Monday, January 31, 2011

Some more stain glass

Last Friday I wrote about a few stain glass windows that can be found around San Miguel de Allende.   I just had to share with you some of the most beautiful stain glass that is in my favorite church in Barcelona,  Iglesia de Santa Maria del Mar, in the Barri Gotic district.  This church is the only surviving example of Catalan Gothic style architecture in Barcelona today.
The church was built in the 1300's and for its time, it was finished in remarkable time.  It only took 55 years where most Churches can take hundreds of years before being totally completed. The geometric design of the window is so striking.
What a magnificent rose window!
A close up of the rose window.  I feel like I am looking in a Kaleidoscope.
The details of the Pente Cost are amazing.  I love the shadowing on their faces and the ray of light beaming through the window.
Some of the windows were destroyed due to an earthquake and fire.  This contemporary, abstract window I find very intriguing.  
Antonio Gaudi was so inspired by the tall columns in the Santa Maria, he modeled his columns after these when he designed La Familia Sagrada.  I certainly can see why.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Stain glass around San Miguel

There is not a lot of stain glass around San Miguel de Allende and you really have to be familiar with the town to know where to find it.  This particular window is in the Templo de San Juan de Dios.
The beautifully hand carved wood panels showcase four different pieces of stain glass in the entry of the San Francisco Church.
A close up of one of the stain glass windows with a white dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
I was walking down Calle Sollano and there was a stain glass lantern on the roof's corner of a house.  I bet many have walked right by and have never noticed it.
The simplicity of this stain glass framed by the window is just lovely.
I was over in Cuitzeo and this was in the entryway of the main church.
Stain glass so simple but beautifully executed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gearing up for my Cooking Class

          My Artisan & Architecture tour is right around the corner and I will be teaching the cooking class out at Dianne Kushner's Rancho Casa Luna, just outside of San Miguel de Allende.  Half of the people joining me on this tour have been on my previous Meet Me in San Miguel tours so I need to create a whole new repertoire of recipes.
         I am really intrigued with the indigenous foods of Mexico and how many of these foods drastically changed the way other cultures cook.  And how the cuisine of Mexico changed with the influences from the Old World; from the Spaniards, the French and even as far away as the Orient.
       The menu will be interesting and savory but not too complicated.  I have been known to take on recipes, even projects, that are lengthy and time consuming.  When I ask my friend Judy to help me with floral arrangements that I have designed for a particular fund raiser or event, she always says, "You never do anything easy."  Well, if I did make so it easy, it would not be that interesting...
       Friday night I made quesadillas, experimenting with the ingredients and tweaking what went in each one.  I had assortment of cheeses (danish blue, goat cheese, Monterrey jack, brie and fontina), sliced mangoes, jamaica, caramelized onions, thinly sliced red onions, cilantro, slices of avocado, chopped red pepper, crispy bacon and strips of roasted poblanos.  With my husband being part of my test kitchen (just the two of us, ha, ha), I narrowed it down to two different quesadillas with ingredients that are easily available in San Miguel and pretty simple for the cooking class to make; Quesadillas de Tocino y Flor de Jamaica (bacon & Jamaica flowers) and Quesadillas de Cebolla rojo y mango (red onion & mango).  Of course there are other ingredients and cheeses that go in both.  At a later date, I will post some of my quesadilla recipes.

Below is a sneak preview of one of my other recipes that I am including in my upcoming cooking class.  Luckily watermelon is available year round and it is such a refreshing salad.

     6 cups 3/4" cubed seeded watermelon
               *Place cubes in a colander to drain for a few minutes
     1 cup crumbled feta cheese or queso frescho
   ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
     2 cups (packed) baby arugula
1/4 cup pine nuts, roasted (optional)
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup olive oil
    2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
   ½ teaspoon salt
  1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk together olive oil and remaining ingredients in a small bowl: pour over salad and toss well to combine.

Prep work can be done hours in advance but do not assemble until ready to serve.

It will be a fun cooking class. And don't worry, the first order of the day will be making a big batch of margaritas!  Buen Provecho!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Looking for a great brunch....

I get spoiled when I am in San Miguel de Allende because we go out for breakfast, lunch and dinner quite often.  But when I am in Denver, Saturday is my day to go out with my husband for brunch or lunch someplace.
The Squeaky Bean in LoDo, an area near downtown Denver, has a great brunch.   If you are not in the mood for eggs, their sandwiches are very good too.
It is not a big space, about 15 tables along with seating at the bar.
My favorite brunch item is the Eggs Benedict with perfectly poached eggs, thinly sliced Proscuitto, a light hollandaise sauce served on a slice of brioche that has been buttered and toasted on the griddle. 
Plus a side of roasted pork belly. 

It was starting to warm up and people were eating outside. 
It might be freezing out the day before with a little snow and the next day, I could be driving around with my sunroof open.  Denver, what a great place to live!

The Squeaky Bean
3301 Tejon, Denver

Friday, January 21, 2011

Borders and Beyond

San Miguel de Allende is full of color and beautifully painted borders around town.  You just have to keep your eyes peeled to spot that little bit of talent painted on the walls.  I bet many people have missed this particular border above.

The wild color combinations works perfectly with the shadowed leaves as the decorative border.

This border is in the Third Order Church of La Salud in TzinTzunTzan where I will be taking my Artisan & Architecture group in a few weeks.  It almost looks like a wallpaper.

The elegant border above adorns the spacious old ruins of the convent in Cuitzeo located on the north side of Lake Cuitzeo and Morelia.  Many of the old frescoes have recently been restored.

The border with the agave, the wavy line and just the right colors is really striking.

Here we have a dainty little border.

One of my favorite shots. I took this in the little side room off the main chapel over in Atotonilco.  The geometric design of the border, the colors, the rich tones of the wood and the simple design of the benches just speak to me.
With all the faux painting and stenciling that has been so overdone in the states, it is refreshing to see how these timeless borders add so much to a room or an exterior facade.  But then again, when something is well done, it is timeless!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Canales of San Miguel de Allende

What's a Canale? It is a projecting roof drain most commonly carved out of stone that adorn most of the homes in San Miguel de Allende.
Walk around town, and you will find a variety of canales from a simple rectangular carved canale to the gato (cat) design above.
This canale was given a decorative metal extension so the water pouring out of it would hit the street and not a person walking on the sidewalk below.  Believe me, you do not want to be nailed by its water gushing out with the force of a fireman's hose when San Miguel gets the occasional downpour.
I just love how the Prickly Pear cactus and the succulent, the Burro Tail,  is growing out of the fish canale.
Such a dainty ivy growing out of this canale.  Even if it is not raining, water from the gardener watering the pots on the mirador runs over the pots's saucers and drains into the canales.
Another cat adorning the striking deep orange wall.
I hauled this canale up from San Miguel to my home in Denver.  This gato sits in my garden and every spring I plant Impatients in him.  What a big grin he has.  I doubt he will scare any of the squirrels away.
The stone is so beautiful with the lichen growing in his crevices. Unless you are driving from Mexico back to the states, you would need Hercules to carry it home for you and shipping it would break the bank.  The canale weighs a ton!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Unique gardening

I just love the way the trees are trimmed in San Miguel de Allende. This particular row of Laurel trees have large lanterns going up into the trees and niches have been trimmed around the head of the light. I shot this photo in December as you can probable tell by the temporary stalls that are selling Poinsettias and Christmas trees. The trees are sold with the roots and dirt wrapped in canvas.  When you get the tree home, it gets planted in a big clay pot.
I shot this from a rooftop of a building just off the jardin, the main square in San Miguel. The tree trimmers actually climb into the trees to trim them. How they get the tops so perfect is beyond me.
I like how the archway was created to frame the doorway going into the the Chapel of the Third Order that is next to the San Francisco church.
This is the same row of trees with the San Francisco Church on the right. Over in Patzcuaro, these two men were trimming the grass with a machete and a small little clipper!
In the main plaza in Guanajuato, they pulled out the big ladder to trim their trees.
I could not believe my eyes when I was walking down Calle Tenerias , a block from my house. This little tree was growing out of the side of the building. Where ever you look, there is always a surprise around each corner.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Shadows of San Miguel

That late afternoon lighting in San Miguel de Allende is simply magical.   The detail of this lantern really is apparent in its shadow.
Afternoon at the Bellas Artes, one of the art schools in town.
Such simplicity but so beautiful was the facade of the San Antonio Church with these blue and white pendents blowing in the wind.

I was over on Calle Murillo and the timing was just right.  The shadow from the rooftop across the street was magnificent.  And no, I had not just left El Gato Negro!

Such a fancy lantern with its acanthus leaves draped on the top and down the body along with its curvy bracket.  I can not figure out which is prettier, the lantern or its shadow... or both.
The colors of the facade, the deep blue sky, shadows from the wrought iron balcony & lights along with the telephone pole and zigzagging wires were great.
La Grotta Restaurant on Calle Cuadrante never looked so romantic and somewhat mysterious with the waves of shadows on its facade.   I just love that afternoon lighting.