#74 | Manna from Heaven, Fat Tuesday, and Delicious Things
Normally we’re all about eating, but not eating surfaced as an unexpected theme last week. This had to do with us not eating (an unfortunate offshoot, ironically, of something we ate). It had to do with a fictional character in an Irish movie not eating (or at least pretending not to eat). And it also had to do with people with allergies and dietary restrictions not eating when, if following one of 140 supposedly vetted rules for behavior in a New York Magazine article we read, they attend a dinner party without having previously informed their host about what they can’t or won’t eat. (Whoever wrote that rule is, we daresay, a terrible—or just terribly inexperienced—host.)
“Manna from heaven,” young Anna in The Wonder tells her skeptical nurse when asked what she’s living off. Living off manna, as you might suppose, makes her enchanting and resplendent. Now, we have never been one to fast—if we did, we suspect we would spend the whole time planning elaborate menus for the moment the fast came to an end—and while we have heard various friends rave about their annual cleanses, we have heard horror stories pertaining to the same. (A fruitarian gathering centered on durians comes to mind.) But our own slow return to eating (we felt more the way the nurse looks grimly eating than the way Anna looks not eating) proffered a clue to one of life’s small mysteries: Why does Mardi Gras precede Lent? Shouldn’t the partying follow the privations?
Mardi Gras, as you know, means Fat Tuesday. You might also know that it’s so named because, back when practicing Catholics fasted for forty days for Lent instead of just a couple, they would make a point to use up all their butter and lard beforehand. Somewhere along the way, drinking all the booze for days in preparation seems to have gotten thrown in too. To some, New Orleans the morning after Mardi Gras might feel like the world’s filthiest hangover, but for others, it might be the first day in a month without beignets.
As for this year’s local offshoots of the Carnival, we already missed the masquerade at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, and we’re not sure we’ll make it to Red River’s Mardi Gras in the Mountains. But we do support experiencing cool things, culinary and otherwise, beyond Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Our writers have been out gathering intel, and we’ll soon be sharing what they find on the other side of a trip through the desert.
By the way, if you like this newsletter, please share it!
It wasn’t far from manna, the complex refreshment placed before us in Radish & Rye’s candlelit dining room. We confess we were still a little hungover, though the winter day was nearly over, when we asked the server what might be had to pleasure the tongue. Maybe it was the self-assured way he had about him, this dark-haired, flawlessly dressed bright light passing table to table. Maybe it was Patsy Cline’s crooning from above, her voice crystalline as the icicles we noticed on the canales as we walked up Guadalupe Street. In any case, we trusted the universe to bring us what we needed. The golden drink was garnished with a pleasing sprig of rosemary, the glass weighty in the hand, its contents brisk on the tongue. A spritz of ginger, our server explained, a splash of grapefruit juice, a pouring of Topo Chico flavored with rosemary honey. We’re not one to speak of grace, and with our phone and parka we’re no soul cast into the wilderness. But the flavors invited us to pause and consider satisfaction of a different sort, the nourishment of the spirit, itself a kind of peace.
Entrances & Exits
Chef Renee Maher of Crave Kitchen has been testing po-boys and other New Orleans treats for her upcoming opening (date TBD) in Santa Fe. Meantime, she’s doing preorder pop-ups—last week, it was Filipino, a cuisine rare to find in these parts.
It’s official, Iconik owner Sean Ham tells the Santa Fe New Mexican he plans to open the third iteration of the local coffee chain. Iconik Red will sit at the former home of Discount Tire on Cerrillos, a location we’re more familiar with than we’d like to be, and where we’ve spent many a morning not sipping the brew on offer.
We missed Camila’s New Mexican grand opening in downtown Albuquerque last month, a stone’s throw from El Roi Cafe on Lomas. Between them, if we can judge the future by signs, will soon be a brick-and-mortar home for Vamos con Gloria. Since 2020, Vamos con Gloria has caused notable clusters of pedestrians and cars to accumulate near the corner of Trumbull and Broadway, where they serve tacos dorados and sopes from the window of a pink truck. We like the Tacos Gloria, but if you’re off the beef, you can go straight frijol.
Differential Brewing (featured in “A Pint & a Bite”) is celebrating its fourth anniversary today, and quite a few other Albuquerque-area breweries are putting on mini Mardi Gras parties. That includes a celebration with the Partizani Brass Band at Canteen tomorrow at 4, a party at Kaktus tomorrow at 2, and a day-of celebration at Marble’s Westside Taproom (with beignets and, god help us, a hurricane mocktail). Little Toad Creek in Silver City is also throwing a party, going all in with a crawfish boil, étouffée, and red beans and rice, among other classics.
If Rio Rancho is closer to home, K’Lynn’s Southern and Cajun Fusion is hosting their seventh annual boil next Saturday, February 25. In lieu of their usual menu, which along with kindness has built the unassuming restaurant a solid following and includes things like étouffée, gumbo, jerk chicken, and some of the best po-boys within a certain radius, they’ll be doing “the boil” along with clam chowder, frog legs, crab cakes, and, yes, beignets.
Speaking of places beyond the most populous, our far(ther)-flung dispatches include “Insider’s Guide to Silver City,” “Eat and Drink Your Way Through Dixon,” and a Taos soul food story, “Get Your Butt to Church.”
But if it’s the near and dear you’re longing for, try “Chile Reverie at Cafe Pasqual’s.”
Read more and check out what else you’ve been missing from New Mexico’s only independent culinary authority at The Bite.