New Mexico is a special place. We have the sky, bigger than any other place’s sky, usually with clouds upon clouds to the horizon. We have the landscape — desert, mountain, high plains, prairie, rugged canyons — pretty much everything but the beach. Well, we have lots of White Sands, but no ocean.
We have lots of open space, because we have few people. The entire state of New Mexico has about 1/4 the population of New York City.
We have sun, snow, rain (sometimes), and wind. Boy, do we have wind.
We have things like the Balloon Fiesta, a booming film industry, the Isotopes, and tons of casinos to keep us all busy. We have hiking, biking, skiing, fishing, hunting, running, and sightseeing pretty much all over the place, including a handful of national forests and even more national parks. Although we have little water, we have gorgeous rivers, like the San Juan, the Pecos, the Gila, and the Rio Grande.
We have history — Clovis Man, Mammoths, fossils and arrowheads everywhere. We have the cave dwellings at Bandelier and Chaco Canyon, and the petroglyphs at, well… at Petroglyphs.
We have art. Santa Fe, Canyon Road, Taos, Madrid, Silver City, Las Cruces. Everywhere you go, there is art. We have Georgia O’Keefe and Cormac McCarthy. We have George R R Martin, for crying out loud.
We also have some things we don’t like to brag about. In the past two weeks I have encountered a tarantula, a rattlesnake, and a centipede right here at home. We have some problems with public schools, education, public health, and alcoholism. We have the SpacePort, and a pretty crappy mass transit system. We have lots of potholes and that lady who sued McDonald’s for her coffee being hot. We’re not perfect, is what I’m saying.
But what I think we ALL can agree on is the food. The FOOD MY GOD THE FOOD. The green chile cheeseburgers. The combo plates. The sopaipillas. The breakfast burritos, rellenos, tamales out of some lady’s cooler, biscochitos at Christmas, pinwheels at a pot luck, and fry bread from a roadside stand.
And, of course, the chips & salsa.
What we want to do with this blog is bring you a little inside info on some of this stuff, like how hard this hike was, or how carsick we got on that windy road, or whether or not we could hear the Taos Hum.
And of course, what we thought about the chips & salsa.
I saw some Food TV show about someone cooking in their cast iron skillet and I was like… I want to do that.
I started pulling stuff out of the fridge and freezer and found that I had pretty much everything I needed to make either pot pie (obvious cast iron winner) or green chile chicken enchiladas (never tried that in cast iron before).
Seeing all the ingredients out on the counter together got me curious. Could I combine them all into one special New Mexico meets The South thing?
Turns out, the answer is yes.
4 Tbsp butter or EVOO
1 rib celery, diced
1 small yellow or white onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
¼ cup half & half
2 cups chopped cooked/shredded chicken (I used rotisserie)
1 cup roasted green chile, chopped (or more)
1 cup shredded cheddar + 1/4 cup shredded cheddar
2 pie crusts; I use Pillsbury refrigerated ready-made pie crusts
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush bottom & sides of cast iron skillet with vegetable oil.
In a large skillet (not the cast iron one, just some other one), melt the butter or heat EVOO over medium-high heat. Cook the celery, onion, and garlic until they begin to soften.
Lower heat to medium. Stir constantly while adding flour. Stir until flour is absorbed and lightly toasted in color.
Gradually stir in chicken broth while whisking to incorporate flour. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Add half and half and stir to combine.
After 3-4 minutes, remove from heat and stir in chopped chicken and green chile.
Unroll one pie crust and place in bottom of the cast iron skillet, then pour in the filling.
Spread 1 cup shredded cheddar on top of filling.
Unroll the second crust on top. Seal crusts together by pinching together or pressing with a fork. Mine is “rustic” meaning I didn’t do anything fancy. 🙂
Cut vents into the top crust then brush with egg wash. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup cheddar cheese.
Bake for 50-55 minutes until crust is golden and you can see the stuff bubbling a bit through the vents.
I really love how this turned out! There are no corn tortillas like a true enchilada, but you do have chicken and cheese and green chile “sauce” so it all works out. I am going to try this with shredded beef and red chile next!
Let me know if you try this and how it turns out!
Also, as always, if you see anything weird in my recipe (logic problems, anything unclear), let me know in the comments. 🙂
When you sit in it, it envelopes you in happiness and comfort and makes you forget about all the troubles of your day. This magical chair is located in a nook of Hadley’s Tea, located at 7600 Jefferson NE, #9 in Albuquerque. Hadley’s Tea is a place to relax, enjoy some nice lunch and browse through the large selection of teas and pastries.
Now before you go and think I’m cheating on St James again, let it be known that while Hadley’s Tea serves teas, they also serve coffee. They also don’t have a formal tea service. The place is more like your favorite coffee shop. And that my friends is how I justify my tea habit.
My friend is a tea expert. Seriously, she can talk to you for hours about the different types of loose leaf teas and their histories. She is a mad tea genius. She and I often meet up at Hadley’s to relax and enjoy a cup of tea. Not too long ago, we met up and I enjoyed a tasty turkey and cheese croissant sandwich with a side of spicy tomato soup. The tomato soup had a nice kick to it; I believe it was spiced with green chile.
My friend enjoyed the gourmet chicken salad, which was also delicious. Hadley’s serves a variety of hot and cold teas, as well as coffee. On this occasion, I partook of a large Earl Grey tea. My decision was based partially on the fact that I enjoy Earl Grey and also because it drives my friend nuts that I drink Earl Grey as her tastes are more refined. I spent most of my lunch setting my tea next to hers and asking her if her tea was embarrassed to be seen with mine. That’s what I call lunch and a show.
In addition to lunch food and pastries, Hadley’s offers tea and tea accessories for purchase. Black, green, oolong and wellness teas are all available for sale, as well as decaf selections. It’s also a great place to purchase tea accessories, including tea pots, cozies, mugs and more.
Hadley’s is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Perhaps I will see you there. But if I do, I have dibs on the magical chair.
I woke up the morning Trickster, ZymologistBob, and I were to take our pilgrimage to Santa Fe for Meow Wolf with high spirits.
I do not use the world “pilgrimage” lightly; since its opening in 2015, the installation has garnered astonishment, revere, and, from all I had heard and read, unparalleled wonder among the millions who have wandered through it. Meow Wolf has truly become a New Mexican rite of passage, especially, in my opinion, because it usually involves a commute (if not an outright journey), which tends to become an equally memorable facet of any experience. Similarly, I think the wonder of Meow Wolf is further strengthened by its rather unusual location in the national, cultural context. Here stands a diamond in the rough that triumphantly shouts New Mexico is becoming on par—nay, competitive with—places like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in terms of cerebral uniqueness that for once has nothing to do with our history, but rather, and finally, the contemporary. It is a monument to us moving forward rather than us perpetually finding our identity in looking back.
About halfway to Santa Fe, we saw a billboard: a hodgepodge of colors, shapes, and lettering reminiscent of the 1980s. It just said “Meow Wolf.” No description. No indication of how many more miles left or which exit to take. We did not know it at the time, but this was outstanding foreshadowing.
After parking behind an auto repair shop on a side street a block and a half away (be prepared for this if you don’t arrive before or by the time doors open), it was then a literal uphill battle to the abandoned-bowling-alley-turned-art-space. About half an hour in line later, we made it inside the foyer, which included paintings of Spirograph-like designs and shellfish. Inching a bit more through the lobby and to the cashiers, we paid the $16 entry fee (the reduced price for NM residents) and went in.
My high spirits remained, and we were determined to “solve the great mystery” of the House of Eternal Return. Trickster was advised that we “start at the mailbox.” After shuffling through its contents of sympathy cards, we took a mental note of their who, what, when, where, and why, and climbed the porch steps to enter the House’s living room through the front door.
And it was reminiscent of the parties my roommates used to hold when I was an undergrad sharing a 2-story house near campus with 5 guys.
I did not last 3 months in that house (a testament more to myself and my reserve). And I did not last 3 minutes in the living room of the House of Eternal Return.
The sounds and the smells of overcrowding were enough to make me abandon my role as sleuth and instead divert to casual observer.
For me personally, it was just too crowded, although I understand some have no problem with that. However, as someone who also has a slight aversion to (and fear) of children, it was even more overwhelming; we were smack dab in the middle of the Winter Break, after all. So rather than try to read through the photo albums, newspapers, and books that no doubt had more clues, we hightailed it through the fireplace to the mammoth-skeleton xylophone. (No, I am not the last recipient in a game of Telephone.)
After the visual stimulation had worn off, though, I found myself facing the same issue once more. There were too many people (i.e., children) slamming the mammoth’s musical ribcage, which both gave me the gist of what it did and made me ready to move on to the next exhibit as soon as possible.
Thus was our method for experiencing the rest of Meow Wolf, hastily absorbing the essentials of any given room before moving on. We had gone through all of the installation in slightly over an hour this way: roughly a third of the time folks usually spend there.
I must give credit to Meow Wolf’s element of surprise. For example, I had momentarily forgotten the installation is supposed to take place within one house; the mammoth led us to a spaceship which led us to a forest which led us to a bridge which led us to a teenage girl’s bedroom on the second story.
There is just enough order to give method to the madness, and there is just enough madness in the order to keep you interested.
I think to describe any particularly noteworthy exhibit or exhibits is fruitless, for what is noteworthy to me was not to [Trickster], was not to [ZymologistBob], and was not to any other patron. I think the Meow Wolf experience is a self-determining industry.
What you derive from it is based on your own experience, not just within the space, but also as the word also means your identity shaped by a collection of your memories up to that point. Perhaps this means, then, that my overall “It was OK” attitude speaks only to my own self: an overstimulated and introverted millennial whose dog had just died.
I did have one memorable experience, however. December brought a lot of personal hardship for me. When we came across a camper that had a tarot card reader inside it (this is apparently a regular thing, by the way), I was eager to withstand the 25-minute wait in line to see her. I was given lots of advice about my job, which was eerily spot-on (even if I was desperate for her to give me any direction in the personal realm instead). Perhaps I also enjoyed it so much because it was my first and only opportunity for me to enjoy Meow Wolf more privately (sort of…people are welcome to walk through the camper, and many stop to witness your reading).
Personally, I will not be among the droves of people who swear Meow Wolf is the most incredible, life-changing thing they have ever seen. However, as with any piece of art, maybe that is just my own interpretation of it. Like its billboard, you cannot go with any pre-determined needs. For me, my needs unfortunately were a bit more personal, if not outrageous: I was just hoping for fewer than 950 people during a time everyone was on Christmas vacation and no doubt had visiting friends and family they needed to entertain as well as their own children. Thus, I would recommend it at least be checked out once, but ideally on a weekday and as close to opening hour as possible.
However, I will always appreciate something that is so essentially part of New Mexico’s identity now that the day a child pooped in an exhibit toilet there, it made headlines across the state for two days.
Visit the Meow Wolf official site for hours, directions, and ticket pricing. Please let us know if you attend and have a life-altering experience!
I have a confession to make. Look away now if you don’t want to know my shame. Ready? Deep breath. Here I go. Oh man, this is so hard. Okay, here it is.
I went to Meow Wolf and I was….eh…about the whole experience.
Look, I’m as surprised as you are. Everything about the idea of Meow Wolf intrigued me. The immersive art experience in Santa Fe is all about the fantastical and creative multimedia installations.
Centered around the permanent installation, House of Eternal Return, Meow Wolf offers visitors the opportunity to explore a Victorian house owned by the Selig Family that due to some mystery has dissolved time and space. Everyone I talked to raved about Meow Wolf and told me how amazing and life changing the experience was. People who had visited had been multiple times like some it was some religious journey to Mecca. Based on all of that, I mean what’s not to love?
But alas, I didn’t. [ZymologistBob], our new blogger [Trinitite], and I made our own journey to Meow Wolf Mecca to experience the exhibit first hand. I should have known once we saw the giant spider metal installation standing guard outside the building that Meow Wolf might not really be the place for me. But I wasn’t going to let that deter me from the magic inside. We waited in line (there are always lines and crowds at Meow Wolf) and shared our excitement with other wanna be patrons. As we checked in, I asked the cashier if there were any tips to getting the full experience out of the exhibit.
“There’s no right way or wrong way to experience Meow Wolf,” she said, “but start with the mailbox.”
We went in and started at the mailbox. There were letters and postcards from the Selig family, I think. It didn’t make much sense. But you know, that’s okay. I didn’t need things to make sense. I just needed whimsy and magic. We entered the Victorian house and started exploring. There were secret entrances that led to different worlds. A fireplace that led to a prehistoric area. A refrigerator that led to somewhere. I can’t really remember. Don’t get me wrong, the attention to detail and the artistry is supreme. It was gorgeous. It was magical. It was creative.
But it was just too much. Too much color, too much light, too much of it not making sense. It was like a giant artistic flea market where every artist peddled their creativity, but as a whole it was overwhelming. The mystery reminded me of an escape room experience, but without any real clues that I could find. Add to that the crowds and I couldn’t really enjoy myself. And to be honest, the place smelled. Like a fast food restaurant play area on a hot day.
So there you have it, my confession. I’m not saying don’t go to Meow Wolf. Maybe you’ll have a life-changing experience there. But as for me, I’m going to look elsewhere.
Visit the Meow Wolf official site for hours, directions, and ticket pricing. Please let us know if you attend and have a life-altering experience!
The Brew is a cool, comfortable, coffeehouse in downtown Albuquerque that serves amazing locally roasted single source coffee and tea with an artistic flair by some very friendly staff. Located at 311 Gold Ave. SW, the tiny shop features Villa Myriam coffee. This Arabica bean coffee is grown in the hills of Piendamo, Columbia and then hand-roasted in Albuquerque. It is sold and served at numerous locations in Albuquerque, including Whole Foods and The Range. Even better, the Brew partners with Joliesse Chocolates (check out our review here) to serve handmade local syrups, including a red chile syrup.
The menu offers espresso, brewed coffee (drip, café au lait and red eye) and specialty drinks, including a Red Chile Mocha and a Crazy Monkey, which is banana, caramel and mocha. In addition to coffee, the Brew also offers an assortment of hot and cold brewed teas and tea lattes. Two particularly tasty concoctions are the Roobios latte, made of South African Roobios and pure cane sugar, and the Dirty Chai latte, made with chai and espresso. The friendly staff serves the lattes with such beauty that it’s almost hard to drink the lattes, but you push through it.
The coffeehouse itself includes bright colored walls, funky art pieces and comfortable seating. Guests can use free Wi-Fi while working at a number of tables, or can relax and spend talking with friends and family in one of the comfortable, bright armchairs or couches.
The Brew is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
I like to think I’m a laid back, authentic person. For the most part, I’m not judgmental (unless you’re a Kardashian, and then bring it) and I don’t particularly care about status. But there is one thing that I’m a snob about. And that is my chile. And by chile, I mean chile, not chili. I know this is a New Mexico thing, and if you look at dictionaries or websites, they say that you can use chile and chili interchangeably. But not in New Mexico, I say (rather snobbishly). You can always tell a native by whether or not they know the difference between the two. Green or red chile is stuff from heaven (made from our state-grown chile peppers, either red or green depending on when you pick em). Chili is that brown Hormel-like substance served in other states.
So imagine how trepidatious I felt when I found myself at the Owl Café in Albuquerque looking at their menu and seeing the Owl Burger “with green chili.” As a child, I had been to the Owl Café in San Antonio, NM many times to enjoy the Owl Burger. In fact, I believe it serves one of the best green chile (I just can’t call it chili) cheeseburgers in the state.
The original Owl Café was established in the 1930s in San Antonio, NM, and in 1986, the Albuquerque location was opened. The Albuquerque Owl Café has a 1950s diner theme in honor of nearby Route 66. There’s a jukebox in the restaurant, a pie case filled with desserts, and plenty of barstools and tables to enjoy a step back in time.
So had I been wrong about the burger? Had somehow the expansion to Albuquerque changed what the burger had become? Had the Owl Café forgotten its roots and started to make burgers that weren’t as good? Or worse, were smothered in some weird green Hormel-like chili with an I?
During lunch with some friends, I decided to momentarily put my snobbishness aside and order the green chile (won’t do it) cheeseburger. The cheeseburger runs about $5, and you can order regular fries, sweet potato fries or onion rings for an additional $2.
Instead of the staple chips and salsa as an appetizer, the Owl Café offers small bowls of beans and green chile. The green chile had a bite to it, and the beans were nicely flavored, so I began to become hopeful about the Owl burger.
And then the burger came out. The patty was hand-made and large. It was topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and lots of green chile. A nice sized portion of sweet potatoes covered the rest of the plate. This looked promising. Then I took a bite. The burger was juicy, the condiments fresh, and the green chile was hot.
It was delicious and just as good as I remembered from my childhood.
I wolfed the burger down in no time flat. Then I was overcome by a wave of shame. Here I was judging the Owl Café for their use of an I instead of an E, and they delivered a wonderful burger. Luckily, the sweet potato fries helped me push through that shame.
What’s the lesson in all of this? I don’t know, really. I mean, I still don’t like people to use the word chili when talking about green or red or when they’re offering to throw it on my cheeseburger. But the Owl Café still serves a fantastic, mouthwatering, Owl Burger with green chile. So I guess the lesson is…well, just go try the cheeseburger.
The Albuquerque location of the Owl Café is at 800 Eubank Blvd. You can’t miss it. The building is shaped like an owl. Their hours are 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. on the weekends.