Salt and Board – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Five years ago, everyone was making beer in their bathtubs, and now everyone’s making charcuterie in their garage!” ~Brian Malarkey, Chef When my friend Carlos, a punctilious polyglot conversant in four languages, asked what my Kim and I ate over the weekend, my poorly-pronounced beginner’s French response was “une assisette de charcuterie et de fromages.” “Oh, you had cold-cuts and cheese,” he responded. “No, we had charcuterie!” I emphasized, slowly pronouncing each syllable of the term: “char-cu-te-rie.” “Only the French,”…

Le Troquet Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Pope Gregory the Great was a prolific writer canonized as a saint and recognized as a “doctor of the church.” Among musicians, singers, students and teachers, he is revered as a patron saint, a heavenly advocate who intercedes on their behalf. Among gluttons of the Middle Ages, however, the supreme pontiff was reviled. In his treatise Morals on the Book of Job, Pope Gregory essentially condemned them to Hell, a denouncement reflecting the strict austerity of the times. For gluttons,…

Chez Mamou – Santa Fe, New Mexico

When she asked me to repeat the name of the French restaurant where we were dining one slightly breezy Sunday morning, I knew my clever bride had something in mind. Relaying that we were dining at Chez (pronounced “shay”) Mamou, she retorted “are you sure it’s not called “Shame on you.” That was her reaction to a server having deposited a stale, probably older than day-old baguette on our table. She followed up with “no self-respecting French restaurant, especially one…

Clafoutis – Santa Fe, New Mexico

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, you only need to know 10 words to understand 25-percent of what native [English] speakers say and write. You need to know 100 words to understand 50-percent of what native speakers say and write, and 1000 words to understand 75-percent of all the words used in common, everyday English. To understand 95-percent of the text used in blogs (even this one) and newspapers, you need a vocabulary of only 3,000 words. Considering the Oxford English…

La Quiche Parisienne Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexican

Who can ever forget Fred the Baker, the haggard, perpetually exhausted Dunkin Donuts baker and his iconic lament, “time to make the donuts?” Every morning an annoying alarm clock would rouse Fred from his deep slumber and he would wearily utter his trademarked catch phrase as he prepared for the rigor of the day. For fifteen years—from 1982 to 1997—Fred the Baker let America know it was time to make the donuts, reminding them that while he was doing so,…

La Crêpe Michel – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The crêpe is, at its essence, not much more than a very thin cooked pancake, but ask even the most accomplished chefs to relate their initial attempts at baking crêpes and you’ll be regaled with tales of exasperation, woe, despair and misery. Use too much water or milk and not enough fat and the crêpes will turn out elastic and tough. If your pan isn’t hot enough, the crêpes will stick to it; too hot and the crêpes turn out…

P’Tit Louis Bistro – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” –Ernest Hemingway I’ve often wondered if Ernest Hemingway would have felt at home in Taos during the “roaring twenties,” a period of dynamic artistic, societal and lifestyle upheaval. Instead of communing with the Taos Society of Artists and other inspired Bohemian minds, Hemingway spent much of…

Cafe Chloe – San Diego, California

From your seat on the sidewalk patio of Café Chloe, you can see Petco Park, the open-air home of the San Diego Padres. You’ll have a front row view of a veritable cavalcade of motorized and foot-powered conveyances—from swanky Maseratis to sleek inline skates. Passers-by on foot include some of the city’s most downtrodden as well as its captains of industry. As you take in your surroundings in the cozy, urban neighborhood café and wine bar in San Diego’s chic…

Chez Bob – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of a meal there, it’s hard not to like a restaurant named Chez Bob. Much as poetic French words are apt to do, the term “chez” seems to impart instant credibility, authenticity and just a touch of haughtiness to any restaurant sporting that appellation–even though “chez” is just a preposition which means “at the home of.” So, Chez Lucien is essentially “at the home of Lucien.”  On restaurants, the term “chez” usually prefaces…

Cafe Jean Pierre – Albuquerque, New Mexico

A few years ago when France was the target of xenophobic sentiment and  some political commentators even advocated boycotting all things French, my vivacious friend Janet Resnik remained a fervent Francophile.  With the simple retort, “ah, but the food,” she found it easy to diffuse dour diatribes in which not a single good thing was said about France.  Not even the most ardent anti-French could argue that French food isn’t among the very best in the world. In Albuquerque, chef…

Chez Axel – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Another Land of Enchantment.” That’s how the menu at Chez Axel describes the Provence region in France. No one who’s ever traveled through the region and luxuriated in a café crème at a sidewalk café on a leisurely Sunday morning would ever dispute that the region is as enchanting as any in the world.  It truly is a soiree for the senses, especially for those who believe food is art and that it can restore not only the body, but…

Cafe Phenix – Santa Fe, New Mexico (CLOSED)

“A mythical bird that never dies, the Phoenix flies far ahead to the front, always scanning the landscape and distant space. It represents our capacity for vision, for collecting sensory information about our environment and the events unfolding within it. The Phoenix, with its great beauty, creates intense excitement and deathless inspiration.” – Feng Shui Master Lam Kam Shuen, The Feng Shui Handbook It’s only appropriate that a cozy little restaurant named Cafe Phenix would be part and parcel of…

Brasserie La Provence – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

The French have long cultivated the idea–some would say myth–that their cuisine is the very best in the world. This self-aggrandizing hype has been carefully and condescendingly orchestrated for centuries. Even Alice B. Toklas, the American writer far ahead of her time (in 1954, she published a literary memoir with a recipe for “hashish fudge”) was caught up in the myth. Toklas wrote “The French approach to food is characteristic; they bring to their consideration of the table the same…

315 Restaurant & Wine Bar – Santa Fe, New Mexico

>Compared to the extraordinarily perceptive 19th-century detective Sherlock Holmes, his best friend and confidante Dr. John H. Watson was an ordinary man, a perfect “foil” for the brilliant Holmes. Though lacking his friend’s deductive abilities and almost prescient ability to solve problems, Dr. Watson was, however, prone to occasional observations of brilliance and statements of profound eloquence. For example, in the 2004 novel Sherlock Holmes and the Hapsburg Tiara, Dr. Watson describes a three-hour French meal: “Each dish was more…

Cafe Voila – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Mon ami Francophile who spends months vacationing in France likes to talk about his dining experiences in the land of haute cuisine and haughty waiters, regaling anyone who will listen with tales of surliness, scorn and condescension the likes of which Americans are unused to. His favorite tales of woe involve a churlish waiter at a sidewalk cafe in Paris adept at ignoring customers to the full extent of their patience then tossing menus at them. When taking their order,…