Albuquerque Buzz: February 2012

by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, February 2012

A piece of good news for Nob Hillers and Manhattanites alike: Cecilia’s Café is coming to a place near you. The much-loved Downtown New Mexican restaurant has already opened a second location in Nob Hill, taking up residence in the old Chocolate Café & Bakery space. While the decor hasn’t changed from the spot’s previous incarnation, the menu is classic Cecilia’s. I’m not sure why Cecilia’s huevos and stuffed sopaipillas are better than other restaurants’, but they are. Using the same simple ingredients as every other New Mexican joint, Cecilia’s papas, pintos and corn tortillas somehow seem more flavorful. The eatery has garnered extra attention since Guy Fieri featured it on “Diner, Drive-ins and Dives,” and it deserves all it gets. Although the details are still in the works, Cecilia’s plans to open another location in Manhattan, which, for all its ethnic culinary options, is devoid of decent New Mexican fare. I can’t wait for Cecilia’s to rule that town. 2933 Monte Vista NE, 505.268.1147. 

I’m just going to admit right now that “My Fair Lady” is my favorite musical. “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” are two songs that have been perpetually stuck in my head since I was 14, and I still like them. So I’m thrilled to tell you that Eliza Doolittle, ‘Eenry ‘Iggins and Colonel Pickering are all coming to Popejoy Hall from Feb. 10 through 12. Just in case you were raised in a musical-less bubble, the classic story goes a little something like this: Eliza Doolittle is a Cockney flower girl with dreams of a bigger life. One night she stumbles into phoneticist Henry Higgins, who makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he could teach her to speak like a “proper lady” within three months. Eliza takes part in the bet, hoping to use her newly crafted pedigree as a means to work in a flower shop. The costumes are all lace and monumentally large hats, the songs are sweet and catchy (obviously), and the story is, well, perfect. Make sure you get your tickets soon, because there are only five performances and they’re likely to sell out. Nab those seats at www.popejoypresents.com, www.unmtickets.com or by calling 877.664.8661 or 505.925.5858. Prices range from $47.50 to $72.50.

If wine is your business, you’ll want to be at the New Mexico Vine & Wine Society’s annual conference from March 1 through 3. With a host of educational and social networking opportunities (and, for a change, I don’t just mean the online ones), the three days of sessions and workshops will provide you with insights on the latest innovations, business dynamics and research findings in the industry. Early registration is $150 for members and $175 for nonmembers, but there’s also a more affordable way for oenophiles to get in on the action. On Friday, March 2, a Tasting of New Mexico Gold Wines is open to the public for $50. It all happens at Hotel Albuquerque (800 Rio Grande NW). For more information, visit www.vineandwine.org

Something sad: As you’ve probably noticed by now, the Bumble Bee’s location in Nob Hill has closed. Something glad: The spot has been filled by a super exciting new eatery. James Beard Award winner Chef Mark Kiffin (of the upscale Compound in Santa Fe) just opened a taqueria and tequila bar on the corner of Central and Amherst. Just look for the bright blue building bearing the name “Zacatecas.” The restaurant features soft tacos with organic ingredients and a Margarita bar filled with beer and tequilas from Mexico. Kiffin worked with a native Zacatecan chef to craft the recipes, which also cover pastries, appetizers, tortas and other Mexican specialties. If Kiffin’s 11-year track record at The Compound is any indication, Albuquerque’s damn lucky to have this place. I think I’ll go fill up on some tacos and cervezas right now. 3423 Central NE, 505.255.TACO(8226), www.zacatecastacos.com.

Red, Wine and Blues is exactly what it sounds like: A food and wine tasting event paired with live blues. That’s probably already enough to get you through the door (who wouldn’t want to nibble on some noshes and milk a Merlot while listening to the guttural wails of a saxophone?), but it gets better. The culinary samplings are from some of Albuquerque’s top chefs and restaurants, there’s beer along with wine, and there are also silent and live auctions to top off the night, which goes from 6 to 9 p.m. If you’ve got the little ones with you, stop by earlier in the day for a Mini Taste of Albuquerque. The 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. event skips the wine and gets right to the food, along with kid-friendly activities and a silent auction of its own. Mini tickets are $25 for a family of four, $10 for a single adult and $5 for kids over 2. Red, Wine and Blues tickets are $65 for members and $75 for nonmembers. There’s also a VIP Experience Package available (which will take care of you and nine other guests and provide you with loads of goodies) for a well-rounded $1,500. So go big or ... go smaller. Either way, there’s lots of great food, drinks and music for everyone. All proceeds benefit the Junior League of Albuquerque, and it all goes down at the Crown Plaza Hotel (1901 University NE) on Sunday, Feb. 19. 505.260.0199, www.jlabq.org

There are whispers of a new local food restaurant waiting in the wings. Farm & Table is slated to open on North Fourth, and, as its name suggest, it promises food fresh from its own farm. The details on the budding eatery are sparse right now, but what I can glean from Farm & Table’s Facebook page is this: There will be seasonal menus, beer and wine, art and music, and brunch. There will supposedly be breakfast, lunch and dinner service as well, but brunch is the most important one. We need more brunch spots in this town. Until I find out more about this promising upstart, keep your eyes on the web. 8917 Fourth Street NW, www.facebook.com/farmandtable.

I love this idea. The Albuquerque Theatre Guild is launching a new event, titled, adorably, TLC: Theatre Lovers Community. The purpose of the event is to showcase tidbits from upcoming performances, like a sample platter. The inaugural theme is The Magic of Musicals. On Saturday, Feb. 4, the Adobe Theatre will host a lineup of selections from Roots Revival by Rainbow Studio Theatre; The Drowsy Chaperone by the Adobe Theatre; Anything Goes by Landmark Musicals; Miss Saigon and Legally Blonde by Musical Theatre Southwest; and Xanadu and Singin’ in the Rain by Albuquerque Little Theatre. The event will also offer a raffle and snacks (who doesn’t love snacks?). Advance reservations are recommended. You can get them by emailing tlc.atg@gmail.com, calling 505.341.9590 or visiting www.abqtheatre.org/tlc. Tickets are $3 for TLC members, $5 for ATG members and $10 for everyone else. Also, take note that this event starts early at 1:30 p.m. 9813 Fourth Street NW.