Spellcheck and I argued over my use of Mothers instead of Mother’s, but in the end, I won because I was there. Most years I spend Mother’s Day without the benefit of children or a mother, but this year I was surrounded an adult daughter, grown grandchildren, and one small greatgrand—a true Mothers’ Day feast. Creating this occasion did include a flight to Albuquerque, but the reward far outweighed the effort.
My great granddaughter will soon add big sister to her resume and her parents took a Colorado getaway before a new baby boy joins the family. My daughter, Bridget, and Lauren flew in to join Katie, who also lives in Albuquerque, to assume care and feeding of Jane (the great-grand) and Georgia (the dog), and I came in to complete the four-generation extravaganza. We only had four days but we packed in laughter, conversation, cooking, eating, drinking coffee, watching Frozen, singing songs, reading books, driving back and forth to the airport, and general snuggling.
Albuquerqians (?) are emphatic about their unique cuisine—not to be lumped in with Tex Mex. New Mexican cuisine, known for its fusion of Pueblo/Hispanic/Mexican cultures, developed in a relatively isolated region allowing the food to retain its indigenous flavor. Chili, either green or red and made from local chilies, is a given on any menu item. When I ordered enchiladas at Frontier, the server asked, “What kind of chili do you want?” “I think I ordered enchiladas,” I said. “But do you want red or green chili in your enchilada?” “Green chili it is.”
We lunched at The Frontier, an iconic Albuquerque landmark located near the University of New Mexico—a busy, Western-themed restaurant open from 5 am to 1 am (It used to be open 24 hours a day, but cut back its hours due to “unruly patrons.”) famous for its sweet rolls, green chili cheeseburgers, posole, and carne adovado. The owners collected and display over one hundred Western-themed artworks including a bootload of John Wayne portraits.
The next day we brunched at an equally famous Los Poblanos, known in the food world as one of the country’s best weekend retreats and dining experiences. We ate outdoors, under turquoise blue skies and a soft desert breeze, basking in one of New Mexico’s 310 annual days of sunshine, choosing from a farm-sourced, New Mexican cuisine based menu, settling on chilaquiles, orange soufflé pancakes, and a piece of rhubarb crumb cake.
But, we mostly we ate at home: drive-by pizza, delicious chicken rice bowls, spontaneous stir-fry, leftovers, and a last-night, glorious pesto pasta with Greek salad. One late afternoon, Leah and Bridget whipped up some bell pepper snacks, Caleb hustled to the store for chips, and we all ate so much chips and salsa that we postponed dinnertime.
We crowded onto the couch, cozied under quilts, watched movies, sat outside after dinner talking for hours, piled onto the airbed mattress with every stuffed animal friend Jane could find, played in the park, learned how to Slack line, hosed each other in the Albuquerque afternoons, and generally watched the sweetest little girl ever. Thanks so much to my family for a memorable visit. And, thanks to dear Jon and Lara from the opposite coast for my blue ceramic water feature. If I could have chosen from hundreds, it would have been that one.
This recipe for bell pepper salsa is an approximation, not a written recipe from the cook’s mouth but I think you’ll like it.
New Mexican bell pepper salsa
1 green bell pepper, fine dice
1 red bell pepper, fine dice
1 can (7 ounce size) chopped green chiles
1 jalapeño pepper (or Hatch chili, if you’re brave) seeded and chopped
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup drained black beans
1/2 cup cooked, drained sweet corn
1 small can sliced black olives
1 bunch chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
Combine the bell peppers, green chiles, hot chilies, chopped jalapeños, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, black beans, corn, olives and cilantro in a bowl. Drizzle with the oil and lime juice and sprinkle with the cumin. Toss well to combine.
Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Taste before serving, you may want to add more lime juice and salt.