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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Now, more on the sopaipillas…these are some of the best in town…soft, pillowy, and not 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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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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.
On my recent trip to the Washington DC area, I stayed at my parents’ place in Arlington, Virginia. I’ve been to Arlington around 4 times over the past 10 years and each time I visit I find it nicer. What I’ve discovered is that over the past few decades the areas around DC have under gone a transformation (and continues to evolve) from suburban sprawl to well defined sectors centered around a metro station (to encourage the use of mass transit). Interestingly, this layout can be seen in Shanghai with its very well developed metro system. In addition to an accessible mass transit system, the urban village design is a way to develop a great area where interactions between people and environment take center stage. To achieve this, the area is one of mixed-use, commercial and residential, where city planners pay attention to coordinated streetscapes, location of commercial facilities, neighborhood preservation, urban open spaces and plazas, and historic preservation. A perfect example of the urban village design can be found in Arlington in an area called the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor (RBC). The 3-mile corridor is divided up into 5 sectors:
Rosslyn: a first-class office and business center
Courthouse: Arlington’s government center
Clarendon: the center of the “urban village”
Virginia Square: residential, cultural and educational facilities
Ballston: a new downtown
My parents’ condo is located in Rosslyn. It’s very conveniently located to DC. A quick jog across the Francis Scott Key Bridge and you’re at Georgetown University, the shops on M Street and hop on the metro at the Rosslyn metro station to visit the Mall, monuments and museums. In the very near future, one will be able to take the metro to the upscale shopping center, Tysons Galleria.
Because Rosslyn is the business center, there are many high-rise office buildings and the local businesses cater to the 9-5 workers who commute to Rosslyn. So, not much happens after 5pm. Dining options are limited. However, my parents did happen to find a place called Mele Bistro located just half a mile from their condo in the Courthouse sector of the RBC.
Mele Bistro is a French-Italian bistro. This place, formally known as Village Bistro, has been under new ownership and management for about 1.5 years now. With its location in the Courthouse sector, it’s a great place to have a business meal or meet up with your friends and family for dinner, especially if you live in the nearby residential sectors, Clarendon or Village Square. This modern bistro is located in a small shopping center on Wilson Blvd., the main thoroughfare through the RBC. There are a few outdoor tables surrounded by a small garden of herbs and a couple potted fruit trees. The inside is warmly decorated with modern, colorful accents and white table clothes giving the cozy bistro atmosphere a touch of sophistication. I was amazed at the variety offered on the menu- pizza, salads, pastas, beef, veal, chicken, and seafood entrees, and of course dessert. It made me very happy to see a wide selection of seafood options on the menu. Mele’s menu changes daily and they encourage you to call for the most up to date menu offerings. Wild fish from Hawaii is flown in daily and fresh, local items abound on the menu, too. More importantly, Mele uses organic produce and grass fed beef, makes their own tomato sauce, and does not use MSG or soy products. Dining on fresh, unprocessed food of high quality is Mele’s top priority.
Everyone at the table ordered a seafood entrée- Greek Dorade with diced vegetable risotto, Seafood fettuccine, Canadian Mussel linguini…I ordered the Sautéed North Atlantic Baby Bluefish with fettuccine dill and capers. Each entrée was uniquely plated. Attention to color and presentation was apparent. Mine was prepared very well- the fish was nicely browned with flakes of tender meat underneath, placed on a tricolored bed of fettuccine dotted with diced tomatoes and coated with a delicious herb sauce. The entire dish was drizzled with a really delicious green sauce- I’ll call it Mele’s Special Sauce, which provided another perfect layer of flavor. Just look at the photos to see all the colors and flavors!
Luckily, we still had enough room for dessert. I’m not saying that the portions were small, in fact, they were just right and reasonably priced. It’s always a shame when I get over stuffed and can’t have dessert. Take a close look at the desserts and the details will make you want to dig into the photo for a bite. Once again…a nice presentation…it’s the best way to end a meal (along with a nice cup of coffee; surprisingly, they did not have cappuccino).
You can tell when a restaurant takes pride in what they serve and this is obvious at Mele Bistro. I’m glad that there’s such a restaurant near my parents’ condo because then we don’t have to venture far for a great meal. Stop by Mele Bistro when you in Arlington, VA.