All the News that's Fit to Eat ... King-Sized!
By Laura Marrich
Restaurant Relief for Katrina—Hurricane Katrina has a devastating strangle-hold on the lives of countless people along the Gulf Coast, but the disaster hit especially close to home for Louisiana's hospitality workers. A huge percentage of the state's economy is based in New Orleans' bustling tourist and hospitality industries. Even without the massive appeal of Mardi Gras, New Orleans is a hub for national and international conventions, entertainment and dining. In fact, the city was chosen as one America's top five restaurant destinations by Bon Appétit just last month.
It's all gone now—and with it, hundreds of thousands of peoples' livelihoods. But you can help. Here are a few examples of how.
Yanni's Mediterranean Grill & Opa! Bar (3109 Central NE, 268-9250) donated an entire day's worth of food sales to the American Red Cross on Wednesday, Sept. 7. Organizers were still totaling receipts and cash donations at press time, but similar fundraising efforts at the restaurant have brought in between $5,900 and $10,000.
In much the same spirit, the National Restaurant Association will host Dine for America on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Thousands of restaurants across the country are expected to participate in this American Red Cross Disaster Relief fundraiser. Learn more about the event at restaurant.org or dineforamerica.org.
There's a Jazz Brunch Fundraiser this Sunday, Sept. 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott. The brunch, which includes live entertainment by Linda Cotton, will benefit evacuees in Albuquerque and animal shelters in the gulf. Cost is slated to be $30 per guest. Call Cecilia Cobb at 823-1919 for details and reservations.
The Brennan family of New Orleans' famous Commander's Palace restaurants set up the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Disaster Relief Fund. To make a donation, visit ghcf.org, or send a check to the New Orleans Hospitality Workers' Disaster Relief Fund, c/o Greater Houston Community Foundation, 4550 Post Oak Place, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77027.
Own or manage your own restaurant? You can offer a job and lodging to a displaced restaurant employee through several legit websites, including restaurant.org, womenchefs.org or cirajobs.org. Likewise, displaced hospitality workers are encouraged to post their résumés on these same sites. Help is just a few clicks away. ...
Little Saigon Gets a Little Bigger—Café Trang is the newest addition to Albuquerque's booming Vietnamese restaurant scene in the southeast heights. Da and Nga Nguyen set up shop about two months ago in the old Talin Market building on Louisiana, one block south of Central. Daughter Wynn says that the food at Café Trang is really authentic, which has resonated well with Asian folks in the Duke City. "It's how we eat at home," Wynn explains, "and the space is open and modern. It's not like other Vietnamese restaurants in town." The small menu includes several types of spring rolls, grilled meats and shrimp, soups and broths and rice dishes. The Nguyens also serve Vietnamese sandwiches made on special baguettes that are flown in twice a week from California. Wynn describes the food as "refreshing, healthy, lean and flavorful," and says that everything is made from scratch and made to order. Café Trang is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
There's No Place Like Abode– Nob Hill's Mecca for mid-century modern furniture, sleek service ware and food-themed bath and beauty products has found a new home. Abode jumped from the northwest corner of Richmond and Central to 109 Amherst SE last week, and owner K.C. Roehl says the new shop is "smaller and better." We'd like to add "convenient," too, now that the shop's neighbors include Señor Murphy Candymaker and Relish (the clothing shop, not the sandwich shop). Abode will celebrate its one-year anniversary on October 1. Call 255-1115 for store hours and information.
Santa Fe Wine and Chile— Now in its 15th year, the Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta swings into action this Wednesday, Sept. 21, with five days of world-class culinary events and wine dinners. Highlights include a spicy food and wine-pairing event with Coyote Café's Mark Miller and a triple-threat "power luncheon" featuring Nambé service ware, Gruet wines and food from the Santa Fe School of Cooking. And that's just the first day! Events, times and pricing are highly variable. Log on to santafewineandchile.org for details.
"Anything But": The Wine Dinner— Here's an interesting concept. Graze by Jennifer James and Jessie from Fiasco Wines will pair up for an "anything but cabernet, chardonnay or California" wine dinner on Monday, Sept. 19. Items include grilled peaches with honey-lime-ginger vinaigrette, pecans and arugala paired with The Turk White from Australia, and pork schnitzel with spiced chickpeas served with a Heinrich Red from Austria. Cost is $50 a plate. Call 268-4729 for reservations and information on future Fiasco wine dinners.
And speaking of Graze, sidebar Gulp recently treated me to the best margarita I've ever had. Two of them, actually. The $9 cocktails were made with top-shelf tequila and fresh fruit juices and purees, extracted in-house just hours earlier. Jose Cuervo should just quit right now. They were that good.
Spike's Ride and His Roaring Chile Festival—Chile and bicycles go together like ... uh ... hot sauce and skateboards? Salsa and scooters? Whatever, it's a fall tradition and it's happening this Sunday, Sept. 18. Close to 1,000 cyclists and 30 restaurants will participate in the fundraiser, riding bikes and eating chile (though hopefully not at the same time) in the name of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History. You can register at the museum, REI or any Albuquerque Bicycle Center. Or call Becky Pate at 841-2877 for more information.
Adventures in Chocolate— The New Mexico Museum of Natural History announced that the theme of this year's Chocolate Fantasy gala is "Through the Looking Glass: A Chocolate Wonderland." The black-tie fundraiser will feature a grand buffet, silent auction and live entertainment, not to mention the surreal and splendid world of Lewis Carroll, crafted into chocolate by New Mexico's top chefs. That's Saturday, March 4, at Downtown's Hyatt Regency Albuquerque.
Let your Mouth do the Voting—We're just about ready to wrap up this year's Readers' Choice Restaurant Poll, but couch potatoes can continue to rest easy. You've got until 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23, to get your votes in, either at alibi.com or through postmarked mail. Check the ballot in this week's paper for our mailing address and all the other fine print. And please, try to keep it clean. Responses like "Landry's," "Grandy's" and "Hooters" will not be included in the results of the poll, so don't even bother. Really—would you kiss your mother with that mouth?
Spanish Cooking Classes: Tapas at Instituto Cervantes
Learn to cook typical dishes from Spain using fresh local ingredients from New Mexico. Attendees must bring a cutting board and kitchen knife.
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