It’s not surprising that Maggie Gyllenhaal and Neil Patrick Harris would bring their kids to Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, the Albuquerque inn that Bon Appetit just chose as one of the top ten best hotels for food lovers.
Harris, of course, grew up in Albuquerque and while he once told a reporter he’d never dream of staying anywhere except with his parents at the home he was raised in, he and partner David Burtka now have two-year-old twins. Enough said. Besides, it’s never too early to teach Gideon and Harper, the twins who were born October 2010, where their food comes from, a lesson about which Los Poblanos is avidly passionate.
The 25-acre organic farm, not only grows 60 percent (90 percent during growing season) of the hotel’s meticulously-prepared food, but it has chickens, cows, honeybees and giant purple-blue lavender fields.
As for Gyllenhaal, she hopes to instill the same field to fork-style knowledge into her New York brood, offering them a chance to gather eggs and milk goats. And, besides, she and her brother Jake have a thing for exquisite food. The duo, along with their mom, appeared on two episodes of Molto Maria, an Italian cooking show on the Food Network.
San Ysidro, the patron saint of farmers, has been watching over the growing of food at Los Poblanos for some 81 years. In 1932, Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms, a former Congresswoman from Illinois, and her husband, Albert Simms, a congressman from New Mexico, started an experimental farm on 800 acres that stretched to the Sandia Mountains. They started New Mexico’s first dairy, experimented with sugar beets and other crops and built a greenhouse for new varieties of roses and chrysanthemums.
They also commissioned famous Santa Fe architect John Gaw Meem to renovate their ranch house and design a 15,000-square-foot cultural center for political and community events.
La Quinta, as they called the cultural center with its carved doors and mantels by Gustave Baumann, tinwork by Robert Woodman, ironwork by Walter Gilbert and fresco by Peter Hurd, still hosts meetings and weddings and still serves as the cultural heart for this inspiring farm that, needless to say, holds a prominent spot on the National Historic Register. Since 1976, when it was purchased by Penny and Armin Rembe, who raised their four children on the property, it has been lovingly overseen by three generations of the Rembe family.
As I drove up the cottonwood-lined lane leading to Los Poblanos’ hacienda-style courtyard and sun-drenched dining room, past the expansive lavender fields, strolling peacocks, kitchen gardens and pond with lotus blossoms—I could feel the extraordinary energy of this landmark New Mexico ranch.
As I feasted on the locally-sourced cuisine, melons from nearby fields and eggs from hens that strut through the property, I felt as if I’d entered a different time, a different place with no clue that I was in the desert or a short four miles from one of the largest cities in the Southwest. Executive chef Jonathan Perno, a New Mexico native who trained in France, London and San Francisco, makes good use of the farm’s heritage, heirloom and native crops, incorporating things like tepary beans, chiles, cardoons, figs, parsley root, jujube dates and epazote into what he calls “Rio Grande Valley cuisine.”
And while scheduling didn’t permit taking one of the many workshops offered at Los Poblanos (things like aromatherapy, botanical art, field sketching, wine tasting, barn animals 101), I learned a lot just walking around the gardens, being inspired by the ecological consciousness subtly perpetuated by the living museum’s water conservation programs and use of natural biodegradable cleaning products.
As Kenyan manager Nancy Kinyanjui said, “We don’t want to hit people over the head with it, but we hope they recognize our commitment to sustainability and possibly take a little green consciousness home with them.”
The inn’s 20 suites and rooms have adobe kiva fireplaces, hand-hewn ceiling beams, hardwood floors, folk paintings, painted viga ceilings and, of course, the farm’s signature lavender spa amenities. Breakfast, also made with ingredients from the property’s organic farm, is included.
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Cultural Center, 4803 Rio Grande NW, 505-344-9297.