We did it! We went to the Fiery Foods and BBQ Show at the Sandia Casino in Albuquerque last Saturday. We followed the throngs to the mountain side of the casino hall, slot machines dinging and clicking and making music as we walked by. There were long lines and butt to belly crowds – it was one of those events where you kept looking over your shoulder and waving at your friends who were 17 people back – luckily I brought TALL friends.
There were the mainstays – Pace Picante Sauce, Blue Bunny ice cream (which we all needed in abundance), Gardunos, and my pals from El Pinto (www.elpinto.com) , along with three or four hundred vendors all allowing us to sample their wares. And if we liked what we tasted, we were, of course, allowed to purchase. My kitchen table is littered with, let me count. . .12 jars of salsa, 2 different types of Asian BBQ sauce and marinade made by a couple in Steamboat Springs, CO (firstname.lastname@example.org), 2 bottles of balsamic dipping oil (roasted garlic and traditional barrel-aged vinegar) from Pasta More (www.pastamore.com) . There’s a recently opened jar of prickly pear jelly in the fridge from a cute young couple in Lemitar (email@example.com) and a couple of shrink wrapped jerky packages containing red chile beef and kippered spiced elk (www.oregontrailjerky.com) in my computer bag (who knows when I’ll need a snack?).
I promise to try everything once (and all the good things twice) and let you know what I most highly recommend. I have several flyers and booklets with recipes for some of the products we bought. It was a great time – the Fiery Foods Show continues to be one of my favorite New Mexico events and the Sandia Casino was a great venue.
All that said, the crowds were overwhelming at times. The organizers knew what they were doing when they put us in the hall next to the swimming pool patio. Because truly the best part of the entire day was sitting in the amazing March sunshine (68 degrees, thank you very much) around the Sandia pool patio, drinking beer with my friends, visiting, soaking up rays. . .when they were tired of our chatter, Dave and Bruce and Cory would wander off to a poker table while Johanna and Sabrina and I solved the world’s problems and worked on our tan.
When the sun started to go down, we just requisitioned one of their circular bancos with a gas firepit in the center, and stayed until it got too chilly to be outside.
Sandia Casino is gorgeous – the pueblo owned prime real estate at the foot of the Sandias and had the great foresight to put their casino and hotel and golf course and amphitheater there – and it makes for a very relaxing enjoyable afternoon, hanging out on their property.
When the crowds thinned out, we ventured back into the fray, tasted more, and had the immense pleasure of finally meeting Sarah from El Pinto (she made me feel like a rock star for including them in my previous blogs), who invited us to dinner at the restaurant. So after a perfect day in the New Mexico sunshine tasting New Mexico foods with my New Mexico best friends, I got to go to a great New Mexico restaurant and have dinner with all the exhibitors from the Fiery Foods Show. I even got to meet John, one of the El Pinto Salsa Twins (Sabrina was in awe – talk about a rock star! He’s like the Bon Jovi of green chile sauce!).
It was a perfect day full of great tastes, good friends and sunshine, capped off by a fun meal at the beautiful El Pinto. A really perfect day.
FYI – The Fiery Foods and BBQ Show is held pretty consistently the first weekend in March every year. I’ll keep you posted, but I suggest you set that weekend aside in 2011. I’ll see you there!