Monday, June 29, 2009

The old admiral and the sea and a poetry contest in Almuñecar

Monchéri likes the company of old men who had a full intense life. He likes to listen to stories of travels and uncommon things. When we stayed in Almuñecar a few days ago, as I was checking on some new places, he met the colorful Pepe who is a former admiral and now lives on the coast in Almuñecar, where he opened a modest small hostal. Tourists have not come in flocks yet so, his hostal was empty by the time we were there. We were about to go back to Granada and may be because he liked us or because Monchéri was all ears when the old admiral narrated his overseas adventures, Pepe proposed us to stay at his hostal for the extremely humble sum of 10€ a night ! So...we couldn't refuse, could we?Pepe generously gave us the room upstairs con vistas al mar, views on the sea and the beautiful metal weathercock in shape of a boat. The hostal was a bit dusty and neglected but oh well, our host was kind and pleasant. After sharing stories of his life in faraway countries, Pepe told us he started to write poetry some years ago and organized a poetry contest every year on a special theme. Everybody from any nationality is welcome to enter the contest, provided the poem is written in Spanish.
The best 3 poems receive a prize from 100€ to 300€. The night of the contest, once the prizes have been awarded and after a few glasses of good red wine and hearty food, poems are being thrown into the sea, inside a glass bottle. I found the idea quite romantic. Who knows if, one day, on the Morroccan coast, someone catches a glimpse of the floating bottle enclosing a poem written by a man or a woman some time ago. Actually, Pepe confessed with a broad smile on his face, that he did receive an email once from someone in Algeria, who had found one his poems with his email address. Isn't it incredible?
This year, the contest is on again and the elected theme is the crisis. Monchéri says he will try to write something. My Spanish is not good enough but I would love to write something too. To be sincere, I'm very curious to read what the participants will have to say about the crisis in form of a poem....
I must say, it's a topic which worries me rather than inspires me to write poetry !

edit to post : silly me, I forgot my Spanish speaking blogging friends (Yoli, Cynthia, Cuban, Susanna) and all of you out there could be interested. Here are the conditions of the contest. The exact theme is España en crisis*. Poesia.
The length accepted is a A4 sheet.
Deadline is : august 25th
Works are to be submitted at the following address : Hotel Playa San Cristobal, Plaza de Abderraman nº5 - 18690 Almuñecar (Granada) Spain.
3 awards will be given to the best poems
1st prize : 300€
2nd prize : 200€
3rd prize : 100€
Awards will be remitted at the Hotel Playa San Cristobal on september 5th.

*the crisis is hitting hard in Spain as the economy mainly rested on sectors of construction and real restate which have been severely slowing down

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer treats.....and the slowness of time

Summer is really my time, my tempo....everything is slowing down here. I especially enjoy the quietness at lunch time around 2 o'clock. It seems everyone in the village is shut in the house, with the shutters down. Andalusians do not like the sun too much. They prefer to stay in the shade, al fresco as they say. I love to spend long hours, basking in the sun. I know my skin might reproach it to me one day but it's my way of relaxing and daydreaming. The heat is my excuse for not doing too much, just the elementary things such as work and cooking. These days I've been making gazpacho a lot and my favorite refreshing cake with orange and almonds. I posted these pics in a former post, hopefully the widget link thing will link to the posts which give you both recipes. You see, I'm sending this post from a cyber cafe, we're having internet problems in half of the village. So I thought I would at least come here and wave you a sunny buenas dias ! with summer treats.
I do hope to be back soon....hasta luego for now, the cyber cafe is about to close, it's 2 o'clock and the streets are already empty. Time for lunch then siesta.....There is definitely something good about Andalusian summer...

edit to post : the technician came and is fixing the problem so hopefully normal connection can be expected this week end. In the meantime, do try to concoct some fresh gazpacho for you and your loved ones, you can find the recipe here. As for the orange cake, sweet blogging friend Sara already tried it and loved it. I promise you, its texture and moisture are divine, find the recipe below and have a wonderful week end !!

Orange and almond cake

You need:

2 medium oranges
1 lemon
6 eggs
150 g of almond powder (sorry i couldn't figure what it would be in cups)
200 g of caster sugar (plain white sugar)
40 g of caster sugar
1tsp of baking powder

boil the oranges until cooked

process them with a mixer then pour the mixture in a big bowl.

add the eggs one by one in the orange mixture

in another medium bowl, mix 200g of caster sugar with the almond powder and 1 tsp of baking powder

preheat the oven at 200ºC

pour the sugar and almond mixture into the big bowl and all the ingredients together homogeneously

pour the preparation in a 22cm diameter mold covered with tin foil

bake for 1 hour approx until lightly golden brown

in the mean time, prepare a lemon syrup with 40g of caster sugar and the juice of a lemon.

put it to a simmer until it thickens

pour the syrup over the cake when it's cooked

That's it ! just let it cool then put it in the fridge. This cake is delicious served cold. you can keep it up to 2/3 days in the fridge.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Andalusian fashion accessory

My lovelies, this is my latest fashion accessory....a fan. I'ts cheap, light, and a lots of fun to use, and it's very Spanish (although mine is certainly made in China). I love seeing women of all ages in Granada, taking out their fan from their handbag and making these quick elegant movements with their hand.

This afternoon, I had a routine check up at my gynecologist. When I opened the door of her office, she was seated in front of her computer, fanning herself with a fan very similar to the one on the pic above. Next to her, an assistant, a young pregnant woman was also using a bright colored fan to get some fresh air on her face. I knew my camera was in my bag and I was dying to ask them please let me take a picture of you, you're so cute like that! I just smiled and told them, it was very elegant and that we should definitely start this fashion in France.
I left the hospital and started to look for a fan! I didn't have far to go and bought one of these from an African street seller at 3€

of course, you can find more sophisticated models at El Corte Inglès at all prices
I stalked this lady when I got out of El Corte Inglès, bag in the left hand, fan in the right hand....
and when the sun is too hot, you just use your fan to protect your eyes from the direct light. Isn't it a clever elegant accessory?

Friday, June 19, 2009

La Terraza del Casino en Madrid

We keep postponing a 2 day trip to Madrid for work and the more we postpone, the more it's likely we won't go because the heat is already too much! So, my guess is we will wait until the weather is a bit cooler. Madrid is full of lively bars and new trendy restaurants but I've been wanting to visit La Terraza del Casino for some time, out of pure curiosity. And when I say visit, I mean it because it's not exactly cheap. The restaurant is on the top floor of the casino in Madrid, calle Alcala and has been entirely redesigned by Jaime Hayon, the enfant terrible of Spanish design. Is the food good? I have no idea but knowing that the chef is a disciple of Ferran Adria, it should be at least.

I like the oversize proportions which make me think of Alice in Wonderland and the soft palette of colours. I would love to be a cat and curl up in the white armchair called Showtime. Would you feel at ease in this decor? I think I would feel even more petite as I am already, but I don't mind especially if they tell me I just can stay for desserts. If we ever go there, I'll let you know!

Is it just me or do you also think the room below bears some resemblance, a bit baroque and same oversize proportions. This is one of the rooms of former luxury hotel and casino, Palacio Quitandinha, near Rio de Janeiro, decorated by American design icon Dorothy Draper, in 1942.

another exuberant place to dream of!

I wish you a great week end more exuberant than mine
Mine will be a sequence of naps and meals...a bit boring but I'm vanquished by the heat!

pics: La Terraza del Casino from here

pics: Palacio Quitandinha from World of Interiors, oct. 2006

La Terraza del Casino, Alcala 15, Madrid

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adios cinema....

Sadly our local cinema shut its doors. It was an old cinema dating back from the 50s which opened only on Fridays and week ends. We didn’t go much because the movies were not always our type of movie. The last film I saw there was Volver by Pedro Almodovar. I remember how thrilled I was, to be seated in an old Spanish cinema, watching a Spanish movie about Spanish women, by one of my favorite Spanish directors.

Tickets were sold outside at a little booth, at 3€ the entrance. The man who sold the tickets also sold packets of popcorn or chocolate bars in the hall. If the movie was to start at 9.30pm and very few people would attend the session, we would wait a bit more time just in case late spectators would show up. Then the same man would start the projection. I can't say the Spanish audience is a very quiet one. Kids usually eat pipas (sunflower seeds). There is always someone cracking up a packet of crisps, or commenting constantly to its neighbor thinking nobody can hear it. But the Spanish audience is also very “bon public” as we say in French, meaning they show good humor and are not too critical (like the French, for instance!); they shed a tear easily and I like that.

The other film I saw in our local cinema was the French movie, The Chorus. I could say the whole audience was very much taken by this poignant story because not a sound could be heard. At the end of the movie, everybody clapped for a few seconds. I had cried, the woman next had red eyes too, another woman kept saying Que bello, que bello….It was wonderful to go back home walking after seeing a movie, our mind still filled with emotions.
The ambiance of our local cinema always reminded me of the movie Cinema Paradiso. It felt like another time indeed which the kids in the village will not know anymore. I feel nostalgic about it because it is such a great thing for a village to have its own cinema. People were proud about it and enjoyed it as a place of social and cultural gathering. Now that it’s gone, we will all miss it. I wonder what the town hall will make of it. I pray it won't be some horrendous modern flats.

pics : scene of Volver
our former local cinema

Monday, June 15, 2009

Do you play with your plates ?

Blogging friend Elizabeth from About New York had the delightful idea to launch the "plate post" about our favorite plates. Being a sweet tooth, my favorite plates around the house are definitely dessert plates, especially the celadon ones below.
I love them so much that even when they're broken I keep every tiny bit to make boxes or impromptu packaging for perfume samples.
But honestly, here in Andalucia, plates look so nice on the walls too....I don't understand how I didn't succumb to the traditional custom yet! This style of blue ceramic is widely popular around here. I'm not too sure but I think it's called Granada ceramic.
Don't you think it adds a touch of "alegria" to white walls ?

pics : me
last pic is taken in Salobreña on the coast

Friday, June 12, 2009

Would Eugénie like these ?

As hot summer days are slowly coming in and weddings being very much in the air (no...not mine!), I'm in the mood for white or ivory lace, velvet ribbons, flowers and frou frou, all these delightful unnecessary things which make us feel fresh and summery. I made these few items some months ago to put in my Etsy shop which I've completely forgotten. But then, I might keep them for my personal use as I enjoyed very much sewing these little things by hand, just like a trousseau really!

I titled this post Would Eugénie like these? because at the time I made them, I felt very much inspired by the exhibition held in Paris, in the Musée Galliera Le temps des crinolines, fashion during the French Second Empire. I would have loved to be able to see it as I always had a weakness for Empress Eugénie and the romantic and bucolic portraits her favorite painter Franz Xaver Winterhalter made of her.
The famous portrait of Empress Eugénie and her ladies in waiting, always impressed me by the richness of attire and fabrics contrasting with the artificial pastoral scene. Slightly off centered towards the left, Empress Eugénie seems to reign over her amiable entourage. Each of them poses gracefully. Each of them barely wears jewelry, as if to be more in harmony with the bucolic ambiance. My eye doesn't focus on their face or hair though but mainly on the voluminous crinoline. This happy explosion of silk, mousseline, tulle and ribbons is really what I like in this painting, albeit academic.
Why don't we wear flowers in our corsage any more ? It's so much fun !

I wish you all a merry week end!
(ice cream will be my main sin this week end)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2 cafés.....2 styles.... on the coast in Almuñecar

I was visiting one of my favorite decoration bloggers this morning, the sweet and very talented Mélanie from Le petit cabinet de curiosités. Mélanie runs an antique and decoration shop in my chère Provence natale. Her father is an amazing artisan in upholstery and she's got a great taste for fabrics; I've just checked her collection again and sighed because I'll have to wait a bit of time to acquire some of her fabulous Pierre Frey fabrics.

This post is about 2 cafés with 2 different styles, on the coast in Almuñecar and the funny thing is that I immediately thought of Mélanie when we entered this new chic café-restaurant Kairos because of the black toile de Jouy. (Does this ever happen to you ? You go somewhere and suddenly you think of a particular blogging friend. I guess one must be a blogger to experience this...)

We had plenty of time to spend in cafés last week end as the weather was whimsical and windy. I usually love primary colors especially in a place by the sea but I immediately fell in love with the black and white decor with touches of gold. It gives warmth and a sense of grandeur to a room especially if it has high ceilings like in this café.
the black tulle lamp has been seen a bit everywhere but is definitely chic

et voilà notre toile de Jouy with a Chinese theme...Love it!
now if neo-classic chic is not your thing then perhaps you would like a minimalist and modern decor. This is the bar/lounge of the hotel Playa Cotobro where we stayed, white with a few touches of vibrant colors.

So which style has your vote?
for me it will have to be both, depending on the mood....

pics : me

café-restaurant Kairos in Almuñecar (at the entrance of the town)

bar of hotel Playa Cotobro on Cotobro beach

Monday, June 8, 2009

Room 313......hotel Playa Cotobro in Almuñecar

In the end we did manage to get away to the coast in Almuñecar. We found a nice little hotel just in front of the beach. This was the view from our room. How I wish to be there tonight too and tomorrow.... Last night we stood on our balcony watching the reflection of the moon in the sea. Que romantico...
The Hotel Playa Cotobro opened its doors last march in a very secluded and quiet part of Almuñecar. Its design is simple and modern. It faces the sea. Very few cars pass by.

as you can see, there was practically no one when I took these pics on friday night. The weather was unexpectedly chilly and windy
still it was so good to be by the sea only for a few days. Very energizing
I'll be back on wednesday with more pics of Almuñecar.....its little cafés, la feria gastronomica....

Have a merry start of the week !

pics : me

Friday, June 5, 2009

W is for wedding, work, weekend.....

I thought you might like to see my work in progress. Monchéri and I are currently working on a menu card job for a wedding planner. The wedding is to take place in a beautiful country side in the south east of France and the theme given by the client was : la beauté de la nature plus the cards have to be reminiscent of the jewelry theme. So I came up with these for the lavender/soft grey theme tables.

A few tables are decorated with a different color theme and have a different menu card

Weddings are my favorite kind of job. I find it so exciting to work for people who have a poetic vision of their lunch or dinner party. Naturally the menu card is one of the very last details the bride and groom will consider but it certainly adds a note of joy and refinement. The only thing is that I always get the final infos at last minute and then have to rush, designing a few samples, get the final ok from the client, wait for the menu then rush to the printer who prints the folio which I then place inside.

I'll tell you a funny story about a desastrous menu card job when I settled in Spain. After taking a few weeks vacation, I contacted one of my main clients in Paris who's an event and wedding planner. He was quite happy to hear from me because he had a big deluxe wedding coming, taking place on a boat on the Seine in Paris. The theme was l'Orient, les épices (Orient & spices). After agreeing on a final project, I ordered the paper then took it to the printer to get it cut. While cutting the paper, the printer damaged it a bit, that is the paper which was smooth had now become slightly creased. So I told him off but the man started to say that perhaps my client would like it this. No way ! I kept shouting to him, in my then very poor Spanish. Anyway I had to order the paper again, made sure it was properly cut this time. When my client sent me the final menu, I forwarded it to the printer. Well...even after checking it for a few times with the printer, there were still a couple of misspelling mistakes. In the end, I was behind deadline. My client got worried and asked me to send the menus by DHL. I used to trust DHL but not anymore...At least not in Spain ! After making sure, that yes, it would took 2 days for the package to be in Paris, I was happy to send the project to my client. And oh the end, it didn't take 2 days but 3 and my poor client had to wait in his office on a saturday morning then rush to the wedding venue, a boat on the Seine and had to place the menu cards himself....

Since then I learned how to deal with deadlines here in southern Spain. It's actually quite simple. When a supplier tells you, si si si sera listo mañana yes it will be ready tomorrow, don't bother to go on the next day and understand that your order will take 2 days more.

We still have 50 cards to go (we're making 200 in total). If we're finished by this evening we'll head to the coast again!

Have a wonderful week end, my lovelies !

pics : me

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