Monday, May 31, 2010

Antonio the fruit lover

I often pass by his shop in calle Puentezuelas and think, wow this guy must really like his products from the way he always very nicely arranges the fruit and vegetable pleasing to the eye and very romantic too. At least, it made me stop and shoot all these happy colors. I bought 2 kilos of Raf tomatoes as if we didn't have enough tomatoes already at home. Yes, I can now happily declare that the gazpacho season has started ! I'm not a tomato expert but Raf tomatoes are incredibly delicious. I'm now trying to remember if I had any in France. I think not. Like Antonio says, the best way to eat them is to cut them in half, with a bit of salt and it's like a taste of sweet summer which melts in your mouth. ( any nice tomato should taste really). May is the month when they reach their optimal savor. I also bought some plums and paraguayas, this flat fruit which resembles a peach and tastes like a nectarine. It's quite amusing to see people staring at Antonio's stall. Like we say in French, some really devour it with their eyes ! Then they patiently take the queue as if waiting for a little treat.

I should really cut out on the potato crisps but these ones here, Dealva patatas are one of the best I've ever tasted. I'm not a tomato expert but yes I'm a potato crisps connoisseur and they're fabulous. Prepared with a very light flavored olive oil so as not to overpower the taste of the potato, without conservatives, additives or colorants. And made in Spain...of course...

Now I want to grow my own tomatoes, eat them in the sun and dry them in the sun too....Ah ..the Andalusian slow life struck me again!

Fruteria Delicias de la Huerta

calle Puentezuelas

Friday, May 28, 2010

Palacio de Viana en Cordoba

Since we've visited this beautiful palace last sunday, I've been dreaming of it a lot. Well actually, I've been dreaming of Cordoba a lot. You know how much I love Granada and how much it inspires me but so special ! And even my Spanish friends agree about it. But let me present you this magical Palacio de Viana which was built in the XVIth century by the marques of Viana and belonged to the same family until the 1980s when the last descendant of the line Fausto Saavedro y Collado died leaving the palacio in the hands of his wife Sofia Amelia de Lancaster y Bleck. However, the marquess who didn't have any descendants didn't feel the need to inhabit such an enormous mansion neither could she afford it and decided to sell the place. As I was searching for some information on the history of the palacio, I bumped into this very interesting Spanish blog where I learned the very touching anecdote of Palacio de Viana. When the marquess decided to sell bit by bit all the valuable collections of paintings, tapestries, ceramics, pertaining to the palacio, and then the palace itself to foreign buyers, it didn't go unnoticed by a journalist who alerted various cultural associations and political parties in Cordoba. And so when a truck presented itself at the front of the gate of the palace, its driver and the assistants hired to take away pieces of furniture or objects found all accesses had been blocked by people living in the district, people who had worked in the palace and other people from Cordoba who knew the historical value of some of these collections. Of course, the marquess was in her own right to do so, after all it was her house but the people of Cordoba didn't see it that way. For them, the palacio and its art collection and valuable furniture had become a patrimony of Cordoba. So what was to do ? The people of Cordoba got more and more passionate about the affair and the mayor of the city eventually invoked a law regarding the protection of patrimony dating back from 1931. Moved by the people's reaction and feelings towards the palacio, the civil governor decided to enforce this law and ordered that nothing should be taken out of the palacio. But still, in her own right, the marquess wanted to sell and in the end, the local bank Caja Provincial de Ahorros de Cordoba (which is now Cajasur) acquired the palacio which opened its doors as a museum in 1981 and was further declared National Historical Monument. It is also known as the Museum of the Patios as it contains 13 patios which all communicate with each other. In spite of the map, we couldn't help losing ourselves in this delightful labyrinth of patios abundant with many varieties of flowers and trees. What can I say ? A long sigh would sum it all up....Only a visit of the patios was pure bliss. We were then taken by a guide to see the inside of the palacio. More bliss...We passed through austere dining rooms with white walls and dark Spanish furniture to bedrooms elegantly furnished with delicate wooden cabinets inlaid with mother of pearl and tortoise shell. We admired the library which comprises 7500 volumes. I fell in love with all the rooms furnished in the Louis XV style and Napoleon III. And more than anything, I was in total admiration in front of the tapestries. A few are from the Manufacture des Gobelins, others are Aubusson and some had been made at the Real Fabrica de Tapices after Goya's paintings. I touched a couple of them when the guide wasn't looking just for the pleasure of saying "oh...I'm touching history!". I know...a bit pathetic isn't it ? The guide told me off when I was tempting to photograph a precious volume of Gregorian chants. We were not allowed to take pictures inside but it was very difficult to resist so from time to time, I managed to do a quick clic clac. Enjoy the visit !

I kept this picture for the last one as it's quite late here - I've been busy all day and could never find the time to blog - and I wouldn't mind transporting myself on that bed right now!

Have a wonderful week end !!
Incredible but it's raining here....oh well...can't have sunshine all the time
Monchéri came with a crate of tomatoes this evening thinking we'll make gazpacho all weekend to fight the heat....I guess it will rather be bolognesa then !

pic #10 from here
pic #11 from here

Palacio de Viana
Calle de las Rejas de Don Gome, 2
14001 Córdoba,
+ 34 957 482 275

Adresses in Cordoba

We stayed at Hostal El Triunfo
Corregidor Luis de la Cerda 79
small rooms and a bit noisy at night but great situation in front of the Mezquita
120€/night - during high season otherwise prices start at 58€ for a double room -
there are lots of cheap pensions and great charming hotels but it was very difficult to find a place at last minute especially during the feria

Restaurants - bars

The great thing is that you can have a cheap lunch or dinner just ordering tapas. They're generally at 2€/piece.
You can also share a plate or racion.

La Boca
Paseo de la Ribeira 24
excellent food and wine and delicious homemade fig cheesecake !
and very good prices too (starting at 8€)

Casa El Rubio
C/puerta de Almodovar 5
it's recommended by Michelin but honestly we didn't find the food that special (starting at 16€ on the roof terrace)
but the roof terrace is great
otherwise, tapas are served in the street terrace

La Gula
Cruz de rastro 2
good food and very cheerful ambiance (fish plates at 10€)

Taberna San Miguel
Plaza de San Miguel
nice and cheap

Pepe de la Juderia
C/Romero 1
great tapas

La Amapola
Paseo de la Ribeira
great at night

Jazz Café
great place for drinks and listening to jazz/salsa

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ay Cordoba ! (part II) - fashion, food and flowers

It was the feria when we were in Cordoba, this very special time of the year when women wear their flamenco dress and walk in the streets gracefully with a nonchalant air. I loved it! And the romantic city of Cordoba is the perfect setting to wear such clothes. The two little señoritas below made me adorable!These two young women seated at bar La Gula graciously accepted to be photographed
Inside the taberna next door, this couple was dancing sevillanas
We happily watched while feasting on tapas and the famous salmorejo cordobes, a delicious mixture of tomato, red pepper and bread
Wherever we wandered in the narrow streets, it was a continuous feast of colors and flowers

We passed by this elegant couple at a crossroads
We stopped again at a bar for refreshments and I had to take a picture of her. I found her outfit quite interesting.
I passed by a few ladies in red.... with or without dots
I wish I could have taken more pictures of her. Isn't she gorgeous ?
When I spotted her, we were just on our way to chill out on the roof terrace of Casa El Rubio where the chief waiters stayed cool in spite of their black suit and the heat.
We're the first to arrive and our simpatico waiter was just finishing the table setting
Monchéri was also in black in white and cultivates more and more his romantic Andalusian look, letting his hair grow a bit
I couldn't resist to take a picture of her. She was standing in front of one of the door of the Mezquita, obviously waiting for some friends. So chic and elegant...
The day after, Monchéri took pictures of me in the same background in my favorite dress. Well, actually I just had two dresses for the week end. I believe in packing light. So I wore that one day and night...just added a bit more Guerlain rouge lipstick at night and a necklace but I had to forget about my high heels. It's a total no-no on cobbled streets !

I like to think that my dress was more or less matching my favorite dessert in Cordoba : a superb homemade fig cheesecake at restaurant La Boca, on paseo de Ribeira. We went there twice just for it......totally irresistible

Next friday, I will take you to Palacio de Viana in Cordoba which was unbearable of beauty too!
I will also add a little guide of places to go for a drink, tapas or....beautiful chesecake...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ay Cordoba ! (part I)

I left my heart in Cordoba ! We came back late on sunday night and all day I kept sighing...oh to be in Cordoba again ! I don't even know where to start with. It was too much beauty to take in three days. To sum it up, let's just say, spending the week end in Cordoba was like traveling back into time. The hotel we stayed at was right in front of the majestic walls of the Mezquita-cathedral which we visited on saturday morning. I honestly think I experienced a Stendhal syndrome while we were silently pacing through this amazing and unique place, during the mass hour. The organ music, the smell of incense and of course the abundance of magnificent architectural was so overwhelming I had tears in my eyes. The mosque was built in the course of IXth and Xth centuries by the emirs and caliphs of Cordoba on the site of a former church. When King Ferdinand III reconquered Spain from the Muslim army in 1236, a royal chapel was built inside the mosque. Later in the XVIth century the cathedral was erected in the middle of the mosque, mixing Gothic, baroque and renaissance styles, which makes the mezquita-cathedral a unique place in the world.

That day, we spent most of afternoon, walking in the narrow streets marveling at the gorgeous patios
We entered this leather workshop which creates and produces decorative leather objects, keeping the Cordovan tradition alive : beautiful panels to hang on the wall, books, screens and amazing trunks

This lovely carriage was waiting outside the hotel
Its driver placidly enjoys his reading while waiting for customers
It's the quiet hours of the afternoon....No need to rush to go to work....
And here is our simpatico driver again which we met in action in one of the neighboring streets
See you next wednesday with more pics of Cordoba !
And a big big THANK YOU to my new followers !!
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