NORTH AMERICA

ALBUQUERQUE: NEW MEXICO CUISINE THAT’S ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY

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STORY AND PHOTOS   //  BY RON STERN

Foodie cities are now popping up everywhere. San Francisco, L.A. and New York, however, don’t have a lock on that title anymore. In the Southwest corner of America, Albuquerque is blazing a trail of its own on the culinary scene. So much so, in fact, that even the Food Network has taken notice and filmed segments about some of the city’s most eclectic eateries.

From hot and spicy New Mexican cuisine to upscale dining, here are some of Albuquerque’s most popular dining hotspots for you to enjoy next time you visit.

 

Sadie’s of New Mexico
Started in 1965 as a 9 seat diner, Sadie’s has grown to 4 locations in Albuquerque. The family-style restaurant serves up New Mexican cuisine featuring big portions with many dishes using variations of the famed Anaheim pepper. V.P. of operations, Jim Garcia, could arguably be called The Chile King, attesting to his love of all types of peppers. “We go through 60 tons of chiles per year,” he explains. “Our salsa is in 11,000 grocery stores nationwide.”

The most popular dish at Sadie’s is their chicken enchilada made with blue corn tortillas. You can order that with sour cream, con queso, guacamole and, of course, red or green chiles. According to Garcia, ordering it with a fried egg on top will create a flavor sensation that will keep you coming back for more.

 

El Pinto
Most first timers to El Pinto don’t expect such a massive restaurant. The parking lot is huge, and the entire complex covers 12 acres! Run by two brothers, their dishes are based on recipes passed down from their grandmother.

While you’re there, be sure to try their chile con queso, made with a creamy blend of cheeses and chopped green chiles. For dessert, their levante is a Mexican-style tiramisu made with homemade biscochitos soaked in Patrón XO Cafe, Kahlúa and brandy and layered with mascarpone cheese, whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

 

Corn Maiden at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa
For a fine dining experience, make a reservation at the Corn Maiden on the grounds of the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort. This location takes a little time to find via a serpentine on-property road but it is worth the effort.

The restaurant was a 2014 James Beard invitee, and Chef Eric Stumpf creates updated Southwestern cuisine using fresh, locally sourced ingredients from their own on-site garden and bee farm.
The ambiance is small and cozy, and you can choose to sit at the counter to watch the orchestration of how the food is prepared, plated and served.

For a starter, try their signature buffalo carpaccio with grilled focaccia, heirloom tomatoes and organic greens.
Their top selling entrée is the New Mexico filet mignon ($49) made with black truffle, Reggiano frites and grilled heirloom tomatoes. The restaurant sources their beef from a local rancher and the result is a flavorful, tender steak that rivals any you might find for twice the price.

 

The Cube BBQ
Located right on the old Route 66, now Central Ave.,The Cube has an interior shaped just like a cube. It’s nothing fancy décor-wise, but upon entering, the first thing that hits you is a fog of fragrant smoke wafting off the meat cooking in the ovens.

Owner Manny Aka acquired his barbecue expertise at a young age from his grandfather while growing up in the South. After trying all of the available barbecue in Albuquerque, Manny felt he could offer something different and opened his own place in 2009.

In that short time, he’s already caught the attention of the Food Network, who featured his smoked meats on one of their shows. Manny’s secret to success is his passion for real food using high quality meats and making everything from scratch. Organic veggies (Try his collards.), hand cut fries and fresh baked bread are just some of the sides offered. This is Southern cooking at its finest, and the meat and side dishes are killer.

 

La Merienda at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
La Merienda is located on the grounds of Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm. The restaurant started off small, and during the summer, all of the doors and windows open up for a fresh air dining experience.
Since the restaurant owns their own gardens, about 90% of their foods are locally sourced and served in their dining room, which does resemble a ranch or farm space. They feature farm to table cuisine and many a die-hard foodie have found their way to this tasteful restaurant.

Some of the samplings you should try include their roasted beet salad with fresh greens and fried lentils as well as their Monticello feature plate. The latter is beautifully presented with caramelized mushrooms, sweet potato napoleon, roasted garlic, and 17 year aged balsamic vinegar.

 

Pueblo Harvest Café
Located at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and owned by the 19 pueblos of New Mexico, Pueblo Harvest combines traditional recipes of the past fused with contemporary tastes.

The restaurant started out asking their chefs what their grandmothers cooked. Then, they created dishes that were both flavorful and based on old world New Mexico recipes. Their traditional pueblo oven bread infused with green chilies, is one such dish.

One of their top selling items and a must try is their blue corn crusted onion rings served with green chile ranch dressing and homemade salsa. This one item, delicious and addictive, may be enough to bring you back to Albuquerque for a return visit. They have many other items, of course, including their Tewa taco, voted best of Albuquerque 11 years in a row. The Santa Ana enchilada is another entrée that is based on a 100-year old recipe.

The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is one of the top 10 attractions in the state of New Mexico. If you arrive on Saturday or Sunday at noon, you will be treated to a performance by traditional dancers and experience some authentic pueblo hospitality.

Albuquerque has one of the most culturally diverse populations in the country, and this is reflected in the variety of food establishments that dot the landscape. We have just scratched the foodie surface, so come discover what all the buzz is about in New Mexico’s largest city.

Where to Stay
There are many chain hotels in Albuquerque, but for a personal, at-home experience, try these bed and breakfasts:

 

Chocolate Turtle B&B
www.chocolateturtlebb.com
This B&B is located in nearby Corrales, a quiet and tranquil community just minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Innkeepers Denise and Keith are friendly and personable and greet each guest upon arrival. The interior rooms are decorated in a colorful, Southwestern style that isn't overpowering. The main living area has plush couches and chairs as well as a television and warm, cozy fireplace. The beds are quite comfortable and room amenities include water and chocolate turtles.

The large backyard is a nice place to sit and watch the setting sun turn the Sandia Mountains their signature watermelon hue. Morning features a home-made breakfast, which could include quiche, fruit kabobs and morning biscuits with jam, bacon, juice, and tea or coffee. Overall, this is a great place to stay while visiting nearby Albuquerque. The atmosphere is calm and relaxing and feels like home.

 

Mauger Estate B&B
www.maugerbb.com
Located in the heart of the city, this beautifully restored 118-year old Queen Anne bed and breakfast is centrally located and adorned with period accents, rich woods and period furniture.
Accommodations include five luxury rooms in the main house along with two townhouse units nearby.

Additionally, each room includes phone, voice mail, satellite TV, free wireless Internet, small fridge, and evening treats such as chocolate chip cookies. Tammy, the owner, is welcoming and accommodating and engages each guest. She prepares a fresh, hot breakfast each morning, which you can enjoy in a couple of bright rooms.

The Eats

Sadie’s of New Mexico
www.sadiesofnewmexico.com

El Pinto
www.elpinto.com

Corn Maiden at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa
tamaya.hyatt.com

The Cube BBQ
www.thecuberestaurant.com

La Merienda at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
www.lospoblanos.com

Pubelo Harvest Café
http://www.indianpueblo.org/visit/cafe.html

Rainbow Ryders (hot air balloon rides)
www.rainbowryders.com

CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA: QUIRKY BY DESIGN

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STORY AND PHOTOS    //  BY RON STERN

Imagine a sleepy coastal town whose lifting morning fog reminds you of a cozy English village set among towering pine and cypress trees.

Now picture the same place with no street addresses, sidewalks, parking meters, or streetlights; a place where houses have names like Periwinkle and Sea Urchin and where four-legged friends are as welcome as the two-legged variety. Is this a dream? No, you are in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Not willing to become a conventional city, early residents consisting of writers, artists and studious types, decided to make Carmel-by-the-Sea, sometimes referred to as just Carmel, a very special albeit unusual place to live. Built on a slope overlooking magnificent Carmel Bay with its white sand beach, one of its most famous architects was Hugh Comstock. In 1920, he constructed a small fairytale doll cottage to house his wife’s expanding doll collection. Complete with rolled eaves and asymmetrical designs, these “Comstock houses” were in high demand. Today, 21 survive, including the Tuck Box Restaurant on Delores Street where, in keeping with the English theme, you can enjoy afternoon tea.

You might actually feel sorry for a new UPS driver in Carmel as, unlike any other city, this one doesn’t have any street addresses. Rather, residents pick up their mail at the post office, which was meant to encourage meeting your neighbors. How do you find a house, you ask? Simply head three blocks north of Mission to the green house on the west with the name Purple Petunia.

What other oddities mark this town? How about no high heels or ice cream cones. Yes, you heard right. The former was owing to the uneven nature of the streets due to intruding tree roots, which the city attorney felt was a liability issue. The law has been on the books since the 1920s, but, never fear, you can get around it by going to city hall where they will issue an official waiver. Actually, nobody was ever cited for this offense, and the certificate is more for show than anything else. Men can even apply…in case the mood ever strikes.

As for the ice cream cone ordinance, rather than see sticky goo end up all over their nice streets, they simply banned the sale and eating of this confection. Enter Clint Eastwood aka Dirty Harry, who ran for mayor on a pro business platform in 1986 and repealed the law. All this isn’t to say that Carmel doesn’t have much to offer visitors. Quite the contrary. There are 45 small inns, about half of which are dog friendly; 90 art galleries; 14 wine tasting rooms; and 60 restaurants, all within 16 walkable blocks.

For a city that is only one square mile (the same as London, England) you can choose from quite a range of food options (including ice cream). There are, reportedly, more restaurants per capita here than in any other place on earth.

At Trio Carmel, you’ll sample fine wines, vinegars and olive oil. The Carmel Bakery on Ocean Ave. is a popular place for coffee and pastries, and a must try are their humungous chocolate macaroons. The Cypress Inn, located at Lincoln and Seventh, is co-owned by Doris Day and is, of course, pet friendly. You can spend the afternoon or evening in their emerald lit bar watching Day’s old movies, having a meal and enjoying some prohibition era cocktails. Try the Orange Blossom that comes with a side of jelly beans, a popular choice when Ronald Reagan was filming here.

If you visit, make sure you are in good health as Carmel doesn’t have a cemetery. The only exception is for the town dog, Pal, who is interred on the grounds of the Forest Theater.

As day gives way to evening, you’ll also notice another Carmel peculiarity—darkness. Except for the internal glow of some houses or businesses, you will find yourself walking along uneven streets in pre-Edison days. The reason is simple, to be able to see the stars and moon, which is actually a nice thing. So make sure you bring a flashlight to light your way.

Nearby are other attractions that you may wish to visit such as wineries (75 in Monterey County), Big Sur, Cannery Row, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The latter is a first rate operation with many dark hall exhibits including the mesmerizing orange hued crystal jellyfish.

Camel-by-the-Sea may have its quirks but that’s what makes it such an amazing place to visit. When you’re not out shopping or eating, you can relax all tucked in at a local inn, sitting by the fireplace with a glass of wine and listening to the sounds of the waves lapping the ocean shore. Go ahead and live the dream.

 

How To
Carmel-By-The-Sea
www.carmelcalifornia.com

The Stay 

Tradewinds Carmel
www.tradewindscarmel.com

The Eats

Anton & Michel
www.antonandmichel.com

Casanova Restaurant
www.casanovarestaurant.com

La Bicyclette
www.labicycletterestaurant.com

Trio Carmel
www.triocarmel.com

Terry’s Lounge at the Cypress Inn
www.cypress-inn.com

Lula’s Chocolates
www.lulas.com

To Do's

The Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea 
Available for purchase at the Carmel Chamber of Commerce for $65 and provides tasters with a “Wine Walk flight” at their choice of any 9 of the 14 tasting rooms.

BOULDER LUXURY WEEKEND

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STORY AND PHOTOS   //  BY RON STERN

Surrounded by 45,000 acres of open space with the grandeur of the Flatirons rock formation as a backdrop, Boulder, Colorado has come a long way since its early days as a bustling mining town.

Read more: Boulder Luxury Weekend

A TALE OF TWO CITIES, AND WHY THEY'RE DIFFERENT?

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STORY AND PHOTOS   //  BY AIMEE COLON

Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri are often confused with each other. Although the name Kansas ties them together, they have distinct and individual personalities as reflected in their food, culture and attractions that draw millions of visitors each year.

The confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, the same spot where Lewis and Clark once set up camp in 1804, divides these two urban centers. Today, the area has been transformed into a sprawling 10-acre Lewis and Clark Historic Park at Kaw Point, featuring an education pavilion, hiking trails and river access.

Read more: Kansas City Missouri

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