Recently, while binge-watching Better Call Saul, the much-anticipated follow-up to Breaking Bad; I’ve come to a deeper understanding of the Duke City through the warped mind of the show’s Writer and Producer, Vince Gilligan (X-Files, Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul).
The city can give a variety of looks, from small and dusty, to large, bustling, and metropolitan, but always with expansive sky, chiaroscuro light and sharp mountains rising in the distance.
Last week, I was at the ground-breaking/crane party for what I hope will one day end up as a location in a Better Call Saul episode – a refurbished steel-shipping bin/hydroponic farm set in an indoor/outdoor community courtyard up the street from the Indian School Whole Foods, nestled between the Hampton Inn and Hotel Cascada, the Green Jeans Farmery is a preview of one possible future for ‘Burque.
What sets the project apart isn’t just the use of the re-furbished steel bins, but what’s inside them. A veritable who’s who of the emerging culinary stars of the area, the tenants of the Green Jeans Farmery project include the Santa Fe Brewing Company, Amore Pizza, Epiphany Espresso, and Bocadillos Slow Roasted Sandwich, among others.
Although the day of the crane party was cloudy, windy, and somewhat grey, there was no masking the ray of sunshine our assembled hosts brought in the form of snacks and libations. Gabriel Amador of Amore was there at the outset, offering Caprese skewers made with his signature, house-made mozzarella, organic cherry tomatoes and basil.
His hand-made mozzarella is neither too soft, nor too firm, but perfectly saddles the line between the two; a hallmark of quality in mozzarella. The simplicity of Amador’s cheese belies the craftsmanship that goes into the process; the hours spent perfecting a time-honored tradition, resulting in a product that proudly displays its roots in a unique setting.
It’s this sort of innovation that’ll fill the clean, modernist lines of the shipping bins; whose design can assume either a warm, organic, or austere, Bauhaus feel, depending on who’s decorating.
Tony Lopez and Eric Garcia of Epiphany Espresso have a vision. Their space will be clean and bright with refurbished Juniper set among basic military colors with splashes of bright colors to create depth. Epiphany will also re-purpose the steel doors of their container as coffee bars, adding to the uniqueness of the place.
Aside from the innovative design, Lopez and Garcia bring years in the industry to bear. A few days ago via telephone, the Gallup-born Lopez and I had a conversation about his experience in the world of coffee. Turns out he cut his teeth in a small, independently owned shop run by a woman from Seattle, who taught him the ropes before he left for UNM, and Albuquerque.
“She was just as important to me as any Professor in College, and definitely taught me just as much,” “She taught me how to manage the details, how to run a business,” he calmly explained. “When I got to Albuquerque for College, I was already ahead of the game.”
Lopez and Garcia are positioning Epiphany at the cutting edge of the global coffee scene, and they make it a point to stay abreast of the latest qualitative developments locally and abroad. To that end, Epiphany will feature a separate pour over bar in addition to its traditional espresso and brew options.
Pour over coffee has become the standard for high-end shops along the Pacific Rim, America’s West Coast, and New York. What makes it desirable is that pour over’s constantly replenish the coffee grounds with a constant supply of fresh water, making for a quick brew that’ll extract all the flavor from the grounds and be ready in two-and-a-half-to three-and-a-half minutes.
Epiphany’s plan is to have a phalanx of ceramic pour-over’s at a separate bar, and, personally, there’s an alluring quality to the ritual of; wetting, dissolution, and diffusion which transpire in those several minute’s your coffee’s being brewed; the long, elegant steel neck of the dripper dropping its flow from on high, in Moroccan fashion, the steam rising…
Albuquerque’s Pompidou & A Happy Camper
So, back to Better Call Saul… hopefully those location scouts will get on it and check out Epiphany and the rest of the Green Jeans site, because, I’ll have to admit, my stomach was turning watching Bob Odenkirk’s Jimmy Mc Gill down cup after cup of vending-machine coffee in the Criminal Courts Building during a mid-season, multi-episode run… for crying out loud, get the guy a decent cup of coffee!
But I digress…
Back at the crane party I’m pleased to find that Amore and SFBC’s tables are next to one another, and get right to work on sampling anything those two have to offer.
Silas Sims of SFBC was manning a cooler full of Happy Camper IPA, Black IPA and Freestyle Pilsner to sample, and as I’d had the two former, I decided to try the latter, not being disappointed in the least for doing so.
The Freestyle seemed the perfect blend of a German and Mexican Pilsner, while still displaying micro-brew characteristics of freshness and crispness – a great companion to a variety of ethnic foods, as well as traditional Bavarian fare.
I ask Silas to hit me with a re-fill and head over to the Bocadillo’s table, where a crowd is starting to gather for quartered samples of their slow-roasted sandwiches. Their offering the Duke City Ruben (Slow-roasted corned beef with asadero cheese, homemade sauerkraut and 1,000 island dressing on light rye bread), and the Cubano ( Slow-roasted pork with bacon, red onions, Muenster cheese, and topped with homemade pickles and sweet chile sauce), both of which were amazing, pairing nicely with the Freestyle.
After chatting with a few folks, I head over to the SFBC site with the project’s developer, Roy Solomon. The anchor building of the property, the Brewing Company’s site is expansive and will have plenty of light to offer in the form of windows and open spaces.
Yet, as I walk around on my own snapping photos while construction personnel take a coffee break, the expansive interior of the steel crate is silent as a Tyrannosaurus skeleton on display.
I try to imagine what the space will be like full of people, music playing and the beer flowing. There’s a view of the Hampton Inn, Sandia behind it, and across the street, looking like Le Centre Pompidou in Paris, the vibrantly-colored, twisted-tubes of the Hotel Cascada water park.
SFBC is planning on offering a variety of events and Tony Lopez is excited to present a series of monthly coffee seminars at Epiphany. It’s the perfect opportunity to find out what’s going on in the world of coffee, get a cup of Agapao’s (Epiphany is exclusively Agapao) stellar coffee, and sit back and chill out after having a cold one and some incredible food.