Albuquerque Buzz: November 2010

by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, November 2010 

Celebrated and world-renowned American organist Douglas Cleveland is giving a special memorial recital on Friday, Nov. 5, at the Cathedral Church of St. John at 7 p.m. In honor of physicist and organist Dr. Robert E. Seamon, who passed away last December in a car accident. The program includes works by Johann Sebastian Bach, David Briggs, Pamela Decker, Percy Whitlock and chapter member Frederick Frahm. A donation of $20 is suggested at the door. 318 Silver SW, 505.247.1581.

The Village of Los Ranchos is hosting its first annual Art Studio Tour on Saturday, Nov. 6, and Sunday, Nov. 7. Thirty-three artists will open their studios to the public to show them their methods and creative environments. The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, is free. For more information and to preview artists’ work, visit 

It’s time for Fur Ball 2010. Many of the pet lovers in this town know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the annual fundraiser for the no-kill animal shelter Watermelon Mountain Ranch. It has auctions with goodies like vacation packages, fine jewelry and autographed memorabilia (like a guitar signed by all members of the Rolling Stones, a Breakfast at Tiffany’s poster signed by Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and a Harry Potter poster signed by cast members), along with raffle baskets, live music, food, a cash bar, and plenty more. It’s at El Pinto Restaurant (10500 Fourth Street NW) on Saturday, Nov. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $65, and proceeds benefit the shelter. 505.771-0140,

Not to overload you with animal-centric events, but there’s no way I can’t mention the Doggie Dash & Dawdle, put on by Animal Humane New Mexico, Albuquerque’s other no-kill shelter. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a series of interspecies races, and proceeds go toward the shelter. On Sunday, Nov. 7, head to Balloon Fiesta Park with your dog in tow. There’s a 9 a.m. humans-only 5K, a 10 a.m. animal-friendly 5K and a 2 a.m. “2 Mile Dawdle.” Awards will be given to the winners. Then stick around for the Dash Bash, with games for dogs like Bobbing for Hot Dogs, Paw Print Painting, a Pup Photo Booth and more. Plus, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff I don’t have room to mention here. If you’re racing, entry costs $30 for adults and $15 for children 12-and-under. If you’re not racing, it’s a mere $2 to get in. Call 505.255.5523 or visit to find out more.

I’ve had this one in my queue for about six months. Dr. Maya Angelou is coming back to town. The woman needs no introduction. I’ve seen her speak twice at Popejoy Hall, which is where she’ll be visiting this time around as well, and both times I’ve been left breathless. She’s a wordsmith of nearly unparalleled proportions. With a dab of biography, a pinch of poetry, and a snap and pop of anecdotal wisdom, it’s an evening you’re not likely to forget. There’s only a single performance, on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 3 p.m., so get tickets before they’re gone. Basically, get tickets right now. Pick up the phone and call 505.925.5858 or visit Prices on remaining seats range from $39 to $59 before booking fees.

Monte Vista Fire Station is back in action. The 20-year-old restaurant switched management in 2005, leaving the building—which is on the National Register of Historic Places—in the hands of Gruet. Although the company is known for its stellar, world-renowned wines, in the restaurant business it never really took off, and Gruet Steakhouse closed its doors about a year ago (the upstairs bar, as local imbibers know, has remained open). But the restaurant is open again, under new ownership. Up-and-coming chef Chris Hibbs is at the helm, and I can’t wait to see what he and the new owner do with the place. Welcome back, Monte Vista! 3201 Central NE, 505.255.2424.

You may have noticed that Fremont’s Fine Foods’ old location in The Courtyard at Lomas and San Mateo is closed. But have no fear, the café and market is still around, although in a slightly different form. While the owners save up to buy their own land, café or mobile kitchen, they’re temporarily based out of a food distribution warehouse. For the time being, most of their business is centered around catering and, with the holidays upon us, gift baskets. It will also deliver groceries, which can include specialty items like Beluga caviar, gooseberries or lemon-lime marmalade. And don’t forget about its fantastic box lunches, which come with a sandwich, chips, fruit salad and either a cookie, chocolate mousse or fruit tart. You can still visit Fremont’s in person on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and by appointment. And you can order just about everything off its website. 3000 Fourth Street NW, 505.792.3463,

And while we’re talking about moves, here’s a quick note about The Fat Finch, the adorable birders’ boutique in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. It’s migrating about half a mile south, to 6855 Fourth Street NW. It opens its brand-new doors on Monday, Nov. 15, so be sure to stop by and give it a good housewarming.

Gastronomes, take note: There are a couple of celebrity chef dinners being hosted in town this month, and they promise to be spectacular culinary opportunities. On Monday, Nov. 15, Artichoke Café (424 Central SE) hosts Chef David Tanis of Chez Panisse at 7 p.m. Tickets are $75 for one person and $115 for a couple and include an autographed copy of Tanis’ latest book, Heart of the Artichoke, along with the meal. On Tuesday, Nov. 16, Chef Diana Kennedy, considered the Julia Child of Mexican cooking, will prepare a three-course meal at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (1701 Fourth Street SW), served at 6 p.m. This event costs $200 and includes an autographed copy of her newest book, Oaxaca al Gusto. Both events will include book signings which will allow you opportunities to meet the chefs. For more information, call 505.344.8139 or visit

What better way to warm yourself on the cusp of winter than with bourbon? Chama River Brewing Company offers a special Bourbon Dinner on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 6:30 p.m. For $75, feast on five hearty courses, each of which comes with a bourbon pairing. There’s pan-roasted prawn, spice-roasted cornish hen, red chile- and maple-cured salmon, tobacco-smoked beef tender, and, never to be overlooked, dessert, which is a chocolate and banana bread pudding. It’s not particularly vegetarian-friendly, but for the carnivores in the audience, your Thanksgiving dinner’s about to have some hefty competition. 4939 Pan American Freeway, 505.342.1800,

Tricklock Company is coming out with a new show this month, and I’m psyched to see it. An original play by company member Kristen D. Simpson, directed by Summer Olsson, Traitors examines the choices made by Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold and Sen. Joseph McCarthy. A mix of history, fantasy and high physicality, it questions why and when we choose to forgive. Running Thursday, Nov. 18, through Sunday, Dec. 12, at UNM’s Theater X, tickets are $15 general, $12 faculty and seniors, and $10 for UNM staff and students. There’s also a $5 student rush five minutes before curtain. Call 505.925.5858 for tickets or 505.254.8393 for more information.

People who have been in New Mexico for at least a decade, and certainly East Mountain dwellers, will probably remember Pete’s Mexican Cantina: Home of the Half Breed. A Sandia Park staple, it closed long ago, reopening as Kokopelli’s and then, years later, as Gordon’s, which shut its doors within the last year. But Pete’s is back, longwinded name and all. And, I’m pleased to say, it came back in fine form. The chile is hot, the margaritas are damn fine and the same is true for the sopaipillas—which manage to be firm and smooth enough on the outside to hold as much honey as you can squeeze in them and yet almost unconscionably soft and pillowy on the inside. The homemade salsa and chips rival the best in the state. And the potatoes that come with the huevos rancheros—which is massive, by the way—are sliced, sautéed, spiced and utterly tasty. If you mind the mounted animal heads in the bar, which is otherwise cozy, get a seat in one of the main dining areas. It’s worth a drive up from the city. 12540 N. Hwy. 14, 505.281.0315.

Make a dent in your shopping list at the third annual Holiday Art Festival in Corrales. Put on every year by the Corrales Society of Artists, the event features work from about 40 artisans, including ceramics, photography, painting and much more. Stop by the Corrales Rec Center on Friday, Nov. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday, Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission and parking are free.

I may be late to the game, but I just discovered Flying Star Café’s jelly doughnuts last month. If you haven’t had one yet, and if you are even remotely a fan of doughnuts—or any sweet thing, for that matter—this is something you should remedy. Made with French brioche, filled with Swiss raspberry jam and rolled in sugar, these confections have become the standard by which I measure all other doughnuts of their type. And while I’m in Flying Star territory, I feel obliged to mention that one of its current specials, the Gobi Manchurian, is one of the best things I’ve ever had on the restaurant’s menu. Consisting of tempura-coated cauliflower florets, organic rice and jalapeno chutney, I can’t seem to eat enough of it. It’s only supposed to be available through Nov. 9, so I’m going to use this opportunity to beg the Bernsteins, if they’re reading, to put this dish on the regular menu. I alone will buy enough of it to make it worth their while. Also, dear readers, go get a taste before it’s gone.