Recipe by Johnathan Perno, La Merienda at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm

By Erin Frye

The Los Poblanos Inn is a special place rooted in history, fostered by tourism, and dedicated to community. The inn was originally designed in 1932 by famed Southwestern architect John Gaw Meem for Congressman Albert Simms and his wife Ruth. In 1976, Penny and Armin Rembe purchased the property from the Simms, and their son, Matt now continues the legacy managing the inn.

At the heart of the inn, and of the Rembes’ mission, is a working farm that provides raw materials for the lavender products sold at the onsite farm shop, as well as feeds La Merienda, the Los Poblanos restaurant.

La Merienda offers a small, but dramatically picturesque dining space immediately overlooking their gardens and lavender fields, all framed by a dramatic view of the Sandia Mountains. Like most spaces at the inn, the kitchen has kept its historic flavor with old ovens and tight quarters. But Jonathan Perno, executive chef at La Merienda, thrives in this atmosphere.

On any given day, you can find Perno riding his bike to work, and stopping to forage lambs quarters or wild asparagus for that evening’s menu. A native New Mexican, Perno trained at the California Culinary Academy and spent time in a multitude of high-profile kitchens throughout the US. His resume also includes the requisite European culinary tour, and a return visit to work at La Tante Claire in London. In addition, he spent a year in Berkeley, California at an organic farm learning raised bed farming.

Perno is the perfect fit for Los Poblanos. His first few months at the inn found him doing everything from harvesting honey for his homemade chocolates to preparing a six-course meal for an anniversary dinner for seventy-five people. Perno is fiercely committed to a farm to table philosophy, the Slow Food movement, and developing a hyper-regional culinary vocabulary. While he’s absolutely content to let the fresh ingredients take all the credit, Perno has already impressed the most critical of foodies with his own unique perspective on food.

Candied Acorn Squash
  • 1 large acorn squash, washed, stem removed
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Crème Brûlée

  • 4 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 vanilla bean pods, seeds only
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt for garnish
  • Instructions
  1. For this recipe, you will need 6 ramekins and a brûlée torch.
  2. Halve squash pole to pole. Remove seeds, then cut into 12 segments. Place in 4-quart saucepan with water, sugar, and regular salt. Bring to boil and simmer until soft, but not falling apart. Cut as desired and place on parchment. Save syrup for another use.
  3. For the crème brûlée, preheat oven to 275O F. In a large bowl, mix egg, vanilla, and sugar together. Stir in cream. Pour through a strainer to remove fibrous parts of vanilla. Fill ramekins with crème, then place them in a 2-inch deep baking pan filled halfway with hot water. Cover pan with foil and carefully place in oven. After 45 minutes, remove foil, rotate pan and cook for another 30 minutes until set on the sides but still fairly wobbly in the middle. Remove from oven and cool in the pan.
  4. Top crème brûlées with an even layer of sugar, don’t skimp. Using a propane torch, melt and caramelize the sugar, rotating and tilting each brûlée to evenly distribute the caramel across the top. Place a piece or 2 of candied squash on top and sprinkle with sea salt.

La Merienda at Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm
4803 Rio Grande Boulevard NW, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
505-344-9297 ·

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