Thursday, August 30, 2012

Crazy T-Shirts around San Miguel de Allende

One can not help laugh and have fun when in San Miguel de Allende, 
especially when you see some funny t-shirts around town.   
Got Mullet?  
Well, this young man certainly knew what a mullet was but I am sure 
the rest of the town's people had no idea what it is.  
Don't you love the "mulletesque" question mark?
Both my Dad and my husband wanted to know 
where they could get a t-shirt like this.  
I wonder if Prudential really cares...

This Dude was having a so much fun 
playing catch with his Dad in the jardin.
 Enough said.
The Balloon Man.
This man has it right.  
Life is Fun!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Diego Rivera Museum in Guanajuato

 A visit to the Diego Rivera Museum and Casa in Guanajuato is well worth the trip.   When  my group in town for my "Meet me in San Miguel" tour, we spend part of the day over in Guanajuato and the Rivera Museum is one of our stops.
Rivera was born in 1886 in this narrow three story house in which his family lived on the first and second floor.  He lived here until the age of eight until his family moved to Mexico City.
The first floor has been re-created as it was when he was a young boy with furniture, family portraits and antiques.
Nuestra Senora de Paris - 1908 

I am intrigued by the talent he had at a young age.  Like Picasso, they both mastered the techniques of other artist.  He was influenced by the pointillism of Serat, the elongated figures of El Greco and Picasso's cubism.  He even had a close association with Picasso and Cezanne.

Different creative stages of Rivera are on display such as his formative years and his cubist period.  Portraits, landscapes, nudes, allegories, still life paintings and mural sketches are some of the pieces you will find on the second floor.

"Maestro mono, Maestro Simio, 
Desiaban que muriecen alla sobre ls hormigas,
all sobre las espinas" - 1931
(Master hand, melodic ape, die on the ants, there on the thorns)
If you had shown me this by itself, I would have never dreamed that this was the work of Rivera.  There is great series of these in one of the rooms.

  A detail the central section of Rivera's  
Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park.
(Un Sueno de una tarde Dominical en La Alameda Central)

On the third floor of the museum is a smaller reproduction of this mural, a mural that Rivera is most famous for.
This 50 foot mural is set in the Alameda park, the first city park in Mexico City that was built on the grounds of an ancient Aztec market.  It highlights the three significant eras in Mexican history:  the conquest, the Porfirio Diaz dictatorship and the Revolution of 1910. 
In the center of the mural is La Calavera Catrina, the skeleton figure wearing a feathered serpent boa.  She was the creation of engraver Jose Guadalupe Posada (see my post dated July 21, 2010 to view photos of his work and read about this extraordinary artist).  The Catrina mocked the wealthy women that liked to promenade in the park.  To her right is Posada elegantly dressed in a black suit and derby hat.  To her left she is leading Rivera at the age of ten by the hand.   Frida Kahlo, in her traditional Mexican dress,  is behind Rivera with her hand resting on his shoulder as if she is protecting him as he goes forth into the world.
 Another detail of the mural.  I love the interaction between the man selling newspapers and the one selling pasties and sweets.

Another detail of the mural with two conceited dandies out for a stroll and the fancy, well-healed gentleman tipping his hat in their direction.  

I have been many times to the Museum and each visit is a real treat.

Diego Rivera Museum and Casa
Calle Positos 47
Guanajuato, Mexico
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 7:00 and Sundays from 10:00 to 3:00. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia Child would have been 100 today!

The first Julia Child's cookbook that I was given was from my Mom's mother, Rubie.  It had been part of her cookbook collection.  She had bought it in 1975 at Dayton's department store in Minneapolis, Minnespta for $15.00.  This was Julia's fourth cookbook; Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 and 2 and The French Chef Cookbook had been published prior.
And it is a signed copy by both Julia and her husband, Paul!
She was a pure delight when she cooked with Jacques Pepin.  They had such chemistry!  I remember one evening, late and I could not sleep so I turned on the TV and there they were.  She thought Jacque used too much garlic and he thought she used too much wine.

Julia had a wonderful teasing banter with Jacques.  They would cook together using an extravagant amount of butter as they prepared lavish meals for formal entertaining.  She was furious over the movement to use margarine instead of butter and I do not blame her!

Julia's sense of humor was wonderful.  At one her last appearances at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival, she told the audience how to cook a lobster in the microwave, "When it stops clawing at the door, he's done."  I think she shocked some of the crowd.

She could improvise beautifully.  On her PBS show, she had flipped an omelet.  It splashed all over the stove.  "Well, that did not go very well," she said as she scraped up the eggs and re-deposited them back into the skillet. "But you can always pick it up if you're alone. Who's going to see."

She was and still is an inspiration to trying new recipes, improvising and just getting into the kitchen and cooking up a storm.  Viva Julia Child.  Bon Appetit!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tapas out on the Patio

Last weekend I had a bunch of friends over for a Tapas dinner party.  We all toasted Carter at the beginning of the evening for the sign hanging above was something special to him and to my husband, Len.  Carter beat Len to the punch when he convinced the owner of El Gato Negro (a men's bar in San Miguel de Allende) to sell him the sign.  He had this hanging in his garage for many years.  Carter would be happy to know that we have it proudly on display on our patio.
Sometimes I think I am out of my mind when I decide to do a Tapas Dinner Party because it is a lot of work: planning the menu, deciding on the order in which I will serve each course and on what plate, grocery shopping (and believe me, it is not just one store), choosing the wines (Len's department but I do have a vote) and then all the cooking not to mention washing the patio, setting the tables and selecting the right music for the evening!  
With cocktails, we started with roasted blanched almonds that I had seasoned with rock salt, rosemary and pimiento.   And grilled artichokes with a remoulade sauce.
The next course was a Pea and Mint Vichyssoise which I made the day before to ensure that it was perfectly chilled.
The roasted eggplant custards had a smokey flavor to them. I first roast a whole eggplant over an open flame before I roasted it with red peppers and onions.  The Manchego cheese wafers that were seasoned with thyme and cayenne pepper is the ideal accompaniment to this vegetable pate.
 Karen and Dick about to dive into the chilled custards.
Over Suzy's shoulder, you can see the RAM pinata that I brought out for the occasion (from my Dad's birthday party in May).
A big hit was something new that I made.  Jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, Gouda and shrimp.  I placed them on a sheet of tin foil and grilled them for about 25 minutes.  Next time I am going to eliminate the shrimp, it was lost in the pepper, and add chorizo or bacon instead.
One of my favorites, skewered watermelon and tomato with a sherry, olive oil and lemon zest vinaigrette sprinkled with rock salt.  A great, refreshing palette cleanser.
The grilled chicken and peach skewers are another great summer dish.  I had marinated the chicken in yogurt, peanut butter, olive oil, jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper.  Right before serving, I drizzled the skewers with some extra marinade that I had put aside along with a sprinkling of chopped roasted peanuts.
The last of the main courses was steak tartar.  I hand-chopped the sirloin and put all the ingredients together at the last moment.  I used a square form to shape the tartar and then topped it with chopped hard boiled eggs. This particular recipe is from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook.  (I added the eggs)
For the grand finale, Cold Zabaione with fresh blueberries and raspberries.  I adapted this recipe from Cooking Ideas from Villa d'Este, a cookbook I had bought at Villa d'Este, Italy back in August of 1985. 
The Zabaione consists of 8 egg yolks, 1 1/4 cup of sugar, lemon and orange zest, 2 cups of dry Marsala, 1 cup of dry white wine and 3 cups of heavy whipping cream. The whipped cream is folded into the egg and wine mixture after it has cooled down.   I poured the Zabaione into eight of my hand-etched blue margarita glasses that I had bought in San Miguel de Allende.  About an hour before serving, I took them out of the freezer and put them in the refrigerator.
It was a wonderful, relaxed evening of savory courses, magnificent wines, good music and great friends under the stars in my backyard.  And yes, all my planning and hard work was well worth it.  
Bon Appetit.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mermaids and Pesto

Last week we had a wonderful little get together with some of the ladies from my Denver Athletic Club water aerobics group.  We had given Beth (hiding behind the Jennifer on the far left) a pot full of different herbs, Basil being one of them, for her birthday.  Beth had told us that the herbs were over three feet tall and we told her that she should have a Pesto Party!  So that week she did.  What a pretty table she set!
Lynn, Anne and Lori enjoying a glass of wine.  I brought the hors d'oeuvre in front of Lori, Bruschetta with Cremazola and strips of roasted red pepper in olive oil.  Jennifer made a really moist zucchini bread, I think it is the brown sugar that gives it so much flavor.
 Karen poising for the camera.
What a perfect summer meal.  A tossed green salad with spaghetti and fresh pesto!


4 cups fresh basil
1 1/4 cups Italian parsley
1 /2 cup pine nuts
6 cloves of garlic
3/4 cup of grated Romano or Parmesan (or a mix of both)
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/4 cups olive oil

Blend well in a Cuisinart Mixer.  
Serve with a pound of your favorite pasta.

Buon Appetito!