Owen & NM Green Chiles

Owen’s job around the homestead is security, and he takes it seriously. No trash/mail/delivery truck goes unnoticed and un-barked at. The sound of their jaengines arouse him to race through the house to the front gate, grumblings in his basset-derived chest. But, Owen also keeps the ground squirrels from raiding our green chile patch.

We set aside a small part of the backyard for flowers and a few New Mexico green chile plants. The rest is a place for indigenous flora and fauna of the high Chihuahua Desert to play out the roles prescribed by nature. New Mexico is renowned for its green chiles that the locals use to season stews, and add zest to other recipes.

The chiles from the area around the farm town of Hatch in the Mesilla region on the lower Rio Grande River have trademarked their product.

However, Hispanic farm communities throughout the state claim unique properties to their chiles and preserve the seeds that have been passed down since the Spanish introduced chiles into New Mexico centuries ago. LINK

And not just the Hispanics are aficionados of the chile. A Jemez Pueblo friend gave me a chile that had been passed down in his family since the mid-18th century.

Jemez State Monument, preserving the ruins of a 17th century Spanish mission and 13th century Indian pueblo,

The peppers from those seeds rated 10 (maximum hot) on the chile heat scale. Chefs around the state compete for the blue ribbon at the state fair that is awarded to the best green chile cheeseburger. Owen loves green chile cheesburgers.

Locals buy their stash of green chiles at supermarrkets, road side stands, and at the farm. In early fall, the air is filled the scent of chiles being roasted in store parking lots and roadside stands.

Roaster

We harvested a few chiles from the three plants in our garden.

We popped them under the broiler.

Turned them every few minutes, and out they came, ready to be peeled, de-seeded, and ready to be added to home made green chile stew.

Owen finds the chiles uninteresting as a diet item, but the green chile cheeseburgers are a hit with him.

Old Town is Always New

Explora even looks fun from the outside

I love wandering around Old Town as there is always so much to experience, from shops to museums to live music to festivals.

The museums are exceptional. Explora is a hands on science exploratation place for children. It is so popular with adults that they also offer adult nights.

The Natural History Museum and Planetarium has fun and unusual shores in addition to all those cool dinosaur skeletons. A recent exhibit brought all of Leonardo day Vinci’s inventions to life by making full sized working models. It was extraordinary.

The Planetarium at the Natural History Museum.
A great reminder that Albuquerque is over three hundred years old.

Tiguex Park is a fun place for a picnic and includes some interesting public art.

If you’re interested in Zuni fetishes, New Mexico Bead and Fetish has a great collection.

They offer explanations for what each fetish means

And while you are in Old Town, stop in for some fun candy at Old Town Candy & Sweets.

In addition to great chocolates, they stock all sorts of unusual candies and lunch boxes

San Felipe de Neri is an iconic Southwestern church. It is also still actively used for services, including both traditional and vampire weddings.

Most weekends, this gazebo is filled with entertainers playing music or demonstrating tango.

The entrance to the Albuquerque art museum sculpture garden hints at the delights inside. Its a great place to relax with a coffee and a sketchbook.

A fun mosaic invites you into Old Town

Many of the Albuquerque Museum’s sculptures are in front of the facility.

A recent sculptural addition (about border crossing) in front of the museum needs to be seen from all sides to be fully appreciated.

Wouldn’t you like to wander through Old Town with me?

Olympic Hopes

At the train station arriving in Nagano, a delightful Japanese town that hosted the 1998 winter Olympics.

These are cool statues along the access road to the shrine.

We were drooling as we passed the shops with their food samples in the windows. This is the restaurant we came back to for soba. Yum.

There is a 7 springs hike nearby.

And here is a gorgeous hand painted manhole cover celebrating the famous apples from the region. They are deservedly famous. I became addicted to the fresh apple juice, apple sake, and fresh apples.

A mn so outlines the sacred places at the temple.

The beautiful shrine appears embraced by the trees.

A fruit stand where we bought one of the famous apples.


Nagano was one of my favorite places in Japan. I think it was the apples. Do you have a favorite place in Japan? Where?

Sake Splendors

Guest blogger Ray Shortridge

Rice is the basic element in Japanese cuisine, but it is also the principal substrate in brewing sake. An official of the ExcelHuman sake company guided us on a tour of their brewery and described the brewing process. For many centuries, sake has been a favorite alcoholic drink in Japan, and images on the walls depicted the pre-modern brewing process.

The brewery produced more than a dozen varieties of sake, and we tasted a few. Brenda preferred one with a slight taste of apple, pictured in the center of the right hand column.

The brewery’s high end variety, Donkura, was priced at 13,960 yen, approximately $120.

The apple flavored sake was far less. Hooray!

Chocolate Stop after Conveyor Sushi

Guest blog by Ray Shortridge

We dined at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant where chefs placed small dishes with a wide range of sushi on a conveyor belt that circled the counter around which customers sat. We could inspect the continuous flow of dishes and grab ones that suited us. Pricing was based on the patterns on the plates. The waitress entered the number of empty dishes on our pile and gave us a total to take to the cashier. Ours added up to a mere $10 for two people, so it was a good budget meal and tasty.

Afterwards, on the street, Brenda eyed pictures of ice cream cones in store windows and muttered “I’m craving chocolate.” After two weeks of fishy meals and no chocolate, that wasn’t really surprising. Fortunately, just a few steps further was a Godiva chocolate shop.

She purchased a couple of truffles, and we returned on two later days for icy drinks. Clearly, some of us can’t survive on fish alone.

Kimona Party at the Tea House

Bento Box Lunch

Nine generations after a village money lender moved to Kyoto to establish a kimono tailor shop, the family still carries on that business and operates a traditional Japanese tea shop. The ground floor hosts their businesses; the second is their residence.

Chopstick rest

Built long before the advent of electrical lighting, the rooms are oriented around two gardens open to the sky in order to admit sunlight. The smaller garden is about 6’x6’ and the larger is about 15’x15’ with a pleasantly sounding trickle of water from a hollow bamboo tube.

Patio at teahouse

Closed Bento box

Two small separate alcoves shelter both a Shinto and a Buddhist shrine. An alcove denotes great esteem, so being seated near an alcove reflects one’s high status.

Safe from original money exchange business
The founder designed a room for Noh theater performances. Tatami mats covering most of the floor to suppress sounds. However, a 4’ wide section along a wall was covered by a thin reed mat so the the Noh actors could stamp their feet according to the classical format.

Spectacular mother of pearl table in Noh theatre room

Sweet served before matcha tea

The traditional tea service begins with a hostess whisking powdered green tea into solution and pouring the tea into a handle-less cup. Upon receiving the cup, the guest rotates it so that the decoration faces the host as a gesture of respect. Two small sips, followed by a third slurping gulp to demonstrate the guest’s appreciation.

Our teahouse experience included a kimona try on. There are lots of layers under those kimonas!

They even had “wigs” to go with the kimonas