Get Away With Fran

November 10, 2009

Searching for (chile) heat in Albuquerque

Filed under: Food,U.S. — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 11:17 am

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I am just back from five days in Albuquerque where I went to challenge my palette with chile, and to explore the general culinary scene (eating lots of things like tamales, above). As a bit of a novice to that scene, I assumed I would be raving about experiencing the kind of fiery moment where the cartoon character takes a bite of something and smoke comes out the back of his head.

But no, I did not once look like Yosemite Sam – though keep in mind I do like spicy food and probably can tolerate it more than the average gal (it’s a biological fact, BTW, that men can tolerate hot spice better than women). Chile, I learned, can be as multi-layered as fine wine, and does not necessarily have to be spicy.

Chile in New Mexico should not be confused with the Texas chili (a stew with meat and beans). Here chile is an ingredient or a sauce, and comes in red and green varieties (the green generally more subtle than the red).

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But my favorite foodie find was not a sauce or tamales (surprisingly since I love them), but green chile bread at the Golden Crown Panaderia¬†(above), a neighborhood bakery with the most enthusiastic father/son baking team I’ve ever come across.

turkey__19661 Anyone looking for the perfect gift to bring for Thanksgiving should order their green chile bread, made with multi-grain flour, green chiles (adding just the right bite), tomato, garlic, onion and Parmesean cheese. And why settle for ordinary (2 loaves for $25.90) when you can get a life-size turkey bread sclupture ($35, plus shipping)?

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Pratt Morales, who recently turned 70, started the bakery 35 years ago – after getting bored with a career as a CPA – and now operates it with his son, Christopher, age 32, who bakes during the day and dances tango at night. These two are the kind of local characters you pray you meet when you travel.

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Their shop is in an old neighborhood, not far from Albuquerque’s Old Town, and the kind of place where you hang out and have a cappuccino, and munch on some Biscochitos, the official cookie of New Mexico (in anise, chocolate or cappuchino flavors) and mingle with locals.

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