Sunday, September 30, 2012

San Miguel Arcangels in Barcelona

When I was in Barcelona at the National Gallery Museum, I was very intrigued with the retablos of Saint Micheal (Miguel), especially since he is the patron saint of San Miguel de Allende where I have a home.  And yesterday was his Saint's Day.
  Saint Miguel Arcangel
Blasco de Granen - 1440
San Miguel always with a baton, fighting the evil forces.
Joan Mates - 1420
San Miguel depicting triumph over the Devil.

Jaume Huguet - 1455
San Miguel standing on top of the Devil.

Juan de la Abadia - 1490
San Miguel holding a scale to weigh souls in one hand and a baton in the other. 

The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Barcelona has a wonderful Gothic art collection where you will find these figures of San Miguel Archangel.  Or sign up for one of my San Miguel de Allende tours and encounter San Miguel Archangel, the town's patron saint, in person.   Not only will you find him in the Parroquia, you will see murals, stone carvings and paintings of him all over town.  
Viva San Miguel!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

San Miguel, The patron saint of San Miguel

September 29th is the Archangel Saint Michael's day (el dia de San Miguel Arcangel), the patron saint of San Miguel de Allende.  The front altar of the Parroquia, the parish church right in the center of town, San Miguel is surrounded by large urns full of colorful and fragrant flowers.
San Miguel is God's commander-in-chief in the war against the Devil.  Even thou he is the general  of heavenly hosts and a formidable military figure, he looks like a young boy.  Church regulations forbid artists to depict sexual characteristics such as beards, breasts... He is seen leaving the Parroquia as part of the celebration and procession through town in his honor.           
How appropriate that San Miguel is the patron saint of San Miguel de Allende where the fight from freedom from Spain was at the center of this very town.
Part of the procession is a float with a young lady portraying San Miguel with her youthful appearance.
A few ladies are carrying the small shrine with San Miguel back into the Parroquia where is will remain until next year.
At the end of the procession, this Xuchile is erected in front of the Parroquia along with  a few others.  Xuchiles are offerings of flowers built upon platforms made of reeds and wood.  The structures are decorated with colorful flowers such as marigolds and pieces from the interior of a cactus called cucharilla (meaning little spoon).
Often San Miguel is depicted wearing his shield and carrying his scales, ready to fight or to judge.
It is a weekend of dancing, music, parades, the towns people dressed in different costumes, pageantry and a lot of fireworks!  It is an exciting time and not one to be missed.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mixta's new digs in San Miguel de Allende

Just recently Mixta moved up a few doors and to the other side of the street to their new digs at Calle Pila Seca 3. 
I have always loved this space, an old house with interesting stone work, Moorish windows, old-fashion floor tiles.  A bit of history on this old home...  A long time ago it was owned by someone and bought by a local butcher who decided to restore the old place, complete with stone columns which still stand today.  Trouble was, he got halfway thru the restoration and ran out of money.  Before he could halt the work, one of the laborer's shovel hit something hard in the patio. Turns out it was a chest full of old Spanish gold coins, worth a fortune, so the butcher finished the job.
With the home's colorful history and colorful interior, it is the perfect fit for owner, Anna Sinclair's funky, eclectic merchandise.  Anna certainly has a real knack for displaying things too.
The main room is packed with all kinds of jewelry, one-of-kind folk art, "lucha Libre" banks, some vintage furniture...  Anna designed the industrial looking yellow lights that are hanging over the beautifully crafted wood dining table.  Very cool.
Anna carries a line of greeting cards created by two locals, The Clay Boys.  I always love to stock up on their birthday cards because they are some of the craziest ones I have seen in a while.  They definitely are not for everyone and certainly ones that you would not send to your Aunt Mary.
Mixta has so much to offer.   Locally produced natural soaps and lotions.  Hand-made one-of-kind clothing for children and women.  Wonderful bags in such unusual fabrics.
If you need a few pillows to jazz up your bedroom or living room, this is the place.
Mixta is the perfect MIX of items for your house, yourself and a great place to find that unique gift.  Happy shopping.

Calle Pila Seca 3 
(just west of Hernandez Macias on the north side of the street)
San Miguel de Allende

Thursday, September 20, 2012

At the Dickson's Studio in San Miguel de Allende

One morning I stopped in at my friend's gallery and studio for a visit.  Donna was in the middle of one of her water color classes with the most adorable young ladies, Grace and Emma.   Emma was just finishing up on a handsome Rooster that she was painting as a gift.  Every summer they come down to San Miguel with their families and they just love it, especially their painting classes with Donna.
Donna offers workshops that involve water color painting in the studio and plein air painting at different spots around town.  Wherever Donna takes you, the lighting in San Miguel is spectacular.  As a photographer, nothing can beat that morning and late afternoon light!
A view of the studio with many on Tom's (Donna's husband) and Donna's paintings.  Check out my post dated May 7,2010.  I wrote about Tom's paintings and my photography and how we captured the same image using two different mediums.
Just as I was about to leave, in comes a very pleasant lady selling flowers from a huge plastic bucket she had been carrying all over town (I saw her earlier over on Calle Jesus).  How can you not resist buying a bouquet of something.  Of course Donna bought a pretty bouquet for the studio.  Maybe that was the next "still Life" project for the girls...
Check out Donna's website ( ) and find out when the next 'Plein Air' or studio workshop is scheduled.  You'll have a great time.

Dickson's Studio and Gallery
Calle San Francisco 1
(and by the way, the studio/gallery has a remarkable view of the jardin and the Parroquia)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pasta Rolls

For the picnic on the way to Crested Butte I made a recipe that I haven't made in ages, Pasta Rolls stuffed with Ricotta, spinach and Prosciutto.  I served the slices with a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.  We enjoyed these with a bottle of crisp Rose (Muga from Spain) and some fresh peaches from Paonia right at the base of Cottonwood Pass.  The beauty of this recipe is that the Pasta Rolls and the Vinaigrette can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.  The down side of this recipe is that it is time consuming.
With a pasta maker, crank out a thin sheet of pasta dough about 18" in length and as wide as the pasta maker allows.  With my thick marble counters, thank goodness I have 2 big old fashion pull-out cutting boards in my kitchen. That is the only surface that I can anchor the pasta maker to.
Place the sheets of pasta on a floured surface.  Spread the spinach and cheese mixture on the pasta sheet, then 4 slices of Prosciutto and top it with thin slices of Mozzarella, leaving a 1/2" border on all sides.  Fold the long sides over the filling.  Brush the shorts ends with water and start rolling the pasta sheets up "jelly roll" fashion. 
Once rolled up, wrap in cheese cloth and tie the two ends with string.  Repeat with remaining dough and filling.  Bring 2" of water to a boil in a large roasting pan.  Add the pasta rolls, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove from the water and let cool.  Remove the cheesecloth and string, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.  I found that wetting the rolls again after they have cooled, the cheesecloth will come off very easily with out sticking to the pasta.

3  cups flour
3  eggs
1/2 cup water (more if needed)
1 1/2 teaspoon water

Mix in Cuisinart until it all comes together.  Let rest for about half an hour.

3  lbs. frozen chopped spinach - defrost, drain and squeeze dry
3  cups ricotta cheese
3 eggs
1  teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
2  lb. mozzarella, thinly sliced
32 slices of Prosciutto
Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
Makes eight rolls.  
Serves about 14 - 16 people.  
(the cooked rolls freeze nicely)

40 or so oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drained - reserve 1/3 of the oil)
1/2 minced shallots
1  tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups of chopped basil
1 cup olive oil (or more)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (or to taste)
salt & pepper
Mince tomatoes in Cuisinart.  Mix in shallots and garlic. With Cuisinart running, slowly add the rest of the ingredients until creamy.  
Cover and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A weekend in Crested Butte

Labor day weekend Len and I and good friends, Judy and Denny, drove down to Crested Butte.  We had a savory picnic before we reached the Cottonwood Pass's summit.  An elevation of 12,126 feet, it was an invigorating change of temperatures from what we have been experiencing in Denver.  Standing on the Continental Divide, we had San Isabel National Forest on the Atlantic Ocean side and Gunnison National Forest on the Pacific Ocean side.  What a view!
On the other side of the pass we drove along Taylor Reservoir.  Such beautiful colors with the black and brown cows amongst the sage colored bushes. Truly cattle country.
Here's Mount Crested Butte.
One day we headed north and drove past Gothic up into the mountains.  The field of red was breathtaking.
The Aspen were just starting to turn their colors.  I am sure they are at their peak right now.
What a great place to escape from the heat in Denver, cell phones (no reception at the cabin) and work and enjoy this beautiful scenery!
Len and I have been coming to The Pioneer Guests Cabins off and on for over 23 years.  In the earlier years my parents would drive up from Scottsdale and join us.  It is a perfect setting.  In a canyon, the Cement Creek runs along side the cabins.  There is a fire pit with comfortable wood lounge chairs around it and a big picnic table behind each cabin
With a full moon, the smell and sound (and warmth) of a crackling fire, steaks on the grill, great company and a glass of wine, what would be better!  We certainly had a perfect weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2012

La Mesa Grande

La Mesa Grande is a great place to stop in for cup of coffee, pick up a loaf of bread, some sconces, a few yummy croissants and or simply have a sandwich either made to eat there or to go.   Owners Fernando and Robin Echeverria opened this charming little spot about 1 1/2 years ago and the decor has really evolved.  It is cozy, inviting and the colors and furnishings are just great. 
Besides having delicious baked goods, the best thing about it is that I can take a tray from my kitchen, walk out the front door of my house and walk less than half a block and there I am at the counter ordering lattes, hot chocolates and fresh orange juices to go plus a few croissants.  How spoiled can a girl get?  Buen Provecho. 

La Mesa Grande
Zacateros 49
(NW corner of Zacateros and Pila Seca)
San Miguel de Allende
Tel.  415 154 0838

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Suspended Gardens in Crested Butte

Recently I was in Crested Butte, Colorado and the "Suspended Gardens" were spectacular!

The secret to their lushness comes from a variety of factors.  The Sphagnum Moss that line the wire baskets is the bogs in New Zealand.  This special moss holds 20 times their weight in water.  The special soil is imported from Canada, Vermiculite from Virginia and special seedlings from southern California along with hybrids originally from Europe. 
The baskets are made over in Hotchkiss for it is a much warmer climate.  And if you can believe, it takes three months for the baskets to fully fill out!  I love the mass of alyssum in this particular basket.
The baskets are designed a year in advance and the designers draw ideas from the annual plant trials at CSU in Ft. Collins, Colorado.   The location of where the basket will hang in town is taken into consideration.  Looking around Crested Butte, they did a great job, the flowers really compliment the building colors.  The growers at these plant trials even look at color trends.  Pantone this year named "Tangerine" the top color of the year.  And I can testify to that.  I have seen it in the design trade and this last October my husband bought me a gorgeous tangerine colored leather Fratelli Rossetti purse in Rome.
See how the lilac and pink flowers pick up the colors on the trim of the building.
Great choices in flowers include pansies, petunias, trailing geraniums, violas, alyssum, nasturtium, lobelia and dracaena.  It is a a time consuming process to create one of these baskets but the end results are sure worth the effort!