Albuquerque is a city that takes it’s baked goods very seriously. There are panadarias and bakeries everywhere, and it turns out that one of those bakeries is within easy walking distance of my house.
The morning’s adventure began with a walk along the Alameda Drain, a canal system for irrigation originally carved out of the Chihuahuan Desert by the Pueblo people who were living in Middle Rio Grande Basin when, on a Saturday in July of 1598, Juan de Oñate arrived with an entourage of 500 Spanish settlers and soldiers and 7,000 head of livestock, and established the first Spanish settlement in New Mexico.
In establishing their first settlement, the Spanish also took over the existing irrigation system. That same irrigation system is now part of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the paved trail that runs alongside it is maintained by the City of Albuquerque is where I take my dog for his twice daily walks, only this time, I didn’t bring my dog, and — instead of heading west toward the volcanoes as I usually do — I headed east, toward the Sandias.
With the sun in my eyes and a breeze at my back, I made my way toward Fourth Street, a sometimes busy throughway, that, as it turns out, is much easier to cross early on a Saturday morning than it is in the middle of a Friday afternoon.
From there I continued my eastward trek, making another crossing at Second Street when I arrived at Pastian’s Bakery.
I had driven past the sign more than once, but I had never stopped to investigate what seems to be Albuquerque’s home of the pineapple upside down cake, so this morning, I remedied that oversight.
Inside Pastian’s Bakery
Like so many things in New Mexico, the bakery had the feel of being someplace I had been before, despite the fact that the closest previous encounter having been as I drove past at 35 mph.
The decor was simple, yet functional, with two small round tables, each with two chairs. Even the color of the floor tiles harkened back to another time and place.
Another example of how out of time it felt — all of the prices were clearly labeled:
It was easy to decide on coffee as there were only two options: small or large.
Choosing a pastry was more of a challenge, but after surveying at least half of the many options, I ended up with a “mini” apple strudel that was only “mini” if you were sharing it with three of your friends, but I was hungry, so ate it all, and got a free refill on my large coffee.
While I munched on my “mini” strudel, I had lots of time to take in the baked goods which served as both product and decoration. My favorite was this chocolate cake festooned with ribbons and sprinkles and chocolate frosting swirls:
Time to say good-bye
Despite the generous serving size, I eventually finished the apple strudel, and as I made my way to the door, I caught sight of these two adorable “devil dogs” that to my eye, look too cute to eat.
In short order, I was again heading west, having made my way across both Second and Fourth Streets, where I was soon on the path back to my house and back to a past I can only imagine.
I don’t know the histories of the precise people whose lives were lived along this canal, but I am now one of them, and my history intermingles with theirs in ways I will never fully understand.