Albuquerque Buzz: July 2011

by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, July 2011

Brasserie La Provence, that fabulous French restaurant perched on the gateway to Nob Hill (with the best darn truffle fries in existence), is changing hands. Although the transfer of ownership isn’t official yet, Steve Paternoster has an agreement to sell La Provence to Executive Chef Claus Hjortkjaer, Linda Hjortkjaer (both formerly of Le Café Miche Bistro) and Caryl Cochran, and the trio are managing the place now. Cochran says they hope the transfer will be official this fall. The restaurant you know and love will stay mostly the same, but the new owners plan to add a few perks, like cooking classes Claus is kicking off Tuesday, July 12. For $40, learn how to make vichyssoise with applewood smoked bacon and fresh chives, cordon bleu and crème brûlée. Class starts at 6 p.m. (3001 Central NE, 505.254.7644). For more information, visit

Hey, it’s the Fourth of July! Don’t be one of those irresponsible people who start fires by trying to do the whole firework thing at home. This is not the year. Instead, get your firework fix at Balloon Fiesta Park (4401 Alameda NE), where festivities will be going from 3 to 10 p.m., with live music, fry bread (and lots of other kinds of food), activities for children like face painting and fun jumps, and a whole lot of grass to play on. You can park at the park for $10, or you can go the Park & Ride route for $1 or less. For all the details, visit

Dance, opera, storytelling, musical composition and traditional theater—that’s what The Filling Station’s SOLOFEST has to offer this year. From Friday, July 8, through Sunday, July 17, performers from Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Angeles and San Francisco (17 of them) take the stage with their one-woman and one-man shows. There’s an acapella opera in 24 personalities, and then a post-apocalyptic dance opera. There are stories about kids who make model airplanes and women who dream of George Clooney. There are world folktales and Gospel music. Basically, there’s something for all of you. And then there are workshops. Individual shows and workshops are $10, or you can get a festival pass for a mere $35. Get reservations by calling 917.449.9519 or e-mailing, or buy tickets online at For descriptions of shows and all other pertinent information, visit 1024 Fourth Street SW. 

Santa Fe usually gets all the credit for artistic prowess, despite the fact that Albuquerque’s also busting with right-brain beautifications. But according to AmericanStyle Magazine, Burque’s got some of the best art in the country. In its “Top 25 Art Destinations: Big Cities” breakdown, Albuquerque’s listed as No. 6, coming in behind New York and Chicago but beating out Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego and Atlanta. Makes you look at all those giant pots on I-40 a little differently, doesn’t it?

And while we’re talking about local recognition, I want to give a little shout-out to Hyatt Regency Tamaya pastry chef Darci Rochau, who won a competition on “The Food Network Challenge.” After taking home second place in the 2010 New Mexico Museum of Natural History Foundation’s “Chocolate Fantasy” contest, Rochau and her husband were contacted by The Food Network and asked to go on the show. The challenge? Create a chocolate sculpture in an “Old West” theme in less than eight hours. The couple crafted a 5-foot train out of pure cocoa bliss called “The Transcontinental,” and with it they nabbed first. Congratulations to the Rochaus.

The KiMo Theatre’s got its old neon sign back, or at least a fairly convincing replica. To go along with its nod to days gone by, the theater’s also bringing screened films back to its lush pueblo deco interior. Check out a different film every Friday, with Get Low on July 1, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on July 8, The Girl Who Played With Fire on July 15, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest on July 22 and Inside Job on July 29. All films start at 8 p.m., and tickets are $10. Get them at the door or in advance at 505.768.3544 or

The Luna Mansion is one of New Mexico’s eeriest and loveliest treasures. Built in Los Lunas is 1881, it was constructed by the Santa Fe Railway in exchange for passage through the Luna-Otero land grant holding. But that may be more history than you want. All you really need to know is this: The Victorian mansion has been preserved, and now it also operates as a steakhouse. Last month, the steakhouse started “Party on the Patio Fridays” every week from 4 to 8:30 p.m. You get live music from Keith Sanchez (of Stoic Frame), cocktails and alfresco dining on a brand-new, spectacular patio. Now that’s a happy hour. 110 W. Main Street, Los Lunas, 505.865.7333,

Summer days in Albuquerque can be sweltering, especially before the “monsoon” season hits. But those hot, sun-baked days lead to absolutely perfect summer nights. One of the best ways to celebrate those sultry evenings is at one of Albuquerque’s best festivals—Nob Hill’s Summerfest. On Saturday, July 23, from 2 to 10:30 p.m., Central will be blocked off to traffic from Girard to Washington, turning all of Nob Hill into one pedestrian-friendly mega-zone. Stores and restaurants stay open late with great specials, live bands play all over the place, and vendors and artists take to the streets. The best part? It’s absolutely free to walk around. Put on your short-shorts and sizzle, in a good way.

Speaking of how unbelievably hot summer can be, there’s one really excellent, really delicious way to cool off: with a paleta. The best place in town to find these Mexican popsicles—which come in flavors like strawberries and cream, mango, tamarind and chile, and piña colada—is La Michoacana de Paquime. The paleteria sells other foodstuffs, too, but it’s the popsicles that make this place pop. Plus, it’s open late. Go with your Spanish in check and the heat radiating from your pores ready to be quenched. 6500 Zuni SE, 505.266.3408.

The old Bob’s Fish and Chips place on Central is getting a redesign. Wood floors, a mahogany bar, banquettes and two covered patios—these are the markings of Holy Cow, a burger joint that’s more than a burger joint. The eatery opens in early July, and its menu will focus on an array of unique burgers, market-fresh chopped salads with house-made dressings, sandwiches, sides, shakes and desserts. Oh, and beer and wine. And here’s a happy note: All items will be $10 or less. The restaurant will be open seven days a week, with lunch and dinner service every day and breakfast added on the weekends. There’s no website yet, but you can find out more by calling 505.242.2291. Go welcome Holy Cow to the neighborhood. We can’t wait to try it out. 700 Central SE.