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Food

A chocolate box

Theobroma is sublime reality

Y-U-M
Blair Nodelman
Y-U-M

Imagine a barrel-sized vat filled to the brim with melted chocolate, swirling in an unending and hypnotic cycle. Luscious chocolate spins before your eyes, and your mouth begins to water. Continue picturing that, and add copious trays of chocolate-covered strawberries, truffles, candy molds in every shape imaginable and an abundance of delight. The phrase “like a kid in a candy store” resonated with me at Theobrama, as I stood in awe of all the delicious treats surrounding me.

Theobroma Chocolatier is Albuquerque’s own Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. Located at Tramway and Montgomery, this quaint shop proffers all the goodness you could ever want. Their ingredients include bulk chocolate from the company founded by the guy who invented milk chocolate in Switzerland. It’s hard to beat that standard. For the past few weeks, I’ve reaped the benefits of having a friend working in the chocolate business. Every time I see him, I’m presented with some confectionary concoction he created that day at Theobroma. Needless to say, I’ve been beyond grateful.

It wasn’t until I visited the store that I really understood the mastery of the process. The chocolate here is virtually all handmade, from hand-dipped Oreos to caramel-filled chocolates, you can guarantee it was constructed by skilled hands. A personal favorite of mine is their signature Cortez Crunch bar, a concoction of layers of dark and milk chocolate, separated by the perfect amount of smooth caramel. It might actually be the best chocolate bar out there, and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest.

I’ve sampled boxes of truffles, chocolate and caramel-covered popcorn, chocolate-mint pecans, and so much more in the past month; I cannot even begin to tell you. Theobroma creates some serious sugar cravings and exceeds at fulfilling them. Chocolate, they say, is addictive and I may need rehab, but I simply refuse. Theobroma Chocolatier has me hooked and I never plan on giving them—or their chocolates—up.

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Better than any high school dance

Swing out, sister.
Swing out, sister.

When the week ends, it’s time to relax, enjoy the company of friends and soak in as much weekend fun as possible, but even nightlife can become routine or mundane. That same restaurant with the same group of friends eating the same entree. While Albuquerque has a lot to offer, sometimes it’s hard to find that new evening outing. Have no fear and let me swing this idea by you.

Rhythm Dance Company has created Saturday nights full of jazz, fancy footwork and an eclectic mix of locals. From 8:15 to 11:15 p.m., this quaint dance studio opens its doors to the public for Saturday Swing. And let me tell you, it’s an absolute blast. For a few bucks, you can dance the night away and be transported back to the roaring ’20s (perfectly apropos of the The Great Gatsby’s upcoming release). Even if you have two left feet, you can still join in on the fun. Rhythm offers basic swing classes before every social dance at 7:30 p.m. for a few extra bucks. As soon as you’ve learned your level one moves, you’d be surprised how quickly you transition from memorized steps to fluid partner dancing. Once you’ve tuckered yourself out from all those spins and dips, you’ll notice the pleasant diversity of the students. You have your regulars—who move with amazing grace—teenagers looking for a different kind of fun, beginners (like me) just trying to master the step-ball-change and every other type of person you can imagine. The dancing is such fun, but the crowd that attends “Saturday Swing” is what makes it truly memorable. You’ll dance with and meet people of all sorts as you become part of swingin’ little community for one night. Try something new. You just might discover your new favorite weekend outing.

art

8-bit garage

Breakfast of Champions: Power pellets
Blair Nodelman
Breakfast of Champions: Power pellets
Sometimes, people take the liberty of exciting every old-school gamer by muralizing their garage entrance. I am completely and totally in support of this and, needless to say, driving by this Pac-Man mural every day keeps me pretty entertained. Keep an eye out for street art. Finding little gems like this make driving to work seem far less mundane, and may even keep that third-cup-of-coffee craving at bay. ... for a while longer.

Editor's note: Enjoy the Nuevo Mexicano chiptune banjo-pop of Bud Melvin below.

Bud Melvin - "Nude Vows"

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Food

Now I understand why dogs chase cars

Food truck heaven
Food truck heaven
“Who thought of this idea? Like, ‘Hey man, I’m gonna buy a bus, make it awesome and then sell crepes from it.’ I mean, thank God they did cause this is delicious. ...”

That was a quote from a neighboring customer, and my taste buds surely agree.

Food trucks are not a new phenomenon. They’ve been driven around cities for decades. I even grew up frequenting a taco truck on the way home from soccer practice. It was quick, easy, cheap and, above all, delicious. However, the difference between the taco truck parked in the dirt lot by I-25 and what I experienced this past week are worlds apart.

It began in Los Angeles, as Kogi Korean BBQ trucks weaved their way into the hearts of Californians through tantalizing cuisine. With instantaneous tweets updating the location of their fleet of tasty grub, I’m pretty sure this contributed to the population compulsively checking their smart phones. The whole city was glued to their mobile devices, in pursuit of that damn Kogi truck. I like to imagine a bug-eyed crowd, clutching their growling stomachs while making a rapid zombie crawl into parking lots to find the infamous truck. Needless to say, food trucks were making a gourmet comeback.

The trend soon made its way across the nation and cultures: Belgian waffles in New York City, lobster rolls in Harvard Square, crème brûlée in San Francisco and cupcakes in Philly. You can pretty much get any type of food you could ever want from a mobile kitchen. Yet, unbeknownst to many Burqueños, we too have our own collection of motorized restaurants.

Every Wednesday in the Talin Market parking lot, an array of eclectic vehicles serve up delicious nosh. In the mood for some comfort food? Head on over the The Supper Truck for some good ol’ shrimp and grits or maybe some catfish tacos. What about pierogies? The Gedunk Food Truck can sate that craving in a savory second. Needless to say, Albuquerque is not lacking in diversity. This makes choosing what to eat so much more difficult, but that’s not a problem I’m too upset about having.

The variety and temptation of the trucks did have me wandering around the parking lot for a good 15 minutes, unsure of what delectable dish I was going to have during my lunch break. I finally settled on The Boiler Monkey. This refurbished bus caught my eye with one simple word: crêpe. Whether you want sweet—think Nutella with banana, cinnamon with baked apples—or savory—maybe the Burque Turkey interests you—there will be a crêpe specifically created to suit your tastes. As much of a sweet freak as I am, I opted for savory and went with The Farm. Complete with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and feta, and topped with a balsamic reduction sauce, I was in taste bud heaven.

Crêpes from heaven
Crêpes from heaven

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Onward and inward

“Look toward the future.” This saying has been engraved in my mind since ... well, since the beginning. I’ve been told by my parents, teachers, advisors, bosses, nearly everyone to strive for what’s ahead, to keep on pushing forward. I realize this is a common theme in society. I’m sure most people have had at least a few anxiety attacks in the middle of the night concerning that overbearing word: “future”.

I’ll admit I’m slightly terrified by its presence. However, my perspective is shifting. I graduate from high school next month and suddenly, the world seems to be spinning multitudes faster than it used to. What happened to barely keeping my eyes open in first-period calculus? Or lugging around a backpack that felt like it was full of anvils? Now, I’m being thrown a diploma and told to go off into the real world, leaving this part of my life behind. Granted, graduating from high school is an accomplishment I’m proud of and while I had a great time overall, I cannot wait to throw my cap in the air while ironically performing a “High School Musical” signature jump. In the grand spectrum, these past four years account for a minuscule portion of my life. That isn’t to say they weren’t important, but there is so much more to experience and learn outside of the state-required curriculum.

But then here it comes again: the future spurning an existential crisis on my exhausted brain. Between worrying about what college will be like to what sort of chips to buy for my graduation party, my head is filled to the brim with anticipating the undeniable future. Perhaps the most frightening part is that in approximately four months, I will be moving over 2000 miles away to Boston.

That single fact awoke an urge to stop focusing primarily on the future and to really enjoy what I have right now. While moving and running toward reality is exciting, I also know I have to make an effort to really soak up all that’s around me right now. Boston will present me with some amazing adventures, but what about the adventures that are yet to be had here?

So, Alibi reader, welcome to “Blair rediscovers ABQ” (I’m sure I’ll come up with a catchier title later). Given the opportunity to blog for the Alibi, I hope to not only find new things about this beloved desert city that I never knew existed, but also let you know about them. This place has so much to offer and before I leave, I want to be able to say, “I know Albuquerque,” and share my newfound knowledge. Before Boston, diplomas, packing all my stuff into not-so-neat little boxes; before my life turns upside down, I want to explore my home to the absolute fullest during the last summer I have the privilege to call it that.

Thus begins the Albuquerque adventures. Next stop: Food trucks.

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