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 V.24 No.53 | December 31 - January 6, 2016 

Year in Review: Food

Digesting 2015

Farmeries, food trucks and farewells

Years aren’t arbitrary units of time, bound as they are to the change in seasons, but humanity’s never really settled on a universal start/end date. Frankly, that seems like a weird oversight as we become increasingly globalized, and maybe some day in the future the airwaves will be filled with politicians yelling at each other about whose New Year’s Day is the correct one as delineated by founding fathers and angry gods. For now, I suppose that January 1 is as good as any. There is something magical about holing up in your home between Christmas and New Year’s, imbibing the last of the eggnog-splashed rum and trying to get a handle on the current year as it inches its way to closure. So, looking back from the end of the year with this reflection in mind, what does the sum of 2015, in terms of food, look like?

Santa Fe Brewing taproom
Hello Green Jeans Farmery!
I’m no economist, but I feel like this was the year that the effects of the financial collapse of 2008 really seemed to be over. Multiple innovative businesses reared up out of the morass of disappointed expectations left behind by that pernicious slow-leak of a recession. In particular, I offer Green Jeans Farmery as emblematic of this trend. It’s a humming hive of restaurants, a brewery and a distillery all nestled together in a complex of repurposed shipping containers. There were some hiccups that the site had to overcome (it’s really important to submit the correct building plans to the city, apparently) and some drama as a result, but now that’s all behind it and I kind of wonder how we ever lived without the Farmery. Otherwise, more traditional restaurants were popping up all over like mushrooms after a spring rain.

I have decidedly more mixed feelings about another indicator of economic health: the local brewery explosion. In 2015 it continued to, well, explode, with new additions like Boese Brothers joining established breweries like Bosque, Red Door, Tractor, etc. that are opening new locations. According to the Dark Side Brew Crew (nmdarksidebrewcrew.com), there are currently some 30 more applications in the works, meaning that the trend is only getting started. On the one hand, that means that Albuquerque has become a veritable paradise for a beer lover like myself, even if it’s a bit bewildering at times. However, the beer bubble must burst someday, and it will be interesting to see who’s left standing when it does.

Goodbye Stumbling Steer.
photos by Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
Goodbye Stumbling Steer.
In terms of openings and closings, we lost quite a few restaurants, including The Stumbling Steer, Loving Vegan and longtime favorites like India Kitchen. Shade Tree, once one of Nob Hill’s most promising spaces, finally gave up the ghost after making what seemed to me several missteps, including an appearance on “Restaurant Impossible” that resulted in a renovation to space and menu that sucked out much of the restaurant’s character and appeal in favor of a more “marketable” (read: generic) vibe. The killing blow though seems to have been an ultimately disastrous plan to add a back patio to the restaurant, which might have worked out fine except for the fact that it infringed on one of the most fought over resources in Nob Hill: parking spaces. I’m sad to see them go and wish the owners luck in their future pursuits. In the most dramatic closing, Café Bien got raided by the feds for alleged connections to a drug distribution ring!

High profile openings included Matanza, which made a big splash in Nob Hill with its modern twist on New Mexican food and robust beer menu, the late-night favorite Last Call opened up a new location Downtown, and unlike the parade of half-baked restaurants that occupied the space before, hopes are high that they’ll be able to make a real go of it. Lobo Beast 101, from the same crew that brought us B2B Bistronomy, started slinging beers and light munchies from the old Pancho’s Arthouse Theater on Central.

Vendors are now pushed 100 feet away from the nearest brick-and-mortar restaurant—which pushes them almost completely out of Downtown.
Vendors are now pushed 100 feet away from the nearest brick-and-mortar restaurant—which pushes them almost completely out of Downtown.
Politically, there were some interesting developments. Perhaps the worst of them was Albuquerque’s passing of the dreaded 100 foot rule for food trucks. The new regulation, which requires that food trucks be at least 100 feet from any brick-and-mortar restaurant’s storefront, may make sense in certain parts of town, but in the high-density Downtown where so many trucks have been able to find lucrative footholds prior to the regulation, it’s sure to be disastrous.

On the state level Susana Martinez’s administration made a renewed push to reimpose work restrictions on SNAP benefits. The question is controversial on an ideological level, but surprisingly few people actually turned up to voice their opinions at public meetings. Perhaps in celebration of what looks like an easy road to re-implementation, Martinez threw herself a drunken pizza party and tried to get special treatment from the police who were called to her hotel room after reports of bottles being thrown from the balcony.

Finally, here in the Alibi’s editorial department, we said goodbye to Carl Petersen, Samantha Anne Carrillo, Mark Lopez, Lisa Barrow, Amelia Olson and Ari LeVaux. Then we said hello to Renée Chavez, Maggie Grimason, Megan Reneau and Cerridwen Stucky. And, in what is probably the biggest news from my standpoint, this will be my final column as official food editor and managing editor. It’s been a good run, but the time has come to sign off. You’ll probably still see stuff from me, but I will be writing as a freelancer, a soldier of fortune, a knight without armor. Keep loving what you eat; keep eating what you love. Happy 2016 everyone!

 

Tomorrow's Events

Uptown Growers' Market at Presbyterian Administrative Center

Taco Tuesday at Boese Brothers Brewery

Wednesday

Duke it Out at Builders Source Appliance Gallery

Live cooking competition for Albuquerque's finest chefs benefiting El Ranchito de los Ninos, a home for children whose parents are unable to care for them.

More Recommended Events ››
 

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