Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Calle Mármoles

Imagine waking up every morning and looking out your window onto a columned patio that has been standing since Roman times.

One of my favorite places in Seville is called Calle Mármoles. It is a beautiful place that appears suddenly as you turn from a narrow street round a corner.

The columns originally formed the portico of a Roman temple. If you look down to the pedestals of the columns, you can see that the street level of the old Roman city is actually about 10 yards below the present day sidewalk.

What would you think about each morning as you sipped your milky coffee and looked out at marble columns that are 2000 years old? Would you ponder who designed them? Would you wonder who toiled to put them in place? Would you think about the god whose temple door they framed?

Three of the columns have remained standing since the 1st century BC. There were six columns in the 18th century, but three of them were moved to the new park at the Alameda de Hercules in 1759. One broke during the move, and two remain at the entrance to the Alameda to this day.

Te gusta ésta postal? Me acuerdo muy bien de
las mañanas de domingo en la Alameda. Llaves, copas, besos...
Te quiero,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some favorites

Here are some favorites from this past week:

A lovely Ribera del Duero Tempranillo. Yes, it's called Ear Convent.

This Rioja was delicious, too.

And finally, a wonderful Amador County Zinfandel. I lost the photo. It was Moshin Vineyards, Bowman Zinfandel, Shenandoah Valley, 2005.

Oh, and our favorite song this week is:

Monday, July 28, 2008


On the weekend I needed to whip up a quick dessert, but all I had was a few strawberries and one nectarine. I had been wanting to do a clafouti for a while, so I thought this would be a good chance to throw some stuff together.

I read a couple of recipes first, including the Fresh Fig Clafouti from Georgeanne Brennan's Potager, and the Pear Clafouti from Barefoot in Paris.

In the end, this is what I did. (I *think* it's my own recipe. Since I made it up.)

Strawberry-Nectarine Clafouti

One white nectarine, sliced
10 strawberries, sliced

1 1/4 cups half and half
3 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup of flour, sifted
a pinch of salt
a splash of vanilla extract

I placed the sliced fruit in a buttered pie plate. Then I mixed the half and half, eggs, sugar, and flour together into a pancake-like batter. I added the salt and vanilla and gave it one last mix, and then poured the batter over the fruit. I baked it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, and it came out lovely and golden, with strawberry-nectarine syrup seeping out the sides. Yum!

This is also my submission to the got milk? event. When I had milk, boy, did I have a lot of milk!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mom's Helper

Rafa is a big help to me. He helps in the kitchen.

He also helps putting away the laundry. He knows where everyone's socks and shorts go, and when I sort and fold the laundry on the bed, he knows exactly where to put it.

One day, papa ironed a shirt and tie and laid them out on the bed along with his suit while he was taking a shower. Rafa, helpful as always, took the freshly-ironed shirt and tie and suit coat and pants and put them all in the drawer where the socks and shorts go. He had to push a little, but he got them in there.

Needless to say, when papa got out of the shower and went to get dressed in his suit, it wasn't so freshly ironed anymore.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Electric Storm

There was a lightning storm over the Strip my last night in Vegas. It was really cool looking, like this:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Thanks, Wolfgang

So, I was in Las Vegas last week. Working, everybody! I was working!

I had the most lovely salad for dinner at one of Wolfgang Puck's restaurants. I had to share it even though it is just a blurry picture from my cell phone.

I am going to try this at home, and you should too. It was a combination of baby red, yellow and pink beets with cherries and goat cheese and pistachios with a light viniagrette.

I might try it with walnuts instead of pistachios, and maybe with a little bit of basil.

Yes, it went lovely with that nice glass of Côtes du Rhône.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Spiritual Architecture

Spiritual architecture reflects the preoccupations of the communities that commission and design it. At times these preoccupations are well-documented by first-hand sources who provide us with insight into contemporary aspirations, ideals, and challenges. At other times, documentation never existed, or was never intended to be archival and has since been lost. Some reconstruction of society and events can be done from indirect sources; we can study contemporary reports or objects for indications of these same preoccupations, topical themes that were addressed with frequency in the society, and with these studies hope to come closer to an understanding of the motivations behind the formation of some of the most lasting and most inspiring of works.

Thick-walled Romanesque monasteries express austerity with the simplicity of their arches made from brick and local stone. Centuries later we can still sense the rules that governed the days of the inhabitants. Gothic cathedrals raise the eye upward to the skies with their verticality and lightness. The rib vaulting and soaring towers accompany prayers heaven-ward.

With Vitruvius as a guide, Renaissance architects return to the elegance of symmetry and proportion that characterized classical buildings, and used ancient Rome as a model as often as possible. Vitruvius’ relation of the human figure to the fundamental geometry and proportion of architecture serves to affirm the renaissance beliefs that “man is the measure of all things,” as seen Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of Vitruvian Man, and Leon Battista Alberti’s De re aedificatoria.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lake County

My mother's family had a tradition of going to Lake County in Northern California every year during the month of August to escape the fog in San Francisco. My mother's uncle-by-marriage, Blackie Puglesa, was the Sheriff of Lake County for many years. Maybe that is why they liked to vacation there--they knew the sheriff wouldn't bother them!

They would go to Nice, or Lucerne, or Lakeport. The city names in Lake County are taken from fancy lake-shore and sea-shore cities in Europe.

They would drive up to Lake County in three cars, Bert, Bob, and Dud were the drivers.

They had their designated watering holes on the way up.

The mothers had to make sandwiches on the cutting board in the front seat of the car. Oh wait, no, that was the Joyce family.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Please Rate the Customer Service

I'm thinking of opening a 5-star resort, the kind where sheiks and sultans go to stay.

After being on a yogurt and dry cheerios diet for 4 days, the baby decided that he was going to have roast beef for dinner tonight. In the bathtub.

So while he played and splashed in the warm, scented water, one of his bath attendants fed him roast beef and cheerio sandwiches, while another attendant washed his hair, and a third attendant sang the Star Wars theme song.

Does anyone wonder why I need a glass of wine with my cookies?