It’s customary to spend this final issue of the year recapping the highlights of one’s section over the year, which my colleagues have done a great job of here. Well, I have the disadvantage of not being Food Editor this whole year—I’ve only been at this position since September—but I have been eating and drinking things all year, thank goodness, and I’ve certainly had preferences among those things. With that in mind, I present to you a few of the best things I ate and drank this year, presented in no order, and based solely on my biased and naïve palate.
There are many other things I couldn’t fit complete descriptions of here, so I will give brief shout-outs to them instead: the last tomatoes of the season from Red Tractor Farm, the chile chèvre from Camino de Paz School and Farm, the golden beet pasta from Ñocco Pasta, the lavender honey latte at The Brew and the old-fashioned whiskey sour that a kind bartender at Canvas Artistry made for me one cold night at the start of the year when I was on my own and feeling blue. I’m endlessly grateful to the people who have grown, delivered, prepared and provided my food and drink this year; to those people I wish a bountiful harvest in the spring and plenty of generous tips. Thank you for doing what you do.
I hope that you eat and drink well this holiday season, spend time with the people you love and start off your 2018 with ambitions to make your world a little more extraordinary.
An Old Fashioned is like a bicycle: a simple and elegant invention that’s best when nobody tries to tamper with or “improve” it with extraneous bits. The bartenders at Still Spirits know this—you’ll find no pumpkin spice bitters or bits of tropical fruit floating around in their OF. They start with a very good spirit (Santa Fe Spirits’ Colkegan single malt whiskey) and use brandied cherries in place of the more standard maraschino, both of which give the drink an earthy, dark taste. They also serve it over those giant squares of ice, which, gosh, I am just a sucker for. Head over to the little Still Spirits bar (120 Marble Ave. NW) and ask them to mix you up a drink tonight.
Listen, brownies aren’t even on the top of my list of favorite sweets. They tend to be a little overly rich and a little one-note (the one note being chocolate) for my tastes. But Alchemy Confections Co. doesn’t craft any baked good without tweaking it into high brow territory. Their brownies are made with Manjari 64% dark chocolate bits inside and Kona coffee mixed into the batter, giving a subtle bitterness to the normally super-sweet treat. This is topped off with a chocolate glaze and dried Pakistani roses, which lightens up the flavor with a floral note. While I don’t know if I could ever actually finish one of those things on my own (they’re still decadent and heavy), I could easily be convinced to try. Pick up some of these heavenly brownies at Spur Line Supply Co. (800 20th Street NW) or by ordering them online at alchemyconfectionsco.com.
I’m narrowing this down to Burque Bakehouse’s pastries, even though, in reality, I’d feel comfortable recommending everything they make. This from-scratch, small batch bakery makes mostly quick-rising breads like muffins, cookies and croissants from largely local and organic ingredients—even their flour comes from Sangre de Cristo, a wheat growing cooperative near Taos. Their danishes come in unique and mouth-watering flavors like roasted plum with pistachio and lemon ricotta with artichoke heart, and all are based on BB’s buttery, flaky croissant recipe. Sit down with one of these beauties and a cup of good coffee, and you’ll feel like you must have done something really, really good to deserve such a reward. Since the market season is over, the best way to enjoy BB danishes is by visiting a few select sellers in town: Michael Thomas Coffee, Zendo Art & Coffee and Slate Street Cafe at the Albuquerque Museum. You can also check out their menu at burquebakehouse.com and place your order by phone at 234-6294 a week in advance.
Similarly to Burque Bakehouse, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu at Amore. They use quality ingredients in all their pies and they cook them the traditional Italian way—on a stone in a wood burning oven, for only about a minute each. That said, the il Verde is my favorite at Amore. It comes with a pistachio-walnut pesto in place of the tomato sauce, roasted portobello and crimini mushrooms, and house-made mozzarella on top. Oh, and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil that melds all the flavors together in a fatty, fruity magic. Not exactly a traditional recipe, sure—but sweet Jesus, I don’t care. I’m gonna go order one right now.
I used to say that I hated all iced coffee, and I really used to believe it. Then one fateful morning this summer I was heading out to a hike in the mountains with a friend and we stopped at the original Humble Coffee (4200 Lomas Blvd. NE, Ste. C) for a caffeine fix. My wise friend ordered this, her standard drink—Humble cold brew mixed with lots of coconut cream. Always willing to experiment and give second chances, I ordered the same. I was shocked at how good it was—my whole vision of iced coffee was turned upside down. The Humble cold brew is surprisingly mellow without being flavorless, and any acidic notes it has are smoothed over by the buttery blanket of coconut cream on top of it. While this may not be the drink I gravitate towards in the colder months, you’d better believe that it’ll be my go-to once spring is upon us again.