Pat and David

Planeta champions Nero d’Avola wines

Planeta champions Nero d’Avola wines

“Nero d'Avola is the most important grape in Sicilian wine-making,” announced Alessio Planeta at the outset of a two-hour seminar on the subject. Planeta has all the bona fides to make that claim. He's the nephew of Diego Planeta, who pioneered quality winemaking with the Settesoli cooperative in Menfi and co-founded Planeta winery (planeta.it/en/) in Sambuca. Alessio and his cousin Francesca now run Planeta, one of the biggest exporters of Sicilian table wine to the U.S. Nero d'Avola is the noblest of the many native Sicilian red grapes. With abundant warmth, sunlight, and dry conditions at harvest, it reaches peak ripeness in Sicily with rounded phenols and a sugar of about 22 brix. (It ferments dry to 13.5% alcohol.) Historically, Sicilian red wines were known...Read More
Blind Lion Speakeasy nods to Old West

Blind Lion Speakeasy nods to Old West

Tony DeMaro stood in front of an unassuming door marked “Employees Only.” I assumed that it's for the bartenders and waitstaff for the bustling Murphy's Pub (510 9th Street, murphyspubandgrill.com). A fixture in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota, the friendly place bristles with big-screen televisions tuned to sports. But DeMaro had a surprise in store. He led me through the door and down a short hallway to the Blind Lion speakeasy. I felt like one of the cool kids let in on a secret. Many of the folks watching football and sipping beer in Murphy's probably don't even know that this throwback to the Prohibition era lies beneath them. “The Blind Lion is as secretive as you can be and still be in business,” DeMaro...Read More
Blogger’s cookbook highlights tastes of Norway

Blogger’s cookbook highlights tastes of Norway

We're fascinated by Nevada Berg's cookbook, North Wild Kitchen (Prestel, $35). Originally from the United States, the author lives with her husband and son on a 17th century farm in a Norwegian mountain valley. She is far from the sophisticated food scene of Oslo. Berg also writes a food blog called North Wild Kitchen (northwildkitchen.com). She has embraced her new home and Norwegian foodways with the passion of a convert. With chapters entitled The Forage, The Waters, The Summer Mountain Farm, The Hunt, and The Campfire, Berg opens the door on a food culture attuned to the seasons. Dish after dish suggests how satisfying a life closely linked to the land can be. Now, we have to admit that we will probably never try making...Read More
What to buy in a New Mexico grocery store

What to buy in a New Mexico grocery store

Sometimes we get a little carried away. On one of our first visits to New Mexico, we became so enamored of the flavor of green chile that we filled a couple of big cardboard boxes with fresh chiles and checked them through as baggage on our flight back to Cambridge, Massachusetts. We soon discovered that it's a lot more trouble to roast the chiles ourselves on a Smoky Joe backyard grill than it is to buy them already roasted from one of the growers at a farmers market. Now we try to be a bit more restrained. Even in a standard grocery store, there are plenty of products that will pack a punch back home. And the good news is that the most essential don't...Read More
Abiquiu Inn serves tasty dishes (and serene casitas)

Abiquiu Inn serves tasty dishes (and serene casitas)

There aren't a whole lot of reasons to visit Abiquiu, New Mexico, 56 miles northwest of Santa Fe. Most of us come for Georgia O'Keeffe, who lived in this high-country village from 1949 until shortly before her death in 1986. O'Keeffe fans stream here to see her home and studio, visit her isolated studio at Ghost Ranch, and drink in the luminous, surreal landscapes. If they come to do all three, they likely stay overnight at the Abiquiu Inn (21120 U.S. 84, Abiquiu, N.M.; 505-685-4378; abiquiuinn.com). We did—and we were delighted. The rooms are essentially casitas. Several casitas back up on a shared courtyard, but we almost always had it to ourselves—unless you count the hummingbirds sipping nectar from the trumpet vine blossoms or having...Read More
Bode’s serves quintessential N.M. road food

Bode’s serves quintessential N.M. road food

We love places like Bode's General Store (21196 U.S. 84, 505-685-4422, bodes.com) in Abiquiú where you can pick up everything that you truly need. Established as Grants Mercantile in 1890, the establishment was bought by Martin Bode in 1919. When the highway was moved from the the village center to its current location, Bode's moved as well. It now fills a long adobe building on the side of the road. As the commercial and social center of its small New Mexican community, Bode's sells groceries and wine and beer, the tools considered essential for home repairs, fishing and other outdoor supplies, some kitchen utensils, knives, gift items from local artisans, and a good line of books. Gas pumps long ago replaced the stage coach stop....Read More
Little Red Hamburger Hut has that ABQ heat

Little Red Hamburger Hut has that ABQ heat

We didn't go looking for the Little Red Hamburger Hut (1501 Mountain Rd. NW, Albuquerque, 505-304-1819). We just stumbled across it when we were on our way to the Golden Crown Panadería (also on Mountain Road) for breakfast. Like road runners and skinks (about the only other critters out in the August sun in Albuquerque), we were on foot. Call us suckers for graphic art, but the six-foot-wide rendering of a double burger with red chile sauce would have been enough to hook us. Then we saw the dancing chile peppers. Various signs proclaimed the Little Red Hamburger Hut as the home of the red chile hamburger. Hey, it would only be lunch. What was there to lose? The posted hours were a little confusing,...Read More
Gruet sparkling wines just keep getting better

Gruet sparkling wines just keep getting better

We've been drinking Gruet wines for about 25 years now, and we hope to keep drinking them another 25. That would be something to celebrate—which is appropriate for an American winery that produces sparkling wines that rival good Champagne. Quality can always be had at a premium price, but entry-level Gruet Brut starts at $15. That's hard to beat, even if you step down to bulk-process California sparklers. The top of the line—a grand rosé that sits three years on the lees—is only $39. (Those are winery prices.) When we're in Gruet country, we always try to stop at the Albuquerque tasting room (8400 Pan American Freeway NE, Albuquerque; (505) 821-0055, gruetwinery.com). For one thing, this space has the full line of Gruet wines, including...Read More
Candy Lady breaks bad with chile chocolate

Candy Lady breaks bad with chile chocolate

Debbie Ball created the bright blue crystal meth prop for the first two seasons of Breaking Bad. It's quite a badge of honor in a city that's obsessed with the AMC cult series that went off the air in 2013 but lives forever in online streaming. Fans still flock to the Candy Lady (424 San Felipe NW, Albuquerque, www.CandyLady.com), her jam-packed shop in Albuquerque's Old Town, to pick up 100 gram packages of Breaking Bad Candy for the folks back home. Most can't resist heading to a back room where cardboard cutouts of Walt and Jesse stand behind a table of blue crystals. Fans can slip on black sunglasses and black pork pie hats—the basic Heisenberg identity—and pose for pictures scooping said crystals into plastic...Read More
Mary & Tito’s: the hottest red and green you’ll ever love

Mary & Tito’s: the hottest red and green you’ll ever love

We have one piece of advice for you when you visit Mary & Tito's (2711 4th St. NW, 505-344-6266) in Albuquerque. Bring plenty of Kleenex. The red and green chile sauces that accompany most dishes are so hot that they will make your eyes water and your nose run. We don't mean to scare you off. You just need to be prepared. The food is so good that you will want to eat every bite. Order a soda to accompany your meal and the server will bring you a big glass full of ice and a can of your choice. When you've downed it all, she will bring you another. The refill is free. That is a distinct kindness. Mary & Tito's is located in...Read More