Some people just aren’t cut out for the military. The most incompatible among them usually wash out during basic military training, what is often referred to as “boot camp.” Sometimes it’s the rigor of strenuous physical conditioning that gets to them. More often than not what proves too much is the stress of being away from home, maybe for the first time, and being yelled at constantly. Either of these circumstances may ultimately result in a military commander initiating discharge action against new recruits who are not adjusting to the rigors and demands of military life.
The most unique case of incompatibility with military service I ever witnessed was a fellow airman who suffered from a severe case of brumotactillophobia. Essentially he had a fear of different foods touching each other. Those of you who completed basic military training might recall the orderly process of traversing wordlessly and at attention through long lines at the chow hall and having foods plopped indiscriminately onto your tray. Despite the fact that the trays are compartmentalized, different foods invariably do more than touch. Succotash with chocolate pudding anyone?
As fussy an eater as he was, it’s a good thing he wasn’t a member of the hoi polloi living in Europe during the Middle Ages. Back then plating basically consisted of ladling stews or porridge into “trenchers”–hollowed out “plates” cut from loaves of old bread, the more stale the better. Think a plop of slop. That doesn’t sound particularly appetizing even if you don’t suffer from brumotactillophobia.
It would probably be only slightly easier for my aspiring Air Force colleague to dine at La Finca Bowls where (gasp) not only do different foods touch one another, they’re actually served on the same bowl. He would probably consider this practice sacrilege, if not outright apostacy. For the rest of us, bowls are a trendy and revolutionary way of eating. In that regard denizens of the fruited plain are catching up with much of the rest of the world where the bowl is–and has always been–the primary vessel for eating.
Bowls have been in ascendency as a dining trend since about 2015 when poke bowls migrated to the mainland from Hawaii and açaí bowls (healthy nutritious bowls of breakfast cereals, fresh and dried fruit and acai, the sweet tropical fruit low in calories) became popular. QSR, a leading source of news and information about the $300 billion limited-service restaurant industry, credits three factors for the rise in the popularity of bowls: nutritional value, flavor and popularity with younger, more health-conscious diners. For those of us who like experiencing all of a meal’s flavors and textures at the same time, bowls are akin to Thanksgiving every day only without gravy.
During our inaugural visit to La Finca Bowls, my friend Bruce “Sr Plata” Silver and I didn’t get to experience the plating syzygy that characterizes bowls dining–another consequence of the pandemic. Instead of artful plating on bowls, our meals were served in square take-out boxes and we had to enjoy our meal on the patio. From an experiential perspective our inaugural visit may have been atypical, but our enjoyment by far outweighed slight inconvenience. It was readily apparent why in February, 2021 La Finca Bowls landed at #13 on Yelp’s list of the Top 100 eateries in America in 2021 as voted on by Yelp Elites and the community. Albuquerque’s own tough-grading Yelp community has–as of this writing–bestowed a perfect five-star rating over 80 reviews.
La Finca Bowls is located on the east side of Broadway just north of Martin Luther King Blvd. La Finca, a Spanish term for a rural or agricultural estate, opened its doors in January, 2020, mere weeks before the world would change. In its own way, La Finca is changing the way Albuquerque eats with its 100% gluten-free kitchen, vegetarian/vegan friendly, dietary sensitive, sustainability focused approach. Its mission statement bespeaks of “a simplified restaurant, inviting atmosphere, no extra gadgets or gizmos, just the necessities so we can concentrate on a great product. Walk in, choose your protein, select a base, add veggies, sauce it up and enjoy here or on the go.”
If you’d rather not mull over the possibilities, La Finca offers four house bowls, each carefully curated to ensure balance, synergy and flavor. Pescatarian bent? Try the fisherman bowl (wild salmon, coconut rice, mango and pineapple, arugula, green papaya slaw, edamame, green onion, everything seasoning, ponzu with a soy-based sauce) maybe with some goat cheese on the side. Though my inclination with plates is more akin to an Oscar Madison jumble than a fastidious Felix Unger status quo, I found myself eating each component separately and enjoying each one. Every item on the bowl…er, ugly box complemented the other. That’s where the syzygy happened…big time.
Sr. Plata who’s eschewed chicken fried steak for more healthful eating opted for a landlubber’s delight, the farmer bowl (citrus marinated steak, wild rice and lentils, sweet corn, house beans, roasted squash, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, crispy onions, roasted pepper and cilantro aioli). If all healthy eating was like this, we’d all be doing it and if you ever thought gluten-free was synonymous with flavor-free, this bowl will change your mind. If La Finca Bowls was in closer proximity to his Corrales home, Sr. Plata might just move in.
Similarly if you ever believed healthy, gluten-free desserts lacked flavor and personality, La Finca Bowls might just change your mind, especially if cupcakes are on the counter. Because it’s so good, devotees of Italian desserts might not even consider the tiramisu chia pudding (Villa Myriam coffee and coconut soaked chia seeds, gluten-free granola, house made coconut whipped cream, cacao and cinnamon sprinkle, gluten-free pirouette) heretical. You might even find it hard to believe you’re eating something that’s good for you.
There’s a vibrant energy that permeates La Finca Bowls, a modern eatery that belies Albuquerque’s one-note culinary reputation. This is a restaurant that will energize you even as it feeds you food so good you might wonder how it can be so good for you.
La Finca Bowls
300 Broadway Blvd., N.E. Suite G
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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LATEST VISIT: 23 April 2021
# OF VISITS: 1
BEST BET: Farmer Bowl, Fisherman Bowl, Tiramisu Chia Pudding