Albuquerque Buzz: December 2011

by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, December 2011

Los Poblanos gets a lot of mention in this column. That’s because the historic inn and organic farm has carved out an irreplaceable niche for itself in the community—through the CSA it hosts, the culinary events it constantly puts on, the farm store it stocks and the lush, cottonwood-soaked atmosphere it provides for its guests. But now we’re not the only ones recognizing the institution for all it does. Los Poblanos was selected as one of Fodor’s Top 100 Hotels Worldwide. That’s huge. Not only was it the only New Mexico property to make the cut, it’s also one of a mere 29 properties listed in the United States. It’s really no surprise, though, when you consider Los Poblanos’ field-to-fork philosophy, rustic-chic charm and rolling, 25-acre property. So congratulations, Los Poblanos, and thanks for all that you add to our Southwest burg. 4803 Rio Grande NW, 505.344.9297,

There’s a new ballet in town that demands attention, and now’s the perfect time of year to give it some. Festival Ballet Albuquerque only started in May 2010, but it’s kept itself busy with the Firebird Ballet last fall and Dracula, A Love Story in the spring. Now it’s offering up a new twist to the classic Nutcracker story. Set in 1800s Territorial New Mexico, The Nutcracker Ballet in the Land of Enchantment retains staples like the Nutcracker himself and the Snow Queen but adds shepherdesses, a storyteller doll and Western Victorian costumes. With a cast of about 100 nearly all-local dancers, New Yorker Julie Cobble takes the lead as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Check it out on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 22 and 23, at 2 and 7 p.m. at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts. 1701 Fourth Street SW, 505.296.9465,

If you prefer the traditional version of the holiday classic, go see Ballet Repertory Theatre of New Mexico’s take on The Nutcracker at this historic KiMo Theatre from Dec. 10 through 24. Tickets range from $5 to $25. 423 Central NW, 505.768.3544,

It’s hard to think of a more sophisticated way to welcome the holidays than with a symphony. The season opening of the New Mexico Philharmonic should be no exception. The season will ring in with a bang—or, in this case, a baton—on Saturday, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m. in Popejoy Hall. The nonprofit collection of musicians only formed this spring, so this gala opening concert holds a symbolic weight. The Philharmonic aims to make it count with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #5 and Aaron Copeland’s Rodeo and Old American Songs. Robert Tweten serves as conductor, and after working for opera companies throughout the U.S. and Canada, he landed positions as assistant conductor for Chicago’s Lyric Opera and as head of music staff for the Santa Fe Opera (he still maintains those positions at both institutions). Soprano soloist Kirsten Lear comes to the organization from a career singing for opera houses across Canada and in Texas, as well as for the Santa Fe Opera. She got her start after graduating magna cum laude from both Carnegie-Mellon University and Syracuse University. Obviously, this isn’t a performance to be missed. Six other concerts, featuring different works, will play at Popejoy through April of next year. For a full calendar of events, visit

Before we leave the topic of performances that get you in the holiday mood, there’s another event worthy of a mention. On Saturday, Dec. 11, Popejoy Hall hosts Mariachi Christmas, with all the dress-swirling, violin-playing and feet-stomping you could ask for.  This year, Mariachi Aztlán, which has traveled throughout Mexico and the Americas, are joining forces with Ballet Folklórico Paso del Norte. The one-time-only show starts at 3 p.m. 505.925.5858,

A new Downtown eatery is started to garner the attention of Albuquerque foodies. Pasión Latin Fusion Restaurant combines ingredients and techniques used in Latin American cuisine with Chef Elvis Bencomo’s modern twist. That creativity is evidenced in dishes like the banana-breaded fish tacos, Azteca bread pudding, yucca fries and goat cheese style cheesecake. Pasión is also a family affair co-owned and managed by Bencomo’s wife, Monica, and his brother, Orlando. Plus, the restaurant strives to use locally grown products and produce whenever possible. Stop by and give this passion-fueled place a try. 722 Lomas NW, 505.503.7880,

Here’s a little something to keep an eye out for next month. Congregation Albert Brotherhood and Sisterhood and Hadassah of Greater Albuquerque are hosting New Mexico Statehood Centennial: A Celebration of Writing. Headlining the event on Sunday, Jan. 8, are Anne Hillerman (Tony Hillerman’s daughter) and photographer Don Strel for their Tony Hillerman’s Landscapes: On the Road With Chee and Leaphorn. In addition to a presentation by the two, Don Bullis, author of New Mexico: A Biographical Dictionary, will also give a behind-the-scenes account of the people involved in securing New Mexico’s statehood and Naomi Sandweiss will present a pictographic history of the Albuquerque Jewish community from her book Jewish Albuquerque: 1860-1960. It all happens from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Congregation Albert (3800 Louisiana NE). Tickets are $25 in advance (send a check payable to “Hadassah” to Sandy Hansen, c/o Congregation Albert at the address listed above and clearly print the names of attendees on the memo line) or take your chances at the door for $30. The price of admission includes lunch. 505.883.1818,

You knew it was coming. The North Fourth Holiday Stop & Shop is upon us. One of the best areas in town to hunt for gifts, the Stop & Shop lands on this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4. More than 40 businesses along Fourth Street from Solar to Alameda are participating, with discounts, prizes, refreshments and entertainment. Plus, you can enter drawings for three grand prize gift baskets, each of which is valued at more than $300. Find out all you need to know at

Here’s a little shout out for The Grove Café and Market’s expanded catering services. Now you can also order custom hors d’oeuvres, classic cheese and antipasto platters, sandwich platters, boxed lunches, salads, cupcakes, cookies and scones. Breakfast options are especially exciting, with scores of house-made English muffins, bowls of fresh-cut fruit, yogurt and granola, and, of course, breakfast burritos. We’re eager to celebrate the growth of one of our favorite Albuquerque restaurants.

If you’re out doing some shopping in Old Town on Saturday, Dec. 10, mark some time to stop and listen to a free holiday strings concert at San Felipe de Neri Church at 7 p.m. Led by Guillermo Figueroa, it quartet features Valerie Turner on violin, Cherokee Randolph on viola and David Schepps on cello. The program will start with Mozart’s String Quartet in B flat, K. 458 The Hunt, Barber’s Adagio for Strings and Schubert’ Ave Maria. After an intermission, the group will come back with a lineup of holiday favorites. Try to get there early to secure a seat. 2005 N. Plaza NW,

Polyphony: Voices of New Mexico is releasing a Christmas CD, called Winter: an evocation. To celebrate the new work, the group is performing a couple concerts this Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. Featuring Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols and world-renowned harpist Lynn Gorman DeVelder, the event costs $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students with ID. It’s at The Cathedral of St. John, 318 Silver SW, 505.821.1956,

A quiet “Holiday Event” (that’s the only name it’s been given) in the East Mountains has the potential to be really cool. It starts with six local authors signing books. Then there are the samples from a variety of local businesses, including the beyond divine Chocolate Cartel and Polish foods from Eurozone. Amid all of that, there’s a wine tasting. And while you’re there, you may as well check out the gifts, ornaments and decorations for sale. But perhaps the best part? The live wolf “ambassador” from Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. So go get a book signed, eat some food, sip some wine, buy some stuff and see a wolf. Sounds like a great afternoon to us. It’s from 12 to 3 p.m. at the Triangle Grocery on Saturday, Dec. 10. 12165 N. Hwy. 14, Cedar Crest, 505.281.3030,