Foodie Finds at the Balloon Fiesta--Besides all the usual eye-openers like coffee, breakfast burritos and T.J. Cinnamons Mini-Cinns, our beloved Balloon Fiesta is starting to offer more diverse food-related activities throughout the day. Here are my best picks for food events at the 2006 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (And be sure to check for last-minute schedule changes before you head out at www.balloonfiesta.co
• Fiesta del Vino: Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8—Thanks to the Balloon Fiesta's third annual Feista del Vino, it's possible to get sky-high without ever leaving the ground! This year's event stretches to an unprecedented two days—ample time to tour the country's oldest wine-making region through samples and sale bottles of New Mexico wines. The Fiesta del Vino is from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and noon-6 p.m. on Sunday, with a separate $10 entry fee for admission. Yes, that includes a souvenir wine glass, and yes, they will be checking IDs. No one under 21 will be admitted.
•Pet-Friendly Grilling: Saturday, Oct.. 7--Kent Whitaker is a published cookbook author, winner of the “Emeril Live” Food Network Barbecue Contest and an avid animal lover. This Saturday, Whitaker and his dog, Moses, will help the ALPO hot air balloon team demonstrate pet-friendly outdoor cooking. (Uh, try not to eat them?) While you're there, you can swipe free ALPO product samples for FiFi Princess back home, register to win a backyard barbecue prize and learn more about the ALPO hot air balloon, which donates a can of pet food to shelters for every mile it travels.
• Free Food for Teachers: Monday, Oct. 9—This one's not particularly exciting unless you're broke and a teacher, a condition which tends to perpetuate itself in New Mexico. From 6-10:30 a.m., the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum will host a teacher appreciation breakfast. That means free breakfast over a spectacular view of the field, plus tours and educational workshops to enhance your curriculum. Be one of the first 100 educators to reserve your place by calling 768-6020.
• GoldenPalace.net World Breakfast Burrito Eating Championship: Wednesday, Oct. 11—My nickname around the Alibi office used to be “Crazy Legs,” taken from world-class competitive eater “Crazy Legs” Conti. Now, four trips through the salad bar is a pretty impressive personal record; but I still couldn't eat a fourth of my body weight in food without hurting myself. Not like the real Crazy Legs. Fortunately for vicarious gluttons everywhere, there are professionals backed by the I.F.O.C.E. (International Federation of Competitive Eating) to do this sort of thing for us. On Wednesday from 10-11 a.m., watch as they tackle a pile of breakfast burritos and a new record. There's a $4000 grand prize, so competition will be especially ravenous.