Thursday, June 28, 2018

Atelier by Radek, a great place to dine in Denver!

Radek Cerny is an incredible chef who has been cooking French-influenced cuisine for many, many years in Denver and Boulder.  If you love steak tartar, this is something you definitely want to order.
Radek does a different swist on how he serves his Foie.  The Foie Gras Mousse had been caramelized on top.  I still like the traditional presentation of toast points with my foie with some Ligonberry preserves. 
Another starter that is not always on the menu is the tuna tartar. Beautifully executed, served with toasted won ton wrappers.  And Radek's presentations are always pleasing to the eye.
It's a simple and pleasing space with bundles of lavender hanging on one wall and copper pots on another.
And I like how the large windows open up, bringing the outdoors in.  The patio is great for dining out, especially on a gorgeous summer evening.  Too hot for your outside, the air conditioned interior is always cool!
A refreshing fresh mozzarella and tomato salad.  And the tomatoes were tasty!
Salad Nicoise , lovely.
My all time favorite dish in the restaurant is the Lobster Ravioli, a specialty of Radek's.  The lobster filling is tender, not over cooked.  Served in a light Champagne beurre blanc sauce.
And special just for me and my friends, sweetbreads and mushrooms.  One can not go wrong with that combination.

Atelier by Radek
2100 E. 17th Ave.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Join me for Semana Santa in San Miguel de Allende

Semana Santa in San Miguel de Allende.  Please join me for six days during Holy Week which is such a colorful time of year.  Full of pageantry, processions, decorated churches, homes and fountains, just a special time to be in this 500 year old colonial town to witness the spirit of the people as they partake in celebrating Semana Santa.
Arriving on Friday, early evening, we will have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants and then tour the historic center of town to view the town's fountains that have been decorated and the public and private altars that have been beautifully created in celebration of Our Lady of Sorrows (Viernas de Dolores), a time of paying homage to the anguish of the Virgin Mary.  The above is the plaza in front of the Parroquia, the parish church right off the main square, the jardin.
One of the many house that have opened their doors for the passerby who is invited in and welcomed with small gifts of candy, nuts, fruit and drink.
 The next day I will lead you on a walking tour of town where we will stroll by some of the town's old and elegant homes,
  visit some magnificent churches,
 All within the historic center of town.
  Especially the Parroquia.
A panoramic view of part of the jardin.
A stop in the Bellas Artes, an old mansion that was originally a convent that is presently one of the art schools in town.
One of the many murals at the Bellas Artes. 
This mural, The Vampire Bat, by Pedro Martinez depicts the Chupacabra.  OK, what's a chupacabra? It means "goatsucker" and it attacks livestock and makes incisions into its victim's bodies like a vampire. It's like the "Lock Ness" monster in Scotland and "Sasquatch" in North America.
One of the many quaint streets in San Miguel.
Palm Sunday is a morning of processions.
 A procession through town of Jesus riding a donkey that ends at the Parroquia.
Around the jardin, you will find artisans selling their elaborately hand-woven palm fronds in the shapes of crosses, fish and other designs.
The creativity is just amazing.
 Outside of San Miguel we will visit the Sanctuary of Atotonilco.
Often referred to as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas because of its ancient and wonderful frescoes.  
 Not too far away, in the countryside, we will have a leisurely comida (lunch),
on the patio, unbelievable Italian cuisine where one of the house specialties is hand-made squash blossom ravioli.
On Monday we will meet up with Chef Paco for a cooking class.  Originally from Mexico City, Paco has lived in San Miguel for 20 years where he owns and operates the finest bakery-patisserie in town, El Petit Four.  It all starts with a tour of the colorful Ignacio Ramirez Negromante market where everything we need is being sold by the local farmers who grow it.
Then we head for Paco’s home.   This is a hands-on class where every person will help prepare everything from scratch.  After our kitchen work, we will sit down, relax and enjoy the lunch we have prepared in the gorgeous setting of Paco’s home with an incredible view of San Miguel.
One day we will take a day trip to Guanajuato,
 a famous university town and once the richest city in the world due to its silver mining.
 First stop is the studio of world-famous ceramicist Gorky Gonzales.
A tour of the beautiful opera house and after we will visit Diego Rivera's birthplace and museum.  Comida at Las Mercedes, a gourmet family run restaurant.  After we will visit the incredible Valencia Church with its gold-encrusted altar.  Return to San Miguel via Dolores Hidalgo where virtually everyone is employed in making beautiful ceramics.  Back in San Miguel just in time to witness the Our Lord of the Column carried in procession, amid flowers and incense, from the San Juan de Dios Church to the jardin.

On Holy Wednesday, Procession de Miercoloes Santo, you will have a free day to wander around town by yourself, sight see...
Time to shop at one of the many lovely boutiques.  Los Baules, known for its one of kind, natural-dyed and hand woven textiles from ponchos, dresses (huipiles), table runners, etc..
Check out La Esquina, the Children's Folk Art Museum.
One of the best things to do in San Miguel is to visit La Esquina.   The collection is housed in an old three-story home that has been meticulously restored and is maintained beautifully.  Over one thousand Mexican toys have been collected by Angelico Tijerina over the course of fifty years. 
Hike the Botanic Gardens, Jardin Botanico - El Charco del Igenio, just outside of town with 247 acres of natural preserve, hiking trails and an incredible view of town
with extensive cactus gardens and a cactus collection within this contemporary greenhouse.
On this Holy Wednesday, there are fourteen stations of the cross that are elaborately decorated just a few blocks from our B and B.
 One of the stations of the cross.
With a procession starting early evening.  

There is plenty to do and before you know it, it will be time to meet up at the B and B when I take you out for dinner on our final night in town.

It is an extremely popular time in San Miguel and the charming B and B in which we stay at only has nine rooms.  The sooner I can book this, the better, so I can secure our rooms.  
If you would like to join me, please email me your contact information (name, email,  mailing address and phone number) and I will send you a detailed itinerary with pricing, along with a deposit request and plane information.

It's a special time to experience San Miguel de Allende, its culture and people. 

Semana Santa in San Miguel de Allende
April 12 - 18, 2019.

Robin Mullen

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Murals in San Cristobal de Las Casas around the main cathedral

Just this month I lead a group of eleven of us around Chiapas, Mexico.  The earthquake in September of 2017 fortunately did not harm many people but it was the old churches,  convents and landmark buildings that suffered the most damage.  We could still enjoy the beautiful facades but entry to many of the buildings was prohibited.
There is Phil and Norma in the photo with the Cathedral de San Cristobal de Las Casas.
Corrugated metal fencing has been installed around all the old buildings that desperately need restoration.  Local artist have painted murals on these temporary barriers which I think are marvelous.  I love how this one vendor has positioned his goods right smack in the middle of the heart surrounded by flowers.
Colorful octopus with all his tentacles and suction cups.
Great Dia de los Muertos skull.
Abstract blue bird with a jaguar behind him.
Pretty goldfish.

She looks rather startled.

A bit of "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."
The side of the cathedral.
Mural of a mask.  
The slits below the blue eyes is where the person who wears the mask sees.  
This one is a Parachico, which is worn by the men in Chiapa de Corzo during the festival in January celebrating Saint Sebastian.  
During the 18th century, a wealthy woman, Maria de Angulo arrived from Spain with her crippled son.  She took her son to a curandero, a local healer called a namandiyuguá.  He instructed her to bath her son in the waters of a small lake called Cumbujuya.  Her son was miraculously cured.   To distract and amuse the boy, a local group disguised themselves as Spaniards with masks and began to dance, “para el chico” which means “for the boy."   According to one version of the story, this is what cured the child.  The tradition of these dancers began in 1711, leading the Spanish to call the event “para el chico”, which eventually evolved into "Parachicos".
Maria de Angulo was so extremely grateful, she donated food and supplies to the people which helped immensely since the region was going through a bad drought.
The giant mask is used in La Danza del Gigante in San Juan Chamula at Carnival. The dance represents the story of David and Goliath.  Goliath, who carries a wooden machete, repeatedly charges the audience and frightens the children.  We were fortunate to be in San Juan Chamula one day during carnival.  It was pretty exciting!
Two Jaguar masks surrounding the Jade mask of King Pakal of Palenque.  Jaguar dances are concerned with maintaining balance in the natural world and the agricultural cycle.

So realistic.
The backside of the cathedral.  I hope the funding comes soon to Chiapas so the beautiful, old buildings can be restored.  Maybe a "Maria de Angulo" will help out!