Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Never on the beach without my Spanish AD

I used to buy huge quantities of magazines - mainly decoration - Côté Sud, World of Interiors, Maison Française, AD, Elle Décoration, Marie-Claire Maison, Vogue. And when I settled in Spain, I gradually had to give up as it soon became a ridiculously expensive habit. When I'm in France, I still occasionally buy French magazine Côté Sud as it features beautiful houses and places, anywhere in the South and the very interesting and informative art review L'oeil which a designer friend recommended me. Since a couple of years, I got hooked to the Spanish edition of AD and I love it !

this morning I had breakfast with the
last issue july/august featuring Spanish designer
Jordi Labanda's house in Formentera.
I love the mural he painted on the dining's room wall.

and on the verandah too.

la cabaña of French decorator Jacques Grange and
antique dealer Pierre Passebon in Portugal. Oh..yes !

I include this photo although you can barely see what it is about
this page shows samples of fabrics designed by Spanish artists
in the 50s for famous Spanish fabric maker Gaston y Daniela

Do you also take a pile of magazines with you
when you go to the beach, or just
the book you're reading right now ?

or just your solar cream...

photos from Spanish AD - july/august 2008

the 1st photo is me and my sis on the beach near Valencia, some years ago
and actually I was already a fan of AD

Monday, July 28, 2008

Andalusia where summer days are easy and slow....

Lazy and drowsy…this is how I feel today while trying to concentrate on a translation due tomorrow. The heat defeats me and my will of being active and productive. The long summer days weigh on me like a heavy velvet coat.

Mornings are usually quiet. Lunchtime around 2 o'clock is the revival hour. At times, flavors of grilled sardines and green peppers float in the sultry air. Siesta follows lunch.

We bought a hammock yesterday at Gym's shop. Monchéri is about to set it up, while I’m writing this post. That is, he just made some lemonade and picked up a book while waiting to get into action....I would love to wind the clock back so that it would be sunday again.

Yesterday, at this precise time of 6 pm, we were wandering through the narrow streets in the village where I lived before. Its name is Restabal and I was telling Monchéri it sounds like the French words reste au bal, meaning stay at the ball, one of the reasons I like its name....

It seems the village is being slowly deserted as more houses are for sale now. We sat on a bench like the old people do, in front of a former "lavadero", a public place where women used to wash, and watched 2 kids playing.

When I lived in Restabal, an old man intrigued me who lived right at the entrance of the village. Except during the cold and rainy days, he would sit under a tree facing his house, every morning and afternoon. He was still there yesterday. His hair was slightly whiter and neatly combed. He looked as "tranquilo" and serene as ever and it rejoiced me to see him in good form. Contrary to the other people in the village, he'd never uttered a proper "hola" to me but only acknowledged me with a faint nod. His contemplative behavior always subdued me and I often wondered what his thoughts could be.

The hammock is still not installed. Monchéri doesn’t have the right drill or bolts and had to go to the ferreteria. I pick up the book he left on the table. I like what I read:


Y el aire en mis pulmones

Ya es saber, ya es amor, ya es alegría


I breath

and the air in my lungs

is now wisdom, is now love, is now happiness

(from an antology by Spanish poet Jorge Guillen)


and by the time, I struggle to publish this post because Firefox crashes down and it takes ages to upload the photos, Monchéri comes back from the ferreteria. The hammock is half installed now but still the hooks are not strong I guess, it will have to be mañana...!

photos by your devoted blogging hostess

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cooking for a South African rock star in the Lecrin Valley, south of Granada

Do you remember a certain party when my friend Antonia asked me if Monchéri and I could take over a cooking job in the valley for a music producer and a band? May be I was drunk that night but I could swear Antonia mentioned it was a girl's band and Monchéri was absolutely enthusiastic. Our cooking assignment took place in Youth's amazing house, tucked among the olive groves in the Lecrin valley. Youth is a super music producer who shares his time between London and Andalusia. His studio in the valley has welcomed notorious English bands like Embrace and Delays. Actually, this is the second time, Monchéri and I, have been cooking for Youth, his assistants and his guests. We had kept such a good memory of our first cooking experience at his place that never mind the heat, the sinuous road from our village to his house, we took up the job with great pleasure. Monchéri who expected a girl's band was a bit surprised to see only guys there and I quickly assumed I totally misunderstood Antonia when a good looking blond young man came to say hello to us and introduced himself as Arno. As I couldn't properly grasped his name, Youth explained with a big smile that this guy was actually the biggest rock singer in South Africa and was staying to record an album, at his studio, to be released by next spring. How great ! naturally, we felt a little bit peevish not to know his name, not to know that he opened for the Rolling Stones when they were on tour in Spain in 2007. And when Youth very kindly proposed to us to come down to the studio, one day, after dinner to listen to the recording, we were both so thrilled to discover a very talented singer and songwriter with such a powerful voice. I would have loved to include a You tube video in my post but alas I still do not master this blogger feature, but please if like me, you never heard Arno Carstens before, do check it up on You tube. This guy rocks baby ! On top of that, he is such a gentle person. He very nicely agreed to answer some questions, didn't mind my taking photos and most important loved our cooking !!

Youth's house, built in a Moroccan style

the main entrance to the house through the patio....

....where towels get quickly dried in the sun...

the spacious kitchen area would make any cook happy

the dining table where dinners are served
a living room with views onto the olive groves

....and the hills.....

the guitar above has been made in Granada by
famous maker Bellido y Gil

sometimes after dinner, the ambiance got
really cool and laid back, with great guitar music.

the exotic touch of the house, decorated with
Indian statues and music instruments and Moroccan rugs
inspired us colorful exotic food

sweet corn fritters and a curried version of a cole slaw salad
Chinese-style fried rice and ginger meatballs

but we also had to remember that at times
good substantial food was needed
to compensate for the long hours of work

French-style sauté potatoes with garlic and parsley
nice chunky entrecôtes

Lasagna is one of my favorite dishes
I loved it when Clive, Youth's mixing engineer
asked me how I did them because they didn't taste
the same when he made some at home.

The answer is very simple....
I like to give them an exotic twist by mixing meat and shrimps
in the tomato sauce and adding grated ginger
and yes I prefer to make my own béchamel even if it takes hours

Give it a try !

and you'll see your guests asking for more !

desserts had not been forgotten
we had orange cake, chocolate cake
and my all time favorite, the lemon meringue pie

time for a pause......

Youth who is ever so cool shows me his journal book
where he writes down his poetry and makes little sketches.
He loves poetry, feels very inspired by the Lorca
culture in Granada. Monchéri mentions other names of
Spanish poets to him. I turn the pages of his book
and am charmed by the sketches below which
somehow make me think of Cocteau

The night before our last cooking day
we took a photo souvenir with the whole team

on the sofa from left to right : Clive, mixing engineer, Youth, Arno,
Alex, guitarist and member of the band Opera House, Tim, keyboards and computer
standing : Jo, assistant, David, drummer and Monchéri

the same with me in the middle

on the last day.....
packing but still playing....

on our last day, Monchéri and I
stopped on the road to lie down under these pines
do you see the sign "land to sell" ?

Monchéri is dreaming......

and me as well.....

photos by your devoted blogging hostess and Monchéri

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Camel Stop shop in the Lecrin Valley, south of Granada

If like me, you have a weakness for the extravaganza, the unique and the baroque, then you will love Gym's Camel Stop shop. For months Gym restored a former village ruin turning it into an amazing 3 storeys shop-house where she hoards her little treasures : chandeliers, mirrors, skulls, sumptuous fabrics, furniture found on fleamarkets and lovingly restored. Monchéri and I always could spend the whole day at Camel Stop (especially if Gym treats us to a mint tea under the Moroccan tent on the roof terrace). And we find it equally hard to leave the shop with empty hands. Gym's shop is so full of delightful surprises just like her actually. A self-taught artist, she never attended art school and became a very successful set decorator. Gym started decorating shop windows in King's road in London in the 80s. She also started a brief model career in Venice. Back in London, she gradually got commissioned by restaurants and shops to paint decorative murals. Her work took her to Holland, to Russia where she painted backdrops for the Bolchoï ballet and the Moscow State Circus. Recently, her last adverts jobs included the two Pepsi Cola ads featuring David Beckham, shot in Little Texas Hollywood near Almeria (remind me to take you there one day), American Express, Levi's, Toyota and the latest Guinness ad shot in Malaga. We (the little gang of friends in the valley) were all so proud when she got commissioned to decorate the George Lucas Star Wars' party premises during the Cannes festival a few years ago ! As you would have guessed, she also traveled the whole world in quest of beautiful fabrics and textiles. What amazes me is that Gym is always so humble about her many talents, the way true talented people are actually. And on top of that, she's such a loyal and very caring would love her !

the entrance of the shop and its distinctive sign

the purple sofas corner

an old matador jacket
did you ever try one?
it weighs a ton !

skull reflected in a mirror

the ceiling in the kitchen area

handpainted cups and teapot

a metallic winding stair leads to the 1st floor

where the bedroom awaits you with a
nice collection of "petit point" cushions

the bathroom has a very funny guest
Gym found this weird old medical device
in a fleamarket on the coast

the clothes department with a zebra rug

Gym painted these amazing Indian figures fragments
on the inner wall of the shop patio

Hope you'll come one day !

photos by your devoted blogging hostess

ps : I meant to post on wednesday and this heat is killing me ! Monchéri and I have been on a cooking job these last few days. I will post about it tomorrow friday . Stay tune and wish you a very happy summer day !
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