I’ve been away from home for ten days and will be for another nine. I had big food adventure plans for my whirlwind journey through the Southwest. Denver, Albuquerque, Las Vegas. Well, maybe not big plans. Mostly I was just hoping for a memorable meal or two in each city. I’m pretty sure Denver has some amazing food to offer, but I just didn’t quite have the time or energy to really focus on it. I really didn’t have the time.
An annual conference for work brought me to Denver. I’m not delusional and this certainly wasn’t my first rodeo. I knew I’d be busy. I knew I’d be crazy busy. I even knew the chances of more than one or two real meals was slim. Somehow, though, this time seemed even more insane than in past years.
I started off on the wrong food with a cancelled flight to Denver on Sunday morning. Thanks to an extraordinary amount of people traveling from Seattle to Denver that day, I was lucky to find a 6AM flight for Monday morning. The turkey tacos I made for dinner on Sunday night turned out to be the last actual meal I’d eat until Tuesday night. In all, I had 3 actual meals during my time in Denver (including one weird steak salad). By the time I reached Albuquerque on Saturday morning, I was exhausted and starving for anything more than mixed nuts and cookies.
I’m pretty sure I slept all of Saturday and most of the day Sunday. That may not be exactly true, but I couldn’t really tell you much about them. By Sunday night, I was ready to rejoin the land of the living and we set out to choose a restaurant for dinner. Now, I can’t hold it against Albuquerque since we have the same problem in Seattle, but nothing was open. I swear we came up with 14 different ideas before one of them would actually work. So, I admit Scarpas wasn’t my first choice, but I always enjoyed eating there when I lived here and have especially fond memories of their Torta di Mele, so off to Scarpas we went.
Scarpas 2 (meaning this one is the second location) isn’t super fancy, but it is cute and their food is good. It’s exactly as I remembered it. I’m pretty sure I even ordered the same thing I had the last time, pesto penne with shrimp scampi. The shrimp tasted surprisingly fresh. My dad ordered the same. My mom had a Caesar salad and the Wild Mushroom pizza (fresh imported wild mushrooms, fontina cheese and fresh thyme). As the lucky recipient of a slice, I can tell you it was very good. They boast a truffle oil base on the menu, though, and aside from using enough to give you a hint of the scent when it arrives at the table, there really wasn’t much truffle flavor. It may have truffle oil in the base, but it’s hardly the foundation. My guess is an olive oil base with a touch of truffle oil mixed in.
Dinner was all fine and good (including a glass of local Gruet Syrah), but the highlight of the meal was that Torta di Mele (warm puff pastry apple tart with Vietnamese Cinnamon ice cream, dark chocolate shavings, caramel and whipped cream). It’s amazing. The biggest downside is that it’s huge. Even with the three of us sharing it, I managed to overeat. The menu says it’s big enough for two. I say four. Maybe that’s not a downside for everyone, but when you have dessert portion control problems, it’s better if it arrives at the table in a smaller portion.
All in all, Scarpas isn’t the most memorable meal in Albuquerque, but it doesn’t need to be. They have good food. You’ll leave satisfied and not disappointed that you came. Besides, the staff is super friendly. As for our dinner, it was a nice homecoming and a great meal with my nuclear family. I’m excited for B to arrive on Saturday, but it was also nice to have dinner the way it used to be… a long time ago.