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NM Fermentation Festival - Funny Name, Fun Time

Move over, Balloon Fiesta. Albuquerque has another up-and-coming event that you won't want to miss. 

My husband and I were pleasantly surprised to discover that the New Mexico Fermentation Festival, in its 4th year and the first of its kind in the Southwest, is popular with locals and tourists alike. It's sponsored by edible New Mexico and is held at the GutiĆ©rrez-Hubbell House, which is dense with cottonwood trees and is a lovely place to spend a Saturday with or without a festival.

NM Fermentation Festival
What the heck is a fermentation festival? You know we're big fans of New Mexico wine festivalsbeer festivals, and even green chile cheeseburger and wagyu beef festivals. (Yay, NM!) We'd never been to a fermentation festival though and weren't sure what to expect.

Although you might think a festival dedicated to fermented foods and drinks sounds a little odd (we did), so many irresistible treats fit within that category. In addition to kimchi and kombucha, the New Mexico Fermentation Festival offered samples of pickles, cider, salami, chocolate, cheese, mead, bread, sauerkraut, hot sauce, honey, prickly pear jelly, and more, all included in a low $15 admission price. More than 30 vendors were on site to turn you into a fermentation expert.

Antiguas Del Norte Honey and Bee Rescue
We discovered some great companies. Antiguas Del Norte Honey rescues bees that would otherwise have been exterminated, such as hives located at a home or business. They have the best slogan, "We help honey bees with people problems."

Bosque Brewing
There were also ample pours of beer, wine, and liquor available from local favorites, including Bosque Brewing and Santa Fe Spirits. Where else can you try a key lime pie ale?   

Gutierrez-Hubbell House
Of course, sampling was just a small part of the New Mexico Fermentation Festival. Want to learn how to create your own kombucha in any flavor imaginable? Or do you need a sourdough starter to take your homemade bread to the next level? 

Albuquerque fermenation workshops
Maybe you're seeking ways to improve your health naturally and have heard that a pickle a day keeps the doctor away.

You can even buy a bottle of Gut Shot Garlic Dill juice to drink, which tastes exactly like it sounds. I tried it so you don't have to. (You're welcome.)

How to make your own kombucha (and pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc)
With premium hands-on workshops, known as mobs, plus food trucks, child-friendly activities, lectures, and a "culture and ferment swap," the New Mexico Fermentation Festival offers something for everyone.

Fall events in NM
Eager to attend the "Fermented Milk = Cheese!" discussion, my cheeseaholic SN donned his dapper old man hat and headed out into the sunshine. Other demos of interest included "Neomexicanus Hops," "Gin & Tonic: The Sum of its Parts," and "Miso."

The Kombucha Project
I pledged to try kombucha in every fizzy flavor...before receiving some greatly appreciated advice that you should only drink a small quantity until your stomach is used to it. That was a close one.

Folks who are accustomed to it came prepared with growlers to fill with their top kombucha.

Santa Fe Stargazer Kombucha
The team at Santa Fe's Stargazer Kombucha couldn't have been nicer. Try their Assam, Cota, and Tieguanyin varieties, made with tea. 

In fact, everyone at the festival was friendly, to the point of ridiculousness. I'd remark that I'm going to try brewing my own kombucha to the people trying to sell me kombucha (my social awkwardness strikes again!) and they always had the same response, which was to insist it's so easy to do and give me pointers.

Side note: I need a name for our scoby. My aunt in Australia has already taken the best-ever name for hers, Scoby Doo.

Los Poblanos bakery
Los Poblanos was selling and sampling their incredible baked goods, including green chile bread and sourdough cookies. I was on my best behavior and left a few samples for other guests, even though I wanted to yell, "Hey, look over there!" and run off with the entire baskets.

rye brownies
I'd never had a rye brownie before. Just when you thought the food in NM couldn't possibly get any better! We really need to sign up for a Los Poblanos cooking class.

Recycling in ABQ
My eco-warrior, SN, brushed up on ways to optimize our recycling and composting strategy. Thanks to him, we've been in our new home in the east mountains for more than 2 years and still have not needed to sign up for trash service.

Yes, we totally judge our neighbors when we drive past their trash cans each week. (To be fair, their trash cans are often knocked over with garbage spilled everywhere because they do a poor job of bear-proofing. You would judge them too.) 

Kimshe Kimchi
I recognized Kimshe Kimchi from the Rail Yard Market. Their kimchi is a great addition to eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches, and even Bloody Marys. Full of probiotics, you can even snack on kimchi straight from the jar.

Drinking Horn mead
The New Mexico Fermentation Festival is worth traveling for. A flagstaff company, Drinking Horn, was providing tastes of their mead, which is raw honey that has been fermented into alcohol.

Arizona Sake review
Our NM event was also visited by Arizona Sake, which is authentic Japanese sake made in Holbrook. I was excited to see them because this was my first-ever time trying sake! 

I enjoy the message on their Facebook page:

I had been working for sake industry for 10 years in Japan. Always I was having dream to be independent somewhere in the world. Finally I had a luck in Holbrook, Arizona to start making sake 2017. Friendship, love and peace are the goal of my business.

How sweet is that? They're my #1 source for sake from now on.

New Mexico food and wine festivals
Speaking of friendship, love, and peace, that could have been the theme of the 2019 New Mexico Fermentation Festival. It had a laid back, farmer's market vibe, with friendly people to chat with wherever you went. That's how we are in Albuquerque.

Sheehan Winery
My personal favorite of the event was Sheehan Winery, which was providing generous pours of their award-winning wines. They even have a white port, which is something I'd never tried before. Funny enough, it is made with grapes that were thought to be past their prime and of no value. I've promised SN a bottle of it. He owes me a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon. They frequently host backyard tasting events and I can't wait!

Award-winning NM wines
Actually, Sheehan Winery wasn't just my favorite. Everyone smiles at the wine booth.

From their website:

In 2017, Sheehan Winery submitted 18 wines to the New Mexico State Wine Competition and won 18 medals (14 of the 18 Gold or Silver). We were also awarded the Premier Award for our Chambourcin making it the best wine in New Mexico for 2017. 

In 2018 we did even better…submitting 31 wines and winning 31 medals! We are located in the Vecinos del Bosque neighborhood of Albuquerque, just 2 miles from historic Old Town.

Oni Noodles ABQ
Even the food trucks got in on the fermentation action. Oni noodles offered a $4 kimchi sampler with apple, corn, beets, and cabbage. Another vendor was selling "tots from around the world, showcasing their fermentation delicacies." You couldn't possibly leave this event hungry.

dog-friendly places in albuquerque
Everyone (and I mean everyone, cute pups and all) enjoyed the New Mexico Fermentation Festival. For future events, I'd love to see the addition of walk-in wellness sessions, such as short yoga classes and guided meditations. Information on urban farming (hello, pet chickens!) would also be appreciated. I think this is one of those events that is going to grow in popularity every year.

New Mexico Fermentation Fest photos
I hope to see you there in October, 2020!