Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reflections in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is like going into a candy store with unlimited funds.  It is eye candy for the eyes.  Not only what you see right in front of you is beautiful, the reflections in some of the windows around town are really interesting.  I love this one shot that I took on Calle Insurgentes, right around the corner from Calle Hidalgo, with the delicate curtains mixed with the reflection of the colorful building across the street.
At the right time of the day, the colors can be so intense.
One of the windows at the childhood home of General Ignacio Allende with the the reflection of the jardin (the main square).
Another beautiful window of one of the stately homes that line the jardin.
I love how the reflection of the cast iron is illuminated on the glass.  It looks so three dimensional.
It is as if I was watching TV when looking into this little stall with its carnitas for sale with its steady stream of traffic and people going by.  It is amazing at what you can see if you just think outside the box, or in this case, into a window.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Edge at the Four Seasons in downtown Denver

Friday night my husband, Len and I had a great dinner at The Edge, the main dining room at the Four Seasons in downtown Denver.  In the lobby there was a great display of red flowers ranging from Gladiolas to Gerber Daisies with some lime green pods thrown in for contrast. 
We were seated at a corner table with a perfect view of the room and the other diners.  Call me a snob, but when I go out to eat at nice restaurant, I like to see people dressed up.  On the most part, many were but there was one couple near us with almost matching Hawaiian shirts on, shorts and sport sandals.  Oh well...
I started with a Dunganess crab cake with blood oranges, slivers of fennel and arugula drizzled with a basil sauce.  It was one of the best crab cakes I have ever had and it was not a skimpy serving.
Len had a colorful and flavorful salad of sea salt roasted beets with haystack Mountain goat cheese, arugula pistachios dressed with a pistachio oil and beet juice vinagrette.
We both ordered the same entree, a Pecan wood grilled 8-ounce fillet with a brandy peppercorn sauce accompanied with a crispy deep fried truffle mac 'n cheese and grilled asparagus.  The fillet was perfectly cooked and so, so tender.  The mac 'n cheese balls had just the right amount of truffles in them, not too overpowering.
And for dessert, the perfect size to satisfy ones sweet tooth.  Bananas Foster (a mini log of frozen banana mousse between two decorative sheets of chocolate) and a scoop of banana semi-freddo with salted caramel sauce.  Oh so good.
Simon Purvis, the Executive chef, prepared an exceptional dinner for us.  Simon, originally from Portsmouth, England, has cooked all over the world from Berlin to Singapore.  The service was great too.  It is certainly a place that I have added to my Denver dining repertoire.  Bon Appetit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Parking with a View

Parking in San Miguel de Allende is a commodity and it can literally drive you crazy when the town is crowded and you are trying to find a place to park.  I have always been fascinated with a few of the parking lots, Estacionamento, in the center of town.  This particular one on Calle Recreo has walls in some places that reach over thirty feet high along with the spectacular view of La Parroquia, the town's parish church.  You would never imagine that there is such a massive open lot behind these doors when they are closed.  In the spring, the lot's giant Jacaranda tree is in full bloom with its brilliant purple blossoms.
By 1:00 in the afternoon, this lot is wall to wall vehicles.  That is the beauty of living in the heart of the San Miguel, I walk everywhere and I do not need to worry about where to find a place to park my car.  Life is good. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Frozen Yogurt hits the spot in San Miguel de Allende

MioFrio Yogurt is a new comer to the historic center of San Miguel de Allende.  It is a darling little place on Calle Mesones 66 between Calle Hidalgo and Calle Reloj on the south side of the street.  A cute gal was standing in front of the shop handing out samples of their non fat yogurt one morning when I was on my way to the market.  Talk about refreshing!  They offer quite a few topping... nuts, a variety of fresh fruits, M & M's...
Two very unusual flavors that I tried was Lychee (also known as Lichi nut and Litchi) and Tarro Root.  
Lychee is a fruit native to China with a creamy, juicy, sweet white flesh surrounding a small seed.  It is also cultivated in subtropical regions including parts of Mexico, Hawaii, California and Florida.  I was at H-Mart last week and they had some fresh Lychee on sale.  Talk about a big price difference, H-Mart was selling them for about $2.50 a pound, Whole Foods had them priced around $7.50 per pound.  Obviously you know where I bought some.
The ceiling has been attractively stenciled along with a pretty crystal chandelier.
There is a small built-in bench in one corner and a tiny little table by the door to sit at and enjoy your frozen yogurt.  Be warned though,  eat your yogurt slowly!  Brain freezes are known to happen.

Friday, July 15, 2011

San Miguel de Allende has the best street sounds

The street sounds of San Miguel de Allende are ones you will not find stateside and I would not change it for anything. 

The clanging of the garbage collectors as they drive down the street.  This alerts you grab your bag of garbage and run out of the house to meet them.  No trash cans sitting out on the street in this town!

The high-pitched whistle of the knife sharpener on his bike as he pedals around town looking for business.

The catchy jingle from the truck selling bottled water as they cruise around town.

The click clack of the burro's hooves up and down the street.  Depending on the time of the year, the burros are either loaded with bundles of firewood or burlap bags filled with dirt for your garden.  If you are home, you certainly will not miss them.  The owner of the burros is not shy when he knocks on your front door looking for a sale.  Believe me, he wants to get your attention and he does!

The blaring load speakers mounted on a truck announcing that the circus in town.  Usually there is a tiger, pony or camel riding in the bed of the truck.

A parade going by with people dressed up in their indigenous Chichimeca Indian costumes with the thundering sound of the banging of the drums.

The pop and boom of firecrackers celebrating some saints day.  At all hours of the day and night.

The sounds of the mariachi bands from the jardin (the town's main plaza) wafting through the air.

And of course, the best sound of all, is the ringing of over 100 church bells at different times around town.  It's a wonderful life.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lala's for Lunch

After bopping around and running a few errands, Len and I stopped into Lala's for a bite to eat.  We started with the Roman Artichokes that were lightly breaded and fried and then served with a basil pesto and an aleppo pepper aioli.  It was really tasty.  Two other appetizers also caught my eye.  The Housemade Burrata (fresh mozzarella wrapped around home churned ricotta and mascarpone with grape tomato balsamic jam and arugula) and the Italian Deviled Eggs (Colorado farm fresh eggs made with ricotta and mascarpone, topped with crispy pancetta and paprika).  I may have to tweak my deviled egg recipe next time.
Then we split the Nonna's Pizza.  It is a tasty, thin crust with a little red sauce topped with their homemade spicy Italian sausage, Peppadew peppers that had a little kick to it, roasted slices of fennel along with three different cheeses.
The room is well laid out with doors that were opened leading to the patio.  Part of the walls are decorated with corks that have been installed in a basket weave pattern.  I better get drinking if I want to "wallpaper" my walls at home with corks!  Cheers!  Salud!  Bottoms Up!

410 E. Seventh Ave.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Camino Silvestre, A store in San Miguel de Allende that you will not walk out of empty handed!

Camino Silvestre is a fabulous shop that is a rather new comer to the shopping scene in San Miguel de Allende, right in the historic center of town.  And the nice thing about it, it is right around the corner from my casa on Zacateros No. 46.
The main attraction to the store is its gorgeous collection of hummingbird feeders and bird houses.  Blown glass in an assortment of colors with a wrought iron base/hanger.  Some of them are triple or more tiered.  Talk about a hummingbird condominium.
Meet Alfredo Garcia-Lucio, one of the owners with the beautifully sounding chimes in the background.
The shop is not limited to hummingbird feeders, books on birds, figures of birds... there is an unique collection of Gorky Gonzales ceramics.  Many pieces especially made for Alfredo and Jim's store.
And meet Jim McKeever, the other owner of Camino Silvestre.  I just love how they have so beautifully merchandised and displayed everything. 
It is a great place for all kinds of gifts for yourself or someone else: candles, books, note cards, accessories...  The store also features some beautiful jewelry.
Not only did Alfredo and Jim design these special Christmas plates that Gorky Gonzales made, they have a line of unique glassware that is made locally that features an etched hummingbird design.  The glassware comes in many styles: wine, water, old fashion and my favorite, the margarita glass with a base but no stem.  I love that shape for a variety uses; for margaritas (of course) and for serving ceviches, chilled soups and desserts.
This is such a simple but perfect design for a hummingbird feeder that could go anywhere.  Actually, I think one would need a variety of them.
And of course, I find this feeder particularly charming.  Yes, I know, it's blue and what a great gift for your Mom.
Tell Alfredo and Jim that I sent you in.  I know you will not leave empty handed!
Should you go overboard, they will ship anywhere.  Another bonus, they are open seven days a week.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More from the Kirkland Museum

As I wrote on Monday, I love the 1931 "Jazz Bowl" with it different reliefs on the surface of the bowl.
It immediately reminded me of the bowl and vase below that I had bought over in TzinTzunTzan when I was leading my group on my Artisan & Architecture tour.  We were heading back to San Miguel de Allende that day, after being over in Patzcuaro for three nights where we had met some of the best artisans in the region
These ceramics are made by Manuel Morales, an exceptional artist that works not only in the blue tones but in black & white, browns, rusts and greens.  Check out more of his work on my post dated, May 6 of this year.

Back to the Museum, this hooked rug (1958) by Edward Marecak is pretty cool.  He bought wool sweaters from thrift stores and then had his two sons unravel them for the rug.
It was the late 1960's that I hooked this rug.  I love the colors and the design and if you can believe it, it is on the floor in my closet/dressing room.
I totally agree with Vance Kirkland, "If I am going to eat off something, drink out of something or sit in something, it is going to be great design."
Good design is timeless!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Last week I wrote about the Colorado 15 show at the Kirkland Museum in Denver.  The Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art is a treasure, housed in the historic art school and studio of Vance Kirkland. Kirkland is best remembered for his "dot paintings,"that he developed in his later years, as seen in the painting in the center of this photo.  He would suspend himself over the canvas to work on his larger works.
The museum has one of the most impressive international, modernist collections in North America.  There are over 3,000 objects (from vases to furniture) representing Arts & Crafts, Art Nouvea, Glasgow Style, Wiener Werskatte, Se Stijl, Bauhaus, Art Deco, Modern and Pop Art.  I can identify with many of the pieces in this museum, for I grew up with a house full of George Nelson, Nessen, Herman Miller, Bertoia, Saarinen and Knoll furniture. I guess that is one of the reasons that I love my International Style home in Denver that was built in 1938.
Aren't these ceramic Art Deco book ends great?
I have always been attracted to the Art Deco Bizarre ware by Clarice Cliff.  I actually have a copy of one the vases. 
I really like the simplicity of this bronze plaque that is in the sculpture garden, "Birds" by Colorado artist, Edgar Britton. (1969)
Kirkland painted in a variety of styles ranging from realism, surrealism, hard edge abstction, abstraction expression to the style he perfected in later years, Dot Paintings.  "Ruins of Central City" is certainly surreal.
The Weiner Werkstatte clear and colbalt glass goblets and decanter are really elegant.   Designed by Otto Prutscher in 1912.  But then again, I am a sucker for blue.
The organic shaped Bauer Art Pottery were molded and with silica glazes applied in a combination of colors and thicknesses.  All resulting in an unique piece.  Russel Wrigth Bauer was responsible for the ceramic forms and he collaborated with Doris Coutant on the glazes.
This "Jazz Bowl" is one of my favorites.  This piece was made by a classmate of Kirkland's, Viktor Schreckengost in 1931.  It is regarded as probably the masterpiece of Art Deco ceramics.  The first one was commisioned by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1930, before her husband became the 32nd President.
The Kirkland Museum has a fantastic collection and I bet you will not leave without picking out a few of your favorite pieces.  I know I do and I usually add a new one each time.