Friday, August 28, 2009

Furry Visitor

When I went out to water my yard the other day I saw this huge moth on the tree in my front yard. I immediately thought of m. heart since she has been known to post a moth photo or two. I'm not familiar enough with moths to know what type of moth it is. All I know is that it was big, and it was furry.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Neon Crush

I have developed quite the fascination with neon signs. It started back in the spring when I read about a local neon sign landmark that was facing an uncertain future. The store that the sign had been in front of since the '50s was closing, but the sign couldn't be moved to one of the other stores in the chain because it couldn't meet the zoning requirements of the other locations. I went and took some photos of it just in case it went away for good. Luckily that story has a happy ending in that the city in which one of the other stores is located passed a zoning variance allowing the sign to be relocated there.

In any case, I really enjoyed the photos of the sign, and it made me look for other interesting pieces of neon. And there are a lot!

The rest of these images have nothing to do with the Sigel's sign, they're just cool neon signs!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Green Chile Stew

Speaking of green chiles, the annual batch of Hatch chiles hit our local stores this weekend. Here is the batch of green chile stew that I'm cooking up today:

I'm not sure at this point whether it's going to kill me or make me stronger. My hands are burning from slicking the chiles, so I know they're hot.


New Mexican Food!

I have spoken before in this forum of my long-time love of all things green chile. Like here, here, and here. So, naturally one of the perks of a trip to New Mexico is the chance to ingest said vegetable.

I have spent more time in Santa Fe than Albuquerque, so I knew I needed to do a little research before trying to decide where we should eat. I found a really great New Mexico food blog that has a large number of reviews of restaurants in the area. I chose a couple that I thought sounded promising based on their reviews.

We decided to eat at Sadie’s for dinner. The place was packed, even though it was after seven. We had to wait about 20 minutes or so for a table. We took the opportunity to check out the menu, and I think we all had pretty much decided what to order by the time we were seated, although it wasn’t an easy decision for any of us.

Being also a fan of blue corn, I decided to go with stacked blue corn chicken enchiladas. I also decided to go with the fried egg on top option since I had never tried it before. I’ve always been dubious of the fried egg addition, maybe because I normally don’t like eggs cooked that way and it seems kind of a strange thing to put on an enchilada. I have to say, though, that the fried egg was a genius addition. I found the richness and creaminess of the egg to be a nice complement to the chile flavors. I like red chile almost as much as green, so I decided to go for the Christmas combo. Here is what the plate looked like:

I was a little surprised by the look of this dish. Admittedly, it kind of looked like (as my mother described it) “a big plate of glop”. Someone who didn’t hear me order would have no idea what this dish was. You can see egg, chile, cheese, and beans. No hint of chicken or tortillas. I was also a bit confused as to whether this plate had both red and green chile. If so, it appears that they were mixed together. I am used to seeing them separated onto different portions of the dish. The more I look at it, the more I think I didn't get any green chile after all.

Despite the fact that it was hard to tell what was on my plate, I would rather eat something that looks odd and tastes good than something that tastes bad but looks good. And this was good.

I was slightly disappointed by the relative lack of heat in the chile. Considering the signs posted near the entrance that their food was HOT, I didn’t find it to be what I consider HOT. Admittedly I probably have more tolerance for spicy hot foods than the average person, although I by no means have the tolerance of a native New Mexican. I’ve had several New Mexican dishes over the years that have made me break out in a sweat or caused me to pace my food intake. I actually prefer my chile dishes a little less hot than that, and these enchiladas were considerably less than sweat-causing level.

The salsa, however, had almost a perfect level of heat. It wasn’t so hot that you had to cut back on the amount you put on your chip, but if you wanted a little burn you could get it by loading up a chip with a little more. And the chips were very good. They tasted very fresh and had a lot of toasted corn taste in their flavor profile. The sopaipillas and honey provided for dessert were quite good as well.

For breakfast the next morning we went to the Church Street Café in Old Town. It's located in a lovely old house. Like early 1700's old. I pretty much knew that wherever we went I was going to get a breakfast burrito with red and green chile, so that's what I ordered. I chose bacon as the meat. The way that the chile appeared here was as I expected, with the red & green chile applied to opposite ends of the burrito. Again, neither the red nor green chile was particularly spicy. The green did have the characteristic flavor I have come to crave. The potatoes on the side were really good too. I ate the whole burrito, and felt so stuffed afterward that I didn’t need to eat another meal until that evening.

Although none of us were hungry after breakfast, I did want to make one more food stop before taking my parents to the airport. I had read about the Golden Crown Panaderia, and wanted to pick up some cookies and a loaf of green chile bread. As we approached the door to enter the bakery, the aroma of cinnamon hung heavy in the air. Upon entering we were offered a sample of their signature cookie, the biscochito. Biscochitos are shortbread cookies flavored with cinnamon and anise. I could tell that these contained the essential ingredient of lard, rather than margarine or shortening. Golden Crown offers 3 flavors of biscochitos – original, chocolate, and cappuccino. I decided on a dozen of the original, but the other flavors excellent as well. I also tried one of their Mexican wedding cookies, and it was also delicious.


As we were eating our sample cookies, I looked to the racks behind the counter where the breads were stored and noticed with disappointment that the rack labeled “Green chile bread” appeared to be empty. I was just about to ask whether there was any green chile bread when a baker started filling the rack with loaves fresh out of the oven. And they kept on coming! So the loaf that I purchased was warm and right out of the oven. Since we were rapidly filling up on cookies as well as still full from breakfast, I didn’t try the bread until later that evening.

When I did finally taste the bread I had to restrain myself from eating half of the loaf right then and there. It was so good. It had a noticeable amount of subtle heat from the chiles. It was definitely good enough to eat by itself, but it also made great sandwich bread.

Considering the fact that I was in town for less than 24 hours, I think I did alright in getting a fair taste of the local food. Although I do wish I could’ve tasted the red chile at Mary & Tito’s. But I guess that gives me a good excuse to go back someday.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Palo Duro Canyon

A few miles southeast of Amarillo lies Palo Duro Canyon. Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the United States. Advertising it as such causes me a little bit of a chuckle since who ever brags about something as being the "second best"? Also, since Texas is always claiming to have the biggest and baddest of anything you can think of, the fact that it can only lay claim to the second largest canyon is something that I find mildly amusing.

Nonetheless, it is a fine canyon. But there is no doubt that it is a lot smaller than the Grand Canyon, particularly in depth where it only bottoms out at about 800 feet. You can drive to the bottom of it in only a couple of minutes. There were lots of mountain bikers, and it looks like a great place to ride.

A view of the lighthouse formation via telephoto lens.

This is the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, which is responsible for carving the canyon. You can see why it is called the Red River!

I love these bird tracks in the red mud next to the river.

I believe this is a Mississippi Kite.

This was painted on the road in front of the entrance sign. I couldn't resist taking a photo. It makes me think of ?uestlove - "Aw, c'mon son!"


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Roadside America

The Amarillo area has more than its fair share of quirky roadside attractions. Of course the Cadillac Ranch is the granddaddy of them all, but here are a few others that are nearby.

Cowboy "Muffler Man"

The Muffler Man is a distinct type of fiberglass sculpture. This cowboy is actually modified from the standard (the arms & legs are different). I love the pants & boots on this one.

His face is teh creepy.

These were supposedly commissioned by the guy responsible for the Cadillac Ranch. The socks were not an original feature.

The plaque is kind of hard to read. Click for a larger view. It's pretty funny. According to the plaque the statue consists of ruins that inspired Shelley to write "Ozymandias"!

Combine City
Obviously a response to the Caddys! Not nearly as much fun, though, since you can't paint them.

And this isn't a roadside attraction. I just love the view. This was what I saw if I looked south from Combine City. There's something I really love about how flat and treeless that part of West Texas is. If you have any interest in geology, this page about the Llano Estacado is an interesting read.