Up Up and Away: Ballooning over Taos


New Mexico is famous for its hot air balloons.  I’ve wanted to experience air travel this way since I moved to the state.  This past Saturday, I did just that – along with two of my favorite cousins who were visiting from Arizona.

The Rio Grande Gorge cuts through the high desert mesa west of Taos like a 650 foot-deep miniature Grand Canyon.  The famous Rio Grande River flows through the 70-mile canyon on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Gently gliding on the soft desert winds into the Gorge in our purple hot air balloon, with the Sangre de Cristo mountains as our backdrop, we had the premier hot air ballooning experience.

We flew with Pueblo Balloon Company of Taos – Ed was our pilot and Lisa was Crew Chief.  The company does a fine job and I have no hesitation recommending the company.  We loved every moment.

Images in the film are from yours truly and Taos photographer Jared Yankowy.  Music is by Blush.

Pueblo Balloon Company
PO Box 361
Taos, NM  87571
Jared Yankowy

In the Neighborhood: Minetta Playground Renovation

From today’s New York Times:

THE MINETTA PLAYGROUND, along Avenue of the Americas from Minetta Lane to Third Street, opened in 1935, and the play equipment looked that old. The colorful plastic furniture that the adjacent McDonald’s installed in the mid-1990s was boarded up and just plain tacky looking.

It really began to irk Jon Mudder, owner and head chef at Bellavitae, a nearby restaurant, and one day he raised the issue with a regular customer — the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn. Ms. Quinn told him he was not alone. The city is beginning a $1.5 million renovation of the park on Monday. It is scheduled for completion by next summer. Ms. Quinn said by phone on Thursday, “I was glad he mentioned it because it had long bothered me — it looked like a Habitrail,” a hamster habitat.

You can read more about The Minetta Playground here and here


In the Neighborhood: A Taste of History in Greenwich Village

Bellavitae is a stopping point for an interesting walking food tour of the Central Village and SoHo that’s hosted by Foods of New York Tours.  Freelance writer John Bancroft recently took part in the tour and wrote about it in yesterday’s St. Petersburg Times.  He had this to say about Bellavitae:

“We walked on up MacDougal, turning into quiet Minetta Lane and detouring briefly into even quieter Minetta Street, where Serpico lived, both in the movie and in real life, on our way to Bellavitae, a trattoria famed for its astonishing pantry and its celestial wine list.  There, as a battery of cooks prepped for the evening meal, we tucked into a cheesecake like no other: a ricotta dream with the texture of a fine, soft Brie and the savor of a creamy slice of heaven.  I liked the place so much I returned later that day for dinner and thus added a new favorite to my short list of Manhattan restaurants.”

Other stops on the tour include: 

  • Camaje – Seated tasting at a French-American Bistro (Est. 1997)
  • Monte’s Trattoria – Seated tasting at a classic Italian restaurant (Est. 1918)
  • Cuba Restaurant – Seated tasting at an authentic Cuban restaurant (Est. 2002)
  • Joe’s Dairy – Outdoor tasting at an old-fashioned dairy/cheese shop (Est. 1953)
  • Once Upon a Tart – Outdoor tasting at a charming French cafe/bakery (Est. 1994) 

We always hear great feedback from folks who have taken the tours.  Associated with the tour group is Amy Bandolik’s blog, Delicious Thursdays.  She recently wrote about an evening she spent at Bellavitae behind the Chef’s Bar.

Check it out.