About This Blog

Sugar Nymph's Bistro in Penasco (Photo Courtey of Deanna Nichols)

Famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti once said, “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

Hola! I’m Gil Garduño.  Welcome to Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Blog.  I chose the site vanity “nmgastronome” because it truly reflects my passion for the cuisine of the Land of Enchantment–and hopefully describes the level to which my palate has evolved after having visited and evaluated more than 1,000 restaurants in the past ten years or so.

Gastronome A connoisseur of good food; someone with a refined palate; a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink); an epicure.

In this blog’s nomenclature, there is hopefully an implicit reflection of the continuous improvement of this Web site.  In the past ten years, this site has evolved from a rudimentary HTML version of an Excel table to a site in which you could find detailed, one-page reviews of many of your favorite restaurants in New Mexico.  This blog is the latest in the evolution of Gil’s Thrilling (And Filling) Site.

Mary & Tito's guacamole and rice filled burrito served Christmas style.

Mary & Tito’s guacamole and rice filled burrito served Christmas style.

When we moved back to New Mexico on May 15, 1995, our first priority wasn’t where to live, but where to eat.  Having been away for the better part of 18 years, there were so many old favorites with which to reacquaint ourselves and so many exciting new prospects we just had to try.  By year’s end, we had visited 75 different restaurants.

As a chronic “compiler of lists” (a consequence of being meticulously organized) I began using an Excel spreadsheet to track the various restaurants we visited.   That rudimentary spreadsheet included short “Zagat style” comments intended to serve as mnemonics that triggered what we liked or didn’t like about a particular restaurant.  Sometimes those comments were so cryptic that they meant something only to me (pretty much as intended).

In 1995, the internet was in its relative infancy, but I applied my then rudimentary HTML skills to create a Web site in which to enter my musings.  Though the format lent itself to tracking restaurant visits much better than a spreadsheet ever could, it somehow didn’t dawn on me that my reviews would be available to anyone savvy enough to use a search engine.  It didn’t take long before Gil’s Thrilling Web site was “discovered.”

I was privileged enough to have been mentioned on Roadfood.coma few years ago.  Here’s what Michael and Jane Stern of Gourmet magazine and roadfood.comhad to say about this Web site: We came across a delightful website called Gil’s Thrilling Web Site, written and maintained by Gil Garduño. It’s mostly about good Roadfood-type eating, especially in Albuquerque, and it is a joy to browse. We recommend a visit!

I’ve been mentioned on Chowhound more times than I can count and in the past two years (2007-2008), I’ve also spent some time on the phone with Food Network researchers, advocating for New Mexico’s culinary scene.

While recognition from respected local and national publications seems to give my site a modicum of validation, the biggest kick I get is in getting e-mail from adventurous diners who visit my site.  I hear most often from newcomers to the Land of Enchantment who have used my reviews to discover New Mexico’s restaurants, but appreciate e-mail just as much from lifelong New Mexico residents who recommend restaurants I may not even have heard about.

So, what qualifies me to review and write about restaurants?  I have no “professional training” that qualifies me to discern the subtle nuances inherent in various foods, nor am I by trade or practice, a professional chef.  I’m merely a gastronome, someone who loves and appreciates good food…and dining at nearly 1000 different restaurants since 1995 should give a modicum of credence to my opinion–but no more credence than YOU have.

Unlike the pretentious pundits who wax poetic about the latest epicurean trends in the culinary world (those who would, for example, describe a meal at McDonald’s as a “gustatory repast in the ubiquitous Scottish restaurant emblazoned with saffron ellipses”), I’m not particularly impressed by nouveau cuisine, the very pronunciation of which reeks condescension. I’m an ordinary guy who likes to eat good food at reasonable prices and expects to be treated relatively well while doing so.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

Unlike some food critics (pictured), I don’t blindly acquiesce to the latest trend, turn a deaf ear to recommendations from people who don’t tread the well beaten path, and I don’t hold back in criticizing–if warranted–the “anointed” restaurants frequented by the nouveau riche.

I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled extensively and availed myself of the opportunity to partake of the finest local cuisine available in such hotbeds of culinary presentation as San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, Chicago, and Las Vegas (yes, Sin City where all the celebrity chefs go).

Please review my rating system which explains how I arrive at my ratings.  It’s not exactly scientific and I don’t take into account anyone else’s opinion of the restaurants in which we dine, not even the opinion of my faithful dining companion and wife Kim whose palate has matured tremendously over the years.  Your opinions may certainly differ as there are no rights and wrongs in my ratings, just opinions–mine.

This Web site lists only restaurants I’ve visited this century (since January 1st, 2000).  I have deleted the short synopses of restaurants (such as the dreadful Chinese buffet restaurants in Albuquerque) I have no intention of ever visiting again.  I also eliminated most reviews on corporate chain restaurants, partially in the spirit of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

As much as possible, my reviews will begin to incorporate images of the restaurants we visit.  Mastering HTML has been easier for me than remembering to remove my camera’s lens cover before I shoot a picture.  Fortunately, much better photographers than I have shared some of their wonderful images.  The photo of the Sugar Nymphs Bistro in Peñasco, for example, is courtesy of the brilliant Deanna Nichols.

Please note that a caption will display when you run your cursor over any image.

Note: Please read “Welcome to Gil’s Thrilling Blog” for more information.

247 comments

  • Shawne

    Gil: That was it!!

  • BOTVOLR

    Alas, I know Gil focuses on restaurants and their food offerings, but is there is a bit of room occasionally for nuances/education being tolerated? E.g. I have a somewhat avian appetite which means I often “doggy-bag” a (pricey) ‘treat’ home, e.g. like a hearty piece of beef, from a place Gil recommended! Next day, do I just “mike-it”, which I presume would “cook it” more… even if at a de-powered setting?

    Whoa…by chance, I ran across this which includes completely cooking a steak in…WT_?…. water!?!?! aka Sous-Vide!!! Pardon lest I missed anyone noting any restaurant around here even doing that, lest you’d probably want to be able to call it in ahead of time regarding its time of preparation! As such, if there is anyone else out there not-in-the-loop as I don’t recall anyone ever mentioning it!:
    What is Sous-vide?: http://tinyurl.com/jnl8rkf
    Reheating your Doggie-Bag delight: http://tinyurl.com/gllwjox
    Cooking from scratch:http://tinyurl.com/jewkf9o
    What’s needed: e.g. http://tinyurl.com/zz8k98k
    If Y’all have been there/done that: Please describe!
    “Chow!”

    • Coincidentally our friend Bruce has been sharing with me his experiences of late with sous-vide. He’s mastering a culinary technique not often practiced around here.

      Chef Marc Quiñones of Santa Fe’s Inn and Spa at Loretto used to employ the technique when he oversaw Bien Shur‘s fine-dining operation. Chef Quiñones, by the way, will be competing this Sunday (January 16th) in an episode of Cutthroat Kitchen. Downton Abbey fans can record and watch it later.

  • FGFABQ

    Bob, yes indeed I have experimented with sous vide cooking. The premise is that you cook at the temperature you are looking to achieve and as long as you cook in the water bath the food will never go above or below the set temp.
    I have cooked a standing rib roast, a pork roast, and a whole chicken. For the sake of our sense of sight , not taste, the meat should be browned and I’ve achieved the browning by high temps (450 degrees) in the conventional oven and also by using either a good old fashioned blow torch or a creme brûlée torch. Either method is up to the task. I’ve been told that it’s possible to bake a cake sous vide or even do a sunny side up egg, although it must take some practice.
    You need what appears to be a giant immersion blender, a food saver and a pot large enough to accommodate both the bagged meat and the sous vide-er. The water is both heated to temp and swirled around the bagged meat.
    The standing rib roast took about 9 hours, the pork roast less time and the chicken the least time.
    Perhaps a green chile cheese dog ala the Dog House is on my to do list.
    I’d be happy to let you try the sous vide method if you’d like to give it a whirl. Let me know.

    • BOTVOLR

      Yo FGFABQ….great to read you are into new adventures-explorations! (Perhaps your S-i-L’s penchant for cooking enticed you.)
      Thanks for the offer to “give-it-a-whirl”, but being lazy about limiting “home-cooking” to beans/franks or stirring some packaged Bernaise sauce for a BBQed filet once in a great while or cook up a “winter” artichoke, and having a (non-crisis but) challenge just come up in the interim to yank for my attention, I’ll pass on your generous offer. If I may, perhaps you might note a line or two for other readers re outcomes/taste of sous vide.

  • Mary Kroner

    Help! I lost the e-mail about tomorrow evening’s FoG dinner, which my husband and i definitely want to attend. Please, can someone tell me when and where we should be? We are so looking forward to meeting y’all after learning so much from this blog.

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