Thursday, August 15, 2013

This 'n That Thursdays: Abiquiu, New Mexico (Part Two)

One of the most pleasantly unexpected surprises of our stay in Abiquiu was the quality of the food at the Café Abiquiu.  We ate there for dinner the day we arrived and for breakfast the next morning, and both meals were excellent, as good as any of the meals we had in Santa Fe.  For dinner, we started with a Chilled Summer Soup of avocado, cucumber, and mint, which was very refreshing on a hot day (although it could have used a bit more seasoning).  My husband then had the Chipotle Honey Glazed Salmon for his entrée and declared it excellent.  Because I had noticed the absolutely mouthwatering dessert menu, I opted to have the Open Faced Portobello Melt sandwich (also delicious) as a main course to save some room for dessert.  I chose the Summer Berry Pudding as my finale, and it was well worth eating a light dinner to make room for this treat!

The dining room of Café Abiquiu
(from From My Camera Bag)

We had also made arrangements for breakfast at the café the next morning, and if possible the food was even more impressive.  My husband had the café version of Eggs Benedict served over their signature tamale cakes (he had these cakes with dinner the night before and raved about them):

I had an egg dish called, I think, Sunrise over Chama River, which was two sunny-side-up eggs served over tamale cakes and topped with a delicious homemade pico de gallo:

Thank goodness the food at the Café Abiquiu was so tasty, because it really is the only restaurant option in town!

After breakfast my husband and I explored the Abiquiu Inn gift shop a little more as we waited for 9:15 AM, when the group members for our Georgia O'Keeffe House and Studio Tour were to meet:

From Facebook
Abiquiu Inn gift shop (from Facebook)

The café, lobby, and gift shop were recently remodelled, and I found the décor very attractive.  Colorful Flor carpet squares covered the floors and the walls were painted in various bright hues, creating a fun, casual and inviting atmosphere.  We also paid a quick visit to the Galleria Arriba on the second floor of the inn, over the gift shop:

From Facebook
Galleria Arriba at the Abiquiu Inn (from Facebook)

The office for the tour is conveniently located right next door to the inn.  When everyone was assembled, we boarded the tour bus for the very short trip to the tiny town proper of Abiquiu.  The center of town is just up the road from the Abiquiu Inn, on the other side of the highway and a short, steep drive up a hill.  The Georgia O'Keeffe house is on the edge of town, discreetly enclosed by an adobe wall and overlooking the highway and the beautiful green valleys of the Rio Chama.  Our bus drove through the property entrance gate and we disembarked in the parking area in front of the house to begin our tour.

Entrance to house and garden (from You+Dallas)

Exterior (from Pinterest)

Since cameras are not allowed, I can only show images found online, but I can tell you that this house felt like a sanctuary.  The décor was simple and minimal, very calming and soothing, mostly neutral with some color supplied by nature and the artwork displayed within.

Roofless room (from Pinterest)

Living room (from Georgia O'Keeffe Museum)

Dining room (from Pinterest)

Noguchi lantern in dining room (from East Valley Tribune)

Kitchen (from Facebook)

Pantry (from Santa Fe Travellers)

Studio (from Santa Fe Travellers)

Studio (from Twofold)

View from bedroom (from East Valley Tribune)

Exterior view of bedroom (from La Presse)

Abiquiu has traditional irrigation canals known as acequias, and once a week water flows through these canals to the gardens of the residents.  Georgia O'Keeffe had an extensive and well-planned garden of flowers, vegetables, herbs, shrubs, and fruit trees, and her acequias were carefully controlled to provide water for these plantings:

An acequia at the edge of Georgia O'Keeffe's garden
(from Georgia O'Keeffe Museum)

Painting in the garden (from Facebook)

Photography in the garden
(from Georgia O'Keeffe Museum  Imaging Project)

Exterior wall facing garden
(from Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Imaging Project)

Exterior walls
(from Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Imaging Project)

The garden is still maintained, although not to the extent that O'Keeffe had it, as she was an avid believer in being as self-sustaining as possible by growing and preserving her own produce.  Back when O'Keeffe first came to Abiquiu, supplies had to be purchased in Santa Fe 70 miles away.  It was a long trip, the roads were not always good, and without refrigeration perishables did not do well in the warmer months, so her desire to grow her own food is understandable!

Not all areas in the house are open to visitors (although you can look into just about every room) because the building materials are often quite fragile.  You can, however, walk through the pantry, kitchen, and studio on the tour.  I really wish I could have taken some photographs of the view from the back of the property, overlooking the river valley -- it was absolutely spectacular.  The photograph above showing the view from the bedroom window does not even begin to do it justice.  It is no surprise that an artist would fall in love with this view, and Georgia O'Keeffe did indeed create a number of paintings based on the views from her property.

We learned a lot about the artist from taking this tour, far more than I can impart here.  If you want to learn more about Georgia O'Keeffe's New Mexico houses, find a copy of the book Georgia O'Keeffe and Her Houses: Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu by Barbara Buhler Lynes and Agapita Judy Lopez.  It is full of gorgeous pictures of both houses owned by O'Keeffe in New Mexico, but also contains extensive text detailing the homes and the artist's life there. It is rather pricey ($50, although you can find it for less online), but any fan of Georgia O'Keeffe will want to own this book.  Also check out A Painter's Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O'Keeffe by Margaret Wood, who was O'Keeffe's companion for many years in New Mexico.  The book contains quite a few recipes, but also describes the artist's garden as well as her passion for growing, preparing, and preserving her own produce.  The Abiquiu Inn gift shop has a huge selection of books about Georgia O'Keeffe, and you are not likely to leave without at least one to take home!

From Abrams Books


We had to make one last stop before we left Abiquiu that afternoon, at Bode's General Store, which started out as Grant's Mercantile in 1890 and has been a town landmark ever since (read the history here).  This is one stop shopping at its best -- although the prices are a bit steep, it is the only store around for miles.  Visitors just can't resist its fascinatingly abundant display of goods.  Groceries, liquor, outdoor gear (so convenient for those staying at nearby Abiquiu Lake), books, home décor, clothing (including Abiquiu T-shirts and baseball caps), and gasoline are all available at Bode's.  There is even a deli, open from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM, serving sandwiches, chile, and more!

From Panoramio 

From From My Camera Bag

From Bode's General Store

We very much enjoyed our overnight trip to Abiquiu and we would recommend a visit to anyone.  In fact, we plan to return in the future and explore the area even more.  We still have to take a closer look at Abiquiu Lake, and have yet to see Ghost Ranch and Chama.  My husband and I have decided that a New Mexico vacation will become an annual event for us, and I can't wait to go back next year!

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