#70 | Oh Gas Stoves, Crane for Sale, and Other Surprises
About a year ago, we had an argument with ourselves about gas stoves. Should we write about them, or should we not? Dost them love us, or dost them love us not?
Here’s the thing: we will admit that we wept a little at the news that added gas stoves to a long list of other things we love (bacon, triple-cream soft-rind cheese, just about any excellently deep-fried thing) that aren’t, seemingly, good for us.
Like most arguments, the one we had with ourselves was built with factual inaccuracies and dubious assertions. First, we claimed to hate cooking with induction only to realize we never had. Then we noted that New Mexico’s electric power supply is largely fueled by coal, only to learn that just 35 percent of the state’s electricity was coal powered in 2021, down from 89 percent in 2004. Finally, we screamed, But our wok! as a single tear slid down our anguished cheek.
Lately, we keep hearing people say they just want the facts. Here, then, is an assemblage that correlates to gas stoves in the Land of Enchantment. One, the state’s production of natural gas from shale gas wells—typically released via hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a. fracking—multiplied by thirteen between 2011 and 2020. Two, three out of five homes in New Mexico use gas for heat, and natural gas accounted for 28 percent of in-state electricity generation in 2021 (up from 9 percent in 2004). But also: 2021 was the first year that renewable energy contributed more than fossil fuels to the state’s power grid (36 percent). And as we know all too well, we have enough wind and sun on hand to keep ramping that percentage up.
Until our gas stove dies (which could happen pretty much any day), we don’t have the cash flow to up and swap it out. Maybe by the time it does, we’ll qualify for a rebate to cover the induction stoves so many cooks claim they’ve fallen in love with. (While they’re at it, we hope they offer rebates to overhaul our scary gas heater, too.) In the meantime, we’ll keep the windows open.
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It was an unplanned stop, a we-need-to-eat-before-we-hit-the-open-road sort of moment, and so, although with fond but indistinct memories of the place, we sat down at the patio of the San Antonio Crane. Do we dare try the rellenos? we asked our dining companions, or should we go risk averse and order the huevos? For our rellenos had been discouraging of late. From winks of raw dough to breading as thick as cake to some of the blandest green chiles to be found this side of the Texas border, we had begun to wonder how it was that this dish was once our fail-safe. The server was efficient and kind and a little bit shy. Perhaps her lack of bragging inspired our confidence. The rellenos came golden, lightly battered, crisp, obviously made fresh. The chiles were solid, so lightly sauced that we thought we’d need to ask for more. We wish we had, if only because we learned that the restaurant is for sale—the adjacent rooms, too—and that very well might be the last meal we’ll ever have at that incarnation of the Crane.
Entrances & Exits
Rumormongers take heed, Dumpling Tea is staying right where it is (phew). But let us rejoice, because another spot for dumplings and noodles and, yes, bibimbap too, landed in Santa Fe this week. The restaurant, Buns Dumpling Cafe, has taken up residence at the corner of Sandoval and Read Street, where Lucky Goat and, like, a hundred other restaurants have attempted to establish themselves. The place boasts a comfy (and familiar looking) dining room and one of those cool menu machines for those still unsure about interacting with humans. In (kinda) related news, The Bite recently stopped by Dumpling Tea and a handful of Albuquerque restaurants for real-deal Chinese fare, which you can read about in “Beyond the Egg Roll.”
Remember how we said Zinc was closed forever and ever, never to return? Well, things change. And now the word is that Zinc is coming back to join the renaissance of Albuquerque’s Nob Hill. Its beloved basement bar, The Cellar, is likely to reopen first, maybe as soon as next month.
At least one Burqueño we know has, upon strolling past the old Firestone Tire shop on Central and Seventh, repeatedly asked, “When is a brewery going to buy this place?” The answer, dear reader, is last Thursday. The brewery is Ex Novo. (The seller, should you care, is Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation.) The hope is to have beer pouring from the taps before this year’s Balloon Fiesta.
Z-Lounge is now serving cocktails with names like Glorious Behavior and Short Skirt Long Jacket at Hotel Zazz, the most recently reinvented midcentury hotel in Albuquerque. Fun fact: Hotel Zazz is a sort of gynecocracy, being owned by a woman, designed by women (and a little girl), and arted by (mostly) women.
Tikka Spice has opened a coffee shop, Roohani, at their brick-and-mortar location on Osuna in Albuquerque.
Today is International Mariachi Day, and Albuquerque’s Curious Toast (featured in The Bite’s very own “Toast of the Town“) is celebrating with live performances and a sizeable art and gift market, where Papi Churros and Cecis Conchas will sell their sweet things.
In Santa Fe, Plantita Vegan Bakery has loads of goodies on offer today at their popup at 1704 Lena Street, including matcha chocolate chip muffins and orange chocolate cayenne cake. But that’s not all: later this week they’ll be making pizzas. Order by 5 pm Thursday for Friday evening pickup. And while we’re at it, we’ll remind you that Plantita makes it easy to eat well while doing that winter hibernation thing. With a couple of days’ notice and some extra cash, you can get yummy stuff like pot pie empanadas and apple green chile galettes delivered to your door.
If you do dare to venture out, you can get your cards read while sipping a cocktail at Santa Fe’s La Reina this and every Tuesday. There’ll also be fires and some way of making s’mores with only minimal risk to your safety.
On February 10 and 11, the Durango edition of Banff Mountain Film Festival takes place, with benefits going to San Juan Citizens Alliance.
In edible New Mexico circa 2017, Michael Dax notes, “Forty thousand wells have been drilled in the San Juan Basin since oil and gas was first discovered at the turn of the twenty-first century, including four hundred new wells that have been drilled near Counselor since 2015.” Read more about the well pads you’ve driven past outside Farmington in “Fracking in New Mexico.”
Where to find some fiery New Mexico chile rellenos. A tour of textures at local Chinese eateries. Soul food in Taos. Restaurants where you can afford to take your kids in Santa Fe. Only in The Bite, New Mexico’s culinary authority.
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