Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Albuquerque and Other Highlights

The AmeriSuites I always stay at was converted to The Hyatt Place. It's a lot nicer now. The beds are comfy with a down comforter and lots of down pillows. The little soaps and toiletries are a quality brand and smell nice. The body soap even has nubs on it for a massaging lather. Everything in the rooms is brand new and very modern looking. The best part is the 42" flat screen tv in every room. The downsides are that they removed the microwaves (which are useful during long stays) from the rooms and their internet was down in my room. When I complained they said their internet was down and there was no way to access the internet for a few days. I asked my colleague who was also staying at the hotel and she said she had internet access. I complained again ("I am on business travel, I need internet access.") and they changed me to another room that also didn't have internet access. I am pretty sure it wasn't my computer with the problem, but I decided I didn't want to be bothered with it so I roughed it for a couple of nights without internet access.

Albuquerque has a lot of good food. For being a small city in the middle of nowhere, it has a decent culinary selection. The best Italian meal I've had was at Scalo in Albuquerque. The restaurant is even listed as a top Italian restaurant in the US in Southwest's Spirit Magazine. There's a sushi bar across the street from the hotel I stay at and that is always good. But the best thing about the Albuquerque food scene is the roasted green chillies. They are in everything from sushi rolls to pasta and even in fast food like McDonald's and Pizza Hut. We love having them on burgers (either meat or veggie) with avocado slices, cheese, onion, and salsa (I like a tomato salsa and the husband likes Newman's Black Bean Salsa). I brought back three bags of frozen chillies so we are set for a few months.

I also discovered that our local brew-pub, the Tied House, is also listed as one of the top brew-pubs in the nation in the Spirit Magazine. That's definitely our favorite restaurant and we tend to go there once a week, even if it's only to refill our growler -- $6 for about 5 pints of fresh beer. Good deal!

I've been very busy with soccer lately, either playing or coaching. I am once again coaching a girls', under 14 team. It's the all-star or select tournament team from the group of girls that played last season. I am assistant coach and I wasn't sure how that would turn out. I am a bit of a control freak (I'm working on that) and I thought it would be hard to not be the one running practice. I was especially wary when the head coach asked for more assistant coach volunteers and a couple of dads signed up. But so far it's been awesome. The head coach is great about delegating and usually all the assistant coaches get a group of girls and we end up running our own mini-practice and the girls rotate through the different stations. At the last practice I worked with the goalies.

Our first tournament is this weekend in Paso Robles -- wine tasting, baby! We got a crappy schedule with middle of the day games so we won't get to do as much wine drinking as I would like. I hear there's an electric bull at the restaurant where we will have dinner on Saturday night. Maybe there will be pictures later.

I am still playing indoor coed soccer on Monday nights and we just finished an undefeated season. Playoffs start next week. Tonight I am going to go play outdoor coed with an indoor teammate. The game will be at a nice astroturf field under the lights. I am nervous, however, because I tore my ACL during the very first coed game I played. It wasn't an impact injury but I have still been hesitant to play coed. The guys can be rough. But since indoor coed is going well, I hope this will also be a friendly environment. So I have a lot of soccer going on and I love it!

We had our friend Sumana stay with us last night. It was great to see her again. She is the most cat allergic guest we've ever had and it didn't look like she was too miserable. The kitties were intrigued but they kept her distance (except for Major who scratched at her closed door at midnight). Sumana and my husband watched my indoor game last night (and he didn't bring a book) and then we went out for Thai. I think we've found another restaurant jewel within a 2 mile radius from our home. It was a small hole-in-the-wall place with great food and service. Granted, we got there about 20 minutes before they closed so we were the only patrons in the restaurant. Still they were all very nice and attentive to us and the chef even came out to talk to us about some of the dishes and sauces he made. When I think of a hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop place I think of an old establishment that hasn't been remodeled (and maybe cleaned) in years, but this place, while it was in a tiny strip mall, was brand new and very well done. And the food was amazing. The menu included Thai and Vietnamese but we all got Thai food. I like Thai more than Indian food now.

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