September 26th, 2010


New Mexico Roadfood Trip, September 18, Part 1

Saturday involved an early start: a dozen of us gathered at 6 am to go to the Frontier Restaurant for breakfast.

The Frontier is famous for their sweet rolls, but some of the experienced diners with me weren't enthusiastic. I quite liked the few bites I had of others' sweet rolls, but I could imagine that they could quickly become cloying; they were very soft, similar to a Cinnabon cinnamon roll with much less cinnamon and frosting. They're nice as a bite between bites of other food - but I'd consider them too large to eat with another plate of food by myself. I suspect that the best way to enjoy them is to split one with three other people each with a plate of substantial food.

Michael's breakfast combo: sausage, hash browns, eggs, tortilla.

My huevos rancheros. I ordered the "Lite" one-egg version, which may make the use of the plural name slightly inaccurate. Even with the smaller portion, this would have been plenty for me to begin a normal day's eating. Each bite was full of multiple flavors.

From there, someone suggested that we head to the Flying Star Cafe for pie. It's probably an exaggeration to imply that going thirteen hours without pie was driving these men to desperation. If they had made another stop after the State Fair, it might also be an exaggeration to imply that they had gone thirteen hours without pie.
I liked the Flying Star Cafe quite a bit, because it had the decor I'd associate with a cheerful coffee shop, but had a full menu, including pie. If it were conveniently located, I could imagine visiting often.

Pie pie pie pie. The ones I remember were the very rich Rio Grande Mud Pie (lower right) and the cherry pie (upper right). Everything I tried was very good.

Carolann branched out away from pie with the bread pudding with brandy sauce. I prefer brandy sauce to have a slightly sharper flavor, but this was rich and tasty.

I recall that there was another customer near our tables who was very impressed with all the pie-sharing and photography we were doing. We invited him to grab a fork and join our eating, but he declined.

Across the street from the Flying Star Cafe was a movie theater advertising showings of Duck Soup and The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. I'd like to think that one of these is much more of a classic than the other.

We left the Flying Star Cafe and started back towards the hotel. As we drove along Central, the Aztec Motel caught our eye strongly enough to demand a U-turn and a stop for pictures. It wasn't clear whether it was still open. Carolann considered the idea of buying it and reopening it - that would be quite a souvenir of the trip.

We learned later that the decor was done in the 1990s, so it's not quite a Route 66 classic. But it's still a place worth stopping and gawking.

Every time I look at this picture of a tree behind the motel, Jonathan Coulton's song "Creepy Doll" starts playing in my head.

About 8am, we passed Jerky by Art, which we'd noticed on the ride to the State Fair. We pulled in to the lot, but saw that the door said that they opened at 9am. However, Teresa noticed a man walking towards the store, hopped out of the car, and asked if he would sell us jerky. He turned out to be Art, and he was indeed willing to sell us jerky before the posted time.

Entering the store is one of my great olfactory memories of the trip. It had a tremendous aroma of seasoned meat.

He sold about two dozen varieties of carne seca-style jerky. I bought a quarter pound of the green chile jerky, which I have been reveling in every day since I returned. Teresa bought a supply of the green chile with limon jerky to share with the bus, and I thought that was even tastier. This picture shows Art and his wife, whose name I didn't catch.

Next: we actually join the official tour for Saturday.