What is shakshuka?
I haven’t a clue, but it’s on the breakfast menu at Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm and I’m game. Thanks to my cell phone and Google, I learn that shakshuka is a popular Moroccan breakfast dish of poached eggs that float in a spicy tomato sauce, garnished with bacon and feta cheese. And here at Los Poblanos, it is accompanied, much to my delight, by gluten-free cornbread.
Who could ask for anything more?
Certainly not I.
Flash back to yesterday when we arrived …
My husband, Jerry, deliberately slows as he drives down the long entry road that runs through the dense arches of cottonwood trees. It doesn’t take long, however, to know that this is where we want to be.
Los Poblanos, a boutique hotel and lavender farm, sits within the boundaries of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, a village of almost 7,000 just seven miles from downtown Albuquerque. The inn could be a day away for all we know. That’s because residents of Los Ranchos, a 4.4-square-mile town sitting just east of the Rio Grande, incorporated in 1958 with the goals of maintaining the area’s rural flavor and creating a unique identity.
For those who live in the Albuquerque metro area, Los Poblanos is a place to get away without having to go far. For the rest of us, it’s just a beautiful place to get away.
The original boundaries of the ranch once stretched all the way to the crest of the Sandia Mountains, but today, Los Poblanos Inn occupies 25 acres. In the 1930s, the ranch’s first owners hired notable craftsman, professionals and artists to create what we see today. John Gaw Meem, considered New Mexico’s finest 20th-century architect, designed and remodeled the ranch house and the large communal building called La Quinta. Today, La Quinta still serves as a gathering place for social, civic and cultural events.
Tinsmith Robert Woodman fashioned the light fixtures illuminating the buildings; ironsmith Walter Gilbert crafted the iron door handles depicting San Ysidro (the patron saint of farmers and laborers); artist Gustave Baumann carved the floral and Native American designs into the oversized pine doors and other designs over the mantle in the formal ballroom; and landscape architect Rose Greely designed the formal Spanish-style gardens where visitors can meander or pause to contemplate life and the land.
Los Poblanos presents a complete package of history, tranquility, setting, comfort and cuisine.
Executive Chef Jonathan Perno, also a farmer, creates the daily breakfast and dinner faire inspired by produce and meat that are available at more than a dozen nearby farms. Fresh farm-to-fork cuisine helped Los Poblanos earn recognition in 2013 from Bon Appétit magazine as one of the 10 best food-lover’s hotels in the country. (The staff gladly accommodates special dietary needs.)
Diners enjoy Perno’s culinary creations in a warm and rustic farmhouse dining room softly illuminated by Robert Woodman chandeliers of tin.
Los Poblanos owner Matt Rembe has created a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts; the farm is a poster child for agritourism. Guest houses provide all the modern amenities within a charming, uncluttered environment. The family’s other enterprises include wholesale production, retail sales (a gift shop features many items made on the farm), the restaurant and catering and venues for large and small events.
After enjoying our Moroccan breakfast, we stroll to the lavender fields, which are warming in the April sun. The air is comfortably crisp and the Sandia Mountains are dusted with snow from a storm that blew through yesterday. This reminds us that Albuquerque is more than a mile high. Farm workers are arriving and the place is beginning to hum, but at least one resident is staying lazy. A large, snow-white peacock struts across the bocce ball court, spreading his feathers as if to brag that he, unlike we who are only passing through, does not have to leave — ever.
For more information, visit HYPERLINK “http://www.lospoblanos.com” www.lospoblanos.com
E’Louise Ondash is a veteran, award-winning journalist who was an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Times Advocate and the North County Times. She has written travel features for The Coast News since 2003.