New Mexico Roadfood Tour

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Ralph Melton
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New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 12:00 AM
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I invite folks to pile their reports from the New Mexico Roadfood tour into this thread with mine.
 
Thursday, September 16:

I parked at CMU and took the 28X bus to the airport. This turns out to be a pretty good airport-transportation solution. It's much cheaper than parking at the airport, and it's pretty convenient: it takes 47 minutes to get from Oakland to the airport, but it lets you out next to the baggage claim, so it's pretty competitive with driving from Oakland to the airport plus parking plus getting from the extended-term parking to the airport terminal.

I had a meal from Nature's Kitchen in the airport, which was surprisingly good: juicy jerk chicken with a strong taste of thyme and other herbs, and tasty macaroni and cheese.

Flew to Albuquerque. Got in late and tired enough that I just went to bed without joining up with any Roadfooders.


Friday, September 17:

When I joined the group congregating at 8:30, Jane Stern said, "Ralph, you're my last hope." She had bought an iPad, but wasn't able to make it work with the App Store. She offered to buy all the meals on the trip for anyone who sorted out her problem. Jon Battle and I engaged the issue. I'd like to think that I could have sorted it out eventually, but Jon was the one who eventually solved her problem.

On the bus, ChiTownDiner passed around cookies he'd gotten from Golden Crown Panaderia. The white ones are wedding cookies, sugar cookies with pecans rolled in powdered sugar. The brown ones are biscochitos, New Mexico's official state cookie. Biscochitos are anise-flavored cookies with a crumbly texture.


Our first stop was a surprise: instead of going to the Frontier Restaurant for breakfast, we were going to the Bobcat Bite. (I think Bobcat Bite hadn't been on the original schedule because a large group would overwhelm the restaurant; it seats 24, and had opened early just for us.)


The green chile cheeseburger from Bobcat Bite was thick and juicy - it's a ten-ounce burger. (I shared one with three other people.) The chiles were a fairly mild, subtle flavor; mostly this was just an excellent burger.


We also shared an order of the skillet beans, which were very bacony and tasty. The beans are only available during the summer, and we learned the reason why: during the winter, they make green chile stew, and they only have a few burners in the kitchen, so green chile stew has to usurp baked beans.


In Santa Fe, my first stop was Pasqual's, with about ten other Roadfooders. We got lucky: the big central table was open when we came in.



I ordered the fruita liquida, which turned out to be basically a smoothie. It had an orange juice base, with bananas and strawberries blended in. Very good.


Stephen Rushmore and I shared the huevos motuleños: "Eggs Over Easy on Corn Tortillas with Black Beans Topped with Sauteéd Bananas, Feta Cheese, Green Peas, Roasted Tomato-Jalapeño Salsa, Served with Green Chile or Tomatillo Salsa". It was very good, but well outside my usual experience. I particularly found the spicy bananas unusual.


I also enjoyed samples of chicken mole, smoked trout hash, and chilled tomato soup.

From there, it was just around the corner to the Five and Dime, purported originator of the Frito Pie.


Two of us shared a Frito pie, and I don't think we finished it. It was much like every other Frito pie I've had, though the chili was a bit spicier - but it didn't call out to be finished.


A little way across Santa Fe's plaza was Roque's Carnitas:


The carnitas were very tasty, with plenty of seasoning. I didn't notice much heat, but it would certainly have been too spicy for Lori.


This must be Chris Ayers taking a picture of the carnitas: my clue is the ultrafabulous Route 66 shirt he was wearing. My guess is that cousin Johnny was holding the carnitas, but I'm less certain of that.


On the walk to Santacafe, I saw this delightful sculpture in front of the Santa Fe library. A tree festooned with ice cream cones, cupcakes, hamburgers, hot dogs, and sodas seems perfectly apt for a Roadfood trip.


There's a certain subtype of upscale restaurants that tend to describe themselves like this: "Chef Whatshisname combines a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients with a passion for culinary ingenuity to provide an original twist on classic dishes." I'm willing to believe that such a statement is mostly true, and I've had some very good meals in such places - but such places all tend to be a bit homogenous to me. It's like the way beautiful, diverse movie stars all end up looking like movie stars. The point of this ramble: Santacafe is one such restaurant, and though the food was good, it didn't enrapture me.


I believe this to be Bruce Bilmes' green chile cheeseburger. I know that I had a bite, but I don't remember the taste.


I don't think I tried the Shrimp & Spinach Dumplings w/ Tahini Sauce pictured here.


I did sample the corn and potato soup, and it was really splendid, very rich and creamy.


I ordered the Shiitake & Cactus Spring Rolls with Southwestern Ponzu. My impression is that cactus tastes like asparagus, sort of woody and green. It wasn't bad, but didn't give me nearly the pleasure of Bobcat Bite.



A view from the bus back to Albuquerque:


Next up: New Mexico State Fair

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Nancypalooza
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 11:12 AM
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I woulda had to try that huevos thing with the bananas along with you guys.  Sounds weird, but really good.  And that corn and potato soup.  Terrific pictures!

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 12:07 PM
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Thanks! This is my first photo tour with with iPhone 4 with the HDR photos. I'm still trying to get the hang of things, and I don't always prefer the HDR photos to the non-HDR.
 
For example, in this pair, the HDR photo does a great job of including the blue of the sky (HDR on the bottom):
IMG_1084 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr IMG_1085 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 
But in this pair, the HDR photo (again on the bottom) looks kind of washed out and overexposed.
IMG_1078 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr IMG_1079 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr

Michael Stern
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 12:26 PM
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I love that HDR sky ... and the picture from the bus. Keep 'em coming!

Stephen Rushmore Jr.
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 3:55 PM
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Yes, that HDR is surreal.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 4:02 PM
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I feel like I was along with you...oh wait, I was!
 
Nice start Ralph!  I'll try to get some time and get a few loaded up!

Pixel Farmer
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 4:11 PM
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Hi youse guys, I just wanted to pop in here and say again how much I enjoyed the tour, the meeting and the eating. Thank you all for a great experience!
 
I also wanted to mention that Sunday morning, after I picked up my rental car (Hertz talked me into upgrading to a testosterone-red Mustang), I went back downtown and found the Flying Star again, because I wanted to check out the turkey + green chile sausage. Highly recommended — the green chile flavor becomes more pronounced as the sausage (patties, not links) cools to room temp. Too bad the eggs I wanted over-easy came out fried hard. Otherwise, a very good meal thanks to that sausage.
 
Looking forward to more trip reportage on this thread!   -- Wm.

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 6:54 PM
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Our first destination in the New Mexico State Fair was the Asbury Cafe, which buffetbuster had drawn our attention to beforehand. Asbury Cafe is a pie shop that's been operating only at the New Mexico State Fair for fifty years now, which gives all of its proceeds to local charities. I found it interesting to read more about it at http://www.asburyabq.org/cafe/ . (Donors have pie-making parties! What's not to like about that?)


I had a challenging ordering experience:
They were out of the sour cream raisin pie. (Note to self: the Asbury Cafe's recipe for sour cream raisin pie is athttp://www.asburyabq.org/cafe/recipe.htm )
I ordered the green chile apple pie. They ran out of the green chile apple pie before filling my order.
So I ordered the cherry apricot pie. I didn't make it all the way through the ordering process; they removed it from the list as soon as I mentioned it.
So I ordered the blackberry peach pie. Again they ran out of this pie before filling my order. (They marked about six varieties of pie off the board while we Roadfooders were there. This picture might hint at part of the reason:
)
I then ordered the strawberry rhubarb pie. Out of sympathy with my difficulties, the order-taker asked, "Would you like complementary ice cream with that?" I agreed.
After a few minutes, another lady called my name and handed me a piece of pie with ice cream. As I sat down with it, the original order-taker called my name and handed me a slice of pie (without ice cream). She then realized that I already had a piece of pie in my hand, and confusion reigned for a moment. At last, she said "well, it's yours now!" My interpretation is that she had concluded that giving me extra pie was preferable to trying to deal with me any more.

These pieces of pie go a long way to explaining why I didn't eat dinner. The one with ice cream is strawberry rhubarb. The one on the right was harder to identify; the apricot was clearly identifiable, but it was harder to identify the red component. I finally identified it from a bite that clearly showed strawberry seeds. Both pies were excellent, as was the green chile apple pie I sampled from Tom's plate.



After that, we walked around the fair a bit. For me, at least, I was more interested in hanging out with the group I was with than seeing anything in particular about the fair. I think that was the case for many of the others, and so we didn't do all that much at the fair.

Tom tried the green chili dog on a stick, and reported that the green chiles added little flavor to the corn dog:


We watched some folk dancing in the Hispanic area for a bit. There was one dance in particular that perplexed me: it had several kids dancing with ribbons around a central kid who carried a platter with a papier-mâché pig. I tried to Google to learn more about this dance, but I came up blank; if anyone can shed light on this, I'd be glad.


If I recall correctly, Pixel Farmer sampled the peach habenero ice cream. He reported that it was vanilla ice cream with a peach-habenero sauce, and he liked it a lot.

Truth in advertising:


As we were drifting towards the exit, several of us slowed to watch the mechanical bull ride. After watching several people take a ride, I decided to give it a try myself.
What leads someone like me (not very athletic, not very macho) to ride the mechanical bull? I happened to be paying attention to my thinking, so I can tell you. My logic went something like this:
• Our group would have a lot more fun if one of us rode the mechanical bull.
• I expect to have no aptitude whatsoever for bull-riding. But that won't make much difference to the group's fun.
• The cost makes me flinch - but I would cheerfully pay that much for a snack to share with people. I could afford it.
I have no regrets.
(I don't see how to embed video into forum posts; you can watch the video Amy recorded at http://www.facebook.com/v....php?v=154788567882700 .)

Reflections about riding the mechanical bull:
• it chafed and slapped my inner thighs fiercely. The skin of my thighs felt fairly tender afterward.
• I had expected that my hat would fly off in a dramatic way during the bull ride. If I had known that it would not, I would have taken off my hat myself and waved it to enhance the dramatic effect.

Back to the hotel from there. I didn't go out again that evening.

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buffetbuster
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 7:17 PM
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I have to give Ralph "The Santa Fe Kid" Melton full marks for stepping up and riding the bull.  He got a rousing ovation from the group when he was done.  Here are some of the photos I took:




 

Stephen Rushmore Jr.
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 7:42 PM
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Cliff / Ralph - Those are some epic photos.  Bravo!

ChiTownDiner
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 8:49 PM
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I did not realize the extent of the chafing until now...glad buffetbuster had that tub of salve.

Nancypalooza
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 09/23/10 10:31 PM
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That is made of solid awesome.  Hats off to you Ralph!

Michael Stern
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 5:51 AM
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I agree that the green chile dog was tame and lame. It's a good idea, but demands some serious chile (not to mention a better class of dog).
Hey, where is the video of your bull ride?


ChiTownDiner
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 6:51 AM
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Even for tame and lame...that's a really good picture!

Tony Bad
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 8:11 AM
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Great work Ralph! Thanks for sharing.
 
One question about HDR. I had always understood that HDR photos were rendered from multiple exposures taken of the same scene at differing settings. Is that outdated now? Are the single scene HDR photos simply rendered by camera electronics from the one setting? 

wanderingjew
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 8:45 AM
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Ralph great report  so far- wish I could have been there.I'm assuming that the photo of those 6 slices of pie is where Buffetbuster sat?

kland01s
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 9:46 AM
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Tony Bad

One question about HDR. I had always understood that HDR photos were rendered from multiple exposures taken of the same scene at differing settings. Is that outdated now? Are the single scene HDR photos simply rendered by camera electronics from the one setting? 

 
No clue what he used but New Mexico sky is pretty awesome all on it's own.

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 10:42 AM
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One question about HDR. I had always understood that HDR photos were rendered from multiple exposures taken of the same scene at differing settings. Is that outdated now? Are the single scene HDR photos simply rendered by camera electronics from the one setting? 

 
The iPhone takes three pictures in a row at different settings, then combines them together with software. This means that it does weird things with moving images. As an example, look at this pair of non-HDR (top) and HDR (bottom) from Pasqual's. The HDR picture shows much better detail of the walls and outside the window, but it does weird things to the man moving at the top of the stairs.
 
IMG_1050 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
IMG_1051 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
 

Tony Bad
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 11:32 AM
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Gotcha on the HDR. I guess the picture of the sky...which is remarkable...was when bus was still. I was puzzled how HDR would have assembled such a crisp shot from a moving vehicle. It really is neat technology.

TnTinCT
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 11:39 AM
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We were so disappointed to miss this year's event (family obligations superceded). Really enjoying so far, and Ralph - KUDOs to you for have the bull's ba....s to get on that thing. Looking forward to more pics and stories!

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 1:11 PM
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I think the picture of the sky is one of the cases where I preferred the non-HDR shot. Another diptych, HDR on bottom:
IMG_1102 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr IMG_1103 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr
The HDR does bring out some details better (under the overpass, for example), but I think it loses some of the intense blue of the sky.
 
I feel fairly sure I took that picture from a moving bus, though, so I'm quite impressed that the HDR-making software didn't introduce any blur into the lower picture.

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 1:33 PM
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Hey, where is the video of your bull ride?

 
The video is at http://www.facebook.com/v....php?v=154788567882700 . I haven't figured out how to embed it in a forum post.

mimicooks
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 09/24/10 1:44 PM
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Pixel Farmer, I grew up in Aberdeen. Seems there aren't many folks from that part of Mississippi on this site. Glad to see you.

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Sun, 09/26/10 12:12 AM
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Saturday involved an early start: a dozen of us gathered at 6 am to go to the Frontier Restaurant for breakfast.


The Frontier is famous for their sweet rolls, but some of the experienced diners with me weren't enthusiastic. I quite liked the few bites I had of others' sweet rolls, but I could imagine that they could quickly become cloying; they were very soft, similar to a Cinnabon cinnamon roll with much less cinnamon and frosting. They're nice as a bite between bites of other food - but I'd consider them too large to eat with another plate of food by myself. I suspect that the best way to enjoy them is to split one with three other people each with a plate of substantial food.


Michael's breakfast combo: sausage, hash browns, eggs, tortilla.


My huevos rancheros. I ordered the "Lite" one-egg version, which may make the use of the plural name slightly inaccurate. Even with the smaller portion, this would have been plenty for me to begin a normal day's eating. Each bite was full of multiple flavors.


From there, someone suggested that we head to the Flying Star Cafe for pie. It's probably an exaggeration to imply that going thirteen hours without pie was driving these men to desperation. If they had made another stop after the State Fair, it might also be an exaggeration to imply that they had gone thirteen hours without pie. 
I liked the Flying Star Cafe quite a bit, because it had the decor I'd associate with a cheerful coffee shop, but had a full menu, including pie. If it were conveniently located, I could imagine visiting often.


Pie pie pie pie. The ones I remember were the very rich Rio Grande Mud Pie (lower right) and the cherry pie (upper right). Everything I tried was very good.


Carolann branched out away from pie with the bread pudding with brandy sauce. I prefer brandy sauce to have a slightly sharper flavor, but this was rich and tasty.


I recall that there was another customer near our tables who was very impressed with all the pie-sharing and photography we were doing. We invited him to grab a fork and join our eating, but he declined.

Across the street from the Flying Star Cafe was a movie theater advertising showings of Duck Soup and The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. I'd like to think that one of these is much more of a classic than the other.


We left the Flying Star Cafe and started back towards the hotel. As we drove along Central, the Aztec Motel caught our eye strongly enough to demand a U-turn and a stop for pictures. It wasn't clear whether it was still open. Carolann considered the idea of buying it and reopening it - that would be quite a souvenir of the trip.





We learned later that the decor was done in the 1990s, so it's not quite a Route 66 classic. But it's still a place worth stopping and gawking.

Every time I look at this picture of a tree behind the motel, Jonathan Coulton's song "Creepy Doll" starts playing in my head.


About 8am, we passed Jerky by Art, which we'd noticed on the ride to the State Fair. We pulled in to the lot, but saw that the door said that they opened at 9am. However, Teresa noticed a man walking towards the store, hopped out of the car, and asked if he would sell us jerky. He turned out to be Art, and he was indeed willing to sell us jerky before the posted time.

Entering the store is one of my great olfactory memories of the trip. It had a tremendous aroma of seasoned meat.


He sold about two dozen varieties of carne seca-style jerky. I bought a quarter pound of the green chile jerky, which I have been reveling in every day since I returned. Teresa bought a supply of the green chile with limon jerky to share with the bus, and I thought that was even tastier. This picture shows Art and his wife, whose name I didn't catch.


Next: we actually join the official tour for Saturday.

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Nancypalooza
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Sun, 09/26/10 2:44 PM
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You gotta love a jerky artiste.  :)

icecreamchick
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Sun, 09/26/10 11:32 PM
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I should have taken video of myself watching the bull riding video. LOL too funny -- and look what happens when I stay home! 
 
 

ellen4641
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 09/27/10 2:17 AM
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gr8 report, Ralph!
Wish  I could've been on the New Mexico tour !
love your pic of the view from the bus...the cool clouds, with the desert backdrop!!

Pixel Farmer
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 09/27/10 2:58 PM
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Small world, mimicooks! I lived on Franklin St. myself from '68-'70. Aberdeen's still there, but fallen on very hard times, as I'm sure you've heard. An overhyped smidge of antebellum charm doesn't go as far as it used to.

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 09/27/10 11:24 PM
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The bus headed off to San Antonio, an hour and change to the south. To offset the risk of starvation, ChiTownDiner passed around freshly-baked empanadas from Golden Crown Panaderia. (I didn't manage to get a good picture.) I sampled both the sweet potato and the cherry empanadas, and both were outstanding. These empanadas resolved me to visit Golden Crown Panaderia myself.

Our first stop in San Antonio was Buckhorn Tavern, which is proud of being selected as the #7 cheeseburger on some top ten list. (GQ, I think.) They have a limited space and are a popular stop, but they didn't open specially for us, so we were relying on being there right as they opened at 11 to get a spot.



As we waited, Michael Stern lifted his nose at the aroma of chile peppers roasting at a nearby farm stand. The folks at the farm stand (Sichler Farms Produce) were extremely friendly and welcoming; I quite enjoyed seeing the chile roaster and all the chile products they had.


I would have bought a small bag of chiles as a souvenir, but this was as small as they had. I bought a cookbook instead, because I wanted it to be profitable to them to be so friendly.


I bought a bottle of Carrizozo cherry cider at the gas station. I've concluded that cider is best drunk in fairly small quantities. At first, I love how tart and lively it is - it's much more tart than apple cider or other cherry ciders I've tried. But after eight ounces or so, the tartness starts to taste artificial - the more so after I read "citric acid" on the ingredient list. But those first few swallows - man, that's good.

Our table ordered a green chile cheeseburger split four ways and a red chile hot dog. This photo is not actually our table, but the table next to us, who ordered much the same thing.


The chiles on this burger were raw and spicier, which made them stand out much more in taste and texture than any of the other green chile cheeseburgers I ate on this trip. I did not care for that myself, but other folks at the table considered this their favorite green chile cheeseburger for exactly this reason that I considered it my least favorite.


I actually liked the red chile hot dog much more; it used a nacho cheese instead of the American cheese on the burger, and that cheese engaged the hot dog and chile sauce very nicely.


From there to the Owl Bar, where we were assigned to an unphotogenic room in the back.


The green chile cheeseburger here had a very thin patty like the Buckhorn's. I was impressed that with such a thin patty, they still got pink in the middle of our medium rare burger. This burger was extremely juicy and messy - probably the messiest of the burgers I sampled.


I'm not sure I sampled the green chile fries at either the Buckhorn or the Owl Bar, but the Owl Bar's have a whole lot of green chile compared to the Buckhorn's above.


As a freebie, the waitress brought out a sampler of beans. They were good beans, with a whole lot of green chiles.



Another couple of hours driving took us down to the Chile Institute at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. There, we met Paul Bosland, head of the Chile Institute and discoverer of the bhut jolokia, the world's hottest known pepper. (It's about three times hotter than a habanero, at over one million Scoville units.)
My favorite part of the indoor talk was probably the pamphlet on how to taste a chile pepper.


I hope that someone can contribute a photo of ChiTownDiner in the bright yellow chile bowling shirt he bought. As he said, "you can wear this with confidence that no one else will be wearing the same thing."

Paul took us out to the chile gardens, which ended up being pretty interesting. (These are demo gardens, not gardens for seed. We were told the seed gardens have big curtains between rows to prevent bees from flying between varieties.)


This is a variety of chiltepin, the wild ancestor of chiles. It's a lot smaller; humans have bred chiles for much larger fruits.


This is one of several decorative chiles Paul showed us, suitable for planting in a garden.


This one was bred as a chile one might grow in a pot. According to Paul, in the early half of the twentieth century, the usual plant given as a gift was a chile. Poinsettias have now usurped that role as gift plants for Christmas, but Paul is breeding chiles with color schemes suitable for every other holiday (orange and green for St. Patrick's Day, for example).


Another decorative chile, which I find extremely attractive.


This chile earned Paul an Ig Nobel Prize: it's a heatless jalapeno. What's the use of a heatless jalapeno? Well, consider a salsa producer who is trying to produce a salsa with a consistent level of heat, but whose jalapeno crop has come in extra-hot this year. This heatless jalapeno allows that producer to dilute the heat of the jalapenos, but have the whole batch taste like jalapenos instead of, say, bell peppers.


This is an Aji pepper, from South America. It has a somewhat citrusy aroma. Mexican food practitioners apparently feel the taste is wrong for Mexican food, but Paul has hopes that this will catch on in the US.


This plant is the answer to the question "why is an eggplant called an eggplant?" This is a wild eggplant, the ancestor of varieties that have been bred to be large and purple.


In this picture, Paul is holding the bhut jolokia, the world's hottest chile. Unfortunately, I failed to take a picture of the moment a few minutes later in which Paul demonstrated his confidence that all the capsaicinoids are in the seeds and membranes by holding the bhut jolokia up to his eye.
Paul had said that he couldn't invite us to pick any of the chiles, for reasons of legal liability. However, he made it clear that he wouldn't take offense if we were to pick any of them. Chris Ayers did pick one of the bhut jolokias. I expressed hesitant willingness to sample a small amount, but he eventually decided to send it to Mariton, who has demonstrated a remarkable affinity for spicy food. I hope to hear reports of her jolokia experience.


A bad picture of a heatless habanero. I asked Paul if he was working on a heatless jolokia - he said no.


Next: La Posta de Mesilla

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mr chips
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 09/27/10 11:53 PM
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Marvelous photos. The food looks wonderful and I wish i could have spent the time with the chile expert that you did. thank you for sharing, Ralph.

mar52
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 09/27/10 11:58 PM
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What an interesting thread.  I'm thoroughly enjoying every aspect of it.  Fasinating!

JonBattle
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Tue, 09/28/10 1:13 AM
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Marlene and I drove back up to Santa Fe on Sunday to eat at SantaCafe one of our fav restaurants. The food there ..while not "roadfood"...is eclectic, well-prepared, and served with level od class and service that we like. I had the french toast filled with marscapone cheese. Marlene had a grilled trout over Israeli couscous. life is good.

JonBattle
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour Chile Garden - Tue, 09/28/10 1:40 AM
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Does anyone have any pix of the chile garden that dr. Paul took us through? I lost mine in. A tech accident. thanks

Michael Stern
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour Chile Garden - Tue, 09/28/10 4:52 AM
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Jon;
I am sure someone has better, broader ones, but here are a couple:


 

buffetbuster
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour Chile Garden - Tue, 09/28/10 7:27 AM
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Ralph-
I'm not sure if Mariton and her brother, who she says is even better at eating hot foods than her, have tried the bhut jolokia pepper yet.  I can tell you that she did eat a half dozen of the Triple Atomic Wings from Quaker Steak & Lube over the weekend.  These come in at 500,000 Scoville units and she complained they weren't hot at all. 

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Tue, 09/28/10 2:56 PM
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Another HDR quirk: it looks like I moved the camera while taking the multiple pictures for this photo, and it affected the alignment of the text in the sign. (HDR on bottom)
 
IMG_1247 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr IMG_1248 by Ralph Melton, on Flickr

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Tue, 09/28/10 4:23 PM
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Wow, that first chile picture from Michael is extremely rich and vibrant.

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Fri, 10/1/10 12:41 AM
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Our last meal of the day was at La Posta de Mesilla, in Mesilla, New Mexico. I have a particular affection for Las Posta, because it was the site of my parents' first date, and I've been there several times. The restaurant was opened in 1939, and is now operated by a great-niece of the founder. The building goes back much further, to the 1800s; I've read claims that the building has hosted Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa.

It's a very vividly decorated place, starting with the large parrot cages in the anteroom:



And continuing into the Lava Room where we were seated. The bags on the tables were goodie bags with flyers about La Posta, a package of red chile dip mix, a New Mexico baseball cap with an embroidered chile, a DVD about cooking with chiles from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, and so forth.



For a drink, we were given the "Chile 'Rita": "An exotic blend of "Besito Caliente" blackberry Habanero sauce, lime juice, Hornitos 100% agave tequila & Coutreau served on the rocks in a hand-blown "chile" stemglass." The heat was pretty mild in comparison to the strong sour flavors of the margarita, but there was a definite tingle on the tongue.


Appetizers: chips, chile con queso, guacamole, shrimp ceviche, and Mexican shrimp cocktails. I recall the guacamole being excellent, but it was overshadowed by the ceviche, which was an amazing combination of bright lime and cool shrimp. The shrimp cocktail was an unusual combination of shrimp, avocado, and tomato juice in a small glass rimmed with salt and black pepper. It was a little awkward to eat, but very tasty.



The main course was a combination platter. Clockwise from the top:
A tostada compuesta. This recipe originated at La Posta in 1939; it was a tortilla cup filled with beans, chile, and cheese.
An enchilada topped with red chile.
Carne adovada, pork stewed in red chile sauce. This was so tender that when I stuck a fork into a chunk to take a bite, the pork melted into shreds instead of coming along with the fork.
A chile relleno. This is cooked on a griddle instead of being deep-fried, and it was much less greasy than other chile rellenos I've had; the major taste was the broad rich taste of cooked chile.
In the center, then, was camotes Jalisco - delicious sweet potatoes with lots of seasoning, particularly cinnamon.


It was buffetbuster's birthday, so there was a special dessert for him. This rendered the candles I'd been carrying in my shirt pocket unnecessary.


For my dessert, I had lovely sopaipillas with lots of honey.


I wanted a bit of a walk to digest, so I wandered briefly through the fiesta going on at the Mesilla plaza. There was enthusiastic Mexican dancing and music going on, and a small array of vendors. I was interested by one form of fair food that was roasted corn in a cup topped with cheese and a sauce - but I had no appetite at all, and I no longer remember the name.

From there, a long drive back to Albuquerque. The DVD on this part of the drive was King Corn, about modern agribusiness and the large quantities in which corn is produced and consumed. It didn't really come to any conclusions, but I concluded that for corn production as depicted in the film, large farms are more or less inevitable - there's so little manual labor involved, and margins are so low, that amortizing the cost of the machinery over as large a field as possible is the only way producing that sort of corn makes sense. One detail that I hadn't previously thought of: single-crop farming makes it hard now for a farmer to feed their family from their farm.

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Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Sat, 10/2/10 5:11 PM
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I stayed over on Sunday to spend time with my friends Susan and Terran. They described themselves as late risers, so I started the day on my own. 

I like to try to find the music that suits a given place, so I turned on the car radio. It was tuned to a Latin Pop station that was just the right thing for driving through the sere Southwestern landscape. I had a lot of fun listening to that.


My first destination: Golden Crown Panaderia, the source of the delightful baked goods ChiTownDiner had provided on the trip. I believe the intense blue of the sky in this picture to be an accurate representation of what I saw.



I got there just as they opened up, but the head baker was already hard at work. These empanadas went into the oven and came out again while I was talking with folks there.


I didn't see any of the bread sculpture other than their photo board. It seems to me only natural and right that this boy should grin so widely at the receipt of a tyrannosaurus sculpted in bread.


I was carrying my iPad, and the counterman (whose name I wish I had learned) asked me about my experiences with it. I mentioned that I had developed software for it, and this led to his telling me about the iPad application he was developing for managing flow at the bakery. There are usually many orders going on at any given time, and he currently uses a Microsoft Access database and several printouts every few hours to keep track of what items need to be baked at what time, what things are packed, and so forth. He's working on an iPad application to connect to the Access database and replace the batches of printouts. I would not have expected this place to be automated in that way - but I live in two such worlds myself, and should remember that others do as well.

I bought three empanadas to share with Terran and Susan: pumpkin, apple, and cherry. The pumpkin had a very mild taste of autumn spices, so mild that we thought it was apple until we opened the apple empanada.
I also bought a pan dulce, which turned out to be a round bread the size of a half cantaloupe, very light and only slightly sweet.


I met Susan and Terran at the Range Cafe for breakfast. I'd been thinking "Home on the Range", but the restaurant embraced both that and a stovetop theme.



At Terran's recommendation, I had the Range Roundup - "a homemade biscuit topped with crumbled, crisp bacon and sausage, two eggs, smothered in chilé, white cheddar cheese, with Range Fries con Queso and pinto beans". It was quite a tasty pile.


Terran and Susan have a beautiful house that suits them excellently. We talked a lot and played lots of board games - two victorious games of Pandemic, and a less successful game of Arkham Horror. For a refreshment, they served an excellent chicken mole.

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<message edited by Ralph Melton on Sat, 10/2/10 5:19 PM>

DirtDude
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Sat, 10/2/10 7:58 PM
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It looks like you guys really have a lot of fun on these roadfood tours, I really wish I could have been at this one.

mr chips
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Sat, 10/2/10 9:47 PM
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What vibrant colors! Not just good food but the colors of the earth seem so vivid in New Mexico.

joseiw
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Sun, 10/3/10 1:21 AM
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What a good time was had by all.  okay, the bus trip may not have been the highlight, but it is just such adversity shared that melds a team together, and this one certainly had a summer camp feel with the bus trip.  But there was definitely "a spirit of camaraderie among the men [and women] like you find in combat, maybe, or on a pro team in the heat of a pennant drive, " to quote H.I. Lewis) but what extraordinary scenery outside the window!  The land of enchantment is an understatement.  When we stopped on the return late at night  for a rest stop, the milky way was clearly visible across the night sky and a beautiful skyscape  led us home.  Even the ugly parts of NM (isolated trailer homes moored in the distance with an old GMC truck) were beautiful.  I could live there just to see the sky at night.
 
Not enough has been written about the Frontier.  I ate there twice, having joined the group only on Saturday morning with my Frauchen, Kerry.  I have never seen a tortilla machine, but the fresh tortillas were a highlight of the trip.  The Frontier is reminiscent of the Varsity in Atlanta, only with a much more varied menu and better service.  Honestly, I thought of apprenticing my problem child there to return to his roots with the ability to run an extraordinary restaurant.  Obviously, with improved trade this restaurant has expanded from its original roots (and buildings) to cover almost a city block and easily that with parking.  I recommend the Frontier burrito, and breakfast was also wonderful.  A great place and a curiosity of mechanized food production.  Take Henry Ford's production line, apply it to food, bypass Mickey Ds and BK, increase the choices, and you have the Frontier.  What fun and what good eating.  Everything was pretty good.
 
The great thing about such a trip is the synergy of the group.  Want to compare the superlatives of green chile cheeseburgers?  I'm there.  The best empanada?  Maybe not this place, but pretty damn good.  Nothing better than sharing good food among friends with a similar appreciation and passion for the flavors of the trip.  Don't like this particular place?  Great, another one will be along.  Be true to your 'buds.  Taste buds, that is!
 
God bless you, everyone.
Joe Seiwert

Nancypalooza
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 10/4/10 11:24 AM
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A Range Roundup sounds pretty good.  And I absolutely love that picture of the kid with the panaderia dinosaur.

mar52
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 10/4/10 12:31 PM
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Is anyone else enjoying the vibrant colors of this thread?

Nancypalooza
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 10/4/10 12:46 PM
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Yes--I'm sure we're benefiting from Ralph's photo-nerd (I mean that as the strictest of compliments) abilities.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 10/4/10 1:25 PM
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Ralph -
 
We (buffetbuster, Cousin Johnny and I) were buzzing back from a 6am run up to Santa Fe that same Sunday morning.  We had just hit a couple of breakfast spots and my cell phone rang.  It was American Airlines confirming that my flight was going to be delayed and that there was NO chance of it departing at the scheduled time.
 
As I was the first one of our group scheduled to depart, I now was shifted to last!  Cell phones, Excel spreadsheets and GPS waypoints were flying...and we diverted off the Expresssway...and to the Range!
 
We had breakfast number 3 and enjoyed the stop and attached store.  I even bought a Range tee shirt!
 
We concluded with a dessert stop at Route 66...and I still had the pleasure of a 3 hour wait at the airport!

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 10/4/10 1:35 PM
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CTD, would you be willing to post a copy of your spreadsheet with explanations? I didn't get a good look at it, and I'd love to see how you plan out your dining expeditions.

buffetbuster
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 10/4/10 1:43 PM
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Ralph-
His planning is something like this.....  If it's open, we're going!   And thanks so much for carrying the birthday candles around!  Which The Range Cafe did you go to?  I assume it was one of the Albuquerque locations.  We hit the one in Bernalillio.
<message edited by buffetbuster on Mon, 10/4/10 1:47 PM>

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 10/4/10 1:59 PM
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Yes--I'm sure we're benefiting from Ralph's photo-nerd (I mean that as the strictest of compliments) abilities.

 
I take it as a compliment, but I don't really feel it's true.
 
I'm taking shots with an iPhone; I feel like a slacker compared to all the folks around me pulling out DSLRs.
The only control the iPhone allows is that it lets me choose a portion of the image that's most interesting; the iPhone picks focus and lighting based on that selection. (I don't mean this as an iPhone plug; the iPhone is the tool I'm using, that's all.)
Once I suck the photos into iPhoto, I could adjust them - but my usual process is to push some knobs around semi-randomly, decide I'm not that happy with the result, and set it back to normal. For this set, I was in a bit of a rush, so I just uploaded them to Flickr without editing them (and without going through and picking which shots were worth saving.)
 
So my own explanation of the intense colors is this:
- the colors really are that intense in New Mexico, 
- the iPhone camera is good enough to capture them, and
- I'm occasionally apt enough to take a picture that shows them off fairly well.

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 10/4/10 2:05 PM
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His planning is something like this.....  If it's open, we're going!   And thanks so much for carrying the birthday candles around!  Which The Range Cafe did you go to?  I assume it was one of the Albuquerque locations.  We hit the one in Bernalillio.

 
If I'd known that we had folks with lighters along, I'd have planted candles in your breakfast at the Frontier. I'll claim that it was too early for me to be thinking clearly.
 
I visited the Range at 2200 Menaul NE in Albuquerque.

mar52
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Mon, 10/4/10 11:00 PM
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Ralph, whatever you're doing... you're doing it right!

CajunKing
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Tue, 10/5/10 3:33 PM
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Ralph Melton


Our first destination in the New Mexico State Fair was the Asbury Cafe, which buffetbuster had drawn our attention to beforehand. Asbury Cafe is a pie shop that's been operating only at the New Mexico State Fair for fifty years now, which gives all of its proceeds to local charities. I found it interesting to read more about it at http://www.asburyabq.org/cafe/ . (Donors have pie-making parties! What's not to like about that?)


I had a challenging ordering experience:
They were out of the sour cream raisin pie. (Note to self: the Asbury Cafe's recipe for sour cream raisin pie is athttp://www.asburyabq.org/cafe/recipe.htm )
I ordered the green chile apple pie. They ran out of the green chile apple pie before filling my order.
So I ordered the cherry apricot pie. I didn't make it all the way through the ordering process; they removed it from the list as soon as I mentioned it.
So I ordered the blackberry peach pie. Again they ran out of this pie before filling my order. (They marked about six varieties of pie off the board while we Roadfooders were there. This picture might hint at part of the reason:
)
I then ordered the strawberry rhubarb pie. Out of sympathy with my difficulties, the order-taker asked, "Would you like complementary ice cream with that?" I agreed.
After a few minutes, another lady called my name and handed me a piece of pie with ice cream. As I sat down with it, the original order-taker called my name and handed me a slice of pie (without ice cream). She then realized that I already had a piece of pie in my hand, and confusion reigned for a moment. At last, she said "well, it's yours now!" My interpretation is that she had concluded that giving me extra pie was preferable to trying to deal with me any more.

These pieces of pie go a long way to explaining why I didn't eat dinner. The one with ice cream is strawberry rhubarb. The one on the right was harder to identify; the apricot was clearly identifiable, but it was harder to identify the red component. I finally identified it from a bite that clearly showed strawberry seeds. Both pies were excellent, as was the green chile apple pie I sampled from Tom's plate.



After that, we walked around the fair a bit. For me, at least, I was more interested in hanging out with the group I was with than seeing anything in particular about the fair. I think that was the case for many of the others, and so we didn't do all that much at the fair.

Tom tried the green chili dog on a stick, and reported that the green chiles added little flavor to the corn dog:


We watched some folk dancing in the Hispanic area for a bit. There was one dance in particular that perplexed me: it had several kids dancing with ribbons around a central kid who carried a platter with a papier-mâché pig. I tried to Google to learn more about this dance, but I came up blank; if anyone can shed light on this, I'd be glad.


If I recall correctly, Pixel Farmer sampled the peach habenero ice cream. He reported that it was vanilla ice cream with a peach-habenero sauce, and he liked it a lot.

Truth in advertising:


As we were drifting towards the exit, several of us slowed to watch the mechanical bull ride. After watching several people take a ride, I decided to give it a try myself.
What leads someone like me (not very athletic, not very macho) to ride the mechanical bull? I happened to be paying attention to my thinking, so I can tell you. My logic went something like this:
• Our group would have a lot more fun if one of us rode the mechanical bull.
• I expect to have no aptitude whatsoever for bull-riding. But that won't make much difference to the group's fun.
• The cost makes me flinch - but I would cheerfully pay that much for a snack to share with people. I could afford it.
I have no regrets.
(I don't see how to embed video into forum posts; you can watch the video Amy recorded at http://www.facebook.com/v....php?v=154788567882700 .)

Reflections about riding the mechanical bull:
• it chafed and slapped my inner thighs fiercely. The skin of my thighs felt fairly tender afterward.
• I had expected that my hat would fly off in a dramatic way during the bull ride. If I had known that it would not, I would have taken off my hat myself and waved it to enhance the dramatic effect.

Back to the hotel from there. I didn't go out again that evening.

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Ya think BuffettBuster was there for some reason, OH WAIT!!!!!

Foodbme
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Tue, 10/5/10 3:52 PM
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That Green Chile Dog on a Stick at the State Fair---- How was that constructed???
Can't imagine how they put that together???

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Thu, 10/7/10 11:59 PM
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It felt appropriate to leave Susan and Terran's company around 7:30, so that raised the possibility of another meal that evening. Model Pharmacy didn't answer their phone, so I was thinking of the Standard Diner... but then the thought of Powdrell's Barbecue caught my attention. This turned out to be an exercise in frustration. I had trouble following the directions my iPhone gave me, and had to pull off and check the directions several times. Then when I finally followed the directions successfully, I discovered that they took me to the wrong place; Google Maps had given me the wrong address for Powdrell's. I sorted that out and finally made it to Powdrell's, only to discover that they were closed. I should have called them when I called Model Pharmacy.

I saw an instance of Garcia's nearby, and I remembered Chris Ayers praising them - but I felt a silly urge to check off another Roadfood-listed place. (A review of Garcia's got posted on Roadfood two days later.) So I called the 66 Diner and confirmed that they were open late. I arrived there at 9pm after all the foofooraw of wrong places.

The 66 Diner is located on historic Route 66, and it definitely has the look of a classic diner. At least, by night it does - when I drove by it the next day, it did not show the stainless steel I was expecting.


The Burma-Shave-esque signs say "It would / be great / to stop / for a shake / 66 Diner"


The inside looks just as classic:


I ordered a cup of the green chile stew, because I hadn't yet had green chile stew on this trip, and a Pile Up: "A pile of pan fried potatoes, chopped bacon, chopped green chile, two eggs any style, cheddar cheese, and red or green chile sauce on top."
The green chile stew was outstanding, really rich and sumptuous and flavorful. It's hard to pick a single winner for the trip, but this was certainly one of the top contenders.
The Pile Up was very good, but less outstanding. It had a lot of nicely crisp bacon - it's impressive that that much bacon manages to hide in this picture. Of the breakfasty piles topped with chile sauce I had this day, it was probably tied with the Range Roundup or a hair lower.


I asked a waitress if I could take a picture of her uniform, because I felt it added to the ambiance of the diner. She obliged me, but she definitely seemed disconcerted about it.


For dessert, I had the Teenie Weenie Sundae. It was very petite, but a little scoop of ice cream was just the right size for me then.
 

 

Ralph Melton
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Re:New Mexico Roadfood Tour - Tue, 10/12/10 11:02 PM
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This sign along the drive made me do a U-turn and stop to take pictures. The sign says "The bus is never closed to crazy", which is very poetic if not very clear. My guess is that this is the site of a former establishment that is trying to invite fanciful redevelopment.
I did not notice the sign in the tree when I took the picture; I'm curious about it, but don't know what to make of it.


My breakfast destination was Lindy's Diner, on Route 66 in Downtown Albuquerque:



Across the intersection was the fabulously decorated KiMo theater. http://www.cabq.gov/kimo/about-the-theater calls it "the undisputed king" of Pueblo Deco theaters.


I ordered a breakfast burrito as one last New Mexican food that I hadn't yet sampled on this trip. I wasn't wild about this burrito; it tasted only of eggs and chile sauce, not of the bacon or cheese or other ingredients. Also, I am used to thinking of breakfast burritos as something to eat with one's hands - but the red chile sauce put that out of my mind.
The hash browns were really nicely crispy on the first bite, but on the second and subsequent bites, they were really unpleasantly greasy.
This was probably my least favorite of all the meals I had on this trip.
 

But I'm glad of visiting Lindy's anyway, because if I had not visited Lindy's, I would not have had a delightful experience at the Man's Hat Shop in Albuquerque. I thought I would miss it, because their door said they opened at 9:30 and I left Lindy's at 9 - but they opened for me as I passed by. Perhaps it was because I was already wearing a hat and therefore recognized as a member of the fraternity of hat-wearers.


I talked with Bill who was running the hat shop for about half an hour, and I had a great time. Things I remember from the conversation:
• I learned what hat-wearers do when riding on airplanes with a stiff hat: they carry the hat on their laps.
• I learned about blocking: any of the shapes of crowns you can see in the above picture, and many more besides, can all be made in the store from an open-crown hat. (I enjoyed watching the blocking machine, but I couldn't get a good picture.)
• I learned that the wool felt hat I've been wearing cannot be easily cleaned - at least not with the steam machines the shop uses for fur or straw hats. That's the price I pay for wearing a crushable hat.
• I learned how to get a chin strap out of the way and still look reasonably stylish.
• I saw a fedora that was the spit and image of Indiana Jones' hat, and I learned that that fedora is quite stiff. This surprised me - if anyone would need a crushable hat, I'd think Indy would.

I tried on a porkpie hat. I considered buying it, but I depend on my hats to shade my eyes instead of sunglasses, so I wasn't sure I'd do well with the smaller brim.


I was very tempted by the fine hats they had for sale - but I feel I need my hats to handle crushing well. I often end up having to tuck hats under my chair in restaurants, and I'm uncoordinated enough that I end up stepping on them from time to time. So instead, I bought a very nice drover hat by Barmah; it's crushable and it lets the breeze through, so it's much cooler in the summer than my wool felt hat.

I had a really great time with the Man's Hat Shop. This might have been worth the trip from Pittsburgh to me - but it might not be worth a trip from Santa Fe, because Santa Fe also has a nice hat shop that Michael Stern patronized. But I'm not sure that the Santa Fe shop offers anything as awesome as the tag that Bill gave me for my hat:


One last photo from the Albuquerque airport, showing the mountains that overlook the city and the big deep blue sky: