What is in this article?:
- New Mexico restaurants embrace local ingredients
- Locals take notice
Restaurants such as Los Poblanos Inn and Cultural Center have their own organic farm.
The restaurant scene in Albuquerque, N.M., long known for savory green chiles and superb chile rellenos, has taken on an even more local flair with several farm-to-fork establishments tilling new ground for regional cuisine.
Newer eateries, including the nearly year-old Farm & Table restaurant and La Merienda at the Los Poblanos Inn and Cultural Center, are growing some of their own products, as well as tapping into local producers. Los Poblanos calls it Rio Grande Valley cuisine, adopting the name of the upper reaches of that river.
“It’s a movement that is growing right now,” said Cherie Austin, owner of Farm & Table restaurant in Albuquerque. “We are situated on a 10-acre working farm. An acre and a half is dedicated to produce, and it yields about a third of what we use in total for the restaurant. We also work with a lot of farmers, growers, cheese makers and dairies in our area.”
Restaurants in New Mexico’s largest city are adopting the trend that has been seen nationally for several years. The National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2013” forecast, released in December, found that chefs ranked locally sourced meats as No. 1 and local produce as No. 2 in their list of 20 top culinary trends.
“It’s not a new concept,” Austin said. “They’ve been doing this in California since the ’70s, with Chez Panisse. But right now there is an awakening, there’s a real conscientiousness among people who want to know where their food is coming from.”
She cited concerns such as genetically modified foods, pesticides and herbicides that led Austin to open Farm & Table in March 2012 and to tap into the farmland. Current best-sellers onJaye Wilkinson’s Farm & Table menu include a local pork belly small plate and a local lamb entrée, Austin said.
“It’s a desert out here, so it gets really cold in the winter and pretty warm in the summer,” Austin said. “But we do have more than 300 days of sunshine, which makes the conditions really right for greenhouse growing.” The other eight acres of the farm are preserved for alfalfa and grassland, she said, “which provides a great view for guests.”