Uniqueness of New Mexican Cuisine

Uniqueness of New Mexican Cuisine

 New Mexican Cuisine isn’t Tex-Mex

It isn’t Mexican. And it isn’t Tex-Mex. It is New Mexican. That’s what New Mexican friends shared with me on my first trip the American Southwest. And they are passionate about their food as well as proud of their state’s cuisine.

My time in Albuquerque was short. I flew in to speak at the New Mexico Public Relations Society of America Chapter. I arrived on a Wednesday night and left a Friday morning. On my American Airlines flight from Dallas to Albuquerque, my seat mate was an AA flight attendant who was from Albuquerque. Like my New Mexican friends, she was passionate about her state’s food. She listed the foods I need to eat and where.

I told my friends, Benson and Jennifer, that I wanted go where the locals eat. And I joked that it better not be Chili’s. Benson met me at the airport wearing a cowboy hat and boots and we jumped into his pick-up truck heading out to my first official New Mexican meal. My food adventure began!

Full disclosure here but I’ve never been a fan of “southwestern” or “Mex-Tex” because, it was either burn-your-taste-buds-off spicy or really greasy heavy. (I’ll be honest I really don’t like to eat Mexican food in the US; it doesn’t compare to the meals I had in Mexico.) That said I was excited to visit New Mexico and experience authentic cuisine.

Where and What I ate…


Los Cuates was a local place in Benson’s neighborhood. I let Benson chose my meal. And he had a tough time choosing the menu. He said it was all good, but selected tamales. I had tamales for the first time. It was really good. So moist, tender, and flavorful. I had it with red chiles.

The next night, Benson, his wife Mary, and Jennifer took me to the best local and kept secret in Albuquerque, an oasis in the dessert, Casa de Benavidez. A very cosy restaurant with outside seating. I couldn’t make up my mind so I selected to make my own platter. I chose Carne Adovada and Chile Relleno served with beans and papitas (fried potatoes). I went with both red and green chiles.

Let’s talk about chiles here. They play a huge part in New Mexican cuisine. There are two types: red and green. Both can be hot and both can be mild. It depends on the chile, where it is grown, and the weather. Confusing I know. And if you are a local you order your meals “Christmas” with is with both red and green chiles. Red chili sauce is smooth while the green chile sauce is chunky. There is much passion about chiles in New Mexico.

I can’t forget to talk about Sopiapilla. This fried pasty and type of quick bread was served with the main course served with honey. While it isn’t a dessert, it could be. It was for me. You eat it just after finishing your meal. I think it is to calm your taste buds from the chiles. It is so simple and amazing. Seriously, do not order Sopiapilla outside of New Mexico, you will be very disappointed. I was when I ordered it at a Mexican restaurant when I returned home.

After eating a wonderful meal at Casa de Benavidez, we went view hopping which did involve drinks. Yes, view hopping. The vistas in Albuquerque are breathtaking with Albuquerque being located in a valley between mountain ranges. We went to the top of the Sandia Resort & Casino to view the mountains at dusk (no those aren’t UFOs) then we ended the night at the rooftop bar, Apothecary Lounge, to take in the city skyline.


Of course, I’m a huge fan of Route 66 and of roadside architecture, so I had to get a shot of Route 66. There is still a lot of wonderful architecture left in Albuquerque from the heyday of Route 66.

Before I flew home, Benson took me to an Albuquerque institution, The Frontier Resturant, across from the University of New Mexico campus. Again, I let Benson select my meal. I got the small order of Huevos Lite (or better know as Huevos Rancheros) with is one egg, beans & sauce on corn tortillas and their Frontier Sweet Roll which is a very large cinnamon roll dipped in butter. And yes I ate it all. I’m surprised I fit on the plane. I will say though I didn’t eat the rest of the day.

I’m now hooked on New Mexican food. And spoilt. So glad for my friends Benson and Jennifer for sharing their passion for their state’s food and exposing me to New  Mexican cuisine.

I’ll be back…

If you interested, I stayed at the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town. A nicely appointed hotel within walking distance to many attractions such as the Old Town and museums.


Collard Greens

Collard Greens

My Mom asked me, “If I was becoming Southern?” when I told her I made collard greens.

There are many foods, which come to mind when someone says Southern cooking and collard greens is at the top of my list… Other than fried green tomatoes, okra, and sweet tea.

Collard greens are a staple in eastern North Carolina. People grow them. Pick-ups parked along the road sell them. Restaurants serve them. Every grocery store stocks them year round. They are cheap, abundant, and easy to prepare.

After two years of living in the South, I finally made collard greens. I purchased a shopping bag full at my local farmer’s market.

Collards in general are a healthy leafy veg; however, the traditional preparation is less than so… Pork, lard, etc. While that tastes really yummy, it isn’t exactly good for our health or waistlines.

I made my collards with turkey bacon, sliced garlic, chicken broth.

I cut out the stems then cut the collards into smallish pieces. Then I sautéed the sliced turkey bacon and garlic in olive oil until cooked. I added the collards sautéing for a couple of minutes. I added enough chicken broth to cover the mixture simmering over low heat for an afternoon allowing the collards to becoming tender. When serving, finish it with apple cider vinegar and a dash of red pepper flakes. Yum.

Here’s the finished dish:

I served it with grilled pork chop and rice.

Maybe, I’ll tackle brewing sweet tea… Or maybe I’ll just to continue go to McDonald’s…

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Can you ever have enough salsa?

Can you ever have enough salsa?

Why, no, no, you can’t ever have enough salsa. Well, ok, maybe if it isn’t fresh homemade salsa and comes out of the jar.

Warm weather begs for salsa to me. I love the brightness of salsa. The texture of salsa. The smell of salsa. I can make a meal out of fresh salsa and chips.

I love simple salsa. Just tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, chile pepper, garlic, salt, and lime juice chopped fine. Nothing fancy for me.

I’ve been using this recipe from Real Simple magazine for years.

The 2.5 cups get eaten pretty quickly so double the recipe or there will be sad faces.

Everyone in our house loves the salsa.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Farmer's Markets

Farmer's Markets

Hanging my head in shame. I admit since we left Lexington, KY two years ago, I haven’t visited a local farmer’s market, but that changed today. Now that I live in downtown Tarboro, I have no excuse not to visit the market on a Saturday morning. It is a 15 minute walk from my new house. And a pretty walk at that… Tree lined sidewalks pass grand old houses. As I walked I wondered what goodies I might find.

The Tarboro Farmer’s Market is very small. There are great efforts to expand it. This community needs a farmer’s market where small family farms can sell and share the bounty of their labors as well as their pride in what they do. And where the community can go get fresh, quality produce at reasonable prices.

Today, there were two booths: a veg farmer and a pie maker. The farmer had wonderfully fresh veg on offer. All picked very early this morning. And the mini pies the baker had were still warm from the oven. Both were proud of their offerings and shared advice on how to prepare the veg. You rarely get this passion at a big box grocery store. Nor the freshness.

My taking from the farmer’s market. I can’t wait to prepare and eat all of this! Especially the pies!

So go out to your local farmer’s market. Discover what wonderful food is produced locally!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

White Bread was made for… Chocolate!

White Bread was made for… Chocolate!

Yes, that’s right. I just wrote white bread was made for chocolate. And for breakfast no least. It is. Really. I wouldn’t lie here. Especially about chocolate.

I was first introduced to chocolate on bread from my college roommate, Leive, from Belgium. I was repulsed at first; however, once you try it, you will be hooked.

While you could put your chocolate on wheat or brown bread, it doesn’t quite work in my opinion. It is something about white bread. It compliments the chocolate.

You can put on your bread Nutella (chocolate hazelnut) spread, “Vlokken” (flakes) or “Hagel”(sprinkles). Various options such as pure, milk, or white chocolate. I like them all.

So this morning I felt like white bread and “Vlokken.” And it was so very satisfying! Yum!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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