Sunday, August 31, 2008

Restaurant review and much, much more...

OK.........I've got my images now....I am posting this from the parking lot of a motel in Albuquerque. I've only got dial-up at home, and it seems to not remember me. I forgot to bring my cable which would allow me to upload my photos, so you'll have to wait for them until I get home. But in the meantime......

This is the beginning of my favorite season in New Mexico. We are in the midst of our monsoon season, and fall is approaching. The skies dominate now, and the aspens in the high mountains will soon be blazing gold. Sunlight drenches the landscape every day, and the sides of the roads are lined with wild sunflowers.

Clouds gather – huge, billowy clouds, reminding me of the Joanie Mitchell line “These are the clouds of Michelangelo…”

You can see storms in the distance – well defined areas of rain, with sunlight on either side of the storm – and if you’re lucky, you can catch some lightening flashes. Sometimes in the evening, when the sky is turning all sorts of colors, the rain turns pink. No, I’m not hallucinating. I saw it this evening on my drive back from Taos. Pink rain, off to the north of the road as I was driving south.

I drove to Taos the back way – through the village of Chimayo north of Santa Fe. I was thinking I’d stop at Rancho de Chimayo for lunch, but to my shock it was closed due to a fire they had had. This is the first time I’ve ever seen that restaurant closed. The building was obviously still standing, so the fire must have done some internal damage.

So I pushed on, figuring that I’d have to wait until Taos to get something to eat. I was hungry, but there are only small villages between Chimayo and Taos. I figured that the most I’d see would be a Dairy Queen. The road snaked upwards through the mountains, past the villages of Truchas (where they filmed “The Millagro Beanfield War”), and Las Trampas and Peňasco. It was in this last town that I spotted a building on the side of the road that made me slam on my brakes. I read the sign: Sugar Nymphs Bistro. I flipped a U and drove up. I wanted more than dessert, but the “Bistro” part gave me hope.

Serendipity is one of the rewards of travel. I walked into a charming old building which had obviously been someone’s home at one point. Now it houses the bistro as well as a theater. Yep. A theater! In Peňasco, of all places! You’ve got to understand – this is a village that time seems to have forgotten. There isn’t a gas station here. I don’t recall seeing a general store. (Forget supermarket. Those are for cities.) In fact, I don’t recall what else might be in this village other than perhaps a tire repair place. All other automotive needs seem to be taken care of in the front yard.

But here was a bistro, whose lunch special today was local vegetable stew served with grilled chicken sausage. All the veggies were locally grown. The salads were all organic, and the foccacia was house made. Salads, soups, sandwiches and burgers – all served in a cheerful atmosphere. There’s even a request printed on the menu “Please step outside to use your cell phone.”

My grilled summer veggie sandwich came with a choice of soup or salad, and some tortilla chips. I chose the salad with sesame ginger vinaigrette, and asked them to add some green chile to the sandwich. Sorry, but I was too hungry to photograph!!! Afterwards, I checked out the theater. It was too dark inside to photograph (even with flash!), but the room outside the theater had enough charm all it’s own.The trip had much, much more to it, including a drive to Acoma pueblo....perched high atop a huge rock...If you look very closely, you'll see the buildings on the right hand side, on top of that outcropping. Now you know why Acoma is called "Sky City".

Perhaps these photos will give you an idea why I tell people that going to New Mexico is going as far outside the United States as I can get without needing a passport. The landscape, the people, the food....all distinctive, and to me, all spectacular. It's no wonder they call it "The Land of Enchantment".



15 comments:

anya said...

A capturing travelogue that's your post! Indeed the fall realm is approaching, with leavefalls and dominating skies which will succumb to nature laws...I always feel anxious when seasons change.

glamah16 said...

I have always wanted to visit this artistic and magical place. One day. Great post.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Ah, you are following in the footsteps of my last drive along the high road! It is one of my favorite drives anywhere -- and discovering the bistro was one of the joys of my most recent trip. There's also an art gallery in Truchas that I love, and the people who sell chiles on the side of the road.

Toni said...

Anya - Fall is actually my favorite season of all. But we don't really get fall here in southern California. If I could go back to New Mexico in another month, I'd capture the golds and reds of fall....ahhhhhhh!!!

Courtney - One day, I'm sure you will. And when you do, let me know. If I'm there, I'd be more than happy to show you around a bit!

Lydia - Wow! I didn't know you had been there recently! I didn't stop in Truchas, although I absolutely love that village. It's from another century.

Nora B. said...

The skies look so ominous but beautiful at the same time. This bistro sounds like a good find! I like the no mobile policy :-)

Cynthia said...

Wow, this is definitely to put down as a must-visit.

Kevin said...

That is some nice scenery!

Toni said...

Nora - There were storms all around, but they were most welcome in the desert. And yes, I LOVE the policy on mobile phones! Wish they'd institute that here in California!

Cynthia - Any time you want, dear. Just let me know when you want to come and visit!

Kevin - It is!

Emiline said...

I've never been to New Mexico. The pictures are beautiful.

Mimi from French Kitchen said...

What an evocative post, Toni!

I agree with you on serendipity. It rarely fails to reveal some gem like this.

Susan said...

Oh, my! Someday my husband and I will have our trip to the Southwest. I particularly want to go in the fall during the balloon festival. I can't imagine a more exquisite place to take flight than the mesa. Loved visiting through your eyes, Toni.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Wow what a great little find! :)

I love the Southwest too - spent about 6 months living in the AZ desert. It was beautiful! There is no landscape quite as breath-taking.

toni said...

Emiline - The pictures don't even begin to do it justice!

Ah, Mimi - you are someone who has always allowed enough space for serendipity in your travels. It's why I relate to your posts!

Susan - Just let me know when. We might be able to coordinate something here...

Jenn - Don't know why, but for some reason I can't picture you in the Az. desert. Must be a failure of imagination on my part. But it's quite different from New Mexico. Don't know how that can be, since they're so close, but it's true...

white on rice couple said...

I just love New Mexico! I have always wanted to go, but never had the chance too. I did hit the Four Corners though, does that count?

Thanks for the trip. I love your adventure stories and photo's, they always take me to that place.

TeaLady said...

It is a beautiful country isn't it. Acoma was one of my favorite places to visit followed by Chaco Canyon and Canyon d'Chelley. Great post.