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Accessing Albuquerque Agriculture Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   

Indian Pueblo farmThere are a number of things that Albuquerque has been well known for over the years, including (in very rough chronological order) a vibrant Native American culture, Route 66 and "Breaking Bad." One thing that hasn't changed is the area's rich agricultural heritage, from the farms of the early Pueblo Indians, which incorporate the "three sisters" (beans, corn and squash), to the famous chiles grown throughout the state and incorporated in New Mexican cuisine at local institutions such as El Pinto Restaurant & Salsa Company (which I wrote about here in this story on "Traditional Christmas Tamales from El Pinto" in 2011 -- and which now has its own small organic farm in the back). Here are a few other fun gardens-to-tables style finds I discovered on a recent visit:

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: The center features a Native Fusion Culinary Tour that includes a visit to the adjacent garden highlighting Indian Pueblo gardening techniques such as the Zuni Waffle Garden (above), a tour through the museum and a feast in the Pueblo Harvest Cafe.

Abuquerque AlpacasAlbuquerque Alpacas: This alpaca farm, located not far from El Pinto Restaurant, is open to the public for ranch tours and classes. They don't have set hours so call or e-mail to set up an appointment beforehand. We were lucky enough on our recent tour to arrive just three hours after a new cria (baby alpaca) was born. Not sure there's anything cuter than this little guy (right).

Stables at Tamaya: Located at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa on the Santa Ana Pueblo outside of Albuquerque, the Stables at Tamaya offer trail rides, a summer rodeo every Friday night and also serve as the home for the Horse Rehab program, which works to save abandoned and neglected horses in the region. It should be noted the hotel also offers a locally inspired and sourced restaurant, the Corn Maiden, which I wrote about here in this article on "A Focus on New Mexico's Best at the Corn Maiden" in 2012.

Los PoblanosLos Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm: Just outside the city proper in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, Los Poblanos is a working lavender farm that also offers a 20-room inn (full gourmet breakfast included), La Merienda Restaurant (which has its own kitchen garden and beehive), a farm store and a number of workshops open to the public. We attended a lavender distillation workshop with Farmer Kyle (pictured) that included lessons on how to grow and harvest lavender and time spent watching the distillation process itself. And, yes, that is as mellow-inducing an experience as it sounds.

 
Finding Farm-to-Table on Molokai Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   

Molokai FarmersAt first glance, the Hawaiian island of Molokai may not appear to have all that much to offer the farm-to-table foodie. There are only a smattering of restaurants in the main town of Kaunakakai, and two of the best feature burgers and pizza. But, like a lot of things on Molokai, dig a little deeper and you'll find an abundance of fresh local (and, yes, organic) products. For instance, that burger spot, Molokai Burger, has a sign outside stating its meat is sourced from local ranches (and the burger was yummy) and the vegetables topping the pizza at the Molokai Pizza Cafe were incredibly fresh.

The truth is the island has always been an agricultural powerhouse, with its earliest inhabitants farming taro, sweet potatoes and fish ponds more than a century ago. Heck, even the high school mascot is a farmer (above) -- and a read of the local newspaper and signs alongside the road highlights the importance of agriculture (and, as with the other Hawaiian islands, the tussle between proponents of sustainable farming and the presence of Monsanto) to the community. With most accommodations on the island coming with kitchens or kitchenettes, Molokai offers a great chance to take advantage of truly local Hawaiian offerings.

Here are some gems we discovered on a recent trip:

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Sangrita Opens on Maui Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Sangrita GrillMaui is probably not the first place one thinks of for Cinco de Mayo celebrations, but this year the holiday was celebrated in style as part of the grand opening for the Sangrita Grill & Cantina in Ka'anapali. The new restaurant is from Chef Paris Nabavi, who has been a long-time proponent of sourcing food from local farms on Maui and was featured in our story on "Celebrating the Agricultural Abundance of Maui" in 2010 and also in a story I wrote on "Maui Restaurants" for FarewellTravels.com

While we were not able to attending the grand opening, which served as a benefit for the Lahainaluna High School Agricultural Program, we did get a taste of the menu the day before. Highlights included the guacamole three ways (pictured), which included traditional, pomegranate and chipotle-pineapple (yum!); the camarones ceviche, which featured shrimp, watermelon, jicama and avocado; and the chorizo taco, with pickled onion and jicama.

We also got to try the special margarita created for the celebration: the Devil on Thyme (also pictured). As its name suggests, the drink includes a sprig of fresh thyme along with fresh orange juice, lime juice, serrano peppers and strawberry puree. For those who'd like to try it at home, they were happy to share the recipe. Enjoy!

The Devil on Thyme
2 oz. Sauza or Diva Mezcal
3/4 oz. strawberry puree
1/2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup

Muddle together:
2 sprigs thyme
4 slices serrano peppers

Serve over ice. Garnish with as sprig of thyme, lime wheel and serrano slice.

 
Lanai Adds Nobu Garden Print E-mail
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Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Mell at Nobu GardenOnce known primarily as a producer of pineapples, the Hawaiian Island of Lanai is again getting some attention for its agriculture offerings - this time with a much more diverse array of produce designed to go straight from "field-to-plate" at the island's restaurants. The latest addition is the new chef's garden created specifically for the Nobu Lanai restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay.

Appropriately named the Nobu Garden, the half-acre site is overseen by Executive Chef Sean Mell (pictured) and grows a variety of herbs and vegetables, including baby lettuce, tomatoes, squash, scallions, watermelon radish, red beets, carrots, green beans, asparagus and cilantro. Specialty produce grown specifically for the Nobu menu include daikon, Japanese eggplant, edamame, shishito peppers, cucumber flowers and sesame.

Currently, more than 65 percent of the Nobu Lanai menu comes from the garden and the restaurant has identified a goal of sourcing 80 to 90 percent of its produce from the island itself. Already, all of the produce used in the restaurant's Lobster Salad with Spicy Lemon Dressing and the Bigeye Tuna Sashimi Salad with Matsuhiba dressing is island grown, with the resort itself sourcing 65 percent of its ingredients from within the state of Hawaii (including neighbor islands Maui, the Big Island and Oahu).

 
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