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cheese, bread shopping in Albuquerque?

We've just relocated to Abq from Boston and are pining for good bread and cheese. For fellow ex-Bostonians, our meccas are Formaggios, Russos, Iggys and Clear Flour. Where can we find good breads? We've tried Paris and Great Harvest and been disappointed. So far the best we've found are the demi-baguettes from La Brea that Costco sells. We're looking for a good artisanal francese bread with real crust and flavor. Also, we're sell our firstborn for good bagels.

I haven't seen any cheeses I really like. Is there a place where we can get Brie de Meaux, or a gorgonzola dolce?

Thanks much,
Cheryl

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  1. Welcome to Albuquerque!

    They have a pretty good cheese department at La Montanita Food Co-op in Nob Hill, but I've noticed it's getting skimpier. The cheese buyer there is very knowledgeable though, and tries to bring in as many interesting products as she can. Even if she can't get what you're looking for, she probably knows where in NM it's available. The shop Relish on Menaul used to have a fabulous cheese department, and I know for a fact they used to carry gorgonzola dolce, but they might just be a cafe now. The owner there, I think his name is Orr, is also well-versed in everything cheesy, so it might be worth a call to him, too.

    Some of the best NM bakeries have gone out of business in the last two or three years. La Quiche Parisienne downtown is still hanging in there, though. If you go to the Downtown Grower's Market Saturday mornings, you can meet the baker, Bruno, a master baker from Bordeaux, and try some samples fresh from the oven (best time to get there for bread is around 7:30am). Their light multigrain ciabatta is outstanding, and I think they have one bread that's a bit like a pane francese. You can also try a variety of artisanal goat cheeses from Old Windmill Dairy there.

    An even wider variety of breads and cheeses are available at the Santa Fe Farmer's Market (Saturdays at the Railyard) and in Santa Fe in general.

    Sadly, there's nothing here that's at all like the Boston shops you mention, and I've never had what I'd call a REALLY good bagel in all of NM, but we have the sunsets, and I bet there are at least a half dozen transplanted NM families in Boston right now willing to sell their first born for 20 lbs of Hatch green chile.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ninrn

      Thank you very much! We will check out your recommendations. A fabulous cheese department is exactly what I want, and a good ciabatta would help ease the homesickness pangs.

      If you know the Boston area, we lived down the street from Kimballs, who are regularly listed as having the best ice cream in an ice cream-mad state. My husband tears up at the mention of mocha chip.

      I'm sure we'll love living here once we get settled. Hatch chile is on our list. Sorry if I sounded whiny. The people here have been great - friendly and welcoming.

      1. re: cheryl_h

        Oh, I didn't think you sounded whiny at all. I went through the same adjustment when I moved here after having lived for eight years in NYC. And I share your husbands ice cream pangs. As my sixteen-year old niece very wisely said, 'the problem with gelato is that it doesn't have the ice part of ice cream.'

    2. As a new NMer [10 years!] from NY, I know your pain. There are lots of "east coast" things that are very hard to come by here. Businesses often open to fill the void, but due to a lack of consumer support, they fail and close shop.

      While it isn't the gourmet shop environment, Whole Food does have a nice CHEESE offering, especially the one on Academy and Wyoming.

      Bagels - well there is the bagel shop in Rio Rancho which can be a trek from ABQ proper, but they make NY style boiled bagels and they have other NY deli style goodies. It is on 528 and Southern in the Smith's shopping center. It is an independent shop, so this is the only location. In a pinch, Einstein bagels will work.

      Have your tried Golden Crown? I have never been, but often hear talk about it.
      http://www.goldencrown.biz

      Wait till you start looking for pizza and chinese food......

      3 Replies
      1. re: DebitNM

        Debit NM! What is this boiled bagel place of which you speak?!

        1. re: ninrn

          As I said, it is on 528 in Rio Rancho. At the intersection of Southern, in the Smiths shopping center. It isn't pretty but they bagels are damn good.
          Bagel Deli Bakery
          1330 Rio Rancho Boulevard Southeast, Rio Rancho,

          1. re: DebitNM

            Sorry about that. Somehow I missed the whole sentence with the address in it when reading your initial post.

            I've tried Golden Crown Panaderia, by the way. I thought their bread wasn't that great. They use lots of sugar even in their savory breads (maybe to make the dough rise faster?). I don't like biscochitos, but people who do say theirs are great. I saw a lot of people buying pizzas there, too, and they sell both their white and whole wheat pizza dough raw as well, which is a nice thing.

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            Golden Crown Panaderia
            1103 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

      2. When you visit Santa Fe be sure to check the cheese selection at Whole Foods. We haven't been back in about 2 years but at the time it was better than any place we'd found in ABQ, including those mentioned in other replies.

        Cheers!

        2 Replies
        1. re: FishTales

          Cheese is the only thing I buy at the Whole Foods in Alb. The Alpine Sausage House sells the baguettes from La Quiche, the son works the counter. I went on a herring hunt last week. Six different varities.

          Don't think Boston; think that you cn comparison shop for tortillas. It could be a lot worse. I've moved from Maine to Grants, the home of The Boarded Storefront Festival, where there is no edible bread. We make trips to Alb. and load up on TJ's breads and other foods.
          ps don't look for chowder.

          1. re: Passadumkeg

            Keller's butcher shop has a decent variety of cheeses - don't know if it has what you're looking for. I don't really eat bread so can't give much of a rec there.

        2. Thanks for all your recs. We are compiling lists of places to check out. Thank you also for your welcome and the good humor. Passadumkeg I'll be sure not to look for chowder or go to Grants to shop for groceries, lol! If I can find an acceptable bagel, I'll be reasonably happy. Or we'll have to haul back suitcases of bagels when we go east. Hope Einstein turns out a good bagel. I love farmer's markets so I will find the cheese and bread vendors when we do our market tour.

          So far we're happy with the restaurants. Thanks to this board, we discovered Mary & Tito's, Budai and Torinos on earlier visits. I found Street Food (next to Flying Star on Central) by accident. I've been to the Whole Foods on Academy and found great produce. We're looking forward to the Friday night dinners at Torinos and exploring Zinc and Savoy.

          Thanks all!

          -----
          Budai
          6300 San Mateo Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109

          1 Reply
          1. re: cheryl_h

            I greww up in Joisey. I don't even think of bagels. I've lived nearly 15 years in NmM off and on. I try to squeeze every single drop of Hispanic/Native/American/ cowboy cookin' I can while I'm being enchanted.
            This morning' mutton stew at a flea market. I lived overseas for 17 years and learned to tap the local cuisines and not long for foods I couldn't get. A very healthy and happy philosophy.
            when I firest arrived in '69, there was no interstate, no Rio Rancho, not much eastern food in a city of 80 k. Perspective.

          2. Lived in Boston for 10 years, been in NM for the past 2. I'll agree that Whole Foods is your best bet, which is too bad, but they do have a reasonable selection, including harder-to-find stuff like burrata imported from Puglia.

            If you ever make it up to Santa Fe, check out Clafoutis, a respectable French boulangerie. Their baguettes and croissants don't quite set the international bar, but they're nothing if not competent.

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            Clafoutis
            402 N Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

            2 Replies
            1. re: finlero

              The manager of the WF cheese dept. told me he would order special cheeses if I wanted and knew the source.

              1. re: Passadumkeg

                Well right, I'd imagine a number of places will do that (Talin World Market is good about that for random international stuff). That said, the thing I love about a place like Formaggio in Cambridge is the in-house selection and expertise. Ideally, I don't want to be the expert; I don't know enough stuff. I want a cheesemonger who knows way more than I do so I'll be introduced to all sorts of new stuff, including tasting something in the store that I *don't* like, but not having had to order an $80 wheel to figure it out (I realize I wouldn't be on the hook for the whole wheel, but I'd feel bad if I didn't at least walk out with a wedge).

            2. BTW the only truly decent bagels I've found in town (which is to say actually boiled, baked, and properly topped) is at The Bagel in Rio Rancho. They make a pretty good bialy too (how often did you find a real bialy in Boston?!).

              For a fun splurge, Terra at the Encantado resort north of Santa Fe serves H&H bagels. And DebitNM has also pointed out you can get H&H to ship frozen bagels directly from NYC, although at that point it's really easier to make your own. It's surprisingly not that tough to make a good bagel at home; those giant commercial kettles are cost- and space-prohibitive, so you don't find them as often off the coasts, but it's not like it's hard to boil a pot of water at home. Check out the Home Cooking board for much (much, much, much, much) more info.

              2 Replies
              1. re: finlero

                We used to make bagels at a private school I worked at in Maine. Boil and bake.

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Hi Cheryl-
                  Welcome to Albuquerque. I have lived in Cambridge and San Francisco and can honestly say that the think I miss most, living here, is the bread. I happen to love sourdough and it is impossible to get a real sharp sourdough here given the climate.

                  I will reiterate a couple of suggestions. Check out the farmer's markets: Downtown and Los Ranchos in Albuquerque and the Santa Fe market all have local bakers and good crusty bread. Kellers often has good, fresh bread, in addition to their cheese selection. They are worth getting to know--I have never had such a great butcher at my disposal. I don't know where Traders Joe's gets their bread but they are good in a pinch as is Whole Foods. The Coop in the North Valley has a decent cheese section that features lots of locals. The feta cheese from Tucumcari is seriously addictive. I also bought a nice rye from Sage there last night. Happy hunting!

              2. I thought I'd read about a really great cheese shop somewhere near downtown, but apparently it closed 3 years ago. Here's an article about it and the owner, Carey Smoot:

                http://alibi.com/food/23776/So-Long-a...

                At the end she talks about an idea she was tossing around for a while with the owners of Joe S. Sausage and La Quiche to open a shop together. That would be the answer to a lot of food-related prayers in Albuquerque. I hope they can make it happen some day.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ninrn

                  I thought you would enjoy this video, we need a Baguette machine in Albuquerque:
                  http://youtu.be/XpWZk3ucWrw

                  1. re: jjdot

                    Thanks, that's hilarious. The breakfast burrito version would catch on here for sure.

                2. Has anyone tried House of Bread on Carlisle?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: buelow

                    Scratch that. After making my previous post, I decided to just get up and go check out House of Bread for myself.

                    Verdict: Not worth it.
                    There is no crusty bread whatsoever. Their concept of a baguette is strictly the shape, not the texture. It's soft and chewy, and even slightly salty.

                    So far the best thing I've found has been the bread from Sage Bakehouse. It's from Santa Fe, but you can find it in some stores like Whole Foods or La Montanita Co-op in Nob Hill.

                    1. re: buelow

                      Bummer about House of Bread. I've noticed it, but have never been in. Was hoping it was good.

                      +1 on Sage Bakehouse bread. OP might especially like their pane paesano which is usually available at the North Valley Co-op.

                      Does anyone know if even the bakery part of Cloud Cliff has gone out of business? I don't see their bread around anymore, so I'm assuming it did.

                      1. re: ninrn

                        Yes, I read that in Local Flavor quite some time back. I think it was just after the crash.

                  2. Just discovered Cafe Vingt Cinq, an excellent new bakery south of Santa Fe:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/804326

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                    Cafe Vingt Cinq
                    8380 Cerrillos, Santa Fe, NM 87507

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: finlero

                      Thanks for the heads up! I agree that baguettes and croissants are the standards by which to judge a bakery. We used to drive to Clear Flour in Brookline for their baguettes anciens and gruyere croissants. Now I feel all teary...

                      1. re: cheryl_h

                        Yeah, Clear Flour is pretty ridiculous; we lived right near Iggy's but we'd still drive across town for CF's bread and croissants.

                        Cafe Vingt Cinq doesn't have the variety, and they can't quite match the stellar quality, but it's really remarkably good.

                        -----
                        Cafe Vingt Cinq
                        8380 Cerrillos, Santa Fe, NM 87507

                        1. re: finlero

                          While we loved lunch at Cafe Vingt Cinq, we weren't impressed with the baguette that we brought home. See my comments on here: [and see some cute pics of my granddaughter having her first french meal.] http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/804326

                          -----
                          Cafe Vingt Cinq
                          8380 Cerrillos, Santa Fe, NM 87507

                    2. The Golden Crown Panderia on Mountain Road is a great little bakery.

                      Check out their Chile Cheese Bread.

                      You might want to read Gil Guarduno's review on www.nmgastronome.com.

                      Jerry Saywell

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: TheJer

                        We've been there too. We tried their biscochitos but the Chile Cheese Bread is a bit more than we wanted to pay. I think it's around $9 which is a bit high for a loaf of bread. When we were there they were out of baguettes.

                      2. Don't even mention Formaggios to me. Boohoo! I too am a relocated Bostonian (six years now) and have had to adjust to what I can't get here. I just remind myself that cheese and breadmaking are not traditional in these parts, so I eventually got over it. Forget about seafood and fish!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sandiasingh

                          Try Fanos. It's a NY style bakery NW of San Mateo and Montgomery. I don't think they have any clear flour goods or bagels, but they make the best loaves in town I have found in the past 12 years.

                        2. Put a post up on a separate thread, but thought I'd add a note here. The new Bosque Baking Co. has good artisanal-type bread, mostly made with a mild sourdough starter. Right now they're only open Wednesday afternoons, but hope to expand hours next month. They sell their bread at the Downtown and Corrales Grower's Markets Saturdays and Sundays respectively.