New Mexico


Taos Leisure & Tastes

A leisurely summer Sunday in Taos started with breakfast at Guitz. We first tried this locally popular cafe a couple of times last year and it was high on the list for a return visit. The menu includes creative combinations after one gets past the Basic Breakfast and French Toast (which I so recommend). Bob ordered the Scrambled Egg Tower – scrambled eggs, mushrooms, spinach, diced tomato & Manchego cheese – served with Guitz potatoes & mixed green salad.I selected the Spanish Tortlla – Spanish omelette baked with onion and potatoes, topped with warm cucumber mushrooms & tomatoes, drizzled with basil pesto, served with olive tapenade & crustini. Great way to start the day.

 

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Between time reading and drawing at the casita we explored back roads and drove out to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Spanning the gorge more than 500 feet above the Rio Grande River the is the 7th highest bridge in the U.S. The gorge slices the Northern New Mexico landscape for approximately 50 miles with depths up to 800′. Designated in 2013 as the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, 74 miles of the Wild and Scenic River is a draw for whitewater rafters, anglers, hikers and artists.

 

Kilborn Studio - Sunday Night 2012The evening started with an opening orientation session for Bob’s workshop with artist/potter Stephen Kilborn. Always a good time catching up with the Kilborns and seeing friends made in previous classes plus several new participants.

 

Afterwards we joined friends Dolores and Orrel for dinner at Doc Martin’s in Taos Inn. We noted that the menu selection were fewer than in previous years and missing the ladies favorite watermelon gazpacho. Our waitress provided cheerful, excellent service.

 

Taos Inn - 8:17:14

A Day of Favorites

Taos, New Mexico

Sunflowers - Taos Farmers Market

 

Eggplants - Taos Farmers Market

Saturday morning started with a visit to the Taos Farmers’ Market. Local growers, producers and purchasers fill Taos Plaza. Even though I don’t plan to do much cooking this week I’m tempted by almost every vendor. Just walking through the market and admiring the artful displays provides pleasure. We left with watermelon and cantaloupe from Rocky Ford, CO, red ripe “Happy” tomatoes, a perfect bunch of radishes and a giant sticky bun for tomorrow’s breakfast.  A bonus was running into one of the artist Bob’s painted with at previous workshops.

 

Taos Country FurnishingsOur second stop was to Country Furnishings of Taos, north of downtown Taos. I can always find something to fall in love with at this charming shop filled to the brim with everything from hand carved chests to hand lotion, many from local craftsmen. I actually started my Christmas shopping here today. I’ll probably return a couple more times this week to add to my stash of gifts from merchandise not found in every store and reasonable prices.

 

 

Claire Works

Next destination was the village 0f Arroyo Seco seven miles northeast of Taos. Our initial purpose was to place a custom order with jeweler Claire Haye. Her creative designs fill the Claire Works shop – necklaces, bracelets, pins, rings earrings. With my “assistance” Bob shops for future gift occasions. We were surprised to see friend Holly working today and Bob at Taos Cow 2011grateful for the, “Try this necklace, it looks so good on,” suggestion. One more holiday Bob has covered – if I can wait that long.

 

We cross the street to indulge in the best ice cream in New Mexico at Taos Cow. They didn’t have my favorite flavor today, caramel piñon nut, but the generous single dip cone of coconut did not disappoint.

 

 

Orlando's 2 - Taos

Mid-afternoon found us at Orlando’s Cafe for a late lunch. For almost 20 years this has been my favorite spot for traditional Northern New Mexico cuisine. Bob had the soft shell chicken tacos and I selected the smothered shredded beef burrito accompanied by beans and posole. I was never a posole fan until Orlando’s version. Half the large burrito came home with me for a weekday lunch. Orlando’s is another business we’ll return to this week.

 

We finish the afternoon with visits to three galleries along Kit Carson Road – Angie Coleman’s Studio/Gallery, Mission Gallery and Bryans. After a full day of visiting all these favorites we happily retired to the casita for a peaceful evening and a New Mexico sunset.

 

Taos Sunset

 

 

 

Drive to Taos

No matter how many times we make the nearly 300-mile drive from the Denver area to Taos, New Mexico there’s always excited anticipation. In light of mid-summer paving projects on I-25 we opt to try bypasses for both Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

 

Bob at Pass KeyHeading west on US50 we spot a Pass Key Restaurant – a Pueblo tradition. Their Italian sausage sandwich is a favorite indulgence for Bob. We normally stop at the restaurant on Abriendo Avenue (near the original site of Pass Key Drive-In circa 1952)  so the US 50 location is new to us although they’re celebrating their 25th anniversary. Bob had his first Pass Key sausage sandwich in 1963 and could hardly wait for today’s edition.

 

Reaching Taos we’re delighted to get settled into the casita we’ve rented each summer for several years. Casa de las Abuelas is a modern adobe haven on a quiet Taos Lane. The private courtyard and patio calls us for a leisurely evening. For the next ten days our Taos home away from home.

 

Casita Patio

Free Museums

Art SymbolThe word “Museum” stops many from  considering a visit, even the well educated think “how boring”. Our day was enhanced by three museum visit that were not only not boring but also were Free not something we often find. First stop was the Las Cruces Art Museum. We visited to see the current exhibition of the Gustave Baumann, a renowned New Mexico printmaker. Although we have several of his prints and books this show included many works we had never seen and we learned of Baumann’s talents as a marionette artist.

The Museum of Nature and Science is in an adjoining building. With the intention of just taking a peek the well presented exhibits lured us into a complete walkthrough. In the process we learned a great deal about the surrounding ChihuahuanDesert. Next door is the Branigan Cultural Center which we will check out the next time.

Sixty miles west in Deming, New Mexico we made another discovery. Again a particular interest drew us in only to find a treasure trove. The Luna County Museum is known for their collection of Mimbres Indian pottery.

Two hours later we were still exploring the amazing collections found here.  A thousand antique dolls, the military room, transportation wing, original art, western history, quilts, bells, on-and-on. Besides the Mimbres pottery the most amazing to us was the geode collection. This compares those we’ve in University Mineral Museum. We made a note to visit nearby Rockhound State Park on a future trip.

Geodes

Mimbres Pottery

Historic Trail, Birds, Lava Flow, Petroglyphs

 – And, Green Chili Cheeseburger

ECR Monument

A dramatic sculpture points skyward marking the access road to the El Camino Real International Heritage Center. Located approximately 100 miles south of Albuquerque, the interpretive center transports visitors along the 1500-mile “Royal Road” during  more than five centuries of history.

El Camino Real Trail

ECR Carved Cross

 

We spent twice as much time at the El Camino Real Center as planned. A 15-minute film relates background information before we wind our way through the informative exhibits.

Stepping out to the observation deck we overlook a stretch of the National Historic Trail. A well placed bench encourages  quiet respite reflecting on the trail’s significance. A short nature trail highlights local desert vegetation.ECR Cactus

We made a short stop at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. The site deserves much more time and on past visits have been more comprehensive. Upon exiting the car in the visitor center parking lot the first thing Bob notes is the chorus of multiple song birds. We especially like to visit this birder’s paradise in January and February when thousands of sandhill cranes and Canada geese escape the northern climes.

Upon arrival in the small town of San Antonio (New Mexico) there’s no doubt we’ll make a stop at the Owl Cafe and Bar known far and wide for their green chili cheeseburger.  The exterior would never entice me to stop but their reputation and past experiences confirm this is the place.

More to come:

  • Valley of Fires
  • Three Rivers Petroglyphs

 

Charlie’s Spic ‘n Span Bakery & Cafe

When traveling I-25 through New Mexico and we near Las Vegas – New Mexico not Nevada – we know it’s time for a stop at Charlie’s Spic ‘n S;an Bakery & Cafe. Hunger pangs will be more than satisfied. The local eatery is just a few blocks off the  Interstate at exit 345 in the richly historic town.

The menu  which features Northern New Mexican flavors is heavy on breakfast items – available all day.  As someone who loves breakfast – but not before 10am – Charlie’s is a perfect fit. The “Stuffy” lives up to its name. A fluffy house-made sopapilla is stuffed with scrabbled eggs and meat of one’s choice, smothered with red or green chile, topped with melted cheese and accompanied by crisp hash browns. Even after  sharing ⅓ with hubby I’m stuffed and can’t finish the last bites of potatoes and chile. But, I’m happily stuffed.

As tourists we’re out numbered by the steady stream of locals. Obviously Charlie’s is a pillar for the community whether they’re stopping for a Starbucks latte, breakfast, lunch or a package of the fresh tortillas. I saw one family load up! The husband balanced his arm  load of eight packages with his chin as the wife paid the bill.


Charlie's BunsPayment is at the bakery counter and it’s hard to imagine not being tempted by the plate sized old fashioned cinnamon buns, glazed donuts, cream puffs or long  johns. I swear one of today’s offerings was at least 10 inches in length giving new meaning to “long john”. On my last visit we left with two iced sugar cookies – absolutely the best I’ve ever had. Bob was lucky to get his before I wolfed down both of them. This time we order a half dozen for a sweet treat down the road.

Charlie's Eclairs

When You Go: Charlie’s Spic ‘n Span Bakery & Cafe, 715 Douglas Ave,  is open for breakfast and lunch. If you want dinner arrive early they close at 6:oopm nightly. Phone 505-426-1021

Old Martina’s Hall

Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico

Old Martina's Hall - Door & WindowFor seven years visitors to the famed San Francisco de Asis church south of Taos saw a massive, achingly-slow renovation in progress across the street and wondered about its future. The multi-million dollar project finally came to an end last September with the opening of Old Martina’s Hall, a restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a facility for special events, live music, dance hall, meeting and workshop rooms.

Thick adobe walls and the massive vigas above the great hall are original to the Ranchos fortress dating back to 1769. All settlers were required by the Spanish Governor to live within the two acre Ranchos Plaza to protect against attacks by raiding Comanches. The neighboring much photographed and painted church was built in 1812.

Old Martina's Hall - InteriorWe stopped for dinner last night and were awed by the historic property. Although the great hall was not in use last night we looked up to the soaring ceiling and marveled at how the enormous logs were raised into place and their continued strength today.

The spacious dining room reflects traditional New Mexico design, such as a corner kiva fireplace ,combined with simple contemporary detail. Banco seating along one long wall was surprisingly comfortable with the multitude of turquoise-colored pillows adding a dash of color to the surrounding earth tones.

We were greeted by our cheery and attentive waitress, Pamela. She later told us, “I love working here,” which was evident in everything she did. While many of the menu items have a Southwestern overtone this is not a Mexican restaurant. I selected chicken schnitzel with a lemon butter caper sauce, accompanied with fresh asparagus. Generally served with frites I could substitute either the mashed or fingerling potatoes. Bob chose the grilled Atlantic salmon served atop a gazpacho sauce with roasted fingerling potatoes and topped with spears of tempura asparagus. He didn’t leave a single bite.

Old Marina's Hall - Salmon Old Martina's Hall - Chicken

 

When it came time to see the dessert tray we were once again awed by the selection and presentation. An European pastry chef begins each day at 3:00 am to create the assorted, decadent treats. This was not a night to share one dessert. Bob opted for a fresh apricot tart. My piece de resistance was chocolate ganache in a phyllo pastry cup topped with creamy sea-salt caramel sauce. OMG! Heaven, but extremely rich. I actually had to box some for a bedtime snack with a tall glass of cold milk.

Old Martina's Hall - Dessert Tray

During our current stay in Taos I will definitely return to try the breakfast menu and Old Martina’s Hall’s pastry case will be a temptation every time I pass the historic landmark serving modern day tastes.

Old Martina's Hall - Dessert

Destination Taos

We’ve happily returned to Taos for a July week. Bob’s once again attending a painting workshop with Stephen Kilborn, always an inspiring and motivational experience. Highlights today include lunch at my favorite Northern New Mexico eatery – Orlando’s, at visit to the Kilborn Gallery and dinner at Graham’s Grille.

Casa Pajaro - Kitchen

Our Taos home for the week is an adobe rental on the historic La Loma Plaza, Casa Pajaro. The two bedroom house was painted and decorated by renown Southwest artist Jim Wagner.  Every nook and cranny reveals playful and colorful details guaranteed to elicit smiles. Magpies, fish, chickens, flowers, hearts – I’m sure we’ll still be noticing new discoveries all week.

Casa Pajaro - Fireplace

Casa Pajaro - Bedroom

Hutch - Casa Pajaro

Casa Pajaro - Guestroom

I’ll post more details about Casa Pajaro later this week. Check back soon.

A Day in Santa Fe

Shopping, Sculpture and Frivolity

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We weren’t the only ones kicking up our heels in Santa Fe today. We met these high steppers created by Jim Agius at Ventana Gallery on Canyon Road. We stopped at the venerable gallery to see the whimsical watercolors of Tom Noble and enjoyed the works of numerous other artists. Memorable to Bob where the mixed media creations of Debra Corbett.

IMG_2942 - Version 2

Shopping started with a quick visit to a true Santa Fe original – Jackalope. We didn’t wander the multiple buildings and acres of pottery and “stuff”. Our purpose was the broad selection of World Music. New CDs play as I write.

Bob always likes to stop at Books and More Books to check out the shelves of used art books. Brushes and a book by artist Nancy Reyner were purchased  at Artisan on Cerrilios Road.

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In the afternoon we drove out to Tesuque Village for a leisurely stroll through the sculpture gardens at Shidoni Foundry and Galleries. The variety of styles, materials and creativity never ceases to amaze. We note numerous additions since our last visit seven months ago. A great way to spend a sunny spring afternoon.

New to us, but certainly not to the locals, was dinner at Andiamo! in the Rail Yard District. The highly recommended crispy polenta in a rosemary gorgonzola sauce did not disappoint for a starter. The well-dressed Caesar Salad was fresh and enough for both of us. Bob finished off his eggplant Parmesan with tomato basil spaghetti. As much as I liked the linguine with spicy grilled shrimp there is a box of leftovers going home with me tomorrow. We passed on dessert, however, the tiramisu looked most promising. Next time.

The big decision of the evening is a choice between relaxing in our favorite room at Inn at Vanessie or drinks and jazz piano next door. Frivolity anyone?

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A Day in Albuquerque

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We start the week with a typical Yackel “vacation” day – on the go.                

After a bit of shopping for projects at home the day was too beautiful to spend inside museums. Instead, we head to ABQ BioPark. The Botanical Gardens was fairly new the last time we visited; interesting to see growing maturity and development. Plantings show springtime promise and the garden’s expansions include a Heritage Farm. Children’s enthusiasm radiated throughout the aquarium, “Mommy, the shark has BIG teeth,” from a bug-eyed three year old or a ten-year-old explaining about blue blood of the horseshoe crab used in medical research. The circular tank of Moon Jellies mesmerizes visitors of all ages.

DSC00776 - Version 2Nearby Old Town attracts us for our next stop. We like seeking out unique shops tucked in quiet courtyards and patios. A find this trip was Yucca Art Gallery a showcase for Albuquerque’s oldest artist co-op. Works of forty local artisans include jewelry, pottery, weavings, woodworks and a wide variety of painting media and genre.

Next destination – the rural village of Corrales, a historic adobe church and another co-op art gallery. After a brief stop by our hotel we’re off to dinner and more shopping before capping the day with a frozen yogurt. Time to rejuvenate for tomorrow – another “vacation” day.

When You Go: Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

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