Before you volunteer to host a fondue party you should probably 1) own a fondue pot, 2) know how to make fondue and/or 3) spend a moment or two considering what the cost of such an endeavor is going to be. I hadn't really given much thought at all to any of those things before I proposed fondue for a co-ed baby shower to be held at my house. Now, of course, I know it's likely that a dozen of your closest friends, no matter how young or capable in the kitchen, all own fondue pots. In fact, they'd be delighted to bring them to your place—and leave them there. I think this is because most people don't know how to make fondue, though as I know now, it's not really very hard, just labor intensive. There are pounds of cheese to be grated and giant blocks of chocolate to be smashed to bits with a hammer. Which brings me to the second reason why nobody has fondue parties anymore: It's surprisingly expensive. Cheese, chocolate and cream are all more dear than we'd like them to be but never more so than when you're buying in bulk. Granted, I made enough melty-dippity goodness to feed a (drunken) army, but next time I think I'll feed them filet mignon instead.
All the News That's Fit to Eat
The bad news is that Albuquerque's only Afghan restaurant is no more. That's right, after a short two and a half years Tora Bora House (Montgomery and San Pedro) has closed its doors for good. The good news is that in Tora Bora's place will be another kind of ethnic restaurant that the city has been craving. By the end of May, a small group of partners plan to transform Tora Bora's space into a soul food restaurant called Mahogany Café. I haven't seen the menu yet but one of the partners, Jacinda Holden (formerly of Renaissance Catering) tells me it involves fried green tomatoes, buttermilk biscuits, stewed greens and candied yams. More details will be forthcoming when they're finally open but I do know they're planning to host gospel brunches every Sunday. Lord have mercy on my waistline!
Chewing the Fat
Rochelle Woollard at La Piazza
An old hand in the kitchen is a new face at this Italian favorite
The last time I ate at La Piazza I was surprised to see the owner and Executive Chef, Gordon Schutte, on the line, cooking up a storm. Normally, seeing a chef in his own kitchen shouldn't be a surprise but Schutte is also the owner of Vivace in Nob Hill and the ringleader of Albuquerque Originals, an association of local restaurateurs. Was he waiting for just the right person to show up and give him time for a coffee break? Rochelle Woollard, who started at La Piazza three months ago, seems to be that person.
Kids Cooking Classes
Keep them out of your hair while they learn to earn their keep
You know you've finally become a grown-up when you start thinking that year-round schools with uniforms sound pretty good. Summer vacations are what kids live for but they can be a real nightmare for the working parents who are forced to choose between forking out serious cash for sleep-away camps or letting their kids "self-supervise." In case you don't remember or were never lucky enough to "self-supervise," this is an educational program that involves older neighborhood kids teaching your kids how to find, peruse and replace Dad's Penthouse collection without detection, how to suck all the nitrous oxide out of a can of whipped cream and how to best torture siblings while leaving a minimum of bruising.