#94 | Chew, Crunch, Suck, Smoosh
Are you a chewer, a cruncher, a sucker, or a smoosher? In The Flavor Equation, Nik Sharma tells us those are the four mouthfeel categories by which scientists divide us. (In case you’re wondering, we are frequently a chewer, most often a cruncher, least often a sucker, and sometimes a smoosher.)
Smoosh is the feeling of a cool bite of peach ice cream softly being crushed between our lips. It is a thing you can do with or without teeth. Being a cruncher and a chewer, we are also prone to taking oversize bites off our paletas, which, as they soften on the tongue, can then be smooshed. We have, at one time and another in our past, denigrated smooshing and even poked fun at smooshers, complaining at length about the excessive smooshiness of certain cream pies, but that was before we discovered savory, fresh herb-infused whipped cream; it was before we sampled the soft, gingery mounds of silken tofu known in Vietnam as tau hu or tao pho, in China as douhua, and in the United States as sweet bean curd or tofu pudding or custard. It was probably before we’d had real mayonnaise too, but we’re trying to talk about sweet, cold things. Or, at the least, cold things.
Chilled gazpacho? Cookies-and-cream paletas? Hot Cheeto ice cream? Cucumber splits? No, we’re not actively surveying your palates, but we are actively surveying. If you missed it, you can win a $100 gift certificate to a delicious dinner, maybe even at a place that makes their own ice cream, by spending just three minutes giving us your opinion. It’s so easy you can do it half in and half out of the pool—just don’t drop your device, please!
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Ice cream cake typically includes, well, cake. We have theories about why that is, but we have failed to properly investigate them (we have not even gone so far as to ask a chatbot), mostly because we were recently presented with another, more seasonally appropriate question: how to make an ice cream cake without cake? If we were a baker, we would bake no matter what the temperature (and we are thankful for all the bakers continuing to provide us bread and pain au chocolat and baby cakes while we live together under this heat lid). But we are not a baker, and ovens make hot spaces even hotter, so we consulted The Perfect Cake by America’s Test Kitchen and adapted an ice-cream torte recipe that requires minimal-to-no baking.
Stated simply, the formula is this: 3 pints of three compatible flavors of ice cream plus 1–3 crusts/fillings layered together in a springform pan and frozen. The Perfect Cake recommends using 25 crushed oreos blended with 3 tablespoons of melted butter for all three layers, the first baked 5–10 minutes to form a crust and the second and third pressed between ice cream layers to form both a filling and a border between your chocolate and coffee and cinnamon-vanilla ice creams. But we like pecans, so on our first round, before the heat got dead serious, we made a classic pecan crust (2 cups finely chopped pecans mixed with 4 tablespoons softened butter, a couple tablespoons sugar, a dash of salt; pressed into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan; and baked at 350° until browned, 10 or so minutes). On our second round, we went gingersnap (3 1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps, ground in a food processor; mixed with 8 tablespoons melted butter and a scant 1/4 cup sugar until the texture of wet sand; pressed into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan; and frozen for 30 minutes), which gave us enough leftover buttery gingersnap crumbs to fill the remaining two layers (plus, no oven!).
The remaining steps go like this: If baked, let the crust cool—completely. Bring a pint of ice cream to room temperature, stir and fold it till it’s about the texture of soft-serve, then spread it evenly over the crust, then cover it tightly and pop it back into the freezer until it’s firm (but not hard as a rock), about 35 minutes, depending on the severity of the heat wave engulfing your residence. Sprinkle 2/3 cup filling (leftover pecan mixture, buttery gingersnap or oreo crumbs, crushed pretzels mixed with chocolate chips, etc.) over the top, then wrap and freeze for another 30 minutes. Repeat with another pint of ice cream and another layer of filling. Finally, soften your third pint of ice cream, spread it evenly, smooth it on top, wrap it up, and freeze the torte for at least 8 hours. (Drizzle some not-too-hot chocolate ganache over the top halfway through the freezing if you’re so inclined.)
When you’re ready to serve, and not an instant sooner, run a moistened (or hot, or both) thin knife around the edge of the pan before removing the sides. Use a thin spatula to loosen the crust from the pan (make sure to go all the way around) and scootch it onto a fancy cake stand or platter (or just use a baking sheet). Press sprinkles or sliced almonds or crushed candies or what have you into the sides; give whoever’s there a moment to admire your handiwork; then slice in, serve, and eat.
Entrances & Exits
Baked & Brew in Santa Fe is so close to opening that it’s starting to hurt. Mayor Webber dropped by last week and seemed in the photo to be buying baked goods, but if he did that was a non-permitted purchase, as city permitting is evidently the holdup. As of our deadline, they hoped to be cleared for takeoff in time for your Monday-morning commute.
Speaking of women-owned bakeries, Bite Me Bakery held its grand opening last week in Eldorado. People have had lots of nice things to say about their creations, which include raspberry-rhubarb donuts, all manner of beignets, and lemonade served with cotton candy on a stick, so we were disappointed to learn a mishap with the owner’s truck means their schedule is up in the air for now.
Izanami has unveiled its new bar, the Sky Deck. Cocktails made with Japanese spirits are on the menu, the views are dreamy, and though it’s hard to imagine snow when our brains are melting, we’re pretty sure Ski Santa Fe just got the après venue it deserves.
If you’re staycationing (Fe-cationing?) or just need to build a little you time into these sweltering afternoons, you can treat yourself to a cocktail by (in?) the pool at the El Rey even if you’re not staying there by reserving with their Swim Club.
Flock of Moons Brewing Company is now open in Albuquerque, and they’ve already got a promising food truck lineup, plus a variety of guest taps in addition to three beers of their very own. In case you missed it, this is the spot that used to be everyone’s favorite coffee shop in what people have taken to calling the Bricklight District.
Also new to greater Albuquerque is Rio Rancho–based food truck Savory Thyme Charcuterie. We haven’t tried them yet, but we have sampled a board from Wolf ’n’ Swallow, where our mind was blown by, of all things, a cured banana (for the record, Chef Houla cures meats as well as interesting vegetables and fruits). Find the Wolf tonight at Still Spirits or Thursday at Sister; check Savory Thyme’s calendar to see if it aligns with yours, and let us know if you get the Goat.
Back to ice cream: We have no idea why we told you that Heidi’s Ice Cream is in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill; perhaps we were tapping into Nob Hill’s collective longing for strawberry-mint sorbet on an infernally hot day. Most likely, wherever you live, you cannot walk to Heidi’s, nestled in the still-pretty industrial nook northeast of the intersection of I-25 and I-40. But: the new shop does have a pleasing, covered outdoor seating area, with thoughtful plantings and distant mountains upon which to settle your eyes while you smoosh and crunch. Plus, if you want to get zany with your ice cream torte, Heidi’s sells pints of their usual and unusual flavors. There’s a restaurant supply store about a block away, where you can probably find a springform pan to use for the aforementioned ice cream torte recipe. And, if you have a person who wants beer instead of ice cream, this quadrant makes a good compromise, as La Cumbre and Palmer both have taprooms nearby.
The Lavender in the Village Festival is tomorrow, July 23, in Los Ranchos’s Hartnett Park. Not all things there will be lavender: Casa Rondeña Winery, Hops Brewery, Sueños Coffee, and a variety of taco purveyors are listed among the event’s vendors. Note that the people in charge checked the forecast and the festivities conclude at 3 pm. Go early.
If you grew up in Santa Fe and have a hazy memory of some super nice people coming to your elementary school classroom and making you chop carrots and roll out tortillas, Lynn Walters and the other excellent folks at Cooking with Kids want you to know about the alumni group they’re forming. CWK also has a cool program pairing little chefs with the grown-up kind, which you can read about on their site.
And speaking of Santa Fe institutions, Back Road Pizza and Cowgirl BBQ have turned twenty and thirty, respectively. With all the love we give to the vibey new spots for vegan cocktails and artisanal whatnot, we’d like to acknowledge that the city’s pizzascape would definitely not be the same without Back Road (we have special feelings for their gluten-free white pizza), and Cowgirl devotees know that few pleasures compare with sipping an afternoon margarita while the band plays on their patio.
In Albuquerque, M’tucci’s opened their first restaurant on Winter Haven Road ten years ago, and they’re taking that milestone as an occasion to live it up. Today there’s an all-day party at that original location that includes a mozzarella-making demonstration (please, go, learn, and start producing flavorful mozzarella that we can purchase instead of those rubbery logs and bland ovoline that seem to be all we can find at local supermarkets). Tomorrow’s “m’tanza” at Bar Roma offers face painting alongside pulled pork sandwiches; if you brave the patio games (it’s gonna be a cool mid-nineties), we recommended pairing with a pineapple-rosemary shrub.
People like to talk about culture here in New Mexico, but when leticia gonzales got together with some local picklers, she went to a whole different place with the concept. You can read all about who’s fermenting what and where you can get in on it in “Briny Objects.”
We just got over the fact that Dakota Weiss was judging on Morimoto’s Sushi Master, and now a new series with PBS’s Alexander Heffner has Senator Martin Heinrich talking politics while he cooks elk fajitas on a disco in the Sandias. The show is called Breaking Bread, and we’re not sure if they intended that to sound like Breaking Bad, since they’re covering a bunch of other states along with ours? Michelle Lujan Grisham gets time with Heffner too, dining at one of her favorite haunts, Tomasita’s in Santa Fe.
Tomasita’s was a favorite of Lujan Grisham’s when she was just a wee governor-to-be, and it’s still a solid choice for young diners. But if you’re wondering where else in Santa Fe you can take your kids or someone else’s, writer and mom Susanna Space has some advice for you in “Kid’s-Eye View on a High-End Foodscape.”
But back to ice cream: if you’re one of those who only likes the most unconventional of flavors, check out Stephanie Cameron’s recipe for Tomato Ice Cream from edible New Mexico’s Design issue.
Read more and check out what else you’ve been missing from New Mexico’s only independent culinary authority at The Bite.
Got a tip? Wish we knew about your favorite bakery/brewery/hole-in-the-wall? Give us a shout!