As the mercury rises, my yen for sugar seem to skyrocket right along with it. Heat has an alchemical ability to thaw things. In my case, high temperatures unearth a potent blend of desire and memory, awakened by the sweet tastes of summer. The hottest part of my afternoon induces fantasies about bionicos; impossibly fresh chunks of fruit topped with thick, sweet cream, shredded coconut and granola. I used to get them in Los Angeles because they reminded me of home (despite the fact that I have yet to actually eat one here). They were simple but luxurious little packages, improved only by a front porch and friends. The last 20 minutes before sunset is synonymous with my first taste of agua fresca; the summer festival where I sneaked eyefuls of an enormous glass jar filled with real watermelon juice, its big black seeds bobbing seductively up and down. I remember the hollow echo of ice and metal colliding inside as the pink liquid was scooped out and plunked into my plastic cup. It wasn't at all what I expected. Its texture was thin rather than syrupy, its sweetness mild and clean, and slightly soapy. And now dusk is for the paleta man. Every evening, sandwiched between sunset and the last drop of daylight, I can hear the bell of his pushcart moving through my neighborhood. I have to be quick to catch him, though. He's a bit of a ghost.
All the News That's Fit to Eat
You won't even recognize the place. Fourth Street Café's transformation into Ralli's is complete and the Downtown restaurant is open for business again. Ralli's (the name is pronounced like Rally's) looks absolutely nothing like the dated, cramped coffee shop that used to take up an unassuming spot on the Fourth Street Mall. Gone are the carpeting, mismatched furniture and bad pastel color scheme, replaced by dark, glossy wood on the floors, tables and bar. Forest green upholstery and accents make Ralli's look like the classy pub it hopes to be. The menu hasn't changed much, though. Ralli's is still serving breakfast and lunch much the same as they always have. Diner standards like omelets, club sandwiches and chicken salads remain the same. The dinner menu is similar to lunch with the addition of bar-food favorites like fried mozzarella sticks and the place is now open from 6 to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday, until midnight on Sunday.
Chewing the Fat
Angel Vigil, Owner of Wrap it Up
A cook and caterer from Pojoaque brings an updated concept to the old Tito's Tavern
Tito's Tavern has been a fixture on the corner of Fourth Street and Menaul Blvd. since the beginning of time (or thereabouts), so when a sign went up announcing a new sandwich shop called Wrap it Up, people noticed. I caught up with Angel Vigil just after a lunch rush. She was out of breath but happy to talk about the new venture.