had an Old Tom gin base, some herbal liqueur components, and a hint of pineapple. They were well crafted with high quality ingredients and at $10 apiece, a bargain. While we were at the bar, we had their version of Pimientos Rellenos de Atun, which was spicy pickled peppers stuffed with trout. $1 a pop.

Everyone probably knows by now about the live trout tank. I had the trout and my husband had the brisket. We started with some appetizers from the seafood bar: excellent oysters, clams in a jar, and the geoduck. The clams were plump, tender, and juicy, but the novelty of the jar was lost on me. The geoduck was overpowered by a green tomato chow-chow.

The brisket is served on a couple of pieces of French toast. It looked like an enormous amount of food. It had been cooked for 16 hours with many different kinds of pepper and was tender, with a complex flavor. I thought it was a little sweet, but my husband liked it. The trout was cooked in red wine, and served with a creamy sauce with chives, potatoes, and cabbage. It was excellently prepared, but I thought the trout flesh itself was a little bland. It was undeniably fresh--I saw the chef take it out of the tank and a few minutes later it was on the table. This was also an enormous amount of food and probably could have served two.

The wine list had a lot of interesting bottles, with plenty of options south of $75. The sommelier was friendly and made a good recommendation well below the cost point we named as our limit.

Service overall was great, the space is beautiful. They brought out a complimentary piece of red velvet cake for my birthday. It was huge and my husband and I were happy to share it--two desserts would have been too much food. I'm not a big red velvet fan, but this was less sweet than other versions and had an almost prune-y taste that I liked.

All told, with tip, the meal was $220. Unless you're set on eating the steak, I think it's very doable to eat a good meal there without spending a fortune.

Dec 16, 2013
versicle in Outer Boroughs

Vegetarian dishes at Little Pepper

We're taking a group of friends to Little Pepper for a celebratory dinner next month. There are a few vegetarians in the group (some of whom will eat fish). What dishes do you recommend for the table for these meat-free folks? I've had the fresh cucumber with mashed garlic, scallion pancake, the lotus root with pepper, and I think the shredded potato with cabbage. All good, but we'll need more for this group.

Also, I've never tried some of the more expensive dishes on the menu--are those meant to serve a larger number of people? I'm thinking of the Braised Sliced Fish In Spicy Soup Base in particular. Actually, any advice on ordering for a group of eight will be helpful.

Sep 23, 2013
versicle in Outer Boroughs

Differences between bittering agents

This is helpful. Thanks. I've been doing the bitters on the palm thing, but it's good advice to take it through the whole aroma - full strength - dilution process.

I guess with the bittering agents themselves, like gentian and wormwood, maybe I should just put some of each in Everclear or HPV so I can get a better sense of the difference in the quality of bitterness and flavor they impart. I haven't been able to find anything written that talks about how these particular ingredients differ from each other.

Sep 19, 2013
versicle in Spirits