Ajiaco Colombian Bistro

Ajiaco
Ajiaco, bowl of hot chicken soup

For our family, Saturday nights are for dining out. After a hectic week of work, juggling kids’ schedules, and preparing dinner every night, I really look forward to this evening relaxing and enjoying our family time together while we dine. Luckily for us, our kids are adventurous eaters and my daughter is always looking for new places to try. She came across AJIACO, a Colombian bistro, which opened about 3 months ago.

This very little bistro is located in Nob Hill right next to one of my favorite places, P’tit Louis. With the clever use of colors, the bright green walls, orange chairs and light oak tables and benches, the space opens up nicely. Colombian sombreros, photos of Bogotá, and coffee beans sacks provide appropriate décor. The place sits about 30 -35 people in two areas with a view of open kitchen blasting very hip dance music, keeping the rhythm of the place very lively.

Ajiaco

Ajiaco means chicken soup. While we did not order the chicken soup, we were very satisfied with our choices. My daughter had read about arepas, corn cakes, which are hugely popular in Colombian and other South American countries- so we definitely ordered some of those. She was also in the mood for fruit juices and went for the guanabana also know as soursop. The flavor can be described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavor notes contrasting with underlying creamy hints of coconut and banana. There was also a very subtle curious odor that made me sniff several times to try and identify it but in the end I was not able to. My daughter liked it but I think I will order the passion fruit or the lulo, small orange, fruit drink next time.

Ajiaco
Guanabana- soursop

Beef and chicken empanadas (the green chile ones were sold out) were served with a mildly spicy salsa. We dipped fried, smashed plantains in another salsa, which was not spicy but very tasty, good on arepas, too.

Ajiaco Colombian Bistro
Chicken and Beef Empanadas

We shared two entrees both of which were very filling. The patacon con ropa vieja consisted of shredded beef served on top of fried plantains and a side of stewed beans. Our favorite was the pollo a la plancha, the grilled chicken and pineapple, rice and small side salad dressed with tangy, fresh, citrus dressing.

Ajiaco Colombian Bistro
Top left to bottom right: smashed fried plantains, pollo a la plancha, arepa, patacon con ropa vieja

No room for dessert so we will have to come back another time. I was very happy to see that they serve Villa Myriam coffee roasted by two very nice Colombian brothers. Although only open for a few months, this little bistro seems to be doing well and I wish them the best. I just love it when restaurants like this open up so that my family can have the opportunity to expand their palates and enjoy foods from another country. We will definitely go back and when I do I will be ordering AJIACO!

Date visited: January 17, 2015

Ajiaco Colombian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Green Chile Season

Hatch green chiles
Hatch green chiles

August is the hottest month here in New Mexico- I don’t mean temperature, I mean flavor. It’s the start of the chile season, the New Mexican green chile season, and this year it’s a hot one. The best way to enjoy the green is to actively participate as many of us do. So, right now people are roasting lots of green, cleaning lots of green, and eating lots of green or all of the above. The tradition is to buy a large burlap bag or two full of fresh, green chiles (one bag or case is about 25 pounds), roast them, invite your friends over for a clean and peel party, and afterwards celebrate with a green chile meal. What’s not eaten is immediately packed into quart size bags and frozen so you have your own personal stash to feast on all year. Of course, you can always be passive and just buy prepared frozen green chile from the grocery store…but… it’s the personal touch that makes everything taste much better!

Roasted green chiles
This is where we got our medium hot green chiles this year. Chiles are also available at Whole Foods, Farmers Market and Sprouts.
Preparing green chile
Top to bottom, left to right: Roasted chiles, remove charred skins and seeds under running water, final product which is ready to eat
Preparing green chile
Even the kids get involved!
Peeled and seeded roasted green chiles
Ready for eating and storing

Watch video on how chiles are roasted:

You can put green chile in almost anything- throw them into salads, scramble them with eggs, layer them in your sandwiches, fold them into mashed potatoes, and I bet green chile in a maki roll would also be tasty. One of our favorite ways to prepare green chile is called chile verde. This is the New Mex equivalent of the Italian roasted red peppers served on many antipasti plates. Simple ingredients- coarsely chopped green chiles, minced garlic, salt to taste and some olive oil- come together to make the perfect addition to any meal as a side dish or as a topping.

Chile Verde
Chile Verde

Another family favorite is green chile stew served with blue cornbread. I learned to make this about 18 years ago when I took a Jane Butel cooking class during one of my visits to Albuquerque. This version of stew uses pork and does not have potatoes. I usually make it the day before I serve it allowing the flavors to develop for 24 hours or so. The slight sweetness of the corn kernels and creamy cheesiness in the blue cornbread pair perfectly with the spicy green chile stew. Don’t forget the tortillas for scooping up the sauce!

Green chile stew and blue cornbread
Green Chile Stew and blue cornbread

Now that the green chile is safely tucked away in my freezer, I’m ready for the PEACH HARVEST! Stay tuned in for my next post on the delicious fuzzy fruit.

New Mexican Goodness at Padilla’s Mexican Kitchen

Padilla's- New Mexican food
I ♥ CHILE

My earliest memory of dining on New Mexican food in Albuquerque is at Padilla’s. Many years ago, when we would visit Albuquerque (we lived in Texas then), my brother-in-law would take us to Padilla’s for a meal. The 1960-70ish style restaurant is located in a small shopping strip in the UNM area. This is a favorite of the locals. Frequently, during the lunch hour it’s very busy and people wait patiently for the opportunity to dine on New Mexican goodness. This past weekend, the same brother-in-law, who now lives out of state, was in town visiting so we gathered at Padilla’s for a family dinner.

Padilla's- New Mexican food
One of two dining rooms

Having spent decades eating Tex Mex, I really prefer New Mex to Tex Mex. For me it’s all about the flavor of the chiles (I like both red and green)… and the soft, pillowy sopaipillas. Padilla’s serves up some of the best. Their menu items have all the favorites such as chile relleno, burritos, huevos rancheros, tacos, tamales, carnitas, and quelites (green leafy veggies). For our family, the enchiladas are always a favorite as well as the carne adovada. The carne adovada is served as a special on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I love anything blue corn so I usually get the blue corn enchiladas with carne but I’ve had their bowl of green chile which made my mouth plenty fiery hot. If you can’t make up your mind there’s always the combo platter, which has a taco, tamale and enchilada. I just learned that Padilla’s sells their tamales by the dozen, frozen or ready to serve. I’ll be ordering tamales from Padilla’s this holiday season!

Padilla's- New Mexican food
Blue Corn Enchiladas con carne and green chile
Padilla's- New Mexican food
Carne Adovada Burrito Dinner
Padilla's- New Mexican food
Carne Adovada Dinner
Padilla's- New Mexican food
Combination Plate with green chile

Now, more on the sopaipillas…these are some of the best in town…soft, pillowy, and thin-skinned. Just the sight of them brings on a surge of endorphins. When the basket of sopaipillas is brought out, the “ooohhhs and aaahhhs” start up as we all get that oh-so-good feeling inside. Padilla’s serves stuffed savory sopaipillas but I love to eat mine drizzled with honey. My MO is to fill myself to the max with sopaipillas as a dessert. Padilla’s sopaipillas are rectangular and a little larger than some other places. In order to get the honey in between the layers, I open it up right in the middle instead of at a corner. Rocking the sopaipilla back and forth as I drizzle helps distribute the honey evenly throughout so I can enjoy the sweetness with every bite. When it comes to sopaipillas, no one is shy to claim the last one!

Padilla's- New Mexican food
Beautiful Sopaipillas

Padilla's- New Mexican food

If you haven’t dined at Padilla’s yet make it a point to go for your next New Mexican meal. And better yet, next time a friend or family member visits take them to Padilla’s and let them experience New Mexican goodness.

Last visited: August 11, 2014

Padilla's Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Bonefish Grill Albuquerque

BFG_Logo

I love seafood and will never turn down an invitation to eat it, especially if it’s sustainable and well prepared. However, I don’t eat much of it here in Albuquerque. The seafood restaurant choices are few and far between. That’s to be expected given the city’s distance from the coast. Limitations in fresh fish selections and variety definitely exist. However, there’s good news- Bonefish Grill (BFG) located at the Coronado Mall opened its doors this week. Head over to BFG to get your FRESH FISH!!

BFG was founded in St. Petersburg, Florida over 10 years ago. The restaurant specializes in market fresh fish cooked over a wood-burning grill. They are committed to serving the highest quality fresh ingredients and providing creative seasonal dishes.

Bonefish Grill Albuquerque
Bonefish Grill Bar- sports on one TV and Food Network on the other TV (my kind of entertainment)

The Turquoise Table was invited to a media preview lunch at Bonefish Grill so we’d like to share with you what we discovered. As we entered via the revolving door, we were immediately greeted with an impressive bar on the left. The décor is clean and modern. Neutral browns and wood paneling provide a warm and cozy ambiance, which provides a nice contrast to the glassware at the bar and the sparkling glass wall art. Customers have several options for seating ranging from booths, open tables, community tables, and outdoor seating. The space offers versatility to accommodate a meal with friends and family, date night with a special person, girls’ night out and even business clients. The bar is the main focal point of the place and can be viewed from all the dining areas allowing for a nice flow of energy around the restaurant. This is a well stocked bar and if all their cocktails are as good as the Hawaiian and Espresso Martinis we had, there’s no doubt that this will be the place to meet up for drinks!

Bonefish Grill
Pineapple martini (photo courtesy of Bonefish Grill)
Bonefish Grill Albuquerque
comfortable seating with a perfect view of the bar
Bonefish Grill
Booths, open tables, community tables

Being this was a media preview, BFG put together a very nice presentation of what they can offer. Not only did we get to sample food but we also enjoyed wine pairings- nice job! The appetizers consisted of a new addition, Twisted Edamame Hummus (it’s really good hummus), and an all-time favorite, the Bang Bang Shrimp (love that name!). Both were delicious but I think the Bang Bang shrimp has made me a fan not only for its name but also for its creamy, spicy flavor- a nice change from the usual fried calamari.

Bonefish Grill Albuquerque
Bang Bang Shrimp

The second course was equally delicious. If you’re in the mood for a salad, the Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad will satisfy your appetite. It’s a fusion of Asian and Southwest flavors so you will find crisp greens with black beans, roasted corn, crispy tortilla strips topped with a grilled shrimp and dressed with a cilantro lime vinaigrette. The next offering, Lobster Roll Sliders, is why I’ll be back to Bonefish Grill. The creamy lobster pieces cradled in an authentic New England roll was a mouthful of goodness to the very last bite!

Bonefish Grill Albuquerque
Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad
Bonefish Grill
Lobster Roll Sliders

For the main feature, we were lucky to sample a trio of fish prepared three different ways. It’s always a treat when a seafood lover like myself gets to have Chilean Sea Bass, Seared Ahi Tuna, and Wild Pacific Salmon all on the same plate. Bonefish Grill is known for their wood grilled fish and complimentary Special Signature sauces- Pan Asian, Lemon Butter, Chimichurri and Mango Salsa. This winning combination was a delight to experience. The seared Ahi tuna was nicely paired with a passion fruit salsa (aka Spicy Tuna Bowl), the Dynamite Salmon (sockeye, currently featured on the Specials Board) was topped with a spicy sauce and served on a bed of rice, and the Misoyaki Sea Bass was nicely grilled and drizzled with a simple sauce served with haricot verts. The menu boasts of more delicious entrees, like crab cakes and steaks for the meat lover.

Bonefish Grill- Ocean Mixed Grill: Chilean Sea Bass, Wild Pacific Salmon, Ahi Tuna
Ocean Mixed Grill- Misoyaki Sea Bass, Dynamite Salmon, and Seared Ahi Tuna
Bonefish Grill
Grilled Tuna with Pan Asian Sauce (photo courtesy of Bonefish Grill)

We completed our meal with a key lime pie paired with an Espresso Martini.  The gluten free guests were served a really good looking crème brûlée. I must confess that I have eaten key lime pie only a handful of times. But, I know a good dessert when I taste one. The BFG key lime pie brought on a second wind for me, so even though I was stuffed, I managed to eat most of the pie. It was rich and velvety, tangy and sweet, with a roasted pecan crust and a dollop of cream. What a wonderful way to end a meal!

Bonefish Grill Albuquerque
Key Lime Pie and Espresso Martini

As you can see, Bonefish Grill has all the right stuff to be a successful seafood restaurant in Albuquerque. Bonefish Grill will definitely be on my list of restaurants to go to. I look forward to bringing my family and meeting up with my friends there!

Bonefish Grill Albuquerque

Tips:

  • Sign up online for the BFG Insider to get notice of new menu items or special events.
  • Gluten-friendly menu is available
  • Tuesday Tail Night- have a lobster feast.
  • Wednesday is Bang Night- spice up your meal with lots of Bang Bang shrimp.
  • Don’t forget Sunday brunch!

Date visited: July 28, 2014

 

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