Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather
to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, latte in the other, body
thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “Woo Hoo, what a ride!”
- Motto to Live By
What struck me most about this motto was not the profundity of its words, but their placement–on a placard hanging directly above a glass pastry case showcasing some of the most delicious fudge in the state. It seems somehow appropriate that the motto hover above gourmet fudge like a radiant halo. This is fudge crafted with imagination and flair. It is luscious and decadent, extremely rich and thoroughly delicious. It is a perfect gift for yourself and for someone you love.
The San Antonio General Store is across the street and catty-corner from the world-famous Buckhorn Tavern and separated by a short parking lot from the equally world-famous Owl Cafe. There may be nothing better in the entire world than a green chile cheeseburger from either of the village’s world-famous purveyors of burger perfection followed by fudge warranting the overused “enchanted” adjective.
From the outside, the San Antonio General Store may not warrant a second glance. It looks like a two-pump gas station in a small, rural New Mexico village–and indeed, motorized conveyances of all kinds drive up and fill up. If you expect the heady smell of stale gas and oily rags to follow you into the store, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Like many small town country stores, the San Antonio General Store has a little bit of everything to provision locals and hungry sojourners. There are aisles of shelves well stocked with savory and sweet snacks of all types as well as well-lit refrigerators showcasing America’s favorite cold carbonated beverages. Small town general stores like this one aren’t slaves to either Coke or Pepsi products and are at liberty to proffer fruity soft drinks such as Big Red, my favorite.
There are a couple of tables, too. This is where diners sit to partake of Dreyer’s ice cream and we’re not talking about something you pluck out of a refrigerator and unwrap. This is the good stuff–scooped out of tubs and served in cups. It’s slow churned ice cream renown for its rich creaminess. The San Antonio General Store has a surprising variety of flavors available.
The tables come in handy for guests who can’t wait to sink their teeth into one of the store’s deli sandwiches. Constructed of sundry cold cuts, meats and cheeses, these sandwiches are popular take-out items among nature lovers making the short trek to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. From the rudimentary chicken salad sandwich to a complex sandwich arrangement, there’s something for everyone.
Ice cream and deli sandwiches not withstanding, the main attraction at the San Antonio General Store is the homemade fudge. It’s old-fashioned fudge made the way it should be made–with real sugar, real cream and real butter. It makes for really great fudge, the best in the Land of Enchantment great!
In 2007, Sarah Karnasiewicz, senior editor of Saveur, trekked back to New Mexico where she lived for a number of years to rediscover some of the Land of Enchantment’s best “filling stations,” service stations in which you can actually find food that is not only fit for human consumption, it’s quite good, too. She observed that, “we know of no other state in the Union where you can so consistently find such tasty cooking along the asphalt byways, often steps from the gas pumps.”
One of the filling stations to which Sarah ventured was the San Antonio General Store whose fudge she described as a “siren song to truckers and day-trippers alike.” The fudge maven is Ann Lund, a Danish transplant to New Mexico who purchased the store in 2004. That purchase included the previous owner’s carefully guarded recipes as well as hands-on training to ensure continuity in the making of the village’s legendary fudge. It took Lund about six months to get it right. Perfection takes time.
If perfection has a taste, it might taste like the pure milk chocolate fudge or maybe the oh-so-wonderful chocolate walnut fudge. You might find it in the chewy peanut butter fudge or the luscious Rocky Road fudge where nuts and fluffy marshmallow combine to raise the standards of perfection.
The village of San Antonio is almost indisputably New Mexico’s epicenter for green chile cheeseburger perfection, but a visit to Ann Lund’s San Antonio General Store and memories and dreams of your visit may center around the best fudge you’re likely to ever have.
San Antonio General Store
Us Hwy 380
San Antonio, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 19 May 2012
# OF VISITS: 4
BEST BET: Rocky Road Fudge, Amaretto Fudge, Milk Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Walnut Fudge, Praline Fudge, Pistachio Fudge