10.39pm, Saturday 21st March, Marquette Ave, Downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Evening folks, and it’s been a whirlwind 72 hours since I left New York on Southwest last Wednesday evening – having throughly enjoyed my half day in Manhattan – walked through a snow flurry early to get to a lovely breakfast with our brand manager Marko from Winebow – our fabulous New York State distributor. PS I grew up in the Australian desert, so layering up and looking like a big round warm snowball in the Northern hemisphere winter suits me to a tee! Then I said goodbye to the Yotel and my compact cruise liner cabin, threw my gear into a cab and shot across town to host a Viognier breakfast / brunch for the trade at Sarabeths Bakery, then another cab and up to La Guardia to pick up my Southwest ride to Albuquerque – as we had a two day program set up to launch a new distributor for the “Land Of Enchantment” – New Mexico.
So goodbye New York, and my favourite part of the Manhattan skyline…the Chrysler Building.
The two stage flight was a trek in itself – the weather shut down La Guardia to one flight ‘lane’ in and out, but the Southwest fly boys shaved enough off the 4 hour flight time to get us into Denver to comfortably make the 10pm connection to Albuquerque.
Got to a deserted ABQ Sunport airport, picked up my bags, shuttled across to the car rental shed, and at around midnight was heading for downtown and the hotel, when I noticed the ‘low pressure in the back tyre’ light on. So I pulled into an all night gas station – of course because of the high crime rate in town, they can’t let you in, and they can’t come out – so with a combination of sign language and dollar bills through a slot in the glass, on went the compressor, enough air went into the tyre, warning light off, good to go to the hotel. Checked in……and crashed out at 2am and woke up at 7am – didn’t have to be anywhere until 11, so I’d planned to go to a local Route 66 legendary breakfast spot….so went out to the car…..tyre’s noticeably down! Around about now….I’m not thrilled to bits with the job! I distinctly remember thinking “this is not the glamarama globetrotter gig that folks think it is!” The only option was to belt over to the airport and swap the car over – fingers crossed that the tyre didn’t go on the way! I ended up with quite a sharp Chevy SUV, and eventually got to the Frontier Restaurant, Central Avenue – which is the section of the old Route 66 road bed that runs through the middle of Albuquerque’s downtown.
It’s a rambling barn of a place, with about 6 dining rooms joining on – caterpillar style – to a huge open galley kitchen. I went with their breakfast option “Number 1 : 2 eggs, bacon ham sausage or carne adovada, hash browns, toast or flour tortilla $6.99” OK, so 2 eggs, scrambled with cheese on top, the tortilla and the carne adovada was my choice……..my plan being to invent my own breakfast burrito, seeing as our Soul Cafe back in Angaston does such a good job of theirs.
**before I go any further – I can hear you asking “what is carne adovada?” It’s slow cooked fall apart fibres of spicy pork.
So here you go, the Barossaburque brekky burrito! And bear in mind the tortilla is the Frontier’s own fresh made that day fluffy number…..you can actually buy them by the dozen for $3.09!
Nearly forgot – theres crock pots of warm red chilli (not as stingy hot as the green) salsa……and that goes on top of the carne.
Not too bad for a new arrival in town!
Then it was a matter of loading visine into my eyes, and we were off to introduce ourselves to our recently appointed distributor for New Mexico – Fiasco – and some of the local restaurant and retail trade with a masterclass over lunch. I was set up well for the day with my Frontier brekky burrito – always a good thing, as at these trade or consumer events, the smart move for me is to talk whilst everybody else eats – trying the wine with the various foods.
So it was all about our viogniers, Shirazes and Grenaches with the local New Mexican cuisine….which I love to bits. We do salt, sweet, spice and hot at home with Thai and Vietnamese twists – here it’s a similar combination, only with a Southwest twist on Mexican with a completely different range of chillis. Here’s one of the dishes that went superbly with our Eden Valley viognier – ‘Pecan crusted poblano chilli stuffed with sweet potato’
And here’s what the same poblano chillis look like at the local market….
Sorry folks, my eyes are starting to close as I’m writing this, so I’ll leave it at last Thursday afternoon, and I’ll be back tomorrow with the Ranchers Club event on the Thursday night, and then our time in Santa Fe yesterday .
See Ya when it’s Sunday