For all of you out there who crave the early holiday 411, here's the skinny on a fat seasonal store, the New Mexico Food and Gift Showcase. Pivotal vendor Debi Barnes, purveyor of Uncle Mabe's Barbeque Sauce, assures us that their holiday haven will be packed to the rafters with local goodies like salsas, sauces, coffees, jellies and jams, spices, seasonings, soup and dip mixes, and the list goes on. With upwards of 500 products from 60 vendors, there's probably something for everyone. (At least for the people who really dig green chile-roasted nuts and chipotle jelly.) The shop is located in Cottonwood Mall's lower level, between Foley's and the M.V.D. We asked Barnes if there was a downside to being in the holiday goodie business, to which she gave a Santa-esque belly laugh and said, "Yes—when you get Habañero up your nose." The Showcase is scheduled to open on Oct. 28, and will disappear like Christmas fudge by Dec. 31.
Watching balloons float through the cold, autumnal predawn does a lot more than inspire awe in those who witness it—it also stirs up a brisk and compelling appetite for things that comfort us. For the enthusiasts who come out to Balloon Fiesta Park each year, there are plenty of autumnal mornings to be had; and for each of them there's an egg and cheese breakfast burrito, a four-pack of cinnamon rolls, a steamy cup of hot cocoa. Bliss.