Getting from Eugene, Oregon to Albuquerque, New Mexico makes for a very long day. It’s okay though, because you know your sister-in-law is going to pick you up from airport and take you directly to Casa de Benavidez. Casa de Benavidez is one of those fantastic hidden gem restaurants you would never be able to find without a tip-off and GPS. It’s the kind of place where the “weight of the world slips off your shoulders” before your margarita arrives at the table, which will be in about 3-2-1.
Sitting in the beautiful garden at Casa de Benavidez, I know my family is really in it for the Christmas chile.
(Side note… make sure to keep reading to the end of the post to see some stunning photos of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival).
Christmas chile is for people who can’t decide if they want the slow, lingering burn of green chile, or if they want the quick fix of an instant mouth roast that red chile offers. For all these crazies, the only answer is obviously a combination of both red AND green chile, and you might be able to guess it will light your insides on fire. Me, I’m there patiently watching the sweat drip off my relatives like a Spring rain in Oregon – it never seems to end. The whole time they are patting their foreheads, my mind is on the sopapillas that I know are coming.
LIGHTLY FRIED WARM PUFFS OF DELICIOUS DOUGH, that are served ready and waiting for their drizzle of honey at the end of a meal in New Mexico. Sopapillas look a lot like pillows, they don’t burn your tongue, and I think you can enjoy them stuffed with all kinds of things. I like mine super simple, just my Sopapillas and Me.
Photo courtesy of Greg Holland, public use license found here.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to make the pilgrimage to Albuquerque in March this year, and my mouth has been watering for the sweet, soft taste of a perfect Sopapilla. I turned to Pinterest to find a recipe to make my own, and there are some promising ones here and here. However, they look to possibly be a fair amount of work. I think it could be difficult to get the texture just right, and I don’t want to commit to it and end up seeing my cooking on “Pinterest recipe fails.”
I’m not a giver-upper though! I may be the only person in the “burger/craft-beer mecca of America” to have googled “sopapillas in Eugene, Oregon” but I found them and sadly, they are not the same! Guess we will have to expand our search to Portland, Oregon, or book a trip to New Mexico.
We spend a lot of our time in Albuquerque eating, but there are many other wonderful things to do there too. One of my favorites is to ride the Sandia Peak Tram (early afternoon trip up, cocktail hour at the top, starlit tram ride back down.)
Another favorite activity is being lucky enough to see the watermelon pink flash of the Sandias Mountains change from John and Diana’s backyard. If you can get invited to my brother and sister-in-law’s (Casa de Ostrye) you are in for a great treat… fantastic BBQ, a rockin playlist, superb company and a terrific view. If you cannot, you’ll need to find yourself another good viewpoint like this one.
With all the great jewelry designers in the area, you’d be nuts not to make time to immerse yourself in “accessory heaven” while you’re there. Try Skip Maisels and Lilly Barrack if you want to be sure to score a treasure at a pauper’s price. By “pauper’s” I mean “reasonable.” I think the North Valley location is the Lilly Barrack outlet store we went to, but I’m not positive. Of course “Old Town” is also a great place to find beautiful jewelry and lots of interesting shops. The prices are a bit higher, but the experience is worth the visit there.
Something I have never gotten to do is see the big, world-famous Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon festival. I stumbled on these pictures my Uncle Jim captured when he was there and had to share. They will make you feel like you are right there! (Uncle, I probably owe you a cold drink at the Lake in exchange for the use of your pics!). Fair warning Sis…adding this event to our bucket list asap.
When you look at these pictures, don’t you love the wide open space of New Mexico? I feel like I can “just breathe” there. Don’t get me wrong, the Pacific Northwest is phenomenal too, and we have a good relationship. Living here though can sometimes make you feel like a Hobbit lost in the woods. When my Father-In-Law visited Oregon for the first time we teased him for videotaping the “tree farms” because there are so many of them. I can easily relate though, I get teased pretty good for saying “Look! There’s a tumbleweed!” whenever I’m in New Mexico. Tumbleweeds are fascinating to me, and as they go by I always think “wow, I really like the way you roll.”
More Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival photos…
This one looks like someone is getting thiiisss much too close to the stadium lighting.
Here’s one to watch out for.
This picture below cracks me up to think about. I’m sure I would be the Balloon Flyer in the back with the only one that’s not inflated.
All in all, I think the landscape of balloons at the festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico is gorgeous and impressive! Maybe even enough so to be worth taking a break from eating sopapillas.
Did you make it all the way to the end of this post? If so, I have a few more things to share with you, and I hope that you enjoy your week and this great moment between an adorable Bee and his Honey!
Truth be told, Casa de Benavidez is not my all-time favorite restaurant in New Mexico (gasp – I’ll have to explain that later. Hint – I have another favorite and it has nothing to do with food). I once had the chance to take a hot air balloon ride in Napa, California and have left out those notes because there are more stories that need to be told from that trip (and you Accessory Sisters know what I mean). I am, on occasion, willing to share My Sopapillas.
Here’s to authentic sopapillas, honey and hot air.