New Mexico Rugby

by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, March 2012

I wonder how long it would take for my fingers to go blue with frostbite. Then I wonder if it’s even possible to get frostbite in a dry, windy desert. But standing out in the middle of UNM’s Johnson Field on a cuttingly windy February night, scribbling down Patrick McBride’s words as we look out on a frenzied herd of men, half of whom are wearing shorts, I think, yes. I’m going to get frostbite while they’re playing keep away.

McBride’s rugby team, the Albuquerque Aardvarks, seems as though it’s staffed half by gladiators and half by woodland elves (the lean, muscular variety a la Lord of the Rings). Team coach Jonathan Gray runs over to shake my hand, and I can hardly wrap my fingers around his palm. He’s one of the guys wearing shorts, but because his broad shoulders tower over my head, it hardly seems strange. He must have gladiator blood. McBride, on the other hand, is slender and graceful in appearance, emphasized by his form-fitting black uniform. Gray looks like he could push over a rhinoceros, but McBride looks like he could run circles around one, and that’s kind of the point.

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Santa Fe Buzz: March 2012

by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, March 2012

You can now stop in to buy some of your favorite local pastries and other treats anytime you want, or at least anytime Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Keegan Crumpacker and his mother Amy Fagan—who are known for their catering business and the baked goods they sell at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market—have now opened their own restaurant. Crumpackers Café and Bakeshop offers everything from classic huevos rancheros and bagel and lox to a breakfast monte cristo (with homemade raspberry rhubarb jam) and a sizable array of paninis, sandwiches and salads. The eatery is also dedicated to using local ingredients wherever possible, says Crumpacker, including the Farmington-grown Valencia flour that goes into all its house-made breads. 5 Bisbee Court, Suite 108, 471.0226. www.crumpackers.com.

Vinaigrette’s monthly wine dinners are a little hush-hush. The gourmet salad-based restaurant doesn’t advertise the events, and so your only chances of finding out about them are if you read its newsletter—or if you’re reading this. Sometime around the third Wednesday of every month, $40 will get you three courses and a flight of five wines. The wines usually highlight a specific grape varietal or growing region (last month’s was wines of Spain). And although the menu is never the same, to give you a taste, February featured ceviche, a spin on the spinach and mushroom salad from the regular menu, and a braised short rib with cauliflower mash. Reservations are required. Also, Vinaigrette only hosts these dinners from November through March, although it’ll likely add one in April this year. Call for the exact date, which had yet to be set at the time we went to press. 709 Don Cubero Alley, 820.9205. www.vinaigretteonline.com.

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Albuquerque Buzz: March 2012

by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, March 2012

Jaque Fragua continues on his path of world domination, or at least Southwestern domination. You may remember artist/musician/dancer Fragua from last year’s August issue [“On Native Ground”]. The prolific twentysomething hasn’t slowed down. He’s just finished a new mural in Las Cruces, N.M., and has a brand-new show opening at the Claredon Hotel on March 3 in Phoenix, Ariz. He’s partnering with El Mac to paint another mural in conjunction with the show’s opening. Go see him in action if you’ll be in Phoenix, or watch him create a piece in response to the banning of ethnic studies books here: www.bit.ly/yMPzYJ. To keep up with Fragua, follow him at www.fragua.tumblr.com.   

Jessica Fichot melds her French-Chinese-American background into her music, stripping the barriers between gypsy jazz, Chinese and Latin American folk, and French chanson traditions. She’ll be in Albuquerque for a night on her way back to her home in Los Angeles, so catch the richly layered talents of the chanteuse, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter while you have a chance. The show starts on Saturday, March 31, at 8 p.m., and if you stick around afterward you’ll get an extra aural treat from local dirty-gypsy-jazz favorite Le Chat Lunatique. Tickets are a mere $10 in advance or $12 the day of the show. Find it all at Low Spirits. 2823 Second Street NW, 505.886.1251. www.lowspiritslive.com, www.jessicasongs.com

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Santa Fe Buzz: February 2012

by Christie Chisholm, LocalFlavor Magazine, February 2012

Basically, it’s everything you ever wanted to know about cookies. From the author of Cookie Swap and Ultimate Cookies comes a class with a name that should send us all into an anticipatory sugar high: “Baking and Decorating the Ultimate Cookie.” Julia M. Usher covers top-coating, dipping, outlining, flooding, marbling, sanding, beadwork, rubber-stamping, wafer-papering, stenciling, and appliqué work like embossed fondant and painting. This is serious, folks. See what I’m talking about at www.juliausher.com. Don’t miss it from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Las Cosas Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School (181 Paseo de Peralta). 877.229.7184. Class costs $85.

Agnes Martin came into fame in the contemporary art world in 1958 New York. But Martin’s work began long before, in the nearly 20 years she spent developing her aesthetic in Taos. In honor of what would be Martin’s 100th birthday, The Harwood Museum of Art and the University of New Mexico are partnering to bring Ages Martin: Before the Grid to the public. The 30 paintings and drawings in the exhibition were gathered from both private and public collections by curators Tiffany Bell and Jina Brenneman, and many of them have never been shown before. Spanning the ‘40s and ‘50s, the works provide a glimpse into a phase in Martin’s career that is often overlooked. Catch it starting Saturday, Feb. 25, through June 17. 238 Ledoux, Taos, 575.758.9826. www.harwoodmuseum.org.

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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. 

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