|back to home|
Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.
Web Site Promos
Coffee and Tea
Congratulations With Food
Just For Fun
Louis XIII by Remy Martin
Movies On Food & Wine
Steaks & Steak Dinners
Thank You Food Gifts
Thanksgiving Dinner Delivered
Thinking Of You With Food Gifts
Valentine Dinner Gifts
Dave, Edie & Simonetta
Chris Card Fuller
GourmetStation Policy On Comments
Email Gourmet Station
Subscribe to GourmetStation Blog
Bloomberg Marketing Blogs
Original Design by:
Blue Marble Media
San Miguel de Allende - A Mexican Paradise
Posted: July 25, 2009
There’s nothing more fun than to write a post after a successful vacation. The post and images sort of memorialize the experience; you know what I mean. In addition to rest and relaxation, this vacation was about seeking a retirement destination. Everyone who knows me knows how important the Borzoi are so the destination needed to be within driving distance of US. I would never air freight my 4-legged kids. My friend Mark Stine recently purchased retirement property in Panama – very nice but driving across Central America with 5 Borzoi did not seem practical. So I was left with Canada and Mexico. While I absolutely love Canada and Canadians, the weather is unfavorable to my aging bones, so the research began with Mexico.
I had traveled to Mexico 5 times in my life, mostly to Mexico City for business and Acapulco for fun. The remote central highlands never registered on my radar, but as I was researching on the Internet, it came to me over and over. “It” is the lovely colonial town of San Miguel de Allende GTO located about 4 hours north of Mexico City.
Cradled by the Sierra Madre with an elevation of 6500 feet, there she was…speaking to me with all the warmth of Mexico. Honestly I hoped I would not like it because the notion of becoming an expat is a lot of work. But there was no resisting this beautiful Mexican jewel; it took less than a day to fall in love with San Miguel.
So what’s the big deal about SMA? The peaceful energy, taxi drivers that would stop to allow pedestrians to cross, the contradiction of the arid dessert to the lush foliage of the rainy season, the fresh food especially the taste and smell of corn, the friendly people that would take time to stop and assist travelers, spring-like year round climate, the emphasis on the arts and art education. The architecture dates back to the town’s origination in 1542 with authentic neogothic and Spanish colonial design.
All electrical and cable wires are being buried by SMA so remove the cars and you’ll step back in time 500 years. That’s what the Mexican government wanted when they protected the town in 1926. UNESCO also recognize this jewel by declaring it “Humanity’s Cultural Patrimony” in July 2008.
As far as food – it was all excellent. Ole Ole was extremely authentic offering many beef entrees in a theme centered around bull fighting. Not a sport I would participate in, but part of Mexican heritage and culture nonetheless. Our accommodations at Casa Schuck
came highly recommended and it will be hard to forget their delicious authentic breakfast in the blue on blue dining room.
House hunting was an adventuresome two-day event guided by real estate agent and new friend, Wesley Gleason. Wesley owns his own agency in SMA, Agave San Miguel, and as a 5 year resident, he knows the ropes as they say. If you are thinking about a retirement destination in San Miguel, Wesley has many listings including condos and lots where you can design and build your own home. There have been many signs pointing to SMA and the least overt was the fact that Wesley lived in my hometown of Atlanta before relocating to SMA – just 2 or 3 miles from where I live now. How about that for serendipity!!
After writing this post I was contacted by two SMA enthusiasts. Below are their links including a blog that provides a true insider view. Enjoy.
TRENETTE CON ASPARAGI E PISELLI
Posted: July 18, 2009
To the people of “Toscana”, it is called asparagi. To those of us in the “Stati Uniti” it is known as asparagus. Either way, asparagi or asparagus, it provides a wonderful foundation to a marvelous sauce for pastas such as pici, trenette or tagliatelle. But alas, I am a bit ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning of our day in Tuscany.
After a sumptuous breakfast at Casa Bellavista our B & B of choice for Tuscan holidays, we enjoyed a morning visit to Lucignano, a medieval village near Casa Bellavista. As we travelled through the Tuscan countryside on our way back to the B & B, we anticipated a pasta making lesson around the marble topped table, the “command center” of Simonetta’s kitchen. This would be the first cooking lesson for our friends Marg and Bill who were travelling with us.
When we returned to Casa Bellavista, we learned that Simonetta had been to market and bought fresh asparagi with which to make the sauce for the primo piatto of our dinner. Immediately our curiosity was peaked. As we entered the kitchen to begin the pasta making lesson, we noticed that Simonetta’s “mama” was busy helping prepare the aspiragi. We eagerly anticipated our cooking class and the dinner to follow.
It was not long before mounds of flour with volcano like centers were filled with eggs and a little extra virgin olive oil.
The mixing of the ingredients began and soon the blend of flour and eggs was transformed into a golden dough. Now the fun for Bill and Marg began...the moment of getting their fingers into the pasta dough.
and kneading it on the marble topped table until it was smooth and ready for the pasta machine and cutter.
It did not take long until the “pasta fresca” was ready. Bill and Marg made sufficient pasta dough so that lasgna and tagliatelle could be made.
The lasgna pasta would be used to make melanzana alla bechamella. While Bill and Marg made the pasta, Edie had been preparing the melanzana and the bechamella sauce.
The “melanzana” was for a weekend party Simonetta was planning. The tagliatelle con asparagi was for the primo piatto of tonight’s dinner.
As Simonetta and her “mama” continued working on the asparagi, Bill and Marg finished up the pasta project. Focus now turned to the stove where the asparagi was being cooked. Later, the pasta would be cooked in the same water, bringing a fuller flavor to our primio piatto.
It was time to enjoy a glass of wine as we set the table for an evening of outdoor dining and the beauty of a Tuscan sunset.
We had experienced a marvelous afternoon at Casa Bellavista, learning the true joy of la cucina Toscana.
Incase you would like to try this fantastic sauce, the recipe (in Italian and English) follows.
TRENETTE CON ASPARAGI E PISELLI
Bollire la parte inferiore degli asparagi in acqua bollente salata, quando sono teneri, scolarli. Nella stessa acqua bollire per pochi minuti l’altra parte degli asparagi.
Tagliare finemente una cipolla, metterla in una pentola con un po’ di olio e rosolare, aggiungere la parte bassa degli asparagi e dopo pochi minuti frullarli, aggiungere un po’ di acqua della cottura e aggiungere i piselli cucinare fino a cottura, sale pepe e la buccia del limone grattugiata e le punte degli asparagi. Nel frattempo bollire le trenette nella acqua di cottura degli asparagi, scolare e condire ed aggiungere il parmigiano.
· 400 grams of trenette or tagliatelle
Cut the asparagus in to pieces about one inch long. Boil the lower parts of the asparagus in salted water. When they are tender, remove them from the water. In the same water boil the other parts of the asparagus for a few minutes.
Mince the onion finely and brown in a pan with a little oil. Add the lower parts of the asparagus and after a few minutes whisk (use of a blender or food processor is ok) them adding a little of the cooking water and the peas, cooking them until finished. Salt and pepper and add the grated rind of the lemon and the points of the asparagus.
In the meanwhile boil the trenette or tagliatelle in the water used to cook the asparagus. When cooked, drain, combine with the sauce, season and add the Parmesan.
Il Divo At The Fabulous Fox
Posted: July 4, 2009
I was first introduced to Il Divo by a friend in 2008 with one song. Their interpretation of Ennio Morricone’s Nella Fantasia was powerful and beautiful. But I was not inspired enough to learn more about Il Divo. In March Chef Julie and I were at the Fox Theater to hear Celtic Women and we saw a promotional billboard for Il Divo’s July 1 Atlanta performance. Without knowing a lot about these boys, I responded immediately by purchasing tickets. Good thing because the house was sold out almost 4 months in advance.
The anticipation was almost as exciting as their performance. Julie and I were like two little girls waiting for Christmas until the big day finally came. We started our magical evening with dinner at Virginia Highland’s Mali Restaurant & Sushi Bar on Amsterdam Ave. Atlanta is extremely hot in July so cool sushi was perfect. We also enjoyed the evening special, halibut in a mild Thai sauce and topped the dinner with mango and sticky rice. Mali – live on!
The Fox Theater is without doubt the best place to hear or see an intimate performance in the entire Southeastern US. To think The Fox was a candidate for destruction in the 1980’s still makes me tremble. The Egyptian-Moorish architecture is unusual to this region, making the Fox that much more unique. Il Divo kept the stage simple with a 16 piece mini-orchestra, symbolic background images and a stage with just enough color and light to add to their performance – not take away from it.
Il Divo, meaning star or celebrity in Italian, is the brainchild of reality television star Simon Cowell…go Simon! American tenor David Miller, Spanish baritone Carlos Marin, Swiss tenor Urs Buhler and French pop singer Sebastien Izambard make up the quartet. I am not a music critic, but I know what moves me and can usually anticipate what will move others. What is unique about this group is their adaptation of popular songs with operatic technique. Adding to the mix is the singing in their various native languages. Very authentic! Because of Il Divo, thousands of people that would not approach operatic music can now introduce it to their music library with tunes they are familiar with.
One of my favorites during the performance was Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Julie enjoyed Unchained Melody as this was a favorite her parents used to dance to. But without a doubt I was most moved by two special songs played back to back – Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power of Love and Lucio Dalla’s Caruso.
That’s it for where it was, what they sang, etc., but really, how was it? Honestly, I cannot remember a more moving enjoyable concert. Words can’t describe the experience but feelings can. Performers like Il Divo have the ability to move us into the realm of “timeless”. You’ll know you were successful if you wake up the morning after the concert with a smile on your face, the sky is a little bluer, your breakfast pastry tastes a little sweeter or you see a little more love in your pet’s eyes. Yes, you can make it last. Just play that beautiful music, shut your eyes, and go to the Source. It’s always there waiting just for you.