“If you can’t see the forest for the trees,” suggests Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, her intimate study of the Roanoke Valley in the 1970s, “then look at the trees; when you’ve looked at enough trees, you’ve seen a forest, you’ve got it.” In this issue of edible, we take her claim several hundred miles west and zoom in even closer.
Our inspiration began, of course, with the seeds—the parts of the piñon and pecan that we so love to eat. Then we learned that another component of the tree can be of use not only as medicine but in the kitchen: fir needles! Ultimately, our tour of the forest grew further still, encompassing the secretive underground networks so essential to its health and survival—in a word, fungi.
In these pages, we learn from Annie Montes that mycorrhizal fungi are likely crucial to the survival and regeneration of thousands of acres of precious piñon forest, which shares its humble canopy and its seeds with diverse species—humans included. Ellen Zachos, reporting from the state mycological society’s annual foray in Taos, notes that the mush rooms so many New Mexicans have delighted in hunting this year, too, have dependent relationships with certain trees. Visiting a regenerative pecan farm in Mesquite, Shahid Mustafa digs into the mycelia of healthy soils.
As with the forest and the orchard, tending to community depends on caretaking what’s below the surface. We find this in a Pueblo chef’s words about renewing relation ships with plant relatives, in classes at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, and in conver sation with the winner of edible’s back-of-house Spotlight Award, who offers a glimpse behind the curtain of wine and spirits.
So, as you tilt your glass back this holiday season, consider the intricacy of kinship, the hyphae that—both literally and figuratively—weave the canopy that feeds us. Whether you live downtown, in the badlands, or at the foot of Wheeler Peak, we hope these sto ries help you get to know (and taste) New Mexico’s forests a little better, and that, like a brisk walk in the woods, they refresh you and inspire something new.
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Stephanie Cameron was raised in Albuquerque and earned a degree in fine arts at the University of New Mexico. Cameron is the art director, head photographer, recipe tester, marketing guru, publisher, and owner of edible New Mexico and The Bite.
Lynn Cline is the award-winning author of The Maverick Cookbook: Iconic Recipes and Tales From New Mexico. She’s written for Bon Appétit, the New York Times, New Mexico Magazine, and many other publications. She also hosts Cline’s Corner, a weekly talk show on public radio’s KSFR 101.1 FM.
Ungelbah Dávila-Shivers lives in Valencia County with her husband, Larry, and daughter, Tachi’Bah. She owns Silver Moon Studio in Bosque Farms.
ANNA MARIJA HELT
Anna Marija Helt, PhD, is a writer, microbiologist, and practicing herbalist in the Four Corners area. Through Osadha Natural Health and other organizations, she engages people with the natural world for their own well-being and that of the planet.
Annie Montes is an environmental educator with the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, where she collects scientific data along the Rio Grande with K–12 and college students. She earned her MS in biology at the University of New Mexico and strives to promote stewardship for all public lands.
Shahid Mustafa owns and runs Taylor Hood Farms, practicing regenerative organic agriculture on two acres in La Union, and offering a CSA with home delivery. Through his nonprofit DYGUP/Sustain (DYGUP stands for Developing Youth from the Ground Up), he has worked with staff at Las Cruces High School to implement an environmental literacy curriculum and establish a one-acre plot where students receive credit for helping with all stages of vegetable production.
Briana Olson is a writer and the editor of edible New Mexico and The Bite. She was the lead editor for the 2019 and 2021 editions of The New Farmer’s Almanac
Susanna Space, a writer and twenty-year resident of Santa Fe, is the associate editor for edible New Mexico and The Bite. When she’s not covering the local food scene, she writes essays about topics including animal rights, meteors, and the cultural history of the Southwest.
Ellen Zachos lives in Santa Fe and is the author of eight books, including The Forager’s Pantry She is the co-host of the Plantrama podcast, and writes about wild foods at backyardforager.com Zachos offers several online foraging courses at backyard-forager.thinkific.com
An edible Local Hero is an exceptional individual, business, or organization making a positive impact on New Mexico's food systems. These honorees nurture our communities through food, service, and socially and environmentally sus tainable business practices. Edible New Mexico readers nominate and vote for their favorite local chefs, growers, artisans, advocates, and other food professionals in two dozen categories. (Winners of the Olla and Spotlight Awards are nominated by readers and selected by the edible team.) In each issue of edible, we feature interviews with a handful of the winners, allowing us to get better acquainted with them and the important work they do. Please join us in thanking these Local Heroes for being at the forefront of New Mexico's local food movement.
KELLY J. TORRES
CHEF, GREATER NEW MEXICO
AN INTERVIEW WITH CHEF/OWNER AT BLACK BIRD SALOONPhotos by Stephanie Cameron
Kelly Torres will be in the kitchen when you arrive at Black Bird Saloon, the old building with the eclectic raven art and chalkboard menu in Los Cerrillos. “I’ve never thought of myself as a chef, as I have not been formally trained,” she says. “I base my experience of cooking food on passion, observation, and a desire to create something delicious. Black Bird has been an evolving process of trial and error with lots of good outcomes.” She and her husband, Patrick Torres, met
working in restaurants in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, then moved to the village of Los Cerrillos in 2014, and opened Black Bird in their live-work property in 2017. Raised in the Houston area, Kelly grad uated from the Art Institute of Houston in fashion marketing and visual design. Today, she says, “We live here happily with our three dogs and, of course, the ravens!”
Where did you learn to cook? What were some of your formative experiences as a chef?
Growing up I was exposed to a lot of great food, with credit due to my parents and being well traveled. My grandmothers were also experts in their own kitchens. From midwestern Iowa to the panhan dle of Florida, I can see where my inherited talents fit with my current ways of cooking and ingredients. I believe that I have a knack for putting flavors together and an understanding of how things cook, which both play a part when you basically teach yourself. At one time, I did have a career as a front-of-the-house manager in restaurants, so I was not completely naive to how it all works. You create your magic inside a 140-year-old saloon. What’s the kitchen like? Would you change it if you could?
When we purchased our place, there wasn’t any plumbing, bathroom, or kitchen in the space that currently is just that. It’s wild to think of what it was to what it now has become. A large space with the same old floors, walls, and ceilings that you see in the dining area was converted to a commercial kitchen. Patrick did the design and almost all the renovations, except for plumbing and major electrical work. Our kitchen is modern, small, and very clean. It has some quirks but, basically, is all we need. Our equipment is mostly previously owned. I am very happy to have high ceilings and some natural light since
so much [of my] time is spent there. If I could change one thing, it would probably be to have more burners on the stove top as I do a lot of juggling of pans for some of the menu items.
You and your business partner, Patrick Torres, describe Black Bird’s cuisine as “genuine, simple, and good.” But your menu is packed with exotic fare like rattlesnake-and-rabbit sausage and king trum pet mushrooms. How do you balance simple with gourmet?
Given Black Bird’s unique history and setting, I wanted our menu to tell a story of the past and present. I imagined what I thought [Indigenous] people might have been eating here long ago with the addition of what settlers might have brought to the table. I wanted to keep a rustic feel, as if you were over a campfire out on the trail, which is why most of our food comes right off the grill. My style of cook ing is uncomplicated. Menu items like the rattlesnake-and-rabbit sausage or the spicy cactus-and-onions burrito feel like they fit in with our old Wild West story, plus the customer might have a chance to taste something that might not be available elsewhere. I knew that we would focus on some game meat offerings because of the hunt that people probably endured in the 1800s for food. A blueberry mustard or apricot compote is just my creative way to pull it all together for flavor. We have never truly offered much in the way of non-meat menu items, but my love of mushrooms plays into that missing spot.
Most years, we have hosted a reservation-only and private New Year’s Eve dinner. This allows me to offer guests a tasting of some thing different than our everyday menu. It seems there is always one ingredient that I might obsess about that makes it to the menu board the next season!
The cost of food has increased dramatically in the last few years, yet you seem to have kept your commitment to accessible prices. How have you coped with the new reality while maintaining a distinctive menu?
Like most places, we raised our menu prices across the board, because that’s just what you do if you want to continuously serve a good prod uct. It has always been important to Patrick and me to serve quality ingredients, have higher standards, and not make compromises. That said, our business model may allow us to keep prices lower than some.
From the start, we knew that we both would play active roles in our business. We do have a handful of amazing support staff, but Patrick and I do a lot of the work ourselves. We remain disciplined in this area to keep labor costs and overhead low while still serving the same good quality. Consistent repeat and increased flow of new business over the last year has also helped. We have a strong desire to reach for the next level while keeping our original identity clear.
Back in 2019, when Black Bird won a Local Hero award in the restaurant category, you had planted a garden and orchard behind the saloon. How is that project going? Have you been able to use more of what you’ve grown in your dishes?
The garden, yes, that vision is still there. I wish that I could say that we have progressed, but truth be told, with the restaurant business being so great, it has stolen some of our time from the garden. We have not given up, though—we are still composting, and we have incorporated water catchment tanks. We have set in motion some extensive designs for our back space and garden. So, there is always next year and a little more redefining of what we want and what we can take to the table!
What’s your favorite dish to cook, and what’s your favorite to eat? I enjoy creating and cooking new items and specials because it keeps me fresh and my creative side going. I feel good making the bone marrow butter and king trumpet mushroom toast because I love the smell and the taste of flavors together. In my heart, I am old world and enjoy eating a mixed plate of delicious things, more than just a sandwich. I love to eat our Campfire at the Crossroads, which is a mixed grill of sausages and mustards. I also love our Farmers Plate, which consists of a grilled blood sausage, cheese, simple greens, apricot compote, a duck egg, and a side of grilled bread. The perfect snack!
What’s a local food issue that’s important to you and why?
In this last year, Black Bird has worked more than ever to use local purveyors and incorporate more locally raised foods and products in both our food and beverage menus. We are happy to have more options available to us than before—even people that will deliver to us! It’s obvious and exciting that more people are pursuing their pas sions to create and grow and shift with the times.
What’s something people probably don’t know about you?
I have a fascination with alchemy and a fair amount of knowledge on the subject. I am obsessed with cheese and cured meats. I love all things Maynard James Keenan. I enjoy my very early morning sunrises and backyard privacy.
Anything else you’d like to share with edible readers?
I would like to thank our local community of Los Cerrillos and our surrounding areas for all the support. We always hoped to enhance the area in which we live but not change it, and I hope we honor all those before us in this historical village, a.k.a. the “Cult of The Ancestors.”
28 Main Street, Los Cerrillos, 505-438-1821, blackbirdsaloon.com
SPOTLIGHT: BACK OF HOUSEAN INTERVIEW WITH ASSISTANT WINEMAKER/DISTILLER AT VARA WINERY & DISTILLERY Photos by Stephanie Cameron
“I still have much to learn, and I look forward to all the lessons I have in my future,” says Djuna Benjamin, whom her employers call “a veritable powerhouse and an integral part of team Vara.” A native of Albuquerque’s South Valley, she earned a degree in biology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. During her sophomore year, she studied in Alsace, France, where she was introduced to truly outstanding wines, sparking a lifelong passion for the ephemeral, beautiful relationship between two of life’s greatest pleasures: food and wine. After spending nearly a decade in Oregon, and like a true New Mexican, she bid farewell to the rain and returned to Albuquerque in 2019. She stumbled across Vara in July 2019 and became production manager in January 2021. In her free time, Benjamin hikes with her
dog, Morty, writes songs on her guitar, cooks bountiful meals for her friends and family, and puts glitter on everything. And she has more than a hundred houseplants!
You started at Vara as a server; now you’re the production manager. Why Vara, and how has your role evolved over your time there?
When I interviewed at Vara in 2019, I loved the product right away. The story, people, and passion behind the project immediately res onated with me. I began working as a server with no expectations as to what it would lead to. About five months after I took the job, I was asked by cofounder Doug Diefenthaler if I had any interest in production. I jumped at the opportunity, and it changed my life.
tis the season for giving thanks welcome - Chef Andre Sattler
Thursday, November 24
Pre Fixe Menu
Seatings at 12PM, 2PM, 5PM, 7PM
$135 per person ++
$60 children under 12 years Christmas Eve Saturday, December 24 Pre Fixe Menu Seatings at 5PM, 7PM Live Music: 5PM to 9PM
$145 per person ++
$60 children under 12 years
Christmas Day Sunday, December 25 Pre Fixe Menu
Seatings at 12PM, 2PM, 5PM, 7PM
$145 per person ++ $60 children under 12 years
New Year's Eve Saturday, December 31 Pre Fixe Menu Seatings at 6PM, 8:30PM Live Music: 8:30PM to 12:30AM
$185 per person ++ $60 children under 12 years
I started with just a few hours a week in the winery, caring for barrels and observing the processes of production. I fell in love with the work and began to focus all my energies on learning as much as I could about all that goes into making it happen. I learned both outside and inside Vara, and I am very proud of what I have accomplished. Tell us about your interest in wine. What sparked it? What are some of your favorite blends or varietals?
I have always been an enthusiast of fine food and beverage. I honed a lot of my knowledge early, working in fine dining establishments
while earning my bachelor’s degree in Portland. There are few things that can bring me as much contentment as a plate of good food and a great glass of wine to complement it. My interest in wine began because of its epic ability to elevate a good meal. I am now convinced that most situations can be made better with a glass of something good (red, white, or pink) in your hand.
Describe a typical work day. How does it start? Where do you work? What aspects of the job might surprise people unfamiliar with wine and spirits production?
In my role, my day is split between the production floor and the office. I always start with a look around the facility to determine what needs to be accomplished. I spend the first few hours each morning with my amazing production team, bottling our products, distilling, pressing grapes, tasting, blending, and cleaning—so very much cleaning! After the grunt work, I am in my office handling all orders, budgets, taxes, communications, and planning for our yearly production goals.
There are two aspects that I think may surprise those unfamiliar with this type of work, because they certainly surprised me when I started: the amount of time you spend cleaning and the amount of time you spend on a forklift. I spend what feels like half of my life with a hose in my hand or behind the wheel of a forklift.
What’s a dish you want to prepare this holiday season, and what wine or spirit will you pair it with?
I find no greater joy than in spending time, energy, and love on a meal and sharing it with family and friends. I absolutely adore a good dinner party. In the winter, I like making roasts. The process of marinating, slowly cooking, and finally tasting the fruits of a forty-eight-hour labor of love is something I do often in the colder months. With a meal like that, I have never been disappointed with a nice Bordeaux or a central coast California syrah.
What’s a local food issue that’s important to you?
Mutual aid, sustainable farming, and sustainable production practices are all very important to me. Two organizations that I have immense respect for are ABQ Mutual Aid and Three Sisters Kitchen. Both are committed to creating accessible spaces and systems that make food available to members of our community that need assistance.
Reducing waste and use of plastic, as well as reusing glass and other packaging materials, are just a few ways to make the production of food and beverage more sustainable. As a winery and distillery, we create a lot of organic and inorganic by-products. In the past year, we have found ways to reuse our leftovers by composting, feeding local livestock, and saving our bottles to be refurbished and reused. It is an important practice to look at what you are about to throw away and think about how it might be useful somewhere else.
Anything else you’d like to share with edible readers?
In my experience, women, nonbinary folks, and minorities are not often found in leadership positions in this industry. I never thought I would have this career, but after finding it I can’t imagine doing any thing else. I hope that others are inspired to pursue paths that aren’t readily accessible to them.
Fine International Vegetarian and Vegan grab and go including ready to serve complete meals.
Find our Fresh and Delicious Food at:
La Montañita Co-op–Nob Hill & Rio Grande Lowe’s Market on Lomas
Moses Kountry Natural Foods Silver Street Market
Triangle Market in Sandia Crest Lovelace Main Hospital
Presbyterian Rust Hospital - Rio Rancho
UNM Campus - Mercado, SRC, Cafe Lobo
ICONIK COFFEE ROASTERS
CAFÉ / COFFEE SHOP
AN INTERVIEW WITH SEAN HAM, OWNERPhotos by Douglas Merriam
Iconik is a specialty coffee roaster that operates amazing cafés in Santa Fe. Both their Lena Street coffeehouse and Iconik Lupe are the kind of places you can nestle alone with a book or meet an old college roommate. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, offer a wide selection of specialty teas, and bake their delicious pastries in-house. You’ve also likely sampled their coffee in hotels and fine restaurants throughout New Mexico, including Ojo Caliente, Ojo Santa Fe, Ten Thousand Waves, El Rey hotel, Izanami, Paloma, the Pantry restaurants, and many more. What’s next for Iconik? “We’ve got some great things coming to the community in 2022–23, so be on the lookout,” hints owner Sean Ham.
Iconik is often credited with bringing now-ubiquitous third-wave coffee to Santa Fe back in 2013. How has coffee sourcing, roast ing, and brewing evolved since then?
They’ve all improved with time, for the most part. For coffee sourcing, it’s still difficult to know what you’re really getting without a direct relationship with the grower. That’s why we’re eager to restart our trips with managers and baristas to travel to coffee-growing regions to develop those direct relationships. Roasting has evolved to be more systematized so we can ensure consistency without losing craft qual ity, and brewing has continued to be refined so we can deliver better and better coffee to each guest each day.
Iconik’s spaces—Lupe’s atrium-like dining area in an old Catholic school and the eclectic interior and patio at the Lena Street Lofts location—make dining and coffee drinking a unique sensory experience. What’s the secret to creating a space that makes people want to return again and again?
The secret is taking the time to prepare the space, layering details so there’s always something new to discover, a friendly face to greet you, and com mitment to theme and mission. For Iconik, that mission is connecting customers to their coffee, community, and each other. Thoughtfulness and the time we take with each space helps us achieve that mission. Your menus, with their sophisticated flavors and old-fashioned indul gences, are another reason people love Iconik. How do you balance catering to visitor tastes with satisfying your local following? We just focus on making incredible food. Our dishes are inspired by the places we visit to source coffee as well as the unique and var ied culinary backgrounds of our staff. Sometimes you just want a really good eggs benedict; other times, you want Korean street tacos. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, both of those sound great! What are some of the coffee trends Iconik anticipates bringing to its customers in the coming months?
We plan on bringing some exciting new tech to our cafés to create consistent and amazing by-the-cup coffees, unlike anything other cafés have done before.
What coffee-sourcing issue is most important to you now?
Green coffee quality. It’s dropped quite a bit while prices have gone up. The world is under a lot of pressure with the leftover consequences of COVID shutdowns, war, and civil unrest. As a result, farming is suffering and quality has gone down.
What should people know about Iconik that they probably don’t? That we spend an inordinate amount of time on everything we do, from coffee sourcing, roasting, and brewing to our food and baked goods recipes. We really pride ourselves on making sure our offerings are approachable to all while satisfying the adventurous. Anything else you’d like to share with edible readers?
We’re honored to receive this award from edible. It’s one that we’ve strived for, and we’re really happy to receive it this year!
MATT'S MUSHROOM FARM
FARM, CENTRAL NEW MEXICOAN INTERVIEW WITH MATTHEW FIEN GRETTON, FOUNDER Photos by Stephanie Cameron
Matt’s Mushroom Farm started as an undergraduate project in the lush countryside of upstate New York. Then, for six years, founder Matt Fien Gretton worked for Cottonwood Gulch Expeditions, a nonprofit outdoor adventure foundation, and fell in love with the Southwest. He began as an intern and moved into the assistant direc tor role—not your everyday route into the mushroom farm business. “I am passionate about food justice and protecting our fragile envi ronment,” he says about his work. At one time he did a “lot of nerd stuff,” but now he is “husband to one of the hardest-working teachers in ABQ, and father to a beautiful and dinosaur-obsessed three-yearold” who (along with running a mushroom farm in Los Ranchos) takes all his energy.
You originally delved into mycology in a decidedly different culture and climate. Tell us about your journey from Syracuse to Albuquer que and why you brought your mushroom dream with you.
With Cottonwood Gulch Expeditions, I got to travel all across the Four Corners, finding and visiting every national monument, park, ranger station, Pueblo center, farm, or art studio . . . anywhere there was natural wonder or a friendly person who wanted to share what they do with some eager kiddos. In that time, I made a ton of connec tions all around the state. One of those was with a mushroom farm in Albuquerque, which eventually hired me as a consultant (due to my mycology experience in college). When the owner of that farm retired, she offered to work out a deal for me to take over her equip ment. This was a chance to put into practice a plan and dream that I’d had stuffed in my back pocket for ten years. It was a huge leap and risk but we decided it was worth it to try.
Seventy percent of your farm’s mushroom substrate is produced using waste products from other industries. What kinds of waste products, and how does that work?
We use wood pellets that are produced from urban forestry work— nuisance tree removal and other stuff that the city does—as well as timber stand improvement on Mount Taylor. We also use coffee grounds from Villa Myriam’s cold brew canning line and paper waste from Roses Southwest Papers. These are all great foods for mushrooms because they are processed, which makes it easier for our mushrooms to digest, and less likely to carry contamination.
How do you decide which mushrooms to grow? Any cooking tips?
We grow the easiest- and fastest-growing mushrooms, oyster and lion’s mane, mostly because they are able to grow in a wide range of conditions. Some other mushrooms are much more picky, and if you get anything wrong they will abort growth and start all over again.
As for cooking, always start your mushrooms in a dry pan with no oil or sauce, sauté for a few minutes until they release some of their moisture and it evaporates, then add your fat. That way you don’t end up with soggy, oily shrooms.
You’ve described some of your customers as mushroom fanatics. Do mushroom fans tend to have any characteristics in common, aside from the love of edible fungi?
Usually they are into DIY stuff. Lots of crossover with hydroponics and home brewing. Also, not to stereotype, but mushroom people are just cooler than a lot of other folks.
Do you produce mushroom compost? In layperson terms, what makes it unique?
Our mushroom compost is basically digested sawdust. It’s very differ ent from the mushroom compost you can get at the home improve ment store, and is more useful as a top dressing and mulch than as compost. If you want to keep its properties going, it needs to be kept moist on this bottom layer so that the mushroom can spread from the mulch into the soil.
In addition to mushrooms, you sell mushroom grow kits. What do folks need if they want to try this at home? Are there risks involved in using, say, found wood as a substrate?
Mushrooms will not grow on pine or cedar because of the resins that are in the wood. Grow kits are dead simple, just spray the top of the block with a spray bottle and the mushrooms will grow right out of it—it’s like a very simple magic trick. If you’re going to try grow ing mushrooms at home, get a fully inoculated, ready-to-fruit kit, one that doesn’t require any mixing or re-bagging, so that your first attempt will be successful.
Are you in favor of psilocybin therapy? And what are the nutritional benefits of the non-hallucinogenic mushrooms you currently raise?
The benefits of mushroom therapy are becoming more and more well documented. I also think psilocybin therapy should be available as a free service to anyone, and especially here in New Mexico, where addiction and depression are two of our biggest social challenges. As for nutrition, oyster mushrooms have a very high percentage of crude protein, which makes them an excellent meat substitute if you are trying to cut fat or calories out of your diet. Lion’s mane also has very well-documented benefits for brain health.
What’s a local food issue that’s important to you?
Access to high-quality, healthy food, specifically produce. Our farm ers markets are in danger of getting gentrified so that the people who really need access to that fresh, healthy food can’t afford to go there and buy it. It becomes a boutique food market and not a place where families can get what they need to make dinner. We need to make sure that we have guidelines and incentives in place to keep the cost of the food being produced in our state in a range where people here can afford it. Seventy percent of our produce is being sold out of state. Anything else you’d like to share with edible readers?
Mushroom growing is a very accessible hobby; you don’t need a ton of expensive equipment, and all the information that you need can be found online. If you think mushrooms are cool, get out there and start hunting for some resources, or get in touch and come volunteer for an afternoon at the farm. It’s not glamorous work—it’s a lot like hauling around big bags of dirt—but you’ll learn a lot.
Words and Photos by Stephanie Cameron
When I was growing up, pecans always conjured the holidays. Pecans were mixed into my grandmother’s famous Chex mix, stored in decorated tins, and deliv ered to neighbors as gifts. They were placed on the coffee table, still in their shells and spilling out of bowls, with nutcrackers nearby. My brother and I would challenge each other to crack the perfect pecan, carefully lifting the halves from the shells with a metal pick to put forth the
unbroken gems. But nine times out of ten, neither of us won, and we would quickly consume the bits and pieces as we snatched up another shell to try again.
This edition of Cooking Fresh is an ode to those pecan memories and provides make-ahead recipes for holiday get-togethers. Whether hosting the festivities or bringing food to another’s celebration, you can pick and choose from the ideas below or make them all for a pecan-themed party.
A cheese or charcuterie board is always an excellent option when hosting a large group, but add a little “wow factor” and dress it up with creative dips and finger food. Set up your spread on a kitchen island or counter so you don’t have to spend the evening serving food.
Grandma’s Chex Mix
Makes 15 cups
My grandmother’s Chex mix was always one of the most coveted by friends and family near and far, and highly anticipated every year. As simple as this recipe may seem, it is all about cooking low and slow to get the perfect crunch and evenly dispersing the butter mixture to ensure every bite is satisfying. Of course, bagel chips were not a thing when Grandma made this recipe—she used more pretzels and cereal—but we think they make for an excel lent texture addition.
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons seasoning salt, such as Lawry’s
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 cups bagel chips
4 1/2 cups Rice Chex cereal
4 1/2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
2 cups pretzel sticks
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup roasted peanuts
Preheat oven to 250°F. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds.
Place the butter in a medium, microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 10-second intervals until fully melted, 50–60 seconds total. Add worcestershire sauce, seasoning salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne, and whisk well to combine.
Place bagel chips in a large bowl and lightly crush them with your hands into bite-size pieces. Add Rice Chex and Wheat Chex, pretzels, pecans, and peanuts, and lightly toss to combine.
Pour half of the butter mixture over the Chex mixture and gently toss to coat. Pour in the remaining butter mixture and gently toss again.
Transfer the mixture onto two large baking sheets and spread into an even layer. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes and rotating pans, until lightly browned and crisp, 45–50 minutes total. Let cool entirely on the baking sheets and store in airtight containers.
For these recipes, we sourced our pecans from Del Valle Pecans in the Mesilla Valley. Del Valle Pecans was first certified organic in 1994 and was one of only a handful of such pecan orchards in New Mexico at the time. Because they don’t use insecticides, their tree canopy supports a vast diversity of beneficial insects, including several kinds of ladybugs, lacewings, wasps, spiders, ants, butterflies, and beetles. They use minimal tillage to keep the soil healthy, build organic matter, and seques ter carbon from the atmosphere. Healthy soil supports the microbes that feed the trees, enabling productive growth without the use of synthetic fertilizers.
Over the years, Del Valle has grown along with demand for organic pecans. Early on, the family orchard’s original operator, Sally Harper, helped a couple of neighbors and friends transition their small orchards to organic. Over the years, Harper mentored numerous other pecan growers in the valley, supporting them through the organic certification process and working with them to adopt sustainable farm management practices. Del Valle now partners with about ten small orchards to harvest, process, and distribute their pecans under the Del Valle Pecans brand. The Harper family, now in its second generation of pecan growers, continues to work closely with farmers, both those already growing organically and those who they hope will one day take the plunge.
Del Valle Pecans can be bought online or through Skarsgard Farms or La Moñtanita Co-op.
To keep raw pecans fresh and sweet, they are best stored in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator. Frozen, they will maintain their goodness for up to twenty-four months; refrigerated, they keep for up to twelve months. Cold storage helps keep the nutritious oils at their best. Pecans can be thawed and refrozen without any loss of quality.
Pecan Rosemary Dip
Makes 2 cups
1 cup raw pecan pieces
2 cups spinach, packed
Leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary (remove leaves from stems)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4–1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a large skillet over medium heat, gently toast the pecan pieces until fragrant and golden—about 2–3 minutes.
Add the pecan pieces, spinach, rosemary, garlic, honey, lemon, salt, and black pepper to a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil, starting with 1/4 cup, and process until smooth and desired thickness, adding more oil if needed. Serve as a dip with crudités.
Maple Pecan-Crusted Bacon
You might want to double this recipe, because your guests will devour it as soon as it hits the table.
1 package thick-cut bacon (16 slices)
2/3 cup pure maple syrup, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder (optional)
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil and place wire racks inside pans.
Place maple syrup in a large, shallow bowl and stir in chile powder, if using. Dredge the bacon in the maple syrup, place on parchment paper, and press finely chopped pecans into the top surface. Lay out the coated bacon on the wire rack.
Bake 25–30 minutes, checking every 5 minutes once 20 minutes have passed. Drizzle a small amount of additional maple syrup over the top and let cool for at least 5 min utes. If you are hosting a holiday brunch, serve on a platter or with Bloody Marys.
Spiced or Spicy Pecans
Makes 3 cups
3 cups pecan halves
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger*
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
*To make a spicy version of the recipe, substitute 1/2 teaspoon red chile powder for ginger and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin for nutmeg and cardamom.
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Place pecans in a large bowl and mix in maple syrup until coated. Add spices and mix well.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread pecans evenly over the parchment paper and bake for 15–20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes until nuts are toasted and most of the liquid is absorbed.
Slide parchment off the baking sheet to stop the cooking process. Cool the nuts until you can handle them. Break apart pecans, as some may stick together.
After the nuts have completely cooled, serve in a bowl, or split into small jars and tie with ribbons as gifts.
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Cauliflower Pecan Poppers
Adapted from Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, via the American Pecan Council Serves 10
You will want to serve these hot and fresh, so to make for easy execution, prepare cauliflower and batter the day before, and then bread just before baking.
3/4 cup raw pecan pieces
1/4 cup brown rice flour or almond flour
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red chile powder
3/4 cup water
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a food processor, pulse pecans into a flour-like consistency, but not so long that they turn into pecan butter.
Mix pecan “flour,” brown rice flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, paprika, garlic powder, and chile powder in a large bowl. Add water and mix into a batter-like consis tency.
Add cauliflower florets to the bowl and toss to coat in batter until no batter remains. Place on parchment-lined bak ing sheet and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven, stir the florets, and bake an additional 10 minutes, until golden.
Serve as is or with a side of hot sauce or ranch, or a mixture of both.
Note: Serve poppers hot from the oven— if they sit too long they will get soggy.
This flourless cake provides just the right amount of sweetness to finish the party and is lovely paired with a cup of coffee or dessert wine.
Flourless Pecan Cake
Adapted from Emiko Davies, via Food52.com
4 large eggs, room temperature, separated
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of 1 lemon
12 ounces raw pecan halves or pieces
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray or butter. Line bottom with a round of parchment and grease the parchment.
Add egg whites to bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk, starting at low and increasing speed to medium high until stiff peaks form.
While the whites are whisking, add the egg yolks, brown sugar, salt, and lemon zest to a large mixing bowl and stir until very smooth.
Pulse the pecans in a food processor until a sandy meal forms, but not so long that they turn into pecan butter. Stir the ground pecans into the egg yolk mixture until thoroughly combined.
Gently fold peaked egg whites into pecan mixture, taking care not to deflate them. Pour mixture into the prepared cake pan.
Bake for 35–40 minutes, until the top is browned and firm to touch and the center no longer wobbles.
Cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan. Wrap gently in foil and refrigerate for 8 hours or more before slicing and serving. Remove cake from the refrigerator an hour before serving and sprinkle it with confectioners’ sugar.
Your guests do not need the entire contents of your liquor cabinet. Choose a signature cocktail to make—and then offer wine and bubbly. Keeping with our pecan theme, we are creating a praline-inspired cocktail and a praline liqueur that you can gift to your guests if you have leftovers or want to double the recipe.
DIY Praline Liqueur
Makes 2 quarts
2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups water
4 cups pecan pieces, toasted
4 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
4 cups vodka
Over medium heat in a large saucepan, combine brown sugar, sugar, and water until mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Place vanilla beans and pecans in a gallon-size canning jar (or any gallon-size heat-resistant jar). Pour the hot mixture into the jar and let cool. Once mixture has reached room temperature, add vodka. Cover tightly and store in a dark place at room temperature for 2 weeks. Shake the jar once daily. Strain the mixture through a sieve and discard solids; bottle and store at room temperature. Use in coffee, baking, or cocktails.
French Quarter Manhattan
Recipe adapted from Heather Wibbels, the Cocktail Contessa Serves 8–10
This cocktail uses the praline liqueur recipe above, and we have the batch recipe below for quick service at your party. If you want to make one cocktail at a time, use the 2:1:3 ratio for each cocktail: 2 ounces bourbon, 1 ounce liqueur, and 3 dashes bitters.
2 1/4 cups bourbon
1 1/8 cups praline liqueur
3/4 teaspoon chocolate bitters
Combine ingredients in a pitcher and fill with ice. Stir until well chilled and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. If there are leftovers, strain the remaining liquid into a jar and store it in the refrigerator or a bucket of ice until ready to refill glasses. Garnish with a spiced pecan speared with a toothpick.
A Wonderful Mix of Friendship and Philanthropy
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The Circles is the premier membership of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation. Join us and enjoy an exclusive calendar of events that is especially designed to enhance your appreciation of the art, history and culture of New Mexico and folk art traditions worldwide. You’ll discover unparalleled camaraderie with an intimate group of fellow members.
For more information contact Cara O’Brien, Director of The Circles, at 505.982.6366, ext. 118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit museumfoundation.org/the-circles.
FARM & TABLE
Give the gift of a beautiful dining experience! 8917 Fourth Street NW, Albuquerque Shop online at farmandtablenm.com
Shop online at nuraxi.com
BLACK DIAMOND CURIO
Give the gift of the perfect cocktail. This 10-piece polished gold finish set includes everything needed for the mixologist on your list. $74. 219 W San Francisco, Santa Fe, blackdiamondcurio.com
SageWork Organics' line of wellness products, home goods, and herbal remedies are natural and handcrafted in small artisanal batches. 5401 Lomas NE, Ste D, Albuquerque. Shop online at sageworkorganics.com and use coupon code new15 for 15% off
SUSAN’S FINE WINE AND SPIRITS
Fine beverages for discriminating tastes at down-to-earth prices.
632 Agua Fria, Santa Fe, sfwineandspirits.com
WILD LEAVEN BAKERY
Celebrate the holidays with our Panettone and Stollen and give your special someone the gift of artisan baked goods made with local and organic ingredients, or purchase a gift card.
130 N Guadalupe, Santa Fe, and 216 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, @wildleavenbakery; wildleavenbakery.com
SANTA FE WINE & CHILE
Are you Team RED or Team GREEN? Or maybe Christmas. Crew or V-neck, we have a tee for you. Shop online at santafewineandchile.org
THE NEXT BEST THING TO BEING THERE
An eclectic gift shop with art and gifts made locally and all over the world.
1315 Mountain NW, Albuquerque, beingthereabq.com
ORNAMENTSA folding Nativity hand-crafted from recycled oil drum steel. Haiti. Hand-crafted
THE ARTISAN’S BOTTEGA
A mixed-use boutique of organic, award-winning Italian imports; handmade, one-of-a-kind custom jewelry; and upcycled leather products. Located inside CHOMP Food Hall at 505 Cerrillos, Santa Fe, blackandsilver.gallery
TIN NEE ANN TRADING CO.
Edible ristras from Hatch. One- to four-foot available. $15 per foot. 923 Cerrillos, Santa Fe, tin-nee-ann-trading-co.myshopify.com
VARA WINERY & DISTILLERY
Vara High Desert Gin—world-class gin you want to have on your
with friends. 315 Alameda NE, Albuquerque Shop online at varawines.com
125 Kit Carson, Ste C, Taos Shop online at
METAL THE BRAND
Browse baby, youth, and adult apparel
DETOURS AT LA FONDA
Floral ceramic bowls by artist Sheila Hrasky—these handthrown ceramic bowls are perfect for festive treats. Nest them to create your own flower. Made for Detours at La Fonda. 100 E San Francisco, Santa Fe, lafonda.myshopify.com
Hand-painted, laser-cut wood and acrylic earrings designed by Squidly Designs.
514 Central SE, Albuquerque Shop online at squidlydesigns.com
2500 Central SW, Albuquerque Shop online at
HEIDI’S JAM FACTORY
Full sampler set combines all five of Heidi's favorite organic jams in their new 3-ounce size or your choice of any three of Heidi’s delicious flavors of raspberry jam in 10-ounce jars. $20–$30. 3427 Vassar NE, Albuquerque Shop online at heidisraspberryfarm.com
LOS POBLANOS BOTANICAL SPIRITS
Two New Western–style gins expressing the flavor of Los Poblanos’ historic farm and gardens, and the Rio Grande Valley. $42.
Los Poblanos Farm Shop 4803 Rio Grande NW, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque Town & Ranch 1318 Fourth Street NW, Albuquerque Farm Shop Norte 201 Washington, Santa Fe (opening Nov. 4) Shop online at farmshop.lospoblanos.com
MOUNTAIN STANDARD TIME
Come shop our beautiful objects for the home—some of our favorites are the Carl Auböck Vintage brass objects and openers. $100–$800. 504 Galisteo, Santa Fe, mtnstd.com
OLD MONTICELLO ORGANIC FARM
America’s only traditional balsamic vinegar, aged 21 years in Italian casks of 7 rare woods. Made in New Mexico with estate organic grapes. Stunningly delicious. Prices vary. Also find their products at the 13th Annual Monticello Holiday Store at #20 Plaza de Monticello in Monticello on December 3 & 4 and 10 & 11, 10 am–3 pm, at wholesale prices. Order online at organicbalsamic.com
OHORI’S COFFEE ROASTERS
New Mexico’s original specialty, local microroasted coffee source. Ohori’s offers over 30 varieties of coffee beans ethically sourced from around the world, in addition to loose-leaf teas, specialty brewing equipment, and unique gifts. 505 Cerrillos and 1098 1/2 S St Francis, Santa Fe Shop online at ohoriscoffee.com
LA CASA SENA WINE SHOP
Just a 100-yard walk from the Santa Fe Plaza you’ll find wines from around the world, as well as local wines and spirits. Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon with wine key. $130.
125 E Palace, Ste 10, Santa Fe, lacasasena.com/wine-shop
Barrio Brinery’s Dilly Beans, sauerkraut, pickles, and other products are fermented in small batches, and are probiotic, fat free, gluten free, vegan, and delicious! $6.75.
1413-B W Alameda, Santa Fe, or order online for curbside pickup at barriobrinery.com
THE PERFECT GIFT . . . SHOPPE
Searching for something special for that someone special? Search no more . . . come in and explore. Gifts for all occasions or just for you.
901 Rio Grande NW, Ste D-126, Albuquerque, theperfectgiftshoppe.com
Still Spirits crafts gin, whiskey, and vodka to please the most discerning palate.
120 Marble NW, Albuquerque
More than a gift, give the Sawmill Market Experience. Available at Mercantile Cafe inside Sawmill Market.
1909 Bellamah NW, Albuquerque Order online at sawmillmarket.com
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Museum Membership: Give the gift of free admission to 1,000+ museums. Order online at museumfoundation.org/gift-membership
SHOP 2ND & COAL IN ALBUQUERQUE
for awesome local gifts, succulent plants, and delectable coffee and treats.
THE BLOOM STONE
417 Second Street SW thebloomstone.com
201 Coal SW flybyprovisions.com
ZENDO 413 Second Street SW zendocoffee.com
NEW MEXICO HARVEST CSA
Enjoy 4 weeks of a handpicked bag of fresh, local produce from over 60 NM farmers delivered to your door. $160. Order online at newmexicoharvest.com
DOLINA CAFE & BAKERY
Dolina Gift Boxes with handmade goodies and coffee. Shipping across the US. $34–$49.
402 N Guadalupe, Santa Fe Shop online at dolinasantafe.com
Maybe we love New Mexico’s forests for their ruggedness, maybe we love them because they are humble and their fruits unique and hard won.
Dryland Wilds’ beauty oils and perfumes are not, strictly speaking, edible, but their aromas can elicit emotions as strong as food memories. Atapiño Liqueur, made from whiskey infused with piñon and sweetened with ponderosa resin, lingers on the tongue. Perhaps we savor the fruits of New Mexico’s orchards for similar reasons: the Montoya and Velarde families have been tending trees for generations. In the winter months, their jams, preserves, and honeys bring the taste of fresh, local fruit to the table.
Atapiño Liqueur (Santa Fe Spirits), Willow + Loosestrife Beauty Oil and Ponderosa Desert Spray (Dryland Wilds), Sour Cherry and Apricot Jams (Montoya Orchards), Cherry Preserves, Harvest Jam, and Local Honey (Velarde Orchards / The Fruit Basket).New Mexico Products Curated by edible Photo by Stephanie Cameron
A VISIT TO ITALITY
FEEDING ALL RELATIONS WITH PLANT RELATIVESWords and Photos by Ungelbah Dávila-Shivers
Plant food is Indigenous food. Squash, beans, corn, amaranth— these are the foods that have sustained Pueblo and other Indiginations across Turtle Island for hundreds of thousands of years. Tina Archuleta, a citizen of Jemez Pueblo and owner/creator of Itality Plant Based Foods, is bringing culturally relevant meals like plant-based enchiladas, stews, and empanadas to the grab-and-go menu at her newly opened restaurant at Avanyu Plaza in Albuquerque, across from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
A finalist at the 2020 Food Funded Entrepreneurship and Inves tor Fair, Archuleta says, “Plant foods are Native foods. Plants are our oldest ally. Plants are our relatives and they’re here for us. My food is not going to hurt anyone. I use barely any sugar in my recipes. I don’t use bleached flour. I don’t use lard. I don’t use cheese, which is very high in saturated fat. I am thinking of the Native people in our community (with illnesses like diabetes). And this food is not hurting them. It’s medicine.”
More than fifteen years ago, Archuleta was inspired by Rastafari lifeways to transition into a plant-based diet. She began farming pro duce at her home in Jemez Pueblo and selling it at the community farmers market. During this time, folks began asking her how to cook with the produce she was selling, such as kale, and she saw a need in her community for education around the reintroduction of plant foods into people’s diets. She began giving cooking demonstrations and from there her path toward using food as medicine and farming for sovereignty took off. But her real story begins at her grandmother’s kitchen table, in her great-grandmother’s garden in Santo Domingo Pueblo, and along the fertile riverbanks of her home.
“When you’re driving through Jemez, you can see all the colors of the rainbow,” she says. “I would say that’s when my journey began. You start as a youth in Pueblo communities helping in the field with food. So that’s what my earliest memories are, of me processing food, and out in the field with my family.”
Growing up on the Pueblo, she recounts, most of her childhood was spent outdoors during a time when the digital world was a science fiction dream. Playing by the river and in the mountains instilled in her a deep connection to her homeplace and the plant life there that has been the ally of her people for generations. She remembers her grandmothers using plant medicine to nurse her and her relatives when they were sick, and the massive gardens her grandma Bertha Bird and great-grandma Helen Fragua grew. These gardens provided
the seemingly endless amounts of tomatoes, peaches, and other nutri tious foods, always available to her when she visited.
“When we were sick, my grandma Berniece Archuleta would steam us with rosemary and we would drink peppermint tea,” she remembers. “My grandma always had a garden, so I was always out there with her and she was always processing food, because she had so much. She would just have a basket on the table of tomatoes or what ever harvest she had.” Those harvests included cultivated fruits, like raspberries and peaches, as well as wild-growing cota and prickly pear.
Today there is much conversation about the food movement and terms like food sovereignty and food justice. For Archuleta, those terms are new expressions of practices that have always been a part of her world, either working for or against her and Indigenous peoples’ ways of life. “There’s a lot of cliché words around the whole movement, and it’s hard for me to fall into that language,” she explains. “But for me, food sovereignty is the controlling of our own food as a sovereign nation, as well as the self-sovereignty of controlling the food we intake as a people, individually.”
Over time, self-reliance of this nature has dwindled for reasons ranging from the demonization of certain foods, such as amaranth or other Native plants that are highly nutritious but identified as “weeds” in Western culture, to the influence of government com modity foods to dependence on grocery stores that aren’t easily
accessible—resulting in more processed foods in the diet. She recalls a Taos elder woman at an intertribal food sovereignty summit telling her that as a child she was disappointed at her parents because she believed the foods identified on the American food pyramid were the most healthy and that the traditional foods in the elder’s child hood home at Taos Pueblo were not. The foods represented on the pyramid at that time were influenced by European diets foreign to Pueblo people and others.
“My grandpa has stories of when he was a child, they would build trenches for their pumpkins and bury their pumpkins, to keep them cold for later use. They don’t do that anymore,” says Archuleta. “Food sovereignty, to me, is one’s own community, one’s own self, con trolling the food that they intake and just being aware of how it got to our plates.”
She gives the example of Jemez Pueblo farmers who take excess produce to the Head Start center for the children to eat, or the Native American Community Academy, which gives excess food from their garden to the students’ families.
“That’s what Itality is trying to do. We’re trying to get food from Native farmers here to Itality, where I process it and return it to Native people,” she says. “It’s going through this cycle of sovereignty, where we’re con trolling our own food. It can even go further to the point where we’re not participating in a food system that is oppressive and abusive.”
The Itality menu is vegan, relying only on plant-based recipes that Archuleta herself has developed to create traditional Pueblo foods like
red chile and burritos, as well as desserts like her seasonal prickly pear cheesecake, which uses locally gathered prickly pear fruit compote, processed in-house by Archuleta.
“We can remove ourselves from that oppressive food system by not supporting the commercial dairy industry, not supporting the commercial meat industry, not supporting fast food, and just kind of sticking to our Native foods. That’s another level of food sovereignty,” says Archuleta. “And that’s the level I like to be on myself. I don’t eat fast food. I don’t support the fast food industry. I don’t support the meat and dairy industry. And that all falls back to Earth ethics for me, and how am I, as an individual, impacting the Earth. Those industries are not helpful to where we’re trying to go in the healing of the Earth.”
For Archuleta, and those she feeds, this lifeway of reclaiming con trol of our diet is a form of justice and healing, which she hopes to share through the food she creates for the public at Itality. Her hope is that her patrons and employees will take what they learn and experi ence at Itality back into their own kitchens and communities.
“We’re in control of the outcome of what we’re putting in our bodies,” she says. “The health outcomes, the mental outcomes, the spiritual outcomes, and the Earth outcomes. We’re just taking respon sibility and reaping that justice for what we’ve been through with an unjust food history. . . . It’s that reclamation of foodways.”
2500 Twelfth Street, Albuquerque, italitynm.com
GROWING THE SOIL
OF SOUTHERN NEW MEXICOBy Shahid Mustafa · Photos by Tabitha Rossman
According to the 2019 New Mexico Agriculture Statistics Bulletin, the state ranked first in the US for sales of pecans as well as yield per acre. This included 45,000 acres of pecan trees that produced 33.3 percent of the national crop. Although Georgia’s net production has surpassed New Mexico’s for the past couple of years, pecans remain one of New Mexico’s leading crops. As anyone who lives in or has traveled through the region knows, most of this production takes place in Doña Ana County.
Based in Mesquite, Josh Bowman and his business partner, Wyatt Flory, of Rio Gro LLC, are among the pecan growers in the region. They’re also crop nutrition and soil health consultants who have been working with chile, onion, and pecan farmers in southern New
Mexico since 2018. Today they estimate that their products and sys tems are in use across more than 10,000 acres of New Mexico farm land, with around 3,000 acres strictly implementing their program.
Rio Gro integrates regenerative agriculture into its 120-acre pecan orchard in Mesquite, practices loosely defined as helping to seques ter carbon, improve soil quality, reduce erosion and runoff, and generally promote more sustainable growing. When asked why he emphasizes the term “regenerative agriculture,” Bowman says that he’d previously used the term “sustainable agriculture,” but has come to realize that “it’s about more than just sustaining because it truly is doing something new.”
“Sustainable is just kind of maintaining what you have,” he explains. “Regenerative is improving it.”
By introducing the methodologies of reduced tillage, livestock grazing, cover cropping, and soil inoculants, Rio Gro has created a model that proves the efficacy and benefits of regenerative agriculture. Instead of spraying herbicides and tilling to suppress weeds, Bowman and Flory plant seasonal cover crops of grasses, legumes, broadleaves, and brassicas. From April to August, the equivalent of 250 head of sheep and about 50 cows graze the pecan orchard. But according to Bowman, “The earthworms are the primary factors to changing the soil. When this process begins, you’ll see earthworm streaks through out your soils. Earthworms, of course, love the environment that cover crops create.”
Looking at an orchard floor filled with cover crops, one might won der how pecans—typically shaken from trees and collected from the ground—can be harvested there. Bowman explains that the crops are mown in late summer, and, due to the subsurface microbial activity, the remaining residues begin to break down within forty-five days. He’s also noticed a lot of other growers in the region implementing some form of cover cropping.
To demonstrate the visible benefits of regenerative agriculture, Bowman showed me a soil sample from his orchard. Dense subsurface mycorrhizae had formed along the roots of pecan shrubs, and earth worms were present in the previously sandy, inactive soil. The soil activity, he says, resulted from a monthly application of vermicom post teas, which contain mycorrhizal inoculants plus thirty thousand other strains of bacteria and fungi. As for its application rates, he says, “A lot of people say inoculate mycorrhizae once in a lifetime, or inoculate once and you’re good. Well, we’re not stopping.”
Bowman and Flory often refer to their approach as “crop nutri tion,” and it’s safe to say that their orchard enjoys a healthy diet. That
diet consists of a fresh vermicompost tea containing fungal bacterial recycling organisms, fish fertilizer as the primary source of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), and an occasional zinc foliar spray for pest control. Most pecan producers rely heavily on zinc applications because pecan trees are susceptible to zinc deficiencies. In contrast, over the years Rio Gro has noticed that zinc levels in their soils are climbing due to the biological and organic matter. “If you raise your organic matter levels and increase your biological inputs in a sustainable regenerative system,” Bowman suggests, “you will see microelements go up substantially without even applying them.”
For irrigation, Rio Gro draws from a pond holding 1.75 million gallons of water captured from the Rio Grande during the Elephant Butte Irrigation District’s water distribution season. Pumping this water through their sprinklers increases the overall distribution and subsequent carbon sinking potential of the orchard while also reduc ing the water evaporative rate.
From an environmental and sustainability perspective, Rio Gro has taken many successful steps to address the climate-related changes (and the associated consequences) that growers are experiencing. However, the challenge has not been in selling sustainable practices from an environmental or ethical standpoint, but in demonstrating the financial wisdom of investing in systems and infrastructure that might take decades to yield a financial return. One of Rio Gro’s goals is to produce a consistent yield every year, and already they have found their yields do not fluctuate like those of most pecan farms. According to Bowman, their yields might vary 15 percent while those using conventional methods may see a rate of 50 percent or more.
Bowman believes that managing tree health with regenerative methods makes it possible to avoid on-and-off cycles of production. Let’s hope Rio Gro’s commitment to regenerative systems—and their proven success—continue to have a positive impact and influence on the agricultural community in southern New Mexico.
A GREAT ADDITION TO YOUR SPICE CABINETWords and Photos by Anna Marija Helt
You might have juniper berries and pine nuts in your culinary reper toire, but have you tried using fir needles? The scent and flavor are a crisp combination of citrus, mint, and, well, forest.
Related to pines, firs are distinguished by soft, flat needles that sprout individually from the stem and by cones that stick up rather than hang down. New Mexican species include white fir (Abies concolor), subalpine fir (A. lasiocarpa), and grand fir (A. grandis). Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menzii) also grows in New Mexico but is not a true fir. The botanical name Abies is from the Latin abire, to rise up. Indeed, some species of fir reach over two hundred feet. Firs are symmetrical like a classic Christmas tree, though those growing at tree line tend to be shorter and more crooked.
Indigenous cultures throughout the West value fir for food, medicine, ceremony, and household uses. For example, fir is employed for sup port during cold and flu season—a traditional use in multiple parts of
the world. (For the nerdy among you, the needles contain vitamin C and other goodies such as apigenin, limonene, and polyprenols that may underlie—at least in part—this traditional usage.) Around the globe, fir and other evergreens represent everlasting life. In fact, Christmas trees, garlands, and wreaths evolved from the ancient use of fir and other evergreens on the longest night of the year to symbol ize the approaching return of spring life.
Fir needles brighten savory or sweet seasonal recipes and can be enjoyed simply as tea. A few cautionary notes: Don’t ingest fir if you have conifer allergies. Don’t inadvertently harvest yew, a toxic ever green commonly grown as a shrubby ornamental. Yew needles are similar in shape to fir needles but don’t share the distinctive Christmas tree / citrus scent of fir. And don’t use the needles from commercial Christmas trees, which might be sprayed with pesticides.
Without further ado, here are three ways to prepare fir needles.
A cordial is an alcohol extract of medicinal plants that is sweetened, usually with honey. Fruits and spices may also be added for flavor. For dosing, 1–3 teaspoons of the finished cordial are usually taken as is, in hot water as a “tea,” or even added to sparkling water in a fancy glass. Cordials can enhance marinades, bisques, baked fruit recipes, and many other dishes. For cocktails, this fir-citrus cordial is a great addition to such standards as the old fashioned, sidecar, gin and tonic, white russian, and—a seasonal favorite—eggnog. If cocktails aren’t your thing, consider adding a teaspoon of the cordial to hot cocoa.
1 cup fresh fir needles, chopped
1/2 cup fresh orange peel, chopped
2 cups vodka
1/4–1/2 cup honey
Combine fir needles, orange peel, and vodka in a new jar washed with soap and hot water. Steep for 2–4 weeks in a cool spot (not the refrigerator). To improve extraction and prevent microbial growth, shake the jar daily. Strain, and add honey to taste. The cordial should last up to a year if stored properly in a cool, dark spot—though it’s usually used up long before then!
FIR-INFUSED OLIVE OIL
Fir-infused olive oil is delicious drizzled on salmon, pork, lamb, chicken, and roasted vegetables. Try it in dishes for which mint is normally used, or combine it with vinegar and honey for a festive salad dressing.
2 ounces (by volume) fir needles
8 ounces extra virgin olive oil
Dry fresh fir needles out of direct sunlight for 1–2 days. Blend the needles and olive oil on medium high in a blender or food processor for 4 minutes. Pour the mix into a stainless
steel bowl. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water, then turn off the heat before floating the bowl in the water for 30 minutes. After this warm infusion, remove the bowl from the water, cover the top with a paper towel, and let sit overnight. Strain through a coffee filter or paper towel and transfer the infused oil to a clean jar. Let it sit covered overnight to allow any residual water and debris from the needles to settle to the bottom. Carefully decant the oil or use a small baster to transfer it to a clean jar or glass bottle; don’t transfer any sediment. The oil is now ready to use and should smell pleasantly of fir and olive oil. Any off odors or excess cloud iness indicates spoilage.
If not using within two weeks, store the oil in the fridge, where it should last for a few months. To use, set it out of the refrig erator ahead of time to allow the solidified oil to liquify.
Fir-infused sugar can be substituted for regular sugar in hol iday—or any day—baking. It’s also delicious in coffee or hot cocoa; in an icing, glaze, custard, or pudding; and as the topping for crème brûlée. A coating of fir sugar around the rim of the glass adds pizazz to seasonal cocktails.
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon fresh fir needles, coarsely chopped Stir chopped fir needles into the sugar in a canning jar. Place a paper towel over the jar and secure it with the canning ring. This allows water from the needles to evaporate while preventing anything “extra” from landing in the jar. Infuse for 1 week, stirring daily to break up clumps. Strain the sugar through a fine mesh strainer to remove the needles. Store in a clean jar with a lid. Some folks like to blend the needles in for a lovely green color, but this results in the bitter compo nents of the needles becoming part of the flavor.
Enjoy your kitchen adventures with fir!
BACK OF THE HOUSE
NEW MEXICO NUTS FEATURED AT SANTA FE SCHOOL OF COOKINGBy Lynn Cline · Photos by Douglas Merriam
The New Mexico piñon is a small but mighty nut, with deep roots in the high desert of the Southwest. Prized for its sweet, buttery taste, this versatile nut has been consumed by Native people for centuries, as well as by Spanish settlers, homesteaders, and other more recent arrivals to the region.
For Ancestral Puebloans, Diné (Navajo), and other Indigenous peoples, they were a staple and a power snack, as piñons are rich in protein and healthy fats. Once the Spanish settlers arrived some four hundred years ago, they incorporated piñons into their traditional recipes, both savory and sweet. Cleofas M. Jaramillo’s 1942 booklet, The Genuine New Mexico Tasty Recipes: Old and Quaint Formulas for the Preparation of Seventy-Five Delicious Spanish Dishes, describes an empanada made of ground beef, raisins, spices, port, and piñons.
Today, this little fruit of the Pinus edulis (New Mexico’s official state tree) is beloved by locals, who carry on the old tradition of gathering piñons from pine cones that have fallen off the trees in summer and fall and cracking open the hard shells with their mouths. Piñons are equally popular in area restaurants of every kind, making their way into appetizers, entrées, and all kinds of desserts. In fact, New Mexico Apple Pie with Green Chile & Piñon was the most requested rec ipe from the former Pie Lady of Pie Town, Kathy Knapp. Fernando Olea of Sazón, who this year won the coveted James Beard Best Chef: Southwest award, added piñons and pecans to the signature mole he created to commemorate Santa Fe’s four hundredth anniversary.
At the venerated Santa Fe School of Cooking, students learn to make delectable piñon shortbread in the New Mexican Vegetarian
Sun-ThU 8am-9pmFlora Restaurant West Cocktail & Wine Bar
class, a recent addition to the many Southwestern and other classes this acclaimed cooking school has offered for more than thirty years. The class menu includes plant-based versions of classic New Mexican dishes such as hongos adovados—a mushroom version of carne ado vada—but the piñon dish takes the cake. “Everyone’s blown away by the shortbread,” says Chef MaryDawn Wright, who created both the vegetarian class and the recipe for the cooking school. “Shortbread is good, but when you have the added sweetness and the richness of the piñon, it just takes the shortbread to another level.”
The cooking school incorporates piñons in other recipes too. “We make a great piñon nut butter and use piñon nuts in one of our moles,” says the school’s director of operations, Nicole Curtis Ammerman.
Pecans are another popular nut at the cooking school. This is only fitting since New Mexico is one of the largest pecan-producing states in the country, thanks to an abundance of sunshine. Pecans are grown on more than forty-five thousand acres, mostly in the southern part of the state. Heart healthy and full of nutrients, pecans have a sweet flavor, which makes them perfect for pies, but they taste great in a wide range of dishes.
“We use a lot of red chile pecans in our salads, and we make blue corn pecan pancakes in our Southwest Brunch class,” Ammerman says. The red chile pecans are a simple and satisfying combo of sugar and chile that coats the pecans, creating a delicious snack as well as a tasty addition to salads. “You get this spicy sweetness and nutty flavor,” says Wright. “We make that a lot at the cooking school.” The pecans are so popular that they’re available to buy in the school’s shop and its online market.
While mastering the flavors of New Mexico at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, students also learn about the history of the ingredients that have long played a role in regional cuisine. “The mission at the cooking school has remained constant from the beginning and that is to celebrate and promote the rich and historic traditions and food of Santa Fe,” Ammerman says. Yet the school remains inno vative. “Every year, our chefs contribute new menu ideas that we
offer during the slow season, January through March,” she says. “We call these bonus classes and they are offered at a heavily discounted price.” These popular classes fill up mostly with locals, who help the school decide which new classes to add every year.
“In addition, when we have a chef with a specialty, we encourage them to add in some classes to highlight this,” Ammerman continues. “For example, Chef MaryDawn Wright recently retired as the corpo rate executive chef from Sabra, so she did a Mediterranean-themed class. Molly Mix was hired to work in the shop, but she is a trained pastry chef, so she has started doing more baking classes for us. So you can see, it is all very organic.”
Wright, who has worked as a chef around the world, is thrilled to share her knowledge with her cooking school classes. “I have a degree in anthropology and I love looking at recipes and seeing the culinary history behind them, the adventure the ingredients took to get here,” she says. “For example, I love bizcochitos. They’re history in a bite. So following how the New Mexico ingredients came here—a lot of the ingredients traveled the Spice Route from China to the Middle East, up into Africa, and then came into Spain with the Moors—people are amazed. They just don’t have any idea of the history behind New Mexico cuisine.”
In a class with Wright, students might learn about piñons from around the globe. “When I worked for Sabra, I did a study on pine nuts from different parts of the world,” she says. “There are different flavor profiles. The ones from New Mexico have a more wild flavor, so they’re a little more intense and buttery. The ones from the Medi terranean are larger and have a more nutty flavor and less of a sweet, fatty flavor.”
In a nutshell, there’s a lot to discover about New Mexico tree seeds at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, which celebrates thirty-three years this December. Through classes, restaurant walking tours, culinary boot camps, and other offerings, guests can learn everything there is to know about foods of the Southwest, from soup to nuts.
125 N Guadalupe, Santa Fe, 505-983-4511, santafeschoolofcooking.com
Makes one 9x9-inch pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup toasted New Mexico piñons
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Mix flour, sugar, salt, and cardamom in a food processor. Pulse until mixed. Add butter and pulse until a crumbly dough begins to form. Add toasted piñons and pulse to incorporate.
Press the crumbly dough into an ungreased 9x9-inch pan. Poke all over with a fork.
Bake for 40–50 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a cutting board. While still warm, remove pan and cut into desired shapes.
You can change the flavors all you want with this recipe. Just keep the butter-to-flour ratio the same (1 cup flour to 1 stick butter). You can reduce the sugar by 25 percent with no harm done. Try fresh rosemary, thyme, orange zest, or whatever you like.
When inverting the shortbread, place the cutting board on top of the pan, grasp firmly, and simply flip with con viction!
Cutting the shortbread while warm is crucial. If it is cut after it has cooled, the shortbread will crack and you will not get nice, even pieces.
Using kosher salt instead of regular salt creates nice pockets of saltiness, creating a more interesting flavor profile.Recipe courtesy of the Santa Fe School of Cooking Photo by Douglas Merriam
Two scents are prevalent in the olfactory memory of every New Mexican: the spicy, smoky smell of roast ing chiles in the late summer and early autumn, and the sweet, woody scent of piñon burning in the winter. Walking in my neighborhood, I’ll often delight at the combination of these scents and be reminded of the complexities that go into grow ing, harvesting, and caring for both plants. Even more so, I think about the histories of these New Mexican favorites, how they got here, and how long they’ve been intertwined into the very fabric of New Mexican history. As much as New Mexicans love to argue over red or green, our relationship with piñon has centuries of advantage over that with the Hatch chile; we’ve been co-evolving with piñon for thousands of years, while what we know as the Hatch chile has only been with us since the twentieth century.
Piñon is more deeply woven into local history than statehood itself. It appears in the stories of the Hopi and Laguna people and has been found in hallmark historic locations including Chaco Canyon, El Morro, and Bandelier. For millennia, piñon has provided many gifts for all who interact with it, including food, shelter, and warmth. Humans enjoy piñon nuts so much that a pound can cost as much as eighty dollars today, more than twenty times the price we pay for peanuts. We aren’t the only ones who enjoy the tasty bounty of these
trees, though. A plethora of other living beings consume some part of piñon, including various rodents, birds, insects, and even fungi. The piñon jay and piñon dwarf mistletoe, among many others, depend on the presence of this tree for their very survival.
In addition to nut production, piñon also provides habitat for wild life and firewood for people who heat their homes with wood-burning stoves. Pack rats, common rodents in the Southwest, and piñon jays rely on this tree for nesting and reproduction: pack rats collect piñon wood for their nests, or middens, and piñon jays use nuts in their courting rituals. Not only does piñon wood have a pleasant smell, it burns longer than other firewood alternatives, can be readily found locally, and ignites easily—which accounts for its popularity as a heat ing source. In McKinley County, roughly 40 percent of all homes are heated by wood-burning stoves.
Piñon’s relationship to mycorrhizal fungi runs even deeper (fig uratively and literally) than its relationship with animals or people. During my undergraduate studies, I learned that these fungal associ ates serve as extensions of the piñon’s roots. Because these fungi are made up of microscopic strands of cells, also known as hyphae, they can explore for nutrients in soil much more effectively than plants. (The relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and plants is so benefi cial that mycorrhizae are associated with 90 percent of plant families.)
The more we understand the biology of the complex relationships between piñon, their associated mycorrhizal fungi, and the piñon ips, the better equipped we will be to preserve this valuable tree.
They move nutrients and water through this network of hyphae back to the root tips of the plant partner. The plant then trades sugars made from photosynthesis with its fungal partner.
The fate of each partner in this mutualism became intertwined mil lions of years ago, yet so much must happen to make this relationship work. When a piñon seed, or any seed for that matter, germinates, it first sends a root down into the soil to begin collecting water and anchoring itself for the stems to come. As roots grow, they leak a dis charge containing chemical signals into the surrounding soil. These chemicals can act to inhibit harmful microbes and attract beneficial ones, including compatible mycorrhizal fungi. Every plant species sends different signals, and in the soil the microscopic mycorrhizal spores wait patiently for a match. Upon receiving a match, the spore awakens and begins to grow toward the root tip. The fungus must then ask the plant for permission to enter. If conditions are suitable, the root will allow the fungus to grow between or through the root’s cells and begin to form the machinery needed for nutrient exchange between the partners.
Studies are finding that mycorrhizae do more than trade nutrients. They can act as a shield for the plant in times of need, providing drought tolerance and pathogen resistance, and potentially increasing
a plant’s ability to survive in soils contaminated with pollution such as heavy metals. Many plants, including piñon, cannot survive without their mycorrhizal partners, nor can many mycorrhizal fungi survive without their plant host. Their relationship is physically binding and as obligate as that of a bee and a flower.
As climate change intensifies, mycorrhizae could be the difference between the adaptation and extinction of piñon. In Arizona and New Mexico alone, piñon death occurred on 136,000 acres in 2021, a nearly tenfold increase from the damage observed in 2020. Because piñon-juniper woodlands cover 100 million acres over ten states and make up the third-largest biome in the United States, it is a difficult ecosystem to ignore. In the Southwest, piñon mortality has already exceeded 2.5 million acres—and that’s only since the 1950s. It’s been estimated that some 350 million piñon trees have died just this cen tury. These numbers are alarming for a tree that holds so much cul tural, economic, and ecological importance.
Scientists have also recorded a decline in new seedling recruit ment. This means that not only is piñon dying at remarkable rates, but seedlings are not establishing to replace dead adults. This could be attributed to the impacts of climate change, including increasing temperatures and drought as well as a lack of compatible mycorrhizal
fungi in soils after piñon dies. I and others suspect that the persistence of these fungi in soils is key to the restoration of piñon-juniper wood lands. If that’s true, planting piñon stands on soils that lack these fungi would result in low to no survival of seedlings.
When I began my graduate degree at the University of New Mexico (UNM), I found that studies looking at the persistence of mycorrhizal fungi are rare, and findings may be inconsistent between different plant hosts due to the specificity of many mycorrhizal partners. This inspired me to design a piñon experiment looking at the persistence of compatible mycorrhizal fungi over time. To start this project, I first needed to find areas in New Mexico that contained stands of extir pated, or locally extinct, piñon. These sites might contain other trees, like juniper, but needed to lack piñon seedlings and be accessible for soil sampling.
I contacted the Albuquerque Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office for their vegetation treatment records. Digging through these records, I was able to locate several potential sites for my research. Reaching these sites turned out to be quite an adventure as I made my way through backcountry roads, pushing the limits of my old Subaru over lava rock, in slick mud, and through open meadows. The sites that I could safely access often had young piñon seedlings or adult trees. After two months of searching, I found two sites that met my criteria, where piñon had died off sixteen and sixty-four years ago. Because UNM has access to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, and extensive research has been conducted there, I was able to expand my search beyond BLM lands. My scouting missions went similarly on the Sevilleta and I encountered another challenge: Many of the soils were so shallow that I would hit bedrock after digging just a few centimeters down. To sample for mycorrhizal fungi, I needed to dig down to at least thirty centimeters. After digging hundreds of shallow holes, I found two more sites that were extirpated sixteen and fifty-six years ago. This was a good start, but I also wanted to find sites that were even older.
I found what I was looking for, it turned out, thanks in part to pack rat middens. Wood in these middens can be preserved by the pack rats’ urine, and each pack rat only collects wood within one hundred yards of its den. Knowing this, scientists have been able to carbon-date middens that were thousands of years old and estimate the approximate vegetation that occupied Chaco Canyon over the last eleven thousand years. This information allowed me to find two sites in Chaco Canyon where piñon had been extirpated approximately five hundred years ago.
I thought I might be able to locate even older sites, which I wanted to do because no one had ever looked at mycorrhizal spore persistence over such a large timescale—my research would set the groundwork for persistence studies in the scientific community. During the last ice age (40,000–11,000 BP) piñon grew between an elevation of 300–1,700 meters, and its historic range has no overlap with its present-day range. Using this information, I created a map of New Mexico with the current range of piñon and elevations between 300–1,700 meters. Then I chose an area to sample that was both within piñon’s elevation range during the last ice age and outside its present-day range. I finally
had all my sites, and one of them was eleven thousand years or more post-extirpation!
Before I could proceed with my study, I had to take a few road trips. At each site I dug several 30x100-centimeter pits and collected soil from each pit at two depths. To avoid cross contamination, I had to set up a makeshift sanitation station to clean my digging tools after collecting each sample. Twenty-eight hours of driving and forty-eight pits later, I had eight hundred soil samples. I also collected soils to sterilize so that I could compare soils I knew would have no mycor rhizal fungi to those that might. I ended up growing 1,520 piñons in my research greenhouse. Forming mycorrhizae takes time, so I had to wait five months before I could find out if piñon-associated mycor rhizal fungi were present at these sites. I expected to see at least some mycorrhizae forming from the younger sites, but I was shocked to see mycorrhizal fungi present in soils where piñon had not grown in more than five hundred—and even in as many as eleven thousand— years. Could these fungi really be persisting this long in soils? Was persistence of these fungi not as essential to piñon conservation and seedling recruitment as I had thought?
The short answer to both these questions would be no. Ultimately, after analyzing my data, I determined that the amounts of these fungi in soils were statistically much smaller than the abundance of mycorrhizal fungi found in nearby intact stands of piñon. In fact, the data showed that there was a significant decline in mycorrhizal fungi present in soils just sixteen years after extirpation. These results suggest that sites extirpated longer than sixteen years will have little to no compatible spores present, and that what is present at older sites likely arrived by chance, via wind or animals. This means that anyone trying to restore a piñon forest without adding mycorrhizal fungi (at least in sites where piñon died sixteen or more years ago) will likely have poor results.
Fortunately, adding these fungi to soils is relatively simple. It can be as easy as digging up some soil under a live piñon and dropping a handful of fungi-present soil into each hole before planting trees. This may be relevant to any conservation plans that involve assisted migration, or moving and planting plants or seeds in predicted future ranges. Many conifers, including piñon, are expected to move north ward and upward in elevation as the climate warms and dries. We could theoretically help piñon move faster into suitable ranges by seeding or planting trees along with their compatible partners—thus guaranteeing continuous habitats for all other living beings that are dependent on piñon.
This would increase our chances of replacing dead piñon, but what about preventing its death in the first place? To find out what land managers are doing in New Mexico to address piñon mortality, I reached out to Dr. Andrew Graves of the USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Protection (FHP) in Albuquerque. He explained that most tree mortality events result from a combination of factors, including drought and insect pests. Ips bark beetles are a primary insect pest of piñon that frequently attack and kill water-stressed trees. These beetles cut off the water supply of the tree by feeding on the outermost layer of wood, where the tree transports water. As
infestations intensify, piñon needles turn yellow, woodpeckers may frequent trees, and pitch will often ooze out of beetles’ entry points on the tree bark. Graves explained that as familiar as bark beetles (or the idea of bark beetles) may be, their life cycle—including how many generations pass through a single year—is only loosely known, and the interacting roles of drought, temperature, and piñon ips are not well understood. This is why the team at FHP is conducting a special project to help better understand the biology of the piñon ips in New Mexico and Arizona and develop methods for manage ment relevant to the Southwest.
Scientists with FHP, including Graves, are using two types of insect traps to learn more about the biology of piñon ips in the Southwest: emergence and passive vane traps. Emergence traps, deployed on naturally infested trees, are essentially sheets of mesh too fine for the ips to pass through. Beetles try their best to escape after they crawl out from meshed trees, but to their dismay, the only escape is a collection cup at the bottom of the trap. Their deaths serve a purpose, however: they help scientists identify exactly when their fellow brethren will emerge from infested trees. Bark beetles also clumsily fly into passive vane traps, which hang from tree branches. These unfortunate individuals teach scientists when ips beetles are actively flying and moving from tree to tree.
FHP has also been using pheromones to bait healthy trees that neighbor ips-infested trees. The baited piñon have weather probes under their bark to monitor the tree before and during ips infestation.
Graves said FHP staff also search baited piñon for ips frass (beetle poop) and the resin globules that trees form in response to the insects. Newly infested trees are wrapped with emergence traps and the mon itoring cycle starts all over.
This work has already provided valuable data on the piñon ips life cycle—data that can be used not only by scientists and land manag ers in conserving forests but by the members of the community who can protect trees on and near their properties. Now that we know that beetles emerge from dead trees in May, we can help stop their spread by checking firewood gathered for winter. The simple act of peeling back the bark to look for signs of beetles—frass, beetles and beetle larvae, and galleries—can prevent accidentally bringing home infested wood that could lead to attacks on piñon near the woodpile when beetles creep out in spring. Checking firewood for beetles can also prevent the spread of the piñon ips between forests (and firewood should always be collected as locally as possible). For land managers, data from this study will help determine the best time to cut (or avoid cutting) trees to limit bark beetle spread.
The more we understand the biology of the complex relationships between piñon, their associated mycorrhizal fungi, and the piñon ips, the better equipped we will be to preserve this valuable tree. So next time you’re eating some piñon nuts, smelling the wood, or hiking through a forest, try to appreciate piñon’s intricate connections to other life forms in this quintessential ecosystem. And remember to check your firewood!
MAD ABOUT MUSHROOMS
BEAUTY, FLAVOR, AND SCIENCE CONVERGE ON A TAOS FORAYBy Ellen Zachos · Photos by Stephanie Cameron
Hawk’s wing, club coral, lobster, velvet foot, puffball, hedgehog . . . these are names that make the mush room hunter’s heart go pitter-pat. If they sound unfamiliar to you, maybe you should join the New Mexico Mycological Society (NMMS).
The most anticipated event sponsored by the NMMS is their annual mushroom foray, where enthusiastic mycophiles gather to cel ebrate the wide range of fungi found in northern New Mexico. I’ve been mushroom hunting for years, but as a transplant to New Mexico I have plenty to learn about Rocky Mountain fungi. I was surprised when longtime member Terri Wallis described New Mexico’s mush rooms as unusually diverse, because I assumed our dry climate would limit mushroom diversity. Most people, including myself, think of places like the Pacific Northwest and the temperate rain forests of the mid-Atlantic when they think of mushroom diversity.
Ah, but mushrooms are temperamental creatures; they require a specific combination of moisture and temperature in order to fruit. (The “toadstool” part of the mushroom is the fruiting body of the fungus.) Some places, such as Pennsylvania, which gets forty inches of rain spread throughout the year, may have less mushroom diver sity than northern New Mexico, which gets a mere fourteen inches of rainfall on average. How is that possible? It’s all in the timing. A
solid monsoon season delivers concentrated rain in a short amount of time, providing moisture exactly when the temperatures are perfect for fungal growth.
Thanks to this year’s generous rains, field trip leaders at the late-August foray expected us to find a great diversity of species, and we were not disappointed. Before heading off into the mountains early Friday morning, we were given waxed paper bags for collecting specimens (paper bags can fall apart if mushrooms are wet, and plastic bags don’t breathe, so mushrooms may turn to mush) and instructed on how to record the GPS coordinates of where we found each speci men. Because Friday was all about science.
Upon returning to the conference center in Taos, we unpacked hundreds of mushrooms and spent the next few hours working to identify what we’d found, using field guides and peppering our field trip leaders and two foray mycologists with questions. It’s just as important to know which mushrooms are toxic as it is to know which are delicious. For obvious reasons.
We brought in several lovely-looking species that were not on anyone’s menu. Russula emetica is a fragile red mushroom with pure white, delicate, thinly spaced gills. The species name (emetica) tells you everything you need to know: this mushroom will make you vomit. The death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) warns you with
Mushrooms don't always appear in the same place every year, the way most plants do. . . . This unpredictability is part of what makes it so incredibly exciting to stumble across the mother lode of king boletes or a giant clump of oyster mushrooms.
B C D E F
its common name, and its cousin, Amanita muscaria (the “Alice in Wonderland mushroom”), is a known hallucinogen. It has a history of use in religious ceremonies in Siberia, but I value A. muscaria as an indicator species; it often shares habitat with porcini (in New Mexico, Boletus rubriceps), a choice edible.
My favorite find of the day was Hydnellum suaveolens, a toothed fungus with a smooth white cap and a periwinkle-blue stem. Although this isn’t an edible mushroom, its strong scent reminded me of vanilla, and I couldn’t resist breathing in great gulps of its fragrance.
Friday’s specimens were exhibited for the duration of the foray, giv ing everyone plenty of time to touch, sniff, and examine more mush rooms than they’d ever seen gathered in one place. Many first-timers were fascinated by the shaggy mane mushroom (Coprinus comatus). Shaped like a closed parasol and off-white in color when fresh, it del iquesces in a matter of hours, turning into an inky-black mass of goo. One learns so much more from handling a physical specimen than from a photo or drawing in a book. Both are helpful, but nothing beats a hands-on experience.
After supper we signed up for the next day’s excursions. Saturday was the main event as far as I was concerned because while Friday was all about science, Saturday was all about food (at least for me). Chanterelles were reported to be abundant above 9,500 feet and I wanted in on the action.
When identifying any mushroom, especially a mushroom you might eat, it’s important to observe the immediate ecosystem. What’s
your altitude? Are you on a north- or south-facing slope? Are you in a field or a forest? Many mushrooms have relationships with spe cific trees. For example, the aspen bolete (Leccinum insigne) gets its common name because it grows among aspens. People disagree about the edibility of this mushroom, with some people reporting GI upset and others having no trouble at all. I’m grateful to fall into the latter category.
Velvet foot mushrooms grow on deadwood. Most puffballs grow in grass. The king bolete, also known as porcini, grows in conjunction with spruce and fir, and honey mushrooms are found on dead hard wood, often in huge fungal flushes. Chanterelles have relationships with several different kinds of trees, including aspens. They often look like they’re growing in grass, but really they’re attached to under ground roots.
One of the most beautiful mushrooms I’ve ever seen is the hawk’s wing ( Sarcodon imbricatus ). The top of its cap has an intri cate, feathery pattern of dark brown on beige and the underside is covered with delicate teeth. I want to love this fungus, but to me the flavor is intensely bitter, almost metallic. (Yet I see it on fancy menus and many people claim to love the taste.) I’ve tried every thing to make hawk’s wing palatable. Most recently, I scraped off all the teeth, boiled the mushroom for ten minutes, then sautéed the cap in butter with salt and pepper. I took one bite, spat it out, and threw the rest away. From now on, I shall admire hawk’s wing from a distance.
New to me was Floccularia luteovirens, commonly known as the yellow mushroom because of its bright yellow cap, which fades with age. It grows among aspens, spruces, and firs, usually in grassy areas. This is a western mushroom that I was happy to add to my reper toire, but I was disappointed when someone said it wasn’t super tasty. Fortunately, I decided to try for myself. I found the flavor of a simply sautéed yellow mushroom to be excellent. Remember, flavor is sub jective (witness the hawk’s wing!) and one mushroom hunter’s favorite fungus may be considered only fair by a fellow mycophile.
While many mushroom hunters guard their best spots, our fearless leaders had scouted in advance to make sure we wouldn’t be disap pointed. And in the spirit of community that permeated the week end, people would call out when they came across an especially nice find, offering to share and waiting to harvest until everyone had taken their requisite photos.
Because, as corny as it sounds, that’s what the foray is all about: shar ing and education. Each field trip leader is an experienced mushroom hunter with seemingly unlimited patience. They carefully pointed out identification characteristics for each mushroom, making recommen dations for edibility or warning against consumption. And when they couldn’t make a field identification, they helped us figure it out when we got back to the conference center and sat down to hunt through a field guide.
There’s a reason they call it mushroom hunting. Mushrooms don’t always appear in the same place every year, the way most plants do.
They may not receive the right amount of rain when the temperature is exactly what it needs to be. They may have exhausted all the nutrients in a particular spot. Fire may have destroyed the mycelium that acts as a fungal root system underground. This unpredictability is part of what makes it so incredibly exciting to stumble across the mother lode of king boletes or a giant clump of oyster mushrooms. Sharing that excite ment with other mycophiles increases the enjoyment exponentially.
Member after member stressed their commitment to education and sharing information both within the organization and with the general public. Whether you eat the mushrooms you find or simply admire them as gorgeous fungal specimens makes no difference. The NMMS wants you to appreciate and learn your mushrooms so that you can turn around and share the love with the next group of up-and-coming mycophiles. And of course the NMMS also wants you to be safe.
Safety is especially important when it comes to edible mushrooms, and I freely admit to being in it for the food. I expected most of my fellow attendees to say the same, but surprisingly, many were far less gluttonous than I. Patty Flores, who drove all the way from Roswell to attend her first foray, simply admires the diversity of the mushrooms’ shapes and forms. Catherine Williamson, a member of the 2022 foray committee, grew up with morel-hunting parents and found the NMMS when preparing to move to New Mexico. (I suspect she might not have settled in New Mexico if there had been no state mycological society!) She is “fascinated by the beauty that comes out of the belly of Mother Earth,” and she’s not the only one.
Barbara Marigold is known not only for her expertise but for her gener osity. She came to mushrooms when she moved to her 228-acre ranch in Rociada. “There were so many mushrooms on the ranch and I wanted to know what they were!” She happily shares her best spots, including where she finds matsutakes (Tricholoma matsutake), a highly sought-after mush room that can be tricky to locate because it grows under pine duff.
This year’s foray was the biggest ever. Jan Bandrofchak, president of the organization, suggested that because there were no forays in 2020 and 2021 (thank you, COVID) members were especially eager to get together in person. She also thought that during the pandemic people started cook ing more at home and experimenting with unusual flavors. Unfortunately, this means more people are hunting for mushrooms without the requisite education. By the end of August 2022, the New Mexico Poison & Drug Information Center had reported twenty-nine mushroom poisonings— more than in all of 2021.
This is where the NMMS comes in. Its twenty-dollar annual fee gives members access to web forums and the option to join local field trips and attend monthly meetings that take place mostly in Albuquerque and occa sionally in Santa Fe. And of course, there’s the foray.
For two full days in August (plus a little on either side) more than eighty mushroom lovers congregated in Taos, where we learned from expert mushroom hunters, mycologists, and each other. Everyone left the foray with something both tangible and intangible: mushrooms, of course, but also a greater understanding of just how fantastic fungi can be, and a few new friends to share the excitement with.
NEW MEXICO MYCOLOGICAL SOCIETY
If you’re interested in joining the New Mexico Mycological Society, check them out at nmms.wildapricot.org
The NMMS is a nonprofit, volunteer-run orga nization that welcomes anyone interested in learning more about the myriad diverse fungi found across our state.
“The purpose of NMMS is to advance the understanding and stimulate the interest of its members in the field of mycology by providing opportunities for study, holding conferences, facilitating cooperative research, arranging for ays, exchanging information among members, and interchanging specimens and information with other interested parties and organizations.”
FIVE RULES FOR THE BEGINNING MUSHROOM HUNTER
1. Never eat anything you can’t identify with 100% certainty.
2. No mushroom is poisonous to touch, so be cautious but not fearful.
3. Learn the lingo. Mushroom caps may have gills, pores, or teeth. The stem is called a stipe. Some fungi have rings, bulbs, veils, or volvas.
4. Take a spore print. You can’t always tell what color a mushroom’s spores are by looking at the underside of the cap. A spore print is an important identification characteristic.
5. Make note of where and how the mushroom grows. Some species have relationships with specific trees, some grow on deadwood, some grow in soil or under conifer duff. Habitat can help with identification.
The prefix myco is from the Greek for "fungus." Phile is from the Greek for "friend" or "some one who loves something." Phobe is from the Greek for "fear." Therefore we have mycophile, meaning "someone who loves mushrooms," and mycophobe, "someone who fears mushrooms."
FOOD ARTISANS / RETAILERS
Bringing fine fermented foods to Santa Fe. 1413-B W Alameda, Santa Fe, 505-699-9812, barriobrinery.com
Bluefly Farms 2506 Washington NE, Albuquerque, 505-510-1837, blueflyfarms.com
Bountiful Cow Cheese Company
Purveyors of fine cheese, meats, and provisions from around the world. 505-473-7911, B-cow.com
Cowgirl Meat Co.
Grass-finished beef and pasture-raised pork. Shop online at cowgirlmeatco.com.
Daisy's Holistic Health
We offer a wide range of herbs, vitamins, supplements, and high-pH H2O. 4056 Cerrillos, Unit D-1, Santa Fe, 505-780-8687, daisysholistichealth.com
Del Valle Pecans
From our southern New Mexico orchards to your kitchen. Order online. 575-524-1867, delvallepecans.com
Eldora crafts chocolate using natural, organic, and fair-trade ingredients. 8114 Edith NE, Albuquerque, 505-433-4076, eldorachocolate.com
Heidi's Raspberry Farm Sumptuous, organic raspberry jams available throughout New Mexico and online! 505-898-1784, heidisraspberryfarm.com
We pride ourselves on providing a unique, friendly, and welcoming environment. 220 N Guadalupe, Santa Fe, 505-930-5339, kureforlife.com
La Montañita Co-op
New Mexico's largest community-owned, natural, and organic food market. Locations in Albuquerque, Gallup, and Santa Fe. lamontanita.coop
A fourth-generation ranch located at the cen ter of the Diné Nation in the communities of Tsaile and Wheatfields, Arizona. Shop online at litsonranch.com.
New Mexico Harvest
A community of people that actively invests in our food system. Eat local. Eat seasonal. Eat outside the box stores. Delivering across New Mexico. newmexicoharvest.com
Owl Peak Farm
Grains grown and milled in La Madera. Order online at owlpeakfarm.com
Delivering fresh, local, and organically grown produce and natural groceries to doorsteps across New Mexico. 505-681-4060, skarsgardfarms.com
Susan's Fine Wine & Spirits
Your local liquor store in Santa Fe. 632 Auga Fria, sfwineandspirits.com
Sweet Grass Co-op
Sweet Grass Cooperative is a collaborative of family-owned ranches located in Colorado and New Mexico. sweetgrasscoop.com
88 Louisiana SE, Albuquerque, 505-268-0206, talinmarket.com
Vigil's Beef Jerky
All natural, preservative free, and made with only the best local ingredients. 7625 Second Street NW, Albuquerque, 505-867-3283, vigilsbeefjerky.com
Bishop's Lodge is a soulful retreat steeped in heritage. 1297 Bishops Lodge, Santa Fe, aubergeresorts.com/bishopslodge
Heritage Hotels and Resorts
Hotels in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, and Las Cruces. hhandr.com
Andaluz evokes the passion and pride of the region of Spain that has inspired the hotel’s decor and architectural style. 125 Second Street NW, Albuquerque, 505-388-0088, hotelandaluz.com
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm 4803 Rio Grande NW, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, 505-344-9297, lospoblanos.com
Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi
Sophisticated modern aesthetic celebrating the southwestern spirit. 113 Washington, Santa Fe, 505-988-3030
Sarabande B & B
Comfort, elegance, and simplicity. 5637 Rio Grande NW, Albuquerque, 505-348-5593, sarabandebnb.com
Our 200-year-old farmhouse, Santa Fe's oldest inn, is located in historic downtown Santa Fe. 220 W Manhattan, Santa Fe, 505988-1177, elparadero.com
NURSERIES & SERVICES Osuna Nursery
A family-owned and -operated nursery, gardening center, and landscaping company. 501 Osuna NE, Albuquerque, 505-345-6644, osunanursery.com
ORGANIZATIONS & EDUCATION
Museum of New Mexico Foundation
Philanthropic support for our state's cultural heritage. museumfoundation.org
Slow Food Santa Fe
Slow Food is about enjoying food and the community it creates. Intrigued? Learn more at slowfoodsantafe.org.
B URGERS D FRIES
LOCAL SOURCE GUIDE
Spanish Colonial Arts Society
Our magnificent site with breathtaking views is available to rent for your special events indoors and out. 750 Camino Lejo, Santa Fe, spanishcolonial.org/site-rental
Aquarian Web Studio
Secure, stable, scalable websites. aquarianwebdesign.com
Transformative fitness programs for women in the Albuquerque / Santa Fe area and livestreaming nationwide. athomebefit.com
Desert Sol Alchemy
Acupuncture and classical Chinese medicine. Now accepting patients in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. 505-475-7855, desertsolalchemy.com
Rio Grande Credit Union Multiple locations in Albuquerque. riograndecu.org
Curated selection of New Mexico’s highest-quality cannabis. Multiple locations in Santa Fe, bestdaze.com
Black Diamond Curio
Modern mercantile in downtown Santa Fe. 219 W San Francisco, Santa Fe, 505-390-2025, blackdiamondcurio.com
Carver Family Farm
No-till, hand-trimmed, organically grown cannabis producer and dispensary. 8917 Adams, Albuquerque, 505-508 5910, carverfamilyfarm.com
Enjoy shopping for boutique local New Mexico gifts—thoughtfully selected and packaged with care. 201 Coal SW, Albuquerque, flybyprovisions.com
Live globally! 1301 Cerrillos, Santa Fe, 505-557-6654, galleryethnica.com
Irresistible and gently used gourmet cooking and entertaining ware. 1222 Siler, Santa Fe, 505-471-7780, kitchenangels.org
100% natural ingredients from around the world. 1610 Lena, Ste D, Santa Fe, 505-6637784, livingthreads.org
Mountain Standard Time
High-desert bodega and corner store. 504 Galisteo, Santa Fe, 505-699-1067, mtnstd.com
Topical magnesium, herbal remedies, and more. 5401 Lomas NE, Ste D, Albuquerque, sageworkorganics.com
We have a passion for finding the perfect gift. 4022 Rio Grande NW, Albuquerque, 505-344-1253, sarabandehome.com
The Next Best Thing to Being There
An eclectic shop for handmade products. 1315 Mountain NW, Albuquerque, 505-433-3204, beingthereabq.com
The Perfect Gift Shoppe
The perfect place to find something for everyone. 901 Rio Grande NW, Ste D-126, Albuquerque, theperfectgiftshoppe.com
Tin Nee Ann Trading Co.
Family operated and family friendly since 1973. 923 Cerrillos, Santa Fe, 505-988-1630, tin-nee-ann-trading-co.myshopify.com
EAT & DRINK LOCAL GUIDE
Campo at Los Poblanos
Historic Inn & Organic Farm
Rio Grande Valley cuisine rooted in seasonal organic ingredients from our own farm. 4803 Rio Grande NW, 505-344-9297, lospoblanos.com
One of the nation's most accomplished artisan coffee roasters, Paul Gallegos. 1208 Rio Grande NW, 505-355-5563, cutbowcoffee.com
Local Spanish-style tapas restaurant with fine wine and beer. 1025 Lomas NW, 505-503-8645
Farm & Table
Enjoy delectable seasonal dishes created from scratch, sourced from local farmers and our beautiful on-site farm. 8917 Fourth Street NW, 505-503-7124, farmandtablenm.com
The feel-good, award-winning burger—100% grassfed beef, vegan, or poultry! 11225 Montgomery, 505-200-0571, and 5600 Coors NW, Ste 3, 505-361-2368, eatgrassburger.com
MÁS Tapas y Vino
Inspired by the bold flavors, rich history, and the exuberance of Spanish cooking.
125 Second Street NW, 505-388-0088, hotelandaluz.com/mas-tapas-y-vino
Mata G Vegetarian Kitchen
Unmistakably comforting, uncompromisingly fresh, and undeniably delicious.
116 Amherst SE, 505-266-6374, mata-g.com
A playful, Southwest-inspired menu.
3120 Central SE, Albuquerque, 505-494-5264, mesaprovisions.com
Savoy Bar & Grill
California wine country in the Northeast Heights. Farm-to-table dining and a casual patio. 10601 Montgomery NE, 505-294-9463, savoyabq.com
Eclectic collection of bars and eateries, plus an expansive courtyard. 1909 Bellamah NW, sawmillmarket.com
Seasons Rotisserie & Grill
Oak-fired grill, local and seasonal ingredi ents, and the best patio dining in Old Town. 2031 Mountain NW, 505-766-5100, seasonsabq.com
Roti N.M. Rotisserie Chicken
Experience chef-driven, scratch-made rotis serie comfort food at Albuquerque's Sawmill Market. 1909 Bellamah NW, 505-814-3653, rotinm.com
The Grove Cafe & Market
The Grove features a bustling café experi ence serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch. 600 Central SE, 505-248-9800, thegrovecafemarket.com
The Shop Breakfast & Lunch
Serving breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday. 2933 Monte Vista NE, 505-433-2795, theshopabq.com
Trifecta Coffee Company
We roast coffee and brew in unique ways. 413 Montaño NE, 505-803-7579, trifectacoffeeco.com
Vara Winery & Distillery
Spanish and American wines celebrating the origins of the American wine experience.
315 Alameda NE, Albuquerque, 505-898-6280, varawines.com
SANTA FE RESTAURANTS
Anasazi Restaurant & Bar
Contemporary American cuisine inspired by locally sourced seasonal ingredients. 113 Washington, 505-988-3030, innoftheanasazi.com
We serve progressive American fare inspired by our on-premise garden and local purveyors. 218 Camino La Tierra, 505-983-2100, arroyovino.com
Cafecito is a family-owned business blending cultures to bring you a delicious menu in a beautiful gathering space. 922 Shoofly, 505-310-0089, cafecitosantafe.com
We serve modern American brunch with Eastern European influences. Closed on Tuesdays. 402 N Guadalupe, 505-982-9394, dolinasantafe.com
Fresh, local, wood-fired pizza brought to you by the people at Paloma. 403 S Guadalupe, 505-303-3034, esquinapizza.com
Iconik Coffee Roasters
Amazing food, unique coffees roasted on-site, and superfast high-speed internet. 314 S Guadalupe and 1600 Lena, 505-428-0996, iconikcoffee.com
Locally sourced modern comfort food paired with craft beer, cider, and wine. 730 St Michaels, 505-471-0440, loyalhoundpub.com
Ohori’s Coffee Roasters
The original source for locally roasted coffee beans, gifts, and gathering. 505 Cerrillos and 1098 St Francis, 505-982-9692, ohoriscoffee.com
Bringing fresh, authentic homestyle South Indian dishes to your table. 551 W Cordova, 505-930-5521, paper-dosa.com
Pranzo Italian Grill
Upscale Italian cuisine. 321 Johnson, 505-984-2645, pranzoitaliangrill.com
Radish & Rye
Farm-inspired cuisine: simple yet innovative food and drinks sourced locally whenever possible. 505 Cerrillos, 505-930-5325, radishandrye.com
Sophisticated yet casual—Rustica serves fresh, homemade Italian food. 2547 Camino Entrada, 505-780-5279, rusticasantafe.com
Textured and multilayered cuisine at Bishop's Lodge. 1297 Bishops Lodge, Santa Fe, aubergeresorts.com/bishopslodge
Seasonally changing, globally inspired cuisine and an extensive, value-priced wine list. 304 Johnson, 505-989-1166, terracottawinebistro.com
The Compound Restaurant
Chef Mark Kiffin preserves a landmark tradition of elegant food and service at his Canyon Road institution. 653 Canyon Road, 505-982-4353, compoundrestaurant.com
Wild Leaven Bakery
Artisan sourdough bread and baked goods using organic, local grains and ingredients. 130 N Guadalupe, wildleavenbakery.com
GREATER NEW MEXICO RESTAURANTS
Black Bird Saloon
Genuine food and drink, Wild West style. 28 Main St, Los Cerrillos, 505-438-1821, blackbirdsaloon.com
Chef Kevin Bladergroen brings together fine and fresh ingredients, artistic vision, and European flair in every dish. 221 Hwy 165, Placitas, 505-771-0695, bladesbistro.com
Charlie's Bakery and Cafe
Charlie’s offers New Mexican cuisine, break fast, and classic pastries. 715 Douglas Ave, Las Vegas, 505-426-1921, charliesbakeryandcafe.com
Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery
Taste Southwest New Mexico. 200 N Bullard St, Silver City, 575-956-6144, and 119 N Main St, Las Cruces, 575-556-9934, littletoadcreek.com
Michael’s Kitchen Restaurant and Bakery
Regionally inspired eats with a tongue-incheek menu in a casual space. 304-C N Pueblo, Taos, 575-758-4178, michaelskitchen.com
Pajarito Brewpub & Grill
Open for lunch Tuesday–Sunday. Open for dinner every day. 30 craft beers on tap. 614 Trinity Dr, Los Alamos, 505-662-8877, pajaritobrewpubandgrill.com
Pig + Fig
Comfort food for everyone using highquality, ethically sourced, seasonal ingredients. 11 Sherwood Blvd, White Rock, 505-672-2742, pigandfigcafe.com
Prairie Hill Café
Local farm-to-table restaurant that serves classic Americana comfort food with an epi curean flare. 230 Plaza St, Las Vegas, 505-434-0022, prairiehillcafe.com
American, Southwest, vegetarian friendly. 619 Twelfth Street, Las Vegas, 505-563-0477, giant-skillet.com
Wild Leaven Bakery
216 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte, Taos, wildleavenbakery.com
Eight of New Mexico’s finest chefs competed in the eighth annual Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown on September 10, 2022. For the first time in Green Chile Cheeseburger Smackdown history, a finalist swept the contest, taking home all three awards: Tikka Spice won the Secret Judges’ Award, People’s Choice, and Reigning Chomp (Judges’ Award). Upscale Burgers & Shakes and Yo Mama’s Grill were the runners-up for the People’s Choice awards, and Mesa Provisions and Upscale Burgers & Shakes were the runners-up for the Judges’ Award.
Edible thanks all of our supporters, attendees, volunteers, partners, and producers, including Simply Social Media, Santa Fe Brewing Co., Rio Grande Credit Union, Bueno Foods, La Montañita Food
Co-op, Shamrock Foods, Ben E. Keith, Southwest Grassfed Livestock Association, Bountiful Cow Cheese Company, Sweet Grass Co-op, Red Barn Ranch, Trilogy Beef Community, Litson Ranch, and count less others who helped make this event a success. We are particularly grateful to all the restaurants and chefs for showcasing the iconic green chile cheeseburger. Without them, we wouldn’t have a reason to celebrate.
See you again on September 9, 2023, at this chile-licious event. Tickets go on sale in July, but don’t wait to secure them—the 2022 Smackdown sold out in record time this year, and we are sure that will be the case again next year.
TURTLE MOUNTAIN BREWING CO.
Smokin’ Hot Fungi Burger
Black Angus beef patty, Hatch green chile, green chile Beemster, smoked portobello, arugula, red chile vinaigrette, and garlic mayo served on a kaiser roll.
905 Thirty-Sixth Place SE, Rio Rancho, turtlemountainbrewing.com
Duke City Smash Burger
Two smashed beef patties, American cheese, sautéed onions, and hot green chile served on a locally made brioche bun.
6001 Osuna NE, Ste D, Albuquerque, tikkaspiceabq.com
LUMINARIA AT INN & SPA LORETTO
The Loretto Burger
Angus beef patty, Hatch green chile, cilantro-lime aioli, white cheddar, avocado, and chile candied bacon served on a kaiser sesame roll.
211 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, hotelloretto.com
Black Angus beef patty, green chile, caramelized onion, sharp cheddar, marrownaise, and pickle, served on a brioche bun.
3120 Central SE, Albuquerque, mesaprovisions.com
PAJARITO BREWPUB & GRILL
Elote Green Chile Cheeseburger
Local, USDA Prime beef patty from No Bull Ranch, green chile cheddar from Tucumcari, house-smoked green chile sourced from Young Guns, and their play on elote—made with roasted corn, lime, crema, queso fresco, chipotle, and cilantro—all melted together and served on a brioche bun with lime.
614 Trinity Dr, Los Alamos, pajaritobrewpubandgrill.com
YO MAMA’S GRILL
Angus beef patty, jack cheese, lettuce, pickle, onion, and Sandia green chile grown at Rosales Farms/Produce in Lem itar, served on a brioche bun.
913 N California St, Socorro, yomamasgrill.com
EL ROI CAFE
Fry Bread Green Chile Cheeseburger
Hand-pressed beef patty, Hatch green chile, and cheddar served on fry bread with lettuce, tomato, and onion.
616 Lomas NW, Ste A, Albuquerque, elroicafe.com
UPSCALE BURGERS & SHAKES
Green Chile Single
Beef patty, cheddar, green chile, lettuce, tomato, onion, and Upscale Sauce served on a house-made brioche bun.
10000 Coors Bypass NW, Ste C-1, Albuquerque, upscaleburgers.com
Austin Leard, partner and beverage director of M’tucci’s Restau rants, developed their shrub project because he wanted to do something no one else in New Mexico was doing. He started with small batches in canning jars and has now created an entire prod uct line. Leard likes experimenting with shrubs in cocktails, and Collins-style cocktails with citrus, shrub, and spirits have become his go-to. The shrubs are also used in several dishes on M’tucci’s food menus. You can purchase their bottled shrubs at Jubilation Wine & Spirits, Total Wine & More, and Susan’s Fine Wines and Spirits, as well as their restaurants. Leard shared a versatile shrub cocktail recipe with us so that you can create your own.
M’TUCCI’S SHRUB COCKTAIL Serves 1
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce citrus, fresh squeezed (lemon or lime)
1 ounce M’tucci’s Shrub of choice
1 1/2 ounces spirit of choice
3–4 ounces club soda
Put simple syrup, citrus, shrub, and spirits in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain the mixture into a tall glass and top it with club soda. Add fresh ice, garnish, and enjoy.
The Last Bite is brought to you by Rio Grande Credit Union and highlights New Mexico’s food entrepreneurs and small businesses.