Thursday, March 29, 2012

Only In San Miguel de Allende !!!

I was coming back from the market and heading toward Bonanza to pick up some staples before I returned home.  I turned the corner and I just had to laugh.  The seat on the motor cycle was covered in a real life deer hide, Bambi on Wheels!  I am sure the Teutul's on American Chopper have never done anything like this, even thou they do create some pretty outrageous motor cycles. 
Always something unique, unusual, out of the ordinary around very corner.  One of the may things I love about San Miguel!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not all signs are created equal

I can not help but being fascinated by all the unique signs I see all over San Miguel de Allende. I just love this La Carreta Rustica, the rustic cart.
Mama Mia is a pizza joint that has been around for ever. The mosaic disc is so cool.
I love the way this signed was made and so beautifully designed.  Then, nature's shadows added that finishing touch.
And this is a case were "less is more." So simple but beautifully executed.That signage of Casa Milan is a rustic version of the stainless steel house numbers I have on my own home in Denver. These sit about one inch from the facade of the house.

Boy, I love interesting and different signage.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ramon Casas, another great artist in Barcelona

Ramon Casas was a successful painter in Barcelona engaged heavily into graphic design.  He adopted Art Noveau into his designs that eventually helped mold the modernism  movement.
The above "Un Tandem - 1897" is a self-portrait of Ramon smoking a pipe along with his fellow painter, Pere Romeu.
Ramon Casas & Pere Romeu en un Automobil - 1901

Casas was partners with Romeau in Els Quatre Gats (The Four Cats), a bar modeled after Le Chat Noir in Paris.  As I wrote on 1/16/2012, painter and sculptor Julio Gonzales along with Pablo Picasso were also part of the artistic scene at Els Quatre Gats.  It had to be a very interesting time in Barcelona in the late 1800's.
Due to debts, Els Quatre Gats closed it doors in 1903.  It re-opened its doors when a restaurant group bought the building in 1989.  Today it is a very popular place with great Catalan fare.

Monday, March 19, 2012

My Photo Book... Meet Me In San Miguel de Allende

I just published another book of photos of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.  A copy of this will go into the gift bag for everyone that is joining me on my October tour, "Meet Me in San Miguel."  Check it out.  And by the way, I have a few spots left should you want to join me. 

Meet Me in San Miguel de Allende

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ca L'Isidre, old world charm in Barcelona

 One of my all time favorite restaurants in Barcelona is Ca L'Isidre!  It opened its doors in 1970 and is well known for their formal Catalonian fare. We have been coming here ever since our first trip to Spain back in 2003.  We are in good company, it is a favorite of King Juan Carlos.  It has the old world charm that has been lost in so many places, it's small and intimate.  The menu cover above is a piece of art in itself.  In fact there is an original Miro on the wall along with other beautiful paintings. 
It was on our first visit that we struck up a friendship with Pep.  His presence makes the meal so much more enjoyable with his knowledge of the local cuisine, what seasonal dish we would like, what sherry or wine or brandy would go well with what we were ordering.  A true man to his profession!

Compliments of the house, we had a healthy shot of Gazpacho.  Pep shared with me the chefs secret to its creaminess but my lips are sealed.  Doesn't mean that I won't altar my recipe with this new found knowledge.
Fine tuning the art of making croquettes is a talent.  And this kitchen has it down pat.  Light and creamy, they just melt in your mouth.
With our first course, we started with a very unusual bottle of cava.  A very limited release, it is no wonder that is has hints of sherry to it, it comes from the Jerez region known for its sherry.
The first course that I dream about over and over is the Block of Foie sprinkled with flaky pieces of sea salt.  Heavenly!
Len ordered one of my favorite Spanish wines to go with our entrees.  A 2006 Alion from the Ribera del Duero region.   A beautiful full bodied Tempranillo with spicy berry overtones.  A wine that is also Placido Domingo's favorite.
For my entree, I had roast baby goat with small pearl onions.  The "cabrit" was beautifully roasted and was so flavorful.
Every time we have been here, we have been tempted to try the Peus d porc farcits d ceps i tofona, a pigs foot (trotter) stuffed with porcini mushrooms, truffles and duck liver.   Len was the daring one that evening.  It was very tasty but a little of it went a long way.  Very rich and the gelatinous texture was a bit too much.
For dessert we had a glass of Pedro Ximenez, a syrupy dessert wine that Pep had introduced us to the first time we had met.  It has a rich raisiny taste to it.  I love it!

I love the Goose Berries that are served at the end of the meal.  The berry is dipped into caramelized sugar to give it that little crunch when biting into it.
What a lovely meal.  We were the last ones to leave.  Pep called us a cab, we said our goodbyes and off we went back to the hotel.  We can't wait to return.  It's a bit pricy,so it is a good thing that we are only in Barcelona every two years.

Ca L'Isidre
Les Flores 12
Tel 93 441 11 39  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Gingersnap Pear Cheesecake

The other night, Len and I had dinner over at our good friends, Judy and Denny's.  Judy made a scrumptious cheesecake which I had to have the recipe.  I made it for company the other night and it truly is a winner.  The mix of pears and ginger is sublime.  And lucky me, there were left overs!


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnap cookies (about 10 oz.)
2 large ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced 1/8" thick
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

Heat oven to 350'.  
Combine the butter and gingersnaps and press into a 9" spring form pan pressing the gingersnap mixture on the bottom and up the sides.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Toss the pear slices and ginger in a small bowl.  Once the crust has cooled, line the bottom with the pear mixture.

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese for 2 minutes.   Add 1 cup of the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time and mix until well combined.  Stir in 2 teaspoons of the vanilla.  Pour the mixture over the pears and bake for 50 minutes or until almost set but slightly wobbly in the center.

Mix the sour cream with the rest of the sugar and vanilla.  Spread over the top of cheesecake and cook for an additional 8 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Will keep a few days in the refrigerator.  Run your knife under hot water between slicing the cake.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An Interesting Face in San Miguel de Allende

One morning I was over at the market in San Miguel de Allende and on my way home I sat down on one of the cast iron benches in Plaza Civica, my favorite place in town to people watch.  I had my Cannon G12 camera with me that day and I love how I can pretend to be fooling around with the camera and at the same time take a picture without out someone knowing.  What a face!
Little did he know that I was taking his picture as he was checking me out!  Viva San Miguel de Allende.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Carter loved life and it was contagious!

Today would have been my brother's sixty-second birthday.  Even though he is not with us today, I feel his presence and rejoice in the wonderful times we had together and the life he led with such gusto.
This picture was taken on his sixth birthday.  At least I think that was his sixth by the number of candles on the cake with the cowboy in the middle.  He looks like he was protesting some but I think he enjoyed getting a little hug and smooch from his little sister.
This was taken almost eight years ago on my patio in Denver.  We were all together for a long weekend to celebrate our Mom's 80th birthday.
Always joking around and making me laugh.  My parents, Susan and Carter, and Len and I were on a Crystal Cruise over Christmas in 2004.  Who needed the ships entertainment when we had Carter.  He was doing his imitation of a rapper.
A hunter and fisherman by heart.  Starting at an early age up in northern Minnesota.
Carter and our Dad would fly down to Ciudad Obregon in Mexico for their annual duck and dove hunt.  Carter was in his element and boy was he an excellent shot!
Carter had a great smile, a twinkle in his eye with a little (and maybe a lot) of mischief thrown in.
Just up the street from our house in San Miguel de Allende.  We were having a good laugh. He had that same great smile along with a bit of mischief.  Carter, your smile is with me every day, every moment.  Miss you!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cafe Emma

When we were in Barcelona, we had had a full day of sighting seeing and walking around and we really did not feel like venturing far from the hotel.  Conveniently located, less than half a block away, was Cafe Emma.  A little French bistro with a straight forward, no nonsense menu.  Steak tartar was the perfect ticket for dinner that night.  A nice presentation and a huge serving  of fries!
There was a nice little patio right at the entrance but we chose to sit in the back of the restaurant.  The decor was tastefully done, a light taupe and white paneled walls which gave the place a clean and crisp look.
I loved the use of the gigantic fork, knife and spoon mounted on the wall as part of the decor.   The food, ambiance and service was so nice, we decided to come back for breakfast the next day.
Len had a beautiful poached eggs Benedict that sat on a pancake and a bed of sauteed spinach with a lovely piece of Jamon Iberico on top.  I had a croissant, fresh orange juice (zumo naranja natural) and a Cafe con Leche.  All very good.  
Cafe Emma has definitely been added to our list of top places to dine when in Barcelona.
Buen Provecho!

Calle Pau Claris 142
(just south of Valencia)
#34 - 93 215 12 16