Centuries ago, Native American Indians were cooking with
the three sisters: corn, beans and squash. The Navajo and
Apache planted the sisters together to harness a natural,
beneficial environment. Beans grew up the tall corn stalks
while the squash plants served as ground cover to keep water
from evaporating from the dry soil.
“Food on the New Mexico pueblos was an original fusion
cuisine,” says Mike Iannone, food and beverage director at the
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. “The Mexicans
brought in their tribal food, and then the Spanish arrived.”
Iannone and his staff help preserve Pueblo culinary traditions
for Indian tribal events and Feast Days, schoolchildren and
the public at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The center’s
Pueblo Harvest Cafe & Bakery serves Indian toast made
with housemade oven bread and green chile/pinion butter.
Oven bread, explains Iannone, came to Indian culture from
the Spanish, who learned the technique from the Moors. The
cafe’s dinner menu includes such specialties as elk tenderloin
with blue corn/green chile pancakes, and Tewa taco, a ground
beef and bean mix served on pueblo-style fry bread.
The area’s agricultural roots are manifest at the Downtown
Growers Market. For six months a year, the first solar-powered farmers market sets up shop near Route 66 with
65 New Mexico growers and 25 food stalls. The Downtown
Growers Market is an active partner with the development of
the Alvarado Urban Farm a few blocks from Hotel Andaluz.
The mission of the farm is to be a food hub where both
culinary professionals and residents can grow and buy food.
With vineyards first planted in 1629,
New Mexico claims heritage as the
birthplace of American winemaking.
The hot, sunny days and cool,
high-desert nights enable grapes to
thrive along the Rio Grande and in
southern areas of the state. Catholic
monks chose an Indian pueblo
in Southern New Mexico to plant
Mission grapes, the same vines
later brought to California. In 1880,
New Mexico was a leading wine
producer, but production dropped
dramatically over the next century.
About 30 years ago, winemakers
rediscovered the terroir and planted
John Calvin, a descendent of the
16th century John Calvin who
influenced religious history, has
impacted the turnaround of New
Mexican wine history. He established
Casa Rondeña Winery in 2005 and
believes that the state is capable
of making quality wine. The winery,
on the east side of Albuquerque, is
marked on the New Mexico wine trail
that links the state’s 42 wineries.
THE ALBUQUERQUE WINE TRAIL
“The idea of making wine in the Rio
Grande Valley was fascinating. It is
too cool to grow many red varietals,
but we discovered we can grow
Gewurztraminer and Viognier with
“I live downtown and pass the market on the way to work. I’ll
stop and buy what’s fresh for Lucia,” says Von Blomberg. He
makes tri-squash risotto during the season and entrees such as
smoked New Mexico beef filet with Spanish sherry jus. Green
chile stew with local pork loin is always on the menu.
The 20-room Los Poblanos Inn’s property includes a 25-acre
working organic farm that participates in the Albuquerque
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) fresh produce
program. The farm also supplies the kitchen with organic
tepary beans that are native to the Indian pueblos, cardoons,
figs, parsley roots, beets, jujube dates, epazote, mushrooms
and other produce.
Perno makes full use of the farm’s eggs, pork and honey in
dishes such as pork belly, beets with green chile, toasted
coriander and New Mexico chevre. He also serves a heritage
New Mexican dish rarely seen on menus: chile bolitos—pork
and beef meatballs with chile, currants, Mexican pecans,
cinnamon and fresh herbs, dipped in egg batter, fried, and
served with caramel dipping sauce.
Nestled behind San Felipe de Neri Parish in the heart of Old
Town, the Casa de Ruiz Church Street Café is reportedly the
oldest structure in Albuquerque and one of the oldest in the state.
Appetizers include nachos de Rio Grande or the famous Bandito
Pie made with Frito chips smothered in beef and beans with chile
sauce. When customers order the signature handmade tamale
plate, the classic New Mexico question is: Red or green chile? If
guests want both, they reply, “Give me Christmas.”
character,” Calvin says. The Casa
Rondeña Meritage, a classic Bordeaux
blend, is especially food-friendly.
Gruet Winery is arguably the best-known winery in New Mexico. In
the 1980s, the founder of the Gruet
Champagne house couldn’t expand
in France and decided to purchase
land in America. Learning of the
17th century vineyards, the soil,
altitude and climate, the Gruets
planted vineyards 100 miles south
of Albuquerque. The Gilbert Grande
Reserve is full-bodied with smooth
textural balance, and at under $50,
a value among sparkling wines.
Fifth-generation vintner Hervé
Lescombes of Domaine de
Perignon in France is another
Frenchman attracted to New
Mexico. St. Clair Winery & Bistro
venues are located in Albuquerque
and throughout the state. The
company makes 50 wines—blends,
single varietals and specialty
bottlings—under labels such as
St. Clair, Blue Teal and higher-end D.H. Lescombes. Hatch
Green Chile wine, a white blend
with Hatch chiles, spices up the