#11 | Barbacoa Tacos, Hot Dogs, and Festivals
Food will never be digital. (We keep seeing announcements about video games that have digitized scent, but user reports are less than convincing.) What we love about eating is that it is so physical—from the experience of teeth sliding into a tomato to the juice on the tongue to the scent of the lime as it is squeezed to the hands reaching across the table for another tortilla. The sense of touch is also behind a certain love for print—and if you have not yet held our first issue in your hands, we recommend doing so soon. Before they’re all gone and the boxes are filled with issue two (although we bet you’ll want that one too).
Of course, we like you to follow us online, and we thank you for reading (and responding to) these newsletters. And when you venture out to sample some delicious things, whether new or tried and true, remember this: you might order your food digitally, and your car may more or less be a robot, but even if you get takeout from a ghost kitchen, humans are making your dinner.
“Meat cooked en barbacoa is Sunday food in Mexico,” writes Diana Kennedy in The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, which may or may not still be true, but in any case it was a Wednesday in New Mexico when the craving for barbacoa took hold and drove us to Tacobus. Barbacoa, sometimes confusingly translated as barbecue, is not grilled or smoked meat, but meat slow-roasted in a pit—at least traditionally. In the United States, where cooks have to accommodate health departments and fire regulations, they tend to use aboveground pits rather than lowering whole animals into pits dug into the ground, and ovens (including in Kennedy’s recipes for home cooks) can be used as work-arounds. Most of the barbacoa filling streetside tacos in New Mexico is made with beef, some of it done wonderfully, but our hankering was for the more traditional (at least in central and southern Mexico) borrego. Tacobus parks on Central, just west of Atrisco, and we waited alongside a few workmen, watching a watercolor sky. The meat was saucy and we went without salsa, but the distinctive flavor of lamb—gamey has never seemed apt, or adequate—is the one we were, happily, left with.
Entrances & Exits
Are hot dogs making a comeback? Have they ever left? At Dogos V.I.P., all dogs are bacon wrapped (and birria tacos are on the menu, too). Also in Albuquerque, there are two hot-dog-purveying spots named for clowns: Clowndog Hot Dog Parlor on Central and El Payaso in Los Ranchos. The latter makes their dogs “Juarez style,” served up with bacon, beans, nacho cheese, cooked onions, tomato, ketchup, mustard, and mayo. The former lets you build your own. We built our own with a housemade veggie dog, and inhaled it like a clown.
Serum Organic Juice Bar opened a couple weeks ago at CHOMP food hall in Santa Fe. We haven’t been in yet, but we have our eye on the Pink Lady with red beets and Granny Smiths.
The crew at Little Toad Brewery and Distillery recently forayed into the Gila to pick wild hops for the upcoming year. We can’t wait to taste the harvest in their upcoming batches of Hop-A-Long Pale Ale.
Last week we mentioned tejate from The Art of Chocolate/Cacao Santa Fe, but, as one reader pointed out, we failed to announce that they do not currently have a physical store in Santa Fe. Luckily for chocolate lovers, this precious elixir, along with the rest of their products, can still be purchased online and they offer a pickup option in Santa Fe.
Pop-Ups & Festivals
Japanese Hot Dogs are on the menu at Albuquerque’s Aki Matsuri Japanese Fall Festival 2021 on Sunday, September 26. Food trucks, taiko drumming, Japanese dancing, and a beer and sake booth, too.
Ristra tying, pumpkin picking, and apple pressing are all on tap at the 49th Annual Santa Fe Harvest Festival at El Rancho de las Golondrinas October 2 and 3.
On October 17, thirty-six New Mexico bartenders will compete for the crown of the 575 Cocktail Classic at Amador Patio Bar & Grill in Las Cruces. Contenders will be mixing with spirits from New Mexico distilleries including Little Toad Creek, Santa Fe Spirits, and Dry Point Distillers, with a taproom takeover by Ex Novo Brewing Company and wine learning by Vara Winery & Distillery.
“Why is it that we have allowed people who are totally incompetent in food to design our food?” Diligent documenter of regional Mexican recipes and nonagenarian Diana Kennedy is not one to bite her tongue. Some take issue with her purism, but even if you have been known to commit what she sees as the cardinal sin of adding garlic to your guacamole, you might enjoy watching her barreling down the rural roads of Michoacán in her pickup in Nothing Fancy, Elizabeth Carroll’s celebratory 2020 documentary.
Although we did not dine at Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, while Freddie Bitsoie was at the helm, we might add his soon-to-be-released New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian to our cookbook library. Co-authored by James O. Fraioli, it’s a collection of modern recipes made with Indigenous ingredients and, according to the team at Eater, includes how-tos for finding delicacies like fiddlehead ferns along with insights into culinary regionalism.
Requiring diners to be vaccinated for indoor dining has been a growing trend in cities along the East and West Coasts. Add, ever so slowly, New Mexico to the list. Following the announcement by Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe that only vaccinated guests would be allowed to dine indoors at Izanami as of September 1, Frenchish in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill followed suit this week.
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