Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Celebrating Carter's Memory

It's that time of year when I put together an Altar in the niche in my home in Denver in honor of my brother, Carter.  It will be six years this December 30 that he passed away.
Carter is surrounded by marigolds, los flores de Cempasuchil representing a pathway for the dead.  And woven fish that I bought in the jardin in San Miguel de Allende during Palm Sunday.  Carter loved the outdoors and fishing.
For those who knew Carter, you will recognize some of his favorites things.  His extensive Mexican mask collection, his love of the Grand Canyon and especially Lake Powell, a photo of the album cover of The Who (I asked him once, if you could be a musician, who would it be.  He told me he would be Pete Townshed, the guitarist of The Who.  And I do remember him playing air guitar and leaping thru the air when he would come home from college.  Always made me laugh), he loved doing the Suduko in the paper every morning, the infamous red pen, playing basketball, the terrier dog, a Mexican wrestler (lucha libre), the church that resembles the Parroquia in San Miguel de Allende, a bottle of his favorite wine (a Turnbull Cabernet), pheasant feathers referring to his love of bird hunting, his favorite fruit, the pear, a nopal cactus (he loved the desert), a heart milagro (he had a big heart and was very giving) and the two candles, one of Saint Michael, the patron saint of San Miguel de Allende.  And like the archangel Saint Michael, Carter was always a leader and very protective of me.
We love you Carter and miss you every day.

Monday, October 30, 2017

My Los Dias de Los Muertos dinner party over the weekend

Last time I was in Oaxaca City, I came across a stall in the market that was selling this colorful oil cloth with Catrinas, skulls, flowers and paper picados on it.  I could not resist and bought three meters to use as my tablecloth for my next Day of the Dead dinner party.
Highly varnished clay skulls from San Bartola Coyotepec. 
Keeping with the theme, I made paper napkin holders with a skull and every one's name on it.  The typeface I used is called "thriller".  How appropriate.
A devil tin candle holder from San Miguel de Allende
Another tin candle holder along with a clay pumpkin that I had bought at El Tianguis, the Tuesday market on the outskirts of San Miguel.
An empty bottle of KAH Reposado tequila.  Every bottle is an individual, hand crafted work of art - no two bottles are alike.  Besides the bottles being very cool, the tequila is also excellent.
I had to get the pumpkin carved to great my guests at the front door.
Special adhesive wine labels that I put over the original ones that read "Embalming Juice", "Zombie Virus" and "Spider Venom". 
Silver and black mylar picados that I had found in the market in Oaxaca.  Perfect to hang between the living room and dining room.
The main course was a 6-pound bone-in Boston butt pork shoulder.  I made a paste of smashed garlic, salt, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, achiote paste and cider vinegar.  I scored 1-inch deep cuts on the fatty side, then rubbed the paste all over the pork and wrapped it securely in banana leaves.  I tied the banana-wrapped bundle of pork with kitchen string and let it sit in the refrigerator two days before I cooked it.  
I set it on a rack in my largest Le Crueset dutch oven.  Added some cut onions and jalapenos to the pot and enough water to come 1-inch up the sides.    Covered the pot and baked for 5 hours at 300 degrees.   After 2 1/2 hours, I turned the pork over.  
The pork turned out perfect, tender and delicious.  I shredded it with a fork and poured some of the braising liquid over it.
I served it with a salsa Veracruz, a cazuela of roasted poblanos and sauteed onions, and corn tortillas.  Along with a spinach and arugula salad tossed with a cilantro dressing and then sprinkled with pepitas.
I have plenty pork left over to make some green chili for my next tamale dinner or two. 
It was a very festive evening!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Taking the funicular up to Mount Igueldo in San Sebastian

Walking the promenade towards the west, you will take a slight detour and follow the signs to the funicular that will take you to the top of Mount Igueldo.  For 3.15 Euros, you can ride the clunky old-world funicular that is pulled up the mountain by a series of pulleys and motors up to the top.  It runs every 15 minutes. 
 Once to the top the views are spectacular.
Part of my group of ladies.
 I was so impressed by the beautiful and lush Hydrangeas.
It was off season and the Parque de Atracciones was closed for the season (children were back in school).  Atop Mount Igueldo, there are individual rides and games like the canal seen above that surrounds the property where you can take boat rides.
 This is the paddle that creates the movement in the water to propel the tiny boats.
A view of the coastline looking west.
The Torreon de Monte Igueldo is a fortified 16th-century lighthouse.  It is no longer functioning but it offers great views. 
Once you reach the area with all the attractions, it is like stepping back in time.  It could be a set from an episode of the Twilight Zone.  Check out the big gorilla face as the entrance of the Casa de Terror.
A big ole slide...
A mini train ride that weaves in and around these toad stools and gnomes.

A big labyrinth. 
And bummer cars.  I could just see my group in these after a few bottles of Cava!  Watch out.
 Where are the Jetsons?
Would have loved to have had my husband with to try this one out.  He might have broke it.
A sign promoting another ride.
We waited for the next funicular to come up so we could go back down.
Once that funicular leaves, there is not guard rail, nothing to prevent someone from falling into the big gap.  We all backed up against the wall waiting for out turn.
It's a funky place with incredible views and I bet it would be a lot of fun when all the rides are up and running.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Comb of the Wind sculptures in San Sebastian

Another morning we walked the opposite direction from our hotel towards Mount Igueldo.  Every morning the beach is dragged and seaweed is being collected.  There must have been some storms out at sea, for I have never encountered hardly any seaweed in the past.  The water is normally crystal clear.
At the very western end of the Promenade and La Concha Bay,  you will find  El Peine del Viente  (The Comb of the Wind), a collection of three sculptures by Eduardo Chillida  arranged as an architectural work by the Basque architect Luis Pens Ganchegui.
These monumental steel sculptures, weighing 10 tons each, are embedded in the natural rocks rising from the Cantabrian Sea.  Completed in 1976, It's a marriage of art and landscape where the ruggedness of the sea meets the strength of the iron sculptures.
Jorge Oteiza was a Basque sculptor born in San Sebastian who examined the nature of space and emptiness in monumental minimalist sculptures that were very  influential in the art world of the mid-20th century. 

Octavio Paz wrote that in Chillida’s work "iron says wind, wood says song, alabaster says light — but all say the same thing: space". 

It's a beautiful spot!

Friday, October 20, 2017

A pretty stroll around Mount Urgell in San Sebastian

One morning, kinda misty out, I headed out with my group towards the marina to walk around Mount Urgell.  What a view from my hotel window.
There is a huge Christ up on the top of the hill that you can climb up to.
On the way we noticed a man writing in the sand, I would assume making some political statement that will soon be erased by the incoming tide.
We passed by a quaint, little marina.
Loved the tile facade on this building.  It glimmered in the sun, almost like fish scales.
One house had dyed or painted the wine corks and hung them decoratively from the eaves.  I love it but I sure it would be very time consuming to make.  
Great art work on this poster advertising an exposition on sea toys at the Aquarium.

A view of the Santa Clara island that has a tiny beach and when it's tide, most of the beach disappears.  Beyond the island is Mount Igueldo.  If you follow the rock stairs down to the water and then out, you will see a small figure, a man paddle boarding.  He started at the beach by our hotel, proceeded to go out into the ocean and around Mount Urgell to the Zurriola beach, which is noted for its surfing, and then back to where he started.  Talk about core strength!
Laura stopping on the Paseo Nuevo to take some photos of the beautiful scenery.  It's spitting rain here and there but the sun is trying to come out.
Then we come upon the striking sculpture, Construccion Vacia (Empty Construction), by Basque artist, Jorge Orteiza (1908 - 2003).   It's like a wild window with its view out into the rugged sea.
And the sea can be rather ominous as the sign warns.
 The waves were rather tame the day we were walking on the Paseo Nuevo.
But a few years ago the waves were really crashing up onto the walkway.
Making the big loop, we ended up in the plaza in front of the San Telmo Museo  which features the Basque culture and society.
 What totally amused us were a group of little girls playing a game at recess.
Totally oblivious to any one else except on getting the bandana from the ring leader.  

It's a perfect morning walk and you will see many of the locals doing just that.