Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Reading…Garde Manger; The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen, from the Culinary Institute of America
Listening…Floyd Cramer; Flip, Flop and Bop
Drinking…The Champagne of Beers

So, yeah, the trip to Taos. I’ve been holding off on writing this because I still don’t know how I feel about it and I’m pretty sure that the way I think I feel about it is going to make me sound like a dick. But, to paraphrase Steve Zissou in The Life Aquatic, “I said those things, I did those things. I can live with that.”
First of all, Taos is a smaller and dirtier version of Santa Fe with even more arrogance. I’ve been to Mexico several times and I’ve had better food out of a push cart there, seen better art laid out on the sidewalk there and enjoyed all the run down adobe look without any of the hey-we’re-really-fucking-special attitude. I bet Taos was really cool when Georgia O’Keefe was there, but that now she would probably choose to live somewhere like Carrizozo. The one nice thing about Taos was some of the people who I met there, the eight month pregnant bartender at the Adobe Bar who genuinely was enjoying herself while serving the cartoon in the buckskin jacket with the bead work who stole my seat when I had the nerve to walk away from the bar to answer my phone and the couple-but-not-a-couple from California who were arguing most of the time they were there (in between his calling people to loudly proclaim that he was in Taos…no shit, asshole, I’m also in Taos, I know you’re in Taos and I bet the guy on the other end of the line doesn’t give a shit where you’re at, he’s just glad he’s not sitting next to you…).
Yeah, and that guy at The Bean coffee shop was cool too. And the crew at Michael’s Kitchen. What wasn’t cool was that the food was average and overpriced at the Adobe, about eleven bucks for three tacos with a few shreds of beef and the kind of blue corn tortilla shells you can buy at pretty much any supermarket these days, and $8.50 for a slice of coconut cream pie. Yep, eight-fitty…for pie. Yeah, it was good, but it wasn’t eight-fitty good. It was maybe five dollars good, but I can’t blame people for charging what the consumer is willing to pay. If no one was buying the nearly-nine-dollar pie they wouldn’t be charging that much, would they? Hell, I bought it.
Then there was the $2.50 cup of black coffee at The Bean. Yeah, it was good coffee and yeah, I know that Starbucks has trained Americans to accept that a $1.00 cup of coffee is really worth $3.00, but I can still get that $1.00 cup at little Sacred Grounds here in Ruidoso and it’s always the same politically correct (fair trade, organic, etc.) coffee as at the gourmet places. Oh, and The Bean’s breakfast burrito was average. The breakfast burritos from the gas station up the street are better.
Michael’s Kitchen was the highlight, I only ate there once and had blue corn pancakes with pinons and a side of bacon. The service was outstanding and the food was really good and the coffee was cheap, hot, and my cup never got lower than half without someone topping it off. It is the little things, isn’t it?
The cheese class? It was boring and kind of annoying. Did I learn? Yes, I did. To reduce my karmic damage I will only say that the NMSU staff did a really good job and not talk too much about the other students and the facility staff, actually just one member of that staff. I will say that some people enjoy their positions of minimal authority far too much and that I cannot stand being treated like a 1st grader.
The facility itself is great, the class was held at the Taos County Economic Development Center which is a non-profit that provides space and counseling for local small businesses. There is a day care on site, as well as a branch of the Youth Conservation Corps, the community garden, a glass art workshop, as well as the several small food businesses that operate out of the facility's commercial kitchen for a very nominal fee. In this place, the folks of Taos have something to be very proud of. Actually, the food that came out of that kitchen, burritos, tamales, salsas, dressings, and Mexican wedding cookies, all produced in small batches by these very talented and caring micro-business people, was the best that I had while there.
The whole bad taste in my mouth, for the most part, honestly came about because of phone call. One of those phone calls that just fucks you up for a while and pretty much ruins your mood for a couple of days. In spite of sounding like a huge baby, here goes. So, I’m sitting at the Adobe Bar when my phone rings. I look at the number, it’s out of state, I don’t recognize it and I almost don’t answer it…but I do. I immediately recognize her voice, “Hey, I’m coming home and I thought I’d call and see if you guys need anything.” She moved out almost four years ago, and even though I took my ring off within a couple months of her leaving, the mark is still visible on my finger and there’s not one day that goes by that I don’t look at it and wonder if I am cursed to second guess myself and to be alone, and question whether or not I would take her back until that little indentation is completely gone. I tell myself that I would not, that the damage was too great, that there would be just too much to get past, but still, and I hate myself for feeling it, my heart leapt with “…I’m coming home…” only to find that she’d misdialed. Then it was relief, pain, and feelings I don’t even know how to describe.
Yeah, that fucked my mood up; hell, it’s still not right, so maybe Taos deserves a second chance. I do need to go back for one thing. A friend had suggested a hike nearby which she described as being one of the most beautiful on Earth, and I didn’t get to make it because of a snow storm, so I’ll go back, at least for that.


Maria said...

God...one big freakin knife in the heart, huh?

Go back. Some day when you can try again, give yourself a do-over.

For me, that place was Aspen. I went there with high hopes and came home bawling.

So, five years later, I went back just to kick the ass out of the memory. It worked.

Eric said...

Oh, I will...gotta check out that hike; plus, the place can't have the reputation it does without having something going for it, right?

Flesh and Bones said...

I could never understand why Taos has such a great rep. We completely hated it when we went. It was about a half hour from Dixon, where we farmed, so we really hoped it could be a cool place to go get good food or hang out on the weekends. Everything is so completely uppity there, and the food is absolutely horrible. We only had one good meal there - at the Trading Co. Other than that, everything was a huge disappointment. I would prefer Mexico any day over Taos. Also, an art gallery was selling strung marigolds for $30... what. the. fuck. Who can't string marigolds? Honestly... we gave Taos like three chances. It is so not worth it. What is absolutely worth it is DIXON, very close to Taos but nothing at all like it. The Embudo Box is indeed one of the best hikes on the planet.
I'm sorry your trip wasn't great. Check out Dixon, but not Taos again. It's really not worth the effort.
Another restaurant anecdote from Taos is that Zak ordered "chile relleno soup" thinking 'what kind of creative thing could they have done?' only to be served a single soggy chile relleno floating in a clear broth. There may have also been a slice of celery.

Terroni said...

Damn that phone call.
That's just brutal.

I actually had similar feelings about San Francisco, a city I hated when I visited with my husband and then loved when I went alone.

Try Taos again. Maybe leave the damn phone at home.

Eric said...

Holly, the chile relleno soup sounds horrid, I probably would have tried that too with high hopes.
T, the place I need to 'take back' is Cabo...but that's another story, and pretty damned funny now.