Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autumn Guacamole for a crowd

3 cloves of garlic, roasted on a comal with their skins on
8 jalapenos, roasted on a comal
8-10 avocados
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1/4 white onion, finely chopped
1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 pomegranate, seeds

Remove the skins from the garlic. De-seed the jalapenos and chop. Add the garlic, chopped jalapenos, 1/2 the cilantro and 1/3 onion to the molcajete. Grind to a paste.

Add the juice of the lime and the rest of the cilantro. Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit. Add one pit to the molcajete. Score the flesh of the avocados with a knife in large sections, remove with a spoon and add to the paste. Add the salt and 3/4 of the pomegranate seeds. Gently mix to maintain some of the avocado chunks.

Garnish the top with the rest of the pomegranate seeds and onions.

NOTE: Jalapenos vary in their hotness. You may want to roast extra in case more are needed. It is always a good idea to remove a little of the jalapeno paste from the molcajete before you add the rest of the ingredients and add as needed to acquire your level of hotness.  You can always add more heat!

What's a "Comal"? 
A comal is Mexican griddle in which ingredients are cooked or roasted. It is a thin disk of varying sizes made of unglazed earthenware or a light metal. A cast iron skillet can be substituted. Lightly wipe the surface with a little vegetable oil before roasting.

The avocado was first cultivated in southern Mexico and there twelve different varieties in Mexico. On my Artisan & Architecture tour that is coming up in February, we will be in the avocado capital of the world in the state of Michoacan.  The Michoacan variety is referred to as blancos.  The skin turns black when ripe and the flesh is more compact and oily.  They are quite delicious. 

In 1515, the Aztec emperor Montezuma presented avocados to Hernando Cortez.

The avocado is rich in non saturated oils, vitamin A, B & E and is cholesterol free.

I have another one of my groups arriving next week.  The first night that they are in San Miguel de Allende, they will be treated to a welcome reception and dinner at my casa and I will be serving them my special guacamole as one of the tapas.

Buen Provecho!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lush Burger in Scottsdale

I was in Arizona recently and I had lunch at Lush Burger in Scottsdale. You place and pay for your order at the main counter. There is a variety of burgers (beef, tuna, chicken, veggie...), salads and milk shakes & floats.
It has a pretty slick decor done in red, black & white and a lot of stainless features.
The Lushburger Classic was very tasty. It is a Harris Ranch all-natural Angus beef patty served on a toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and onion along with the house special sauce. As they say at the restaurant, they are addictively lush-ious!
Their version of a Veggie Burger is quite unique. The "Inside Out Veggie Burger" is a savory melody of grilled zucchini and squash patties, roasted red peppers, avocado, arugula and some whole grain mustard served between toasted quinoa patties. It is not the typical pick up and bite type of a burger, you have to eat it with a fork.
The patio was very inviting, that is, from inside the restaurant. With the 115 degree days, I think until October rolls around, you won't find anyone sitting out there. No wonder my parents flee the valley and spend the summer at our home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where the highs are around 80 to 85 degrees.

18251 N. Pima Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sixty years at the Instituto Allende - Part Two

Back to the Gallery at the Instituto Allende with its wonderful collection of art showcasing artists of San Miguel de Allende, past and present.

This painting is by James Pinto, an artist that moved to San Miguel from Yugoslavia. He too was one of the original art instructors at the Belles Artes and then at the Instituto. I was fortunate to have him as a friend. I wrote about him in my post dated March 19.
Another one of Pintos fabulous abstract paintings. "The Church in Atotonilco" by Frederick Taylor (1972). A Canadian artist who settled in San Miguel and painted in a social realist style. I take my groups to Atotonilco to visit this storybook Church. Many refer to the interior as the Sistine Chapel of Mexico.
Sterling Dickson painted this scene in 1950. He had a hand in the creation of the Instituto Allende, an extreme passion for the Mexican people and was one of the driving forces of putting San Miguel on the map as a world class art center.

This color pencil, "Fuertes Opuestas", is by Jose Mojica. He was a world renown Mexican opera singer and movie star. He moved to San Miguel in the 1930's. With the end of the Mexican Revolution in 1821, the economy had collapsed, many returned to Spain and San Miguel was full of empty mansions. Mojica influenced many writers, actors and others in the arts to invest in properties around town.

This oil is by Fred Samuelson. Fred moved here from Chicago in 1955 with his wife at the time, Sylvia, who owns Galleria San Miguel, a great gallery right on the north side of the jardin.
Robert Maxwell captured this pastel of the woman "Crouching" beautifully.

It is a beautiful show and I have been very fortunate to know most of the artists past and present.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sixty Years at The Intituto Allende - Part One

The Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende celebrated it sixtieth anniversary this year with a retrospective art show that is not to be missed.
The first painting to view is of Enrique Fernandez who was one of the founders of the Instituto and was once Governor of the state, Guanajuato.

The painting of this young lad (1952) is by Felipe Cossio del Polmar, a Peruvian writer who founded the first art school in town, the Bellas Artes, in 1938.
"San Andres Huayapam" (2010) is painted by a contemporary artist, Daniel Rueffert. Rueffert is known for his plein-air brushwork paintings, many reflect his unique use of shadowing, especially with the use of the color white. You can find more of his paintings at Galeria 18 on Calle Jesus 19.
This Serigraph, titled "Papantla", is by Carlos Merida. Merida was one of the first instructors to teach at the Bellas Artes in 1937. Papantla is a beautiful little town famous for their Volvadores (flying Dancers). Every year the Volvadores come over to San Miguel to perform during the St. Michael's (San Miguel's patron saint) celebrations.
"Naturaleza Muerta" (1966) by Romeo Tabuena. He was born in Lloilo City in the Philippines in 1921. He left in 1955 and is painting and living in San Miguel. He is considered as one of the groundbreaking modernist of the 1950's.
"Mindigas Ciegas" (2009), an oil painting by local artist, Jim Giampali. I love the colors and composition of this piece.

See my next post on Friday where I will feature more artist from this fabulous exhibit.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Huerta Colorines, a great little restaurant

When I am at my home in San Miguel de Allende, I frequently make a trip over to Patzcuaro and visit many of the surrounding villages. One stop I never miss is this road side restaurant, Huerta Colorines, in El Tigre. El Tigre is between Capula (the clay Catrina capital of Mexico) and Quiroga.
The first order of the day was a cold Negra Modelo.
Huerta Colorines is one of the cleanest restaurants around. See how the floors shine. And the waiters literally run.
We were served a large platter with four different kinds of salsas; avocado salsa, pico de gallo, salsa verde (with tomatillos) and a really hot, smokey salsa.
For my entree, I had a flavorful chicken breast that had been pounded very thin, seasoned and grilled. The grilled onions were so sweet. We also had warm corn tortillas and a large bowl of their local beans. I have never had beans that were so delicious.
Of course, we had to have their flan. Mmmmm. I can taste it right now.

In February, I will be taking my Artisan & Architecture group here for comida (lunch). If you are interested in joining me, contact me at

Friday, September 17, 2010

Museo of General Igancio Allende

This building is the birthplace of General Ignacio Allende located right on the main plaza in San Miguel de Allende. General Igancio, along with Father Hidalgo, played vital roles in the independence of Mexico from Spain in 1810. This year, 2010, is the big bi-centennial celebration of Mexico's Independence. I have always admired the Latin inscription above the door and also pondered about putting it above my door in San Miguel (ha ha), "He who was born here is known everywhere." When I have one of my groups in town, Allende's home is part of the guided walking tours.
The first floor contains displays of the the history of San Miguel and the War of Independence while the second floor is a reproduction of Allendes' home. Its Spanish Baroque architecture shows through with the Cortinas (stone draperies) that embellish the windows which is common around town. Also common to the stately mansions, are the tall entry doors and the ruts made in the stone pavers for the carriages to enter and depart the homes.
This attractive back area was at one time the stables for the horses and live stock.
Common in many mansions, was a "bodega" where they would store grain, chorizo, bread, etc.. At one time, this room was a pharmacy and when the home was renovated, the Museum decided to keep the old shelving.
This painting in the Museo depicts what the countryside looked like around 1800. You can barely make out the town square, the area that is void with the Parroquia church on the top. The walled in church above in the bottom, right corner is the Santuario de Atotonilco. This historic place was where Father Miguel Hidalgo would have given the "grito" (shout) for Independence with his followers in route to San Miguel.
A sculpture of Allende, on the corner of his family's home was embellished with flowers on January 21 in remembrance of his birthday. The celebrations started this week in San Miguel. Just don't expect to get much sleep, there are fireworks at all times of the day and night.

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dinner on the Patio

A few weekends ago, my husband and I had another couple over for dinner. The evenings were still pretty hot and I wanted to prepare a real summer menu. We started with a few hors d'oeuvres out on the patio.I cut up two racks of lamb, marinated them in chopped garlic, rosemary, sea salt, olive oil and sweet & sour sauce. I love doing it this way because they don't take long to grill. They turn out so tender. When perfectly cooked, the lamb just melts in your mouth.

The spinach was sauteed in a little water and olive oil, plated and sprinkled with roasted pine nuts and slivers of sauteed garlic. Tomatoes are unbelievable tasty right now. I made a tart with a fresh basil, egg, ricotta & mozzarella filling topped with sliced tomatoes. I love this because you can make it earlier in the day and serve at room temperature. Lemon Basil Sorbet, my new favorite summer dessert, especially when I have an abundance of basil in the garden. It is so refreshing and what a great combination of flavors.

In San Miguel de Allende, I have a lemon tree happily producing fruit on my mirador (roof top patio). This is a special treat to have because lemons are not available in the markets and I love lemons. Now I have lemons on hand so I can make this sorbet down at my casa south of the border.

As Abigal Trillin, age four, said after eating chocolate ice-cream, from "Alice, Let's Eat", "MY TONGUE IS SMILING!"

Buen Provecho Amigos!

PS: If you want the Lemon Basil Sorbet recipe, email me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fonts around the world

When traveling, I am always impressed by the way different type styles or fonts are executed. My Dad is crazy about all different type styles that are out there. Being a seasoned AD man, I would think its in his blood. It definitely has rubbed off on me.

Whether I am in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico or Spain (there's a Latin theme to my travels), I always come across something different.

I just love the shadowing and the use of the dot in the "E"! All hand done too.
This font is very typical in San Miguel and neighboring towns.
This banner was hanging on the wall of the Casa de Cultura in Patzcuaro. Pretty funny.
I love the romantic look of this font. I shot this in Salamanca, Spain.
What a great sign! Too bad we were walking off a big lunch otherwise we would have popped in to see what they had to offer.

Good signage and interesting type does make a difference.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Felipe Horta, a great maskmaker

I first met Felipe de Jesus Horta Tera when I was in Uruapan in the state of Michoacan, Mexico at the Tianguis Artesanial. This is a fair that is held annually and artisans from all over the state come to display and sell their art, crafts, embroidered clothing, ponchos, guitars, rebozos, baskets, ceramics, masks,you name it... But that is for another story... I ended up buying a few masks from Felipe for my brother, Carter, who has a tremendous mask collection.

In July, I was over in Patzcuaro for a few days and I drove along the west side of Lake Patzcuaro to Tocuaro where Felipe lives. Felipe began carving at the age of twelve, an art that he learned from his father.
Felipe is modeling the mask for me. This mask has been "danced" which means it has been worn in a parade or a traditional dance for a particular festival.
I really wanted to buy this one with the rabbit fur on the top but Felipe would not budge. It was part of his personal collection.
About two weeks later, Felipe came over to San Miguel de Allende, where I live part time, and brought a whole collection of old and danced masks along with some masks he had just carved and painted. He carves his masks out of Copal wood and Avocado wood.
More masks. The pink face masks with the sisal hair are worn for the Danza de Los Viejitos, dance of the old men. This dance is pretty funny. The dancers wear masks of old people and they are dressed in typical campesino (people of the countryside) clothing. They start the dance mimicking hunched over old men with minimal movements. Then the dancers pick up the pace, they start trembling, falling down, coughing but still moving rather slowly. Today the dance represents the richness of life and is performed during religious holidays.
Felipe is well known for his elaborate devils masks.
Many times masks are faces of the Spanish conquerors. These two are of Empress Carlota and Emperor Maximilian. I could not resist not buying these two. The hypnotic eyes with the horse hair eye lashes just spoke to me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Knocking around San Miguel de Allende

Before door bells ever hit the scene, almost every door in San Miguel de Allende had a door knocker. You will find door knockers that are rather old, elaborate, simple, whimsical, they are endless...
The simplicity of this little fish door knocker on the Mexican blue door just makes me smile.
You will find a variety of the hand door knockers around town. Mainly on some of the older mansion's door. And they are hefty too.
Not only are the door knockers intricate and quite unusual, so are the hand carved doors that they adorn.
The face on this door knocker looks like one of the Spanish Inquisitor's from the 1600's.
This Medusa door knocker is a very common subject of the door knockers around town. Setting aside the Greek mythology's interpretation of Medusa, I like to look upon her as a beautiful maiden and the guardian protectress of the homes that she adorns.

When you are checking out all the beautiful door knockers and handsomely carved doors, watch your step though, the cobblestones can be treacherous.