I ate a lot of good stuff. There’s a Flickr set here, showcasing my post-trip belly.
*Doughnut from a bakery on 2nd Street in Raton, NM
It had all the crunch of a good cake doughnut, and all the airiness of a perfect yeast one. The bakery is this very bare-bones operation–a huge room with about three tables, no decoration, and a quite old, hunched-over woman shuffling slowly from table to cash register and back. The kind of service where you just stand there and wait to be acknowledged, and she finally says, after she’s completed every aspect of the current task, “OK, who’s next?”
*Roast mutton on frybread in Crownpoint, NM
Beverly and I went to the Navajo rug auction in Crownpoint, which happens once a month or so. It takes place in the elementary school gym, and a few food vendors set up out in the parking lot. Only one had the roast mutton; others just had Navajo tacos (frybread with all the taco filling stuff on top). This created an awkward situation, because early on, I’d chatted with one girl while buying a drink and said, “Oh, I’ll be back for food.” And when I came back, I totally bypassed her and went for the mutton vendor, and sure enough, she gave me the evil eye.
But it was worth it. That there’s some locavore eating, man. Mixed in with the charred slab of lamb was a slick roasted green chile, the perfect amount of heat. It was all a little hard to deal with because there were so many bones, but we managed. I think Beverly dubbed it a Navajo gyro in the end.
*Fried chicken with red chile at Halona Plaza, Zuni Pueblo
I think I’ve raved about this particular chicken before. What’s better than fried chicken? Fried chicken with red chile on the side, of course. Eaten in the back of a grocery store, and washed down with a fountain Coke, ideally after having spent a long day in a hot car. And good thing it’s good–it’s nearly the only thing to eat in Zuni.
*Indian rice ball at The Curious Kumquat in Silver City, NM
Just when my trip was seeming like slightly ahead of schedule, I figured I’d add some tension by driving all the way down to Silver City for dinner. When I was there in April, I had just missed eating dinner at the Curious Kumquat, and I was totally staggered by Chef Rob’s ideas for food. So I grabbed Beverly, and off we drove. And drove. And drove. That town is waaaaay down there, man.
We rolled in just around dinnertime, and set to eating. Rob basically gives a list of four or five entrees, and then builds a tasting menu around each one. It’s an insane amount of work, as each little taste for each entree is different. I immediately opted for the vegetarian Indian mix (again, still trying to counteract my heavy meat intake). One of the early courses was this little deep-fried rice ball, filled with a little nugget of cheese. Like arancini gone Indian. I mean, I’m sure there’s actually an Indian treat like this, but that’s what’s so great about it–eating this made me think across all ethnic boundaries and ponder rice balls the world over. And its little fuzz of sprouts on top was just adorable. And it was perfectly spicy. And I had little hits of spices popping off in my mouth for many minutes after, as I sat there grinning.
We ended the meal with something else brilliant, which I have no picture for: ice cream made of Samuel Smith cherry ale. Rob explained that he hadn’t boiled down the beer, like so many recipes for beer ice cream tell you (yeah, all those recipes–I’m clearly not reading the right books), so it wasn’t sweet or too intense–just nutty and a little hit of cherry.
Needless to say, I highly recommend the drive to Silver City–from wherever you are.
*White port with tonic water and lime at Jennifer James 101 in Albuquerque.
We ate many other delicious things, but this drink was so refreshing and lovely. Writing this in muggy New York heat, I could definitely use one now…
Haven’t gone to look at the Flickr pics yet? You really should. It’s not often I show you my stomach.