Nanaimo Bars, Butter Tarts, and Why I Blog

My Mom wasn’t a very good cook, but she loved to have people over for dinner and no one ever turned down an invitation. The problem with my mother’s cooking was that she was too limiting, for example: lesser quality ingredients to save money; less salt because sodium isn’t good for you; and she was British. Let’s face it, when it comes to food England isn’t France or Italy. Growing up, I suffered through a fair share of Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding, Bubble and Squeak, Bangers and Mash, Trifle and Plum Pudding while silently wishing that I was born Italian.

Nanaimo Bars and Butter Tarts © Lisa Morales

On the other hand, my frugal Mom could bake and she never skimped on butter, sugar, chocolate, or whatever ingredient was needed to make dessert. The best part about mediocre suppers (as a Brit says) was that on special occasions, we could eat at least two kinds of desserts and Christmas was a sugar smorgasbord! It’s these memories that inspire today’s dessert menu — just keep reading a little more…

The kitchen is where we deal with the elements of the universe. It is where we come to understand our past and ourselves. ~ Laura Esquivel | © Lisa Morales

It’s now Week 10 of the now relaxed, stay-at-home order. Since I’ve always worked remotely and anyone who I deal with is also doing the same, there’s nowhere yet to really go. I’m not so sure either if I’ll be heading out soon for a socially distant lunch, shopping spree, or nail appointment. Will you be?

In May I Mourn

Today, marks nine years since my Mom passed away. As soon as May arrives, it’s like a dark cloud sits over me. No matter how fast I run from this cloud, it follows me. Like so many people in these current circumstances, who are saying their last goodbyes from a distance, I can relate. My Mom lost her battle with cancer one week after Mother’s Day. I sat in my backyard while she was at a hospice center in Canada, when we cried through one of our last conversations – a Happy Mother’s Day wish. It wasn’t happy, but what could I say?

Why I Blog? © Lisa Morales

The Reasons Why I Blog

Yes, I won’t deny it – I do blog for SEO. What writer or business owner doesn’t? However, my “call to write” is because of the following:

  • I write because I can express myself so much better than in spoken words.
  • I want to be heard because sometimes the people closest to me aren’t listening. I also want to be heard by others and I do appreciate the feedback received on social media.
  • Expanding on the latter point, I hope that someone else identifies with my subject and is inspired to cook, bake, drink wine, learn more about art, etc.
  • Finally, I write to leave something behind. When you lose a loved one, you hold tight to memories and material things such as photos, birthday cards, letters, Fine China – anything to keep that person close long after they’re gone. This blog is for my own children. Currently, they are slightly annoyed that they can’t eat before I get the perfect photo. However, maybe one day they’ll treasure these recipes and ramblings.

Nanaimo Bars

Unless you’re from Quebec, it’s really hard to define Canadian food. However, I’m delighted to share a couple of my favorite desserts that are apparently indigenous to Canada (not England.) There’s an interesting history to Nanaimo Bars (named after a city in British Colombia) and I suggest you read it here. If you visit B.C., you can follow the Nanaimo Bar Trail! Although there are many versions of this recipe, I’ve adapted the one created by the winner of the 1986 Best Nanaimo Bar Recipe contest held by the then, Mayor of Nanaimo. You can find Joyce Hardcastle’s recipe here.

Bottom Layer

  • ½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter (preferably European-style cultured butter)
  • 5 Tbsp (75 mL) cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 ¾ cups (425 mL) graham wafer crumbs
  • 1 cup (250 mL) shredded coconut
  • ½ cup (125 mL) almonds, finely chopped (Note: I didn’t use nuts. See Blog Bloopers below.)

1. Pour 2 cups (500 mL) water into bottom of double boiler. Place on stove over medium heat and bring water to simmer.

2. In top of double boiler; combine butter, cocoa and sugar; place over simmering water. Heat, stirring, until butter has melted and mixture is smooth.

3. Add beaten egg; stir until thick. Remove top of double boiler from heat. Stir in graham wafer crumbs, coconut and almonds.

4. Scrape into parchment paper-lined 8-inch (2 L) square baking dish. Press firmly to create even bottom layer.

5. Tip: If you don’t have a double boiler, half-fill a saucepan with water and heat over medium heat until water begins to simmer. Then, place a metal or glass bowl over the simmering water and proceed as directed.

Middle Layer

  • ½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp + 2 tsp (40 mL) whipping or heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) vanilla custard powder
  • 2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar

With a mixer, cream together butter, cream and custard powder. Gradually add icing sugar; beat until light and fluffy. Scrape over bottom layer, smoothing top with spatula or palette knife.

Topping

  • 4 oz (115 g) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter

In clean double boiler, melt chocolate and butter together. Remove from heat; let cool slightly. When cool, but still liquid, pour over custard layer.

Cover and refrigerate until cold. (About six hours.)

Butter Tarts © Lisa Morales

Butter Tarts

Unless I’ve forgotten, my mother never made her own Butter Tarts. It was a dessert staple and a cheap sweet treat. There are versions of this recipe that include raisins, but I never liked them included then so certainly will not add them now.

Pastry

  • 2 ¼ cups flour, pastry flour is best to use but all-purpose will do
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening, Very cold and cut in cubes
  • 1/2 cup butter, Very cold and cut in cubes
  • 6 tbsp ice water, approximately, enough to bring the dough together

1. Pulse the cold butter and shortening into the flour sugar and salt using a food processor until the shortening or butter is reduced to pea sized pieces.

2. Sprinkle the water over the surface and toss with a fork until the water is just incorporated into the dough. Do not over work the dough; handle it only enough so that the dough stays together.

3. Form the dough into two rounds about an inch thick.

4. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for about a half hour.

5. Roll out on lightly floured surface. Cut into rounds with 4 inch cutter. Fit into muffin cups. Chill in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the filling. Cold pastry heading into a hot oven will always be flakier.

Filling

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • (Optional: ½ cup raisins, substituting, pecans, walnuts or chocolate chips.)

1. Combine all filling ingredients except raisins.

2. Mix well.

3. Sprinkle raisins in a single layer in the bottom of the pastry lined muffin cups.

4. Fill 2/3 full with syrup mixture.

5. Bake on bottom shelf of oven at 425 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes.

6. Cool completely on a wire rack and remove tarts from from pans.

Blog Bloopers

Baking is an exact science and if you want to improvise, stick to cooking. A few things went wrong:

(1) For the Nanaimo Bars, I only had a rectangle baking pan and an 8-inch round, springform pan. Because of a nut allergy, I added more graham cracker crumbs to make up the difference. With too much crust crumbs on my hands, I had to decide between discarding some of this mix to fit in the round pan or fill a rectangular pan. I did the latter and what a mistake! There wasn’t enough custard filling and spreading it thinly was a disaster (see below for the lesson learned.) I then made more ganache to cover up the mistake and avoid a sweet tragedy!

(2) For the Butter Tarts, I did not make my own crust, but plan to do so in the future so I left that part in. As you know, some items are hard to come by, so I substituted store-bought pie dough for pastry flour to make a dough from scratch. I then cut the full size pre-cut pie dough into small circles by using a glass. Note: anticipating a gooey baked mess, I also used foil cupcake liners that I later removed once the tarts had cooled.

Wine of the Week: Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, Crozes-Hermitage Silene 2017 from Wine by the Bay.

(3) When conceiving a blog post, I usually plan the wine and prepare the meal before I take the photo. Because I had already opened this bottle the night before for dinner, I had just presumed that a Syrah would work with a chocolate dessert. While this pairing wasn’t bad, it wasn’t perfect. The Crozes-Hermitage Silene 2017 is a gentle beauty and a nice expression of this style. It paired well with my French-inspired dinner and I’ll write about it next week!

Can Actions Speak Louder than Words?

My mother never told me that she loved me. It’s strange to grow up never hearing those three words and although I struggle to say it myself, I make sure that the ones I love hear it maybe not every day, but enough. I honestly can’t understand why it was so hard, but as I failed to evenly spread the middle layer of Nanaimo Bars, I thought of my mother’s perfect centers: yellow and creamy and not a crumb from the first layer mixed in. (I guess it may have taken her a few times to get it right.)

It’s at that moment when I realized that maybe what she couldn’t express in words, she was able to say in her dessert making. A way for her to communicate, like writing is to me.

The kitchen is where we deal with the elements of the universe. It is where we come to understand our past and ourselves. ~ Laura Esquivel (Author of Like Water for Chocolate.)

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Resources:

If you are grieving loss  or have lost a loved one during the COVID-19 Pandemic, here are a few helpful articles.

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Risotto, Running and REM

Wake me up because I’m tired of dreaming. It’s Week 9 of the stay-at-home order, although some of you may have started quarantine either later or earlier than me. I typically never recall my dreams, but for the past few weeks, I’ve been able to vividly retell what took place during REM before I’ve had my morning espresso. Some nights I’m being screamed at by someone because I forgot my mask, or I’m lost in a supermarket, or living back in Canada (I’ll get to that next week.)

Lockdown Dreams

I wondered if I was the only one who was having weird dreams, so after doing some searching, I discovered that scientists have documented why and how the coronavirus is affecting our dreams. There’s even a website called Lockdown Dreams and you can share your experiences with others. I’m sure that’s therapeutic for some people, but frankly, I’m tired of remembering. Why would I want to read about other people’s life-like nightmares?

Running

I began running around five years ago, but really started taking it more seriously and working on a mind-body regimen about a year ago. Where getting in a car to go basically nowhere hardly gives me pleasure, running now gives me a sense of freedom and purpose to weekends with nowhere to go. Running is my superpower. What’s yours?

Vineyard in Piemonte © Shutterstock

Daydreams Are Different

For a week I daydreamed about making Risotto with Sausage, drinking Barbaresco (see below,) and most importantly, taking a virtual trip to Italy. Thanks to Wine by the Bay in Miami, a Saturday tour of Pier Paolo Grasso’s Azienda Vitivinicola Pier (located in Treiso, Piemonte) gave me a chance to forget those stressful trips to the supermarket and an inbox filled with work requests mixed with a barrage of breaking news headlines.

The Zoom event was perfectly orchestrated by Wine by the Bay’s owner, Stefano Campanini. After signing up, a small group of “travelers” received a bottle of Barbaresco and video link to a pre-recorded demo by Sara, Pier Paolo Grasso’s wife who explained step-by-step how to prepare the dish. While we had lunch in our kitchens, the Grasso’s enjoyed dinner overlooking their vineyard! The video tour was divided into three parts starting with a 360° look of the estate; followed by the cellars; and concluding with the bottling and packaging areas. In between, we chatted, ate lunch and drank the wine pensively, but filled with excitement because we could hear insights from the winemaker himself!

Possibly it was the 14% ABV, but by glass number two, I felt like I was sitting in the same room with everyone. Imagine, guests from Washington, Texas, Florida, Quebec, and Piemonte enjoying this great experience together!

Azienda Pier by Pier Paolo Grasso – Barbaresco Riserva Piccola Emma 2007 © Lisa Morales

The Wine: Azienda Pier by Pier Paolo Grasso – Barbaresco Riserva Piccola Emma 2007

The Nebbiolo grapes used for this Riserva come from La Fenice vineyards. After vinification in steel, Piccola Emma 2007 was matured for ten years in 50hl oak barrels. Bottling took place in December 2018.

The wine sports a charming garnet color, a rich and elegant olfactory emerges, initially dominated by notes of red currant and morello cherry jams which, in a short time, reveal hints of dried violet and undergrowth as well as a slight blood tinge; a vertical balsamic vein runs through the bouquet giving it an intriguing olfactory three-dimensionality.

Note: I didn’t write this description. You can read the full review here and run it through Google translator if you don’t speak Italian. You can find some more history of the winery and a nice photo of Pier Paolo and Sara here.

Risotto with Sausage Ingredients © Lisa Morales

Risotto Recipe

If you hadn’t read this far, you would have missed out on the best part, or maybe the second best part, or equal parts. Alright, the wine and recipe tie for first place!

While it was not the first time that I’ve made risotto, it was the first time that I’ve made it with a newly opened bottle of Riserva red wine. Trust me, those tears shed from losing a half cup of Pier Paolo’s Barbaresco to this dish will quickly dry up when you taste your perfect pairing!

  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 4 – 6 cups of hot chicken stock
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp of Thyme
  • ¾ c of chopped Baby Portobello mushrooms
  • Olive Oil
  • 1/2 c of Piccola Emma (or quality red wine)
  • 4 sausages each cut into thirds (I simmered the sausage in a bit of water until almost cooked and had acquired a little bit of color.)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 c of grated Parmesan cheese (save some for topping the dish or shred some more and reserve until the end)
  • 1 tbsp chopped Parsley

Using a wooden spoon, gently sauté the onions in olive oil and a dash of salt until translucent.

Add the mushrooms and Thyme and stir until soft adding more olive oil if needed.

Stir in the Arborio rice and coat with oil and lightly toast.

Add the wine, stir and simmer until it evaporates.

Add the first 3 or 4 ladles of stock until the rice is just covered with broth. Let the rice gently simmer, stirring frequently.

Repeat this step a few more times until the rice is “al dente.” When you run your spoon down the bottom of the pot, the rice will separate and you see a clear line.

Remove from heat and stir in first the butter until it is melted and combined, followed by the Parmesan cheese.

Cover for a 5-10 minutes before serving.

Note: Since I had prepared this ahead of time because I had a work commitment before the trip, I left the rice warming over another pot filled with some steamy, hot water. If your rice dries up, you can add a splash of broth (or cream) to make it creamier.

Risotto with Sausage © Lisa Morales

The End Is A Beginning

This pandemic has thwarted our sense of purpose and to work without the reward of time off or a vacation is extremely hard. However, dreams help us prepare for adversity. So when you wake up, keep remembering that where the bad dream ends, there’s still a day filled with possibilities, plus a daydream or two to keep us going — This too shall pass.

“I have had dreams, and I’ve had nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.” – Jonas Salk

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

Note: Dr. Jonas Salk first tested his vaccine against the polio virus in 1952 before announcing to the world in 1955 that a viable vaccine against the feared virus was now a reality.  Albert Sabin followed Dr. Salk a few short years later by licensing an oral version of the polio vaccine in 1962.

Resource: Talking about your dreams may be a good idea if you are feeling anxious. Read more here.

You too can take a trip with Wine by the Bay! Visit www.winebtb.com/events.

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Death by Chocolate and Wine

Here we go! Week 7 of the stay-at-home order and I’m thinking about death. How can we not think about it when we read the numbers each day in the news? Keeping the statistics in mind, there’s a high probability that someone close to us may die of COVID-19 related complications. We dart through grocery stores like the living dead, avoid eye contact, and grunt through masks only when we must speak.

I have thought about leaving the ones I love behind and spending my last moments alone. I worry for elderly family members and the people I don’t know personally, but put their lives at risk each day—grocery store workers, healthcare professionals, bus drivers, etc.

I had a high school English teacher who loved New Orleans and jazz. He once told us that if there was a nuclear war, he’d accept his doom provided that he had a steak dinner, a glass of red wine and Louis Armstrong playing.

His philosophy stuck with me and I’ve decided that if I must face my fate, my last meal will include a steak and a glass of wine, but also some form of Death by Chocolate. You’ll find a recipe for this chocolatey namesake below, but first a little…

Death by Chocolate History

The first death by chocolate took place in Mexico in the 1600’s when some rich parishioners couldn’t stop eating chocolate during Mass. This prompted a ban by the Bishop who then met his fate after drinking a poisonous chocolate concoction. Read the full story here.

Death by Chocolate Cookies (found on Delish.com)

  • 1 c. butter, softened (or shortening)
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • Flaky sea salt, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350º and line a baking sheet with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, then add vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in 1 cup semisweet chips and dark chocolate chips.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop out dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake until centers are set, about 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Make ganache: Place remaining 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips in a bowl. In small saucepan, heat heavy cream over low and bring to a gentle boil. Pour cream over chocolate chips and let sit 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.

Dip cookies halfway into ganache and sprinkle dipped side with flaky salt. Let harden before serving.

Notes: I used milk and white chocolate because that was what was available at the grocery store. However, next time I’ll look for better quality chocolate and use semi sweet and dark as called for in the original recipe.

The light sprinkle of sea salt is key! I waited until the ganache set a bit before adding it so that it could not only be sensed (you really don’t taste salt—it accentuates the flavors,) but also be seen.

2015 Oremus Mandolás – Tempos Vega Sicilia
© Lisa Morales

The Wine: 2015 Oremus Mandolás – Tempos Vega Sicilia (100% Furmint, Hungary)

This dry Tokaji immediately triggered a memory of a late night snack at Bar Casa Julio located next to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. I ate fried calamari and drank fino sherry. Now, it would be totally incorrect of Wine Newbie me to say that Oremus Mandolás is like fino sherry. It has a dry sherry feel and I can imagine having it with lightly salted, fried seafood.

Before I return to the earth (6 feet under that is,) you’ll find me sipping this dry Tokaji while soaking up the sun. Read more here. (BTW I enjoyed Oremus Mandolás on its own and would not recommend having it with either steak or Death by Chocolate cookies.)

It can be purchased in person or online at Wine by the Bay, Miami.

Recommend Reading: Brian Freedman’s article for Forbes magazine and Taste of Hungary.

Facts: Mandolás was the first dry wine produced in the region of Tokaji. February 1 is International Furmint Day.

Let’s drink to the hard working people. Let’s drink to the salt of the earth ~ Mick Jagger

Share your Death by Chocolate Cookies photos with me by tagging me on Instagram; and let me know what meal and wine would be your “last supper,” in a comment below.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

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Why I Miss Spain Less

Because of my mother, I suffer from an extreme case of the travel bug. Long before the internet, my mom learned how to travel on a budget. She’d check out Fodors Travel Guides from the local library and before committing to a reservation, spent plenty of time on the phone or telex with potential hotels, airlines and tour operators. “Telex,” you ask? You’ll need to consult an encyclopedia for the answer!

I was six years old when my fearless, single mother took my brother and I on our first trip to Europe. My fondest memories include a boat ride down the Rhine, exploring the Swiss Alps by cable car, and riding a tricycle around the Eiffel Tower. (The latter was probably a reward for making us climb the stairs up the Eiffel Tower. At each level, she’d give us a candy because I am guessing we complained all of the way up!)

We had many travel adventures together until I could afford to take my own and because of her, I learned to travel on a budget and discover what fun you can have too when venturing off the beaten path.

Fast Forward

I’m now into Week 6 of the voluntary, stay-at-home order (although some people started later than me.) Never mind that I miss taking a plane–I’d give anything to go more than 10 miles in a car! Whether in the recent past or the very soon future, we will always rely on the internet to continue travelling and do so both easily and affordably.

Why I Went To Spain

There’s a few reasons why I went to Spain last year: 1) the Alhambra was on my Bucket List because I fell in love with its history after taking a Spanish Art and Architecture course at the University of Toronto; 2) a non-stop British Airways flight deal was an offer too good to pass up; and 3) Spain Revealed – James Blick.

YouTube

When it comes to travel, I do like and find TripAdvisor very useful. However, when I’m tired of reading, there’s no better place to investigate places to go than YouTube. There’s a lot of people who make travel videos and we have that one “no names mentioned,” older guy who’s been making travel video for years. However, if you are a food lover wanting to visit Spain, I suggest that you subscribe to James’ channel. Besides the knowledge that you’ll gain, it’s great fun!

I can credit his videos for discovering places to eat in Madrid and clues to live like a local, plus tips to understanding Spanish culture. Living like a local is key for me and the first thing I typically do when arriving in a new city is visit a local market.

James is the co-founder of Devour Tours that began offering food and wine-focused walking tours in 2012. Their mission (found on the Devour Tours website) is to connect curious travelers with local food and communities in a way that helps culture thrive. What began in just Madrid has expanded to include other cities in Spain, Paris, Rome and London.

James’ wife Yoly runs Flamenco Guide for anyone interested in the best place to experience flamenco.

Madrid Lockdown

Because I subscribe to Spain Revealed, I received a notification that James had posted a new video. Since returning from Spain, I had not watched any recent videos. However, this one caught my eye because there wasn’t a thumbnail, but just a still shot of unshaven James waving from, what I later learned, is their apartment’s patio.

I was so moved by his uncut announcement. “An Update from Madrid” was posted when we, in South Florida, were at the, “how bad can it really get” stage. Fear would quickly intensify as life as we knew it, changed by the minute.

Just watch the video. From both a business and personal level, James’ plea was telling and for all of us very relatable.

A New Message

As a communications and marketing professional, I’ve been fortunately swamped with work. Many businesses have had to change their marketing plan and, for example, switch in-person events to virtual ones and foot traffic to online sales and delivery.

It’s as if the sand is running faster through the hourglass as our livelihood is at stake. Since James posted the video on March 14th, I’ve kept up with his Instagram and have been so impressed how quickly they have provided a new experience for their audience. Although probably not enough, they have found a way to raise some money to help out the business and employees.

Zoomed Out

By now a lot of us might be tired of Zoom after spending a work or school day online. Devour Tours now offers some entertaining alternatives: cooking classes live demos; cool merch to add some fun to the stay-at-home wardrobe; and my favorite one, a downloadable cooking book, “Recipes from the Devour Tours Kitchen.”

I’ve already made a couple of the dishes and although my past blog posts have included recipes, I’m encouraging you to buy the cookbook to help support a Devour Tours experience that you may have taken in the past or one that you’ll take in the future.

A Different Kind of Back-to-Business

This week, Spain has begun easing some of its restrictions and many non-essential workers can return to work. However, it will take quite a bit of time before tourism returns to where it had been.

Remember that the travel industry needs our help. While you might not be ready to travel, continue to engage and support the restaurants, stores and businesses that you’ve come to know while on holiday. A like, share and review can go a long way.

If you’ve made it to the bottom of this article, here are some of my favorite Spanish spots to eat and drink or buy wine. It is these memories and new connections why I miss Spain less.

Licores Cabello (Madrid’s oldest wine shop) @licorescabello

Donde Sánchez Cosas Ricas at Mercado de Antón Martín @dondesanchez @mercadoantonmartin
Mariscos Morris in Mercado de San Miguel @mariscosmorris @mercadosanmiguel
La Cabaña Argentina @la_cabana_argentina
Lateral Santa Ana @rest_lateral
Atlantik Corner @atlantikcorner

Restaurante Ruta del Azafrán (Granada) @rutadelazafrangranada

Follow @jamesblickspain @devour_tours @flamencoguide

“Aquel que pierde riqueza pierde mucho, aquel que pierde amigos pierde aún más. Aquel que pierde el coraje, lo pierde todo.” ~ Miguel de Cervantes.

“He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more, but he who loses his courage loses all.”

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

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Etra Fine Art Announces Special Hours During Art Basel/Miami Art Week

Photos and Highlights of the “Ciudades” Opening Reception


l to r: Isabelle Lambert, Alicia Restrepo (Curator and Etra Fine Art owner), Anaide Govaert

Miami, FL…December 2, 2019…Etra Fine Art located in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood (also known as Little River Art District) held a highly successful Opening Reception of Ciudades, a multimedia art exhibition. The event was attended by clients and a steady stream of art lovers over the course of a four hour, open house style event.

Artists in attendance were Juan Raul Hoyos (Miami/Colombia) and Jorge Olarte (Miami) and throughout the week will be present along with Andriy Halashyn (Kiev) and 2501 (Milan.)

The exhibit is curated by Etra Fine Art owner, Alicia Restrepo. She has had a long career as gallerist originally in New York City and then moved to Miami shortly after Art Basel arrived in the Magic City. Restrepo has gracefully weathered the real estate changes over the years and changed location to adapt accordingly: from the Design District (before it was a luxury retail destination); Wynwood; and now Little Haiti/Little River Art District.

Apart from Hoyos, Olarte, Halashyn and 2501, the other exhibiting artists are: Ana Maria Gutierrez (Bogota); Valeria Yamamoto (Buenos Aires); Francis Hines (New York); and André Cypriano (Rio de Janeiro.) Also on view are videos by Hoyos and 2501; poetry and essays by Elizabeth Rogers; and music, La Ciudades by Astor Piazzolla.

Ciudades, a multimedia exhibition made up of paintings, music, an installation, sculptures, photography, videos, poetry and essays will open for special hours during Miami Art Week (Art Basel) and close on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. 6942 NE 4th Ave, Miami, FL 33138, www.etrafineart.com, info@etrafineart.com, 917.370.2907.

Etra Fine Art Presents, Ciudades

  • Art Basel Miami
  • Closes: Tuesday, January 28, 2020
  • During Miami Art Week (December 3-6): 11 am to 5 pm, Tuesday to Friday and other days by appointment.
  • Etra Fine Art
  • 6942 NE 4th Ave
  • Miami, FL 33138
  • www.etrafineart.com info@etrafineart.com

Read Recent Etra Fine Art Press:

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The “Not Another Art Basel Listicle” Guide to Miami Art Week

Top Art Fairs: The A-Z of Where #MyArtEscape Will Be.

It’s my favorite time of the year! I have all of my press credentials in place, am reading voraciously about art, art installations, events and VIP soirees. The trickle of incoming press releases has become a flood, and I’ll soon be swimming through miles of art. Hooray, Art Basel aka Miami Art Week is (almost) here!

Without delay, below is the A-Z of where I’ll be. Read all the way to the end because I’ll recall a couple of the past VIP events that I’ve had the good fortune to attend. You may also wish to follow my daily, Art Basel Instagram stories for highlights of each fair and a couple of special events.

Note: I’ve scaled down my art fair trekking from last year’s 10 fairs. As much as I’d like to see it all, I was art oversaturated and no shoes or running prep could condition me for that much walking.

Art Basel

I really don’t understand people who say that they won’t go to Art Basel like it’s some kind of art fair boycott against the 1%. Sorry, but Art Basel is the OG of international art fairs. Maybe you can’t afford to buy anything, but why would you pass on an opportunity to see a new work by huge artists like Anish Kapoor, Yayoi Kusama or my favorite American artist, Nick Cave?

  • Dates: December 5-8 at the Miami Beach Convention Center
  • Global focus: 269 leading galleries from across the world to exhibit, with 20 galleries joining the fair for the first time
  • 18th edition and 500,000 square feet of exhibition space
  • Meridians: A new sector located in the Grand Ballroom of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Curated by Magalí Arriola will bring together around 30 projects that push the boundaries of a traditional art fair layout.
  • Day Ticket: $65.00; Students and Seniors $45.00

Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139 | www.artbasel.com/miami-beach

Art Miami

I said it last year and I’ll remind you again, Art Miami came first! It’s a sophisticated and intellectually stimulating art fair. You’ll find just about all of the highly collectible and blue chip artists’ work sought by wealthy collectors that you would find at Art Basel. Art Miami also makes great efforts to spotlight Miami galleries, museums and artists. Support local!

  • Dates: December 3-8 at the Art Miami pavilion in Downtown Miami
  • Milestones: Returning for its 30th edition, Art Miami is recognized as one of the preeminent international modern and contemporary art fairs, Art Miami will showcase an array of iconic and important art works, dynamic projects and special installations from more than 170 international galleries from nearly 22 countries representing 69 cities.
  • The Platinum VIP Preview on December 3rd will benefit the Perez Art Museum Miami.
  • Adult Admission $55.00; Seniors $35.00; Students (12-18) $35.00

The Art Miami Pavilion, One Herald Plaza @ NE 14th Street, Downtown Miami. On Biscayne Bay between the Venetian & MacArthur Causeways | www.artmiami.com

Aqua

Sister to Art Miami, here’s the perfect example of supporting local and emerging artists. I love this fair and most of the art is affordable for people like you and me. They offer some great programming too and I’ve enjoyed in the past, sitting down and listening to one of their talks. Looks like this year guests can enjoy visual performance art.

  • Dates: December 5-8
  • Held at the Aqua Hotel in South Beach, the unique setting (open courtyard and rooms transformed into art exhibition spaces) has become a favorite gathering spot for collectors, curators and art lovers to discover fresh talent and acquire new works while exchanging cultural ideas and forming meaningful connections.
  • Milestones: Presenting its 15th year and last year recorded the strongest sales and attendance to date.
  • Adult Admission $25.00; Seniors and Students $20.00

Aqua Art Miami at the Aqua Hotel, 1530 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139 | www.aquaartmiami.com

Bathtub art piece seen at Design Miami 2017

Design Miami

If I’m not staring at new works by Porky Hefer at Southern Guild, you’ll find me swooning over very expensive ceramics or an Armani Casa living room. A girl can dream right? Since I love sculpture, functional art (and I know artists and designers hate that term) makes so much sense. I want to fill my house with objects that I can touch and maybe use now and then.

  • Dates: December 4-8
  • Updates: Design Miami will take place for the first time in the newly completed Pride Park with its entrance directly facing Art Basel at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The reconfigured fair tent will have a glass façade at the entrance to house the new Design Forum presented by SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design.) Occurring alongside Art Basel in Miami and Switzerland, Design Miami/ has become the premier venue for collecting, exhibiting, discussing, and creating collectible design.
  • Now in its 15th edition, Design Miami 33 galleries and 14 Curio presentations from 13 countries, including three galleries exhibiting for the first time.

Convention Center Drive; Between 18th and 19th Streets, Miami Beach | https://miami2019.designmiami.com/

NADA

I really love NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) too. Maybe’s it’s the Ice Palace’s interior black walls and curated gallery spaces that make me feel like I’m walking through Soho on an autumn day. These curated spaces appeal to the intellect, but don’t feel shy to ask questions. There are millions of artists and you can’t know them all.

  • Dates: December 5-8
  • Presenting its 17th edition, NADA will showcase a diverse selection of local, national, and international galleries with 136 exhibitors representing 56 cities from 25 countries. The fair continues to grow in the 17th edition, welcoming 28 first-time exhibitors and 71 NADA Member galleries.
  • Adult Admission $20.00; Seniors and Students $10.00

Ice Palace Studios, 1400 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33136 | www.newartdealers.org

PULSE Art Fair

Last year was my first year at PULSE. I must admit, it’s a little out of the way and parking is not easy. Yes, you can do valet at the Eden Roc if you’re okay with the fee. However, don’t let that stop you. You have options: shuttles run between the main fairs and you can park further south and take a rideshare. The galleries are worth any little inconvenience.

  • Dates: December 5-8
  • Milestones: Celebrating its 15th anniversary and announced its new fair director, Cristina Salmastrelli. Visit over 60 globally-renowned galleries and artists. New this year is PULSE Perspectives, a dual language programming series presenting talks and tours in English and Spanish. Find a variety of programming and also a wellness lounge and restaurant in partnership with Eden Roc/NOBU Hotel Group.
  • Adult Admission $35.00

Indian Beach Park, 4601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach 33140 | https://www.pulseartfair.com/

SCOPE Miami Beach

Here’s a great fair for young collectors and who can resist the location right on the South Beach sand? You’ll find works that are bold and gutsy, rich in statements about society and the many complications that we face today.

  • Dates: December 4-8
  • Returning to Miami Beach for its 19th edition, SCOPE will welcome 134 diverse contemporary exhibitors featuring The New Contemporary, a genre that stands as a critical contribution to both global politics and local community engagement. New to the pavilion this year is OASIS, an experiential multidisciplinary program located in our expanded Atrium. OASIS will present daily programming featuring large scale installations, music performances, and panel discussions while continuing our long-standing commitment to wellness.
  • Adult Admission: $40.00

801 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139 | https://scope-art.com

UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach

If I had to choose a favorite art fair, UNTITLED, ART would be it. I really enjoy visiting galleries that focus on curation. The Untitled team is made up of curators, designers and architects providing not only an overall cohesiveness in the quality of galleries it selects, but in the fair design itself. It’s a pleasant and stimulating place to be. The natural light flows in through the skylights. I just love how each gallery is set back differently and the concept is open – not boxy like other fairs.

  • Dates: December 4-8
  • Find a collection of 126 international galleries and nonprofit spaces from 28 countries and 57 cities make up the 2019 roster, carefully selected by Artistic Director and Curator Omar López-Chahoud.
  • Adult Admission: $40.00

Ocean Drive and 12th Street, Miami Beach | https://untitledartfairs.com/miami-beach

Flashback

Here’s a look back at some of the events I’ve attended in past years.

Albedo by Tomas Saraceno for Aerocene Opening Brunch | Art Miami 2018
Pharrell Williams Private Concert at 1 Hotel South Beach 2019
Perrier Jouet Champagne Dinner at Leynia, Delano Hotel (South Beach)
Jeff Koons Unveils Ballerina and Pluto and Proserpina at Oceana Bal Harbour

Put on your comfy and stylish shoes and I’ll see you there!

Read my past and future published articles here and follow @AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape for daily Art Basel, Miami Art Week updates.

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Polka Dot Mathematics: Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins

As I am writing this blog post, the Instagram hashtag Yayoi Kusama (#yayoikusama) has 850K related posts and @yayoikusama_ (which I presume is the artist’s official Instagram) has 31.3K followers. There’s plenty of unofficial accounts and a variety of Yayoi-ish hashtags. Search Yayoi Kusama news on Google and you’ll find 40,400 results. Switch to “All” and there will be more than 7 million results.

It’s infinite and that’s Yayoi Kusama.

There’s nothing that I can write that hasn’t been written before about Kusama, who has lived through a turbulent, personal history for nine decades. Today, I can only relate my personal experience and it was a magical one!

I adore polka dots and my daughter’s first Easter outfit was a navy blue dress with white polka dots. The hat had a matching fabric sash. I loved it and she hated it. I tried for all of her preschool years, to force polka dots on her, but failed.

Before even knowing anything about Yayoi (can we be on a first name basis?), I was drawn to one of her pumpkin sculptures at a gallery participating in Art Basel Miami. A man looked at it pensively while I wondered what he was thinking.

A couple of years ago a friend recommended to see a documentary about her life. I did plan to watch it, but it got bumped off the long list of things to do. Over time, I would hear other Yayoi murmurs and rather than research, I would just recall those dots.

Then, recently I received an email that I must go see All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins at the ICA Miami. Without thinking twice, I purchased two tickets for $30.00 for myself and a friend, and squeezed that one minute experience, which I might add entails a 2.5 hour round trip car drive, into my busy schedule. Yes, if you are blinking at the last sentence: it translates to $15.00/person for a 60 second, solo view of Yayoi’s Infinity Mirror Room.

In order to prepare for the visit, I finally watched Kusama: Infinity and I suggest you do the same.

Connecting the Dots

Between that first work of art that I saw to some last minute research, I gained a compassionate understanding of Yayoi Kusama’s life and career. To think that at ninety years old, she walks to her studio almost every day and meticulously and obsessively creates dots on canvas or other two or 3-D mediums, fascinates me. Her therapy became #MyArtEscape.

It was reported in January, 2018 that over 75,000 people visited With All My Love For The Tulips, I Pray Forever at David Zwirner in New York. At ICA Miami, they receive 20 people per thirty minute time slot and hundreds line up on Thursdays when entrance is free.

I imagine during Art Basel/Miami Art Week attendance will skyrocket. Multiply those figures by the amount of people who will visit any of the Infinity Rooms around the world, from today until a closing date of probably never, means that Yayoi’s artistic legacy will be limitless.

Buzz Lightyear said, “To infinity and beyond” a remark embraced by children and adults alike. How often do you see Facebook posts, “I love you to infinity and beyond?” Infinity is the fictitious place (or non-place to be exact) that we dream to reach.

For Yayoi, infinity may once have been a location to escape like fields of flowers or an infinite reflection of polka dots, but now it’s eternal hope for her and us all.

And, as we make the most out of our 60 seconds, immersed in that infinite field of spotted pumpkins, we can reach Instagram immortality by the click of our iPhone. Or, if we leave our phone behind (which I plan to do next time),  our imaginations will be forever sealed in that magical spot/polka dot.

Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos. Polka dots are a way to infinity. ~ Yayoi Kusama

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

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Meet My Soul Sister

About This Town by Artez | Calle de Fuencarral 31, Madrid

Puerta del Sol, Madrid

A brief visit to Puerta del Sol in Madrid was Instagram worthy, but crowded with shoppers. The stores were mostly American and there were the familiar fast food restaurants. I was disappointed.

About This Town by Artez

However, my eye caught sight of this colorful mural. “About This Town” depicts a girl holding a pile of books with a bird and its birdhouse balanced on top. There’s a plant behind her or maybe she’s holding that too.  The eye happily travels up and away from the crowded street to appreciate the blue sky above.

Born in Serbia, Artez painted this mural in four days to be a part of the 2019 Urvanity Art Fair. On his website, he explains: “This mural tells us the story of Madrid, a place where visitors from all around the globe are welcome to come and enjoy the vivid artistic and cultural content that this city has to offer. Positioned in the very centre of the town, this mural creates a contrast with the pedestrian shopping street in which it is located. Instead of carrying shopping bags, girl depicted on the mural is holding a pile of books important for the history and culture of the city, and a plant with a small birdhouse that is inviting all the “birds” to come and feel like home!”

A closer look reveals the title of one book Miau by Benito Pérez Galdós (considered to be one of Spain’s most famous writers since Cervantes) and another references the painter Francisco Goya. Possibly this reference is a commentary about the maladies of society.

I would say that a deeper reading surfaces from Artez’ mural. Possibly, the tourist should spend more time getting to know Madrid’s history and culture.  Or, maybe it’s the Spaniards who should pay more attention to Madrid which may be selling its soul to the tourist industry. Who knows?

In any case, she’s my soul sister. I’ll give up shopping bags for a pile of books any day. And, if my nose isn’t in a book, I’ll be birdwatching with my zoom lens pointed to the sky.

El hombre de pensamiento descubre la Verdad; pero quien gozan de ella y utiliza sus celestials dones es el hombre de acción.

~ Benito Pérez Galdós

The man of reflection discovers Truth;  but the one who enjoys it and makes use of its heavenly gifts is the man of action.”

#MyArtEscape @AllegoryPR

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Eating for the Gram at Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

It’s Foodie Friday and unlike last week, I’ve eased back into routine ready to tackle deadlines and a long ‘To Do’ list. Although the memory is far from my taste buds, through the joy of social media I can savor and share with you another yummy experience.

Speaking of social media, I have a love/hate relationship with it. While for years I’ve valued its marketing potential, affordability and used it long before many others did (and nah nah to all of those people who thought I had nothing else to do with my time), I feel it imposes on private me.

Our decision making in so many ways, is formed by social media, whether you’re a: ‘I’ve got nothing to hide’ user like me who likes, comments, follows and unfollows every day: or those silent stalkers (what I like to call them), who claim they don’t have time or like social media, but have an active account and silently watch what everyone is doing all of the time. Which one are you?

While preparing for the trip to Spain, I turned to YouTube rather than reading travel blogs because after spending a whole day reading and writing, it was nice to just let pictures and sound fill me with information. Plus, how great is it to know that there’s so much more to watch about travel than Rick Steve’s Europe? A lot of my travel decisions were influenced by Devour Tours co-founder James Blick and wife Yoly. The two of them are so cute, so if you are not familiar with their YouTube channel, Spain Revealed, check them out!

Because of all the hype, I was debating whether or not to visit tourist infiltrated, Mercado de San Miguel. If you read my last blog post, you’ll know that I greatly enjoyed visiting the humble, Mercado Anton Martin. However, since I planned to visit the Royal Palace of Madrid and Plaza Mayor anyway, I figured that a good lunch stop would be nearby, Mercado de San Miguel.

Note: For me, Google Maps did not work in Madrid. Whether, it was tech ignorant me or because everything in Madrid is an abundance of circles (or maybe squares,) using my phone for directions seemed to get me where I needed to be, four times longer than it should have. After two days of trying, I just parked the phone and relied on remembering landmarks and talking to people. Besides, the old fashioned way is so much nicer. Get your face away from the phone and enjoy getting a little lost because asking for help in Madrid, seems to always turn into a nice, five minute conversation.

Like I said in my last blog post, it’s good to enjoy getting comfortable with standing room only and that’s all you’ll get when you visit Mercado de San Miguel. However, that is a large part of the experience. Food and social gatherings are synonymous in Madrid. And while millions of us share our food experiences on social media to connect with others, here is the ultimate, in person, communal opportunity. The energy is impressive and contagious. Although they must answer the same questions every few minutes, the vendors treat each customer courteously and share their joy of food with speed and efficiency.

And when eating in Madrid, as the travel experts also claim, you can find great quality food and better prices elsewhere. Unless it’s something you really can’t do without, I suggest you avoid those 15 Euro tapas. However, to not go would be a shame.  Plus, here’s a place where it’s totally okay to pull out your camera and capture every moment — just be courteous of others who want to get up to the counter just as much as you because they’re hungry. Things move very quickly and I greatly enjoyed this rhythm and pace. Don’t miss it!

Amaiketako

Tip: You can buy a glass of wine (or another libation) and walk around with it to as many stops as you like. Just don’t linger and eat at a stand where you didn’t buy any food. The outer perimeter of the market is lined with a glass counter with enough space for your small plate and glass. Again, elbow room only makes for a great social experience and ‘yum’ is the international language!

Here’s some of the highlights:

La Hora del Vermut

La Hora del Vermút: If you know me, you know that I don’t really drink. Ha, you may exclaim after checking out my Instagram. Me and alcohol don’t really get a long, so I limit even the amount of wine I drink and it’s consumed almost always with a meal.

I must thank James Blick for having me try something new. Spanish Vermouth is a must-try when in Spain and I had a dry option with some delectable olive tapas at La Hora del Vermut. Make it your first stop.

Read more about Spanish Vermouth here.

La Casa del Bacalao

La Casa del Bacalao: Unless you hate fish, you must visit La Casa del Bacalao. Aesthetically pleasing and flavorful, try a variety and you’ll be satisfied with a nice selection of tapas for about 10 euros total.

Morris

Mariscos Morris: I know the next time that I return to Spain, I’ll be visiting Galicia. If for some reason, you can’t make it there either at least you can get a little taste of what can be expected of Green Spain’s culinary landscape at Mariscos Morris. The plates shown above (which are more like a meal portion, rather than a tapa) are 12-15 Euros each.

El 19 de San Miguel

El 19 de San Miguel: Speaking about Galicia, my glass of Vermut is long gone and it’s time for wine! Less than elbow room only, it amazed me how the nice folks at El 19 de San Miguel were able to still keep a lively conversation going on, while serving up glasses of wine and Cava. I loved the Albariño from Rias Baixas (Galicia.) It was a bit more than the other whites at 4.50 Euro, but worth the extra (and wine is still much cheaper by the glass than it is in the US.)

Tip: Buy a bottle for no more than 40 Euro (and most offered are much less) and split it with your friends or make new ones! Remember that you can carry the bottle and your glass around with you.

Amaiketako

Amaiketako: Yes, there is much more at Mercado de San Miguel than seafood, but that day I was indulging my pescatarian doppelgänger. Amaiketako began three years ago as an online store specializing in artisanal products from the Basque country. Try the Gazpacho with Ahi Tuna bits and garnished with watercress. I’ve forgotten the prices of each tapa, but I’d say about $3.50 average.

Horno de San Onofre

Horno de San Onofre: For just 2.50 Euro you can end (or begin) your San Miguel experience with a rich and creamy meringue. You’ll never go back to those crunchy and messy blobs of egg whites again. Or for 1 Euro more, find happiness on a plate with one of their Milhojas.

Café Negro: Your last stop should be a coffee to get you through the next part of your uphill and downhill day in Madrid. You’ll enjoy and value the choices at Café Negro because it’s no secret: it’s hard to find a good cup of coffee in Spain.

Tip: Save one of your receipts to get you into the restroom, otherwise you’ll have to pay.

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ― Orson Welles

Until next time, know that it’s okay to eat ‘for the gram’ because you’re part of a worldwide community united in one of life’s greatest past times. However, find balance and opt more to enjoy the day’s unrecorded and flavorful moments with friends, family or even strangers – standing room only.

@AllegoryPR #MyArtEscape

About Mercado de San Miguel: More than 100 years have gone by since the Mercado de San Miguel opened its doors as a wholesale food market. Today, this historical building stands out as one of the world’s main gastronomic markets. It allows visitors to experience the essence and most significant flavors of every corner of Spain.

  • Monday – Thursday and Sunday
  • 10:00 am – Midnight
  • Plaza de San Miguel, Madrid 28005
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The Accidental Wine Tasting: Donde Sánchez Cosas Ricas

It’s #FoodieFriday and what better way to recover from the post-vacay blues than to indulge in a tasty flashback?

I intentionally planned a late morning arrival time in Madrid, so I could throw in a load of laundry and go out for lunch aka tapas/early happy hour. “Que viva España!” — after spending five days in Madrid, I have concluded that it may be “five o’clock somewhere,” but in Madrid it’s five o’clock, 24 hours a day! (No joke. Go experience it for yourself.)

Like many of you, a lot of planning goes into a vacation. Some people fill each minute with an itinerary so hectic that by the time the vacation is over they’re exhausted. Me? I have a few criteria: (1) try to stay somewhere where I can experience life as a local; (2) there has to be art nearby; (3) I’m near a local and authentic food market; (4) it’s totally possible to walk to just about anywhere I’d like to be; and (5) there’s a window or terrace with a view if I want to read or must do some work.

I may talk about the Airbnb apartment in Barrio de las Letras some other time, but if you need a great place and can afford a little more than what people expect to pay for a vacation home through this popular site, visit this link.  Shout-out to Teresa who had made my first Airbnb experience a perfect one.

Mercado Antón Martín

While travel sites and YouTube place much more emphasis on the popular Mercado San Miguel (I may write about it later,) Mercado Antón Martín is a great place to experience day-to-day life in the center of Madrid. Support local and avoid the convenience and grocery stores.

Note: There’s another market called Mercado de San Antón in the Chueca neighborhood. I popped in quickly, so I can’t give any first-hand information. It seems more chic and gourmet than Mercado Antón Martín, but not as Instagram moment-touristy as Mercado San Miguel.

At Mercado Antón Martín, you’ll find a traditional market and the early morning rush of Señoras planning that evening’s meal and grocery shopping European style that is – no Costco versions of stocking up here. And then when the butcher and seafood stalls are being washed up before closing, the market transforms into a lunchtime eatery and as the afternoon progresses, you guessed it…Happy Hour!

While circling around figuring out where to stop, one unassuming stall stood out to me as looking authentically Spanish, Donde Sánchez Cosas Rica. Owner Paz Sánchez is unpretentious and very passionate about wine and food. She prefers to say,“cosas ricas” rather than gourmet, just adding to the homey atmosphere. Quality though is not compromised and she did not hesitate to open a bottle, just so I could try something on my “regions to discover” note saved on my phone.

Tip: Enjoy the social scene and be like a local who doesn’t care for a seat or table. Stand and get comfortable with elbow room only.

Then she quickly pours the wine with a little introduction, darts off to attend another customer and then disappears (if it’s even possible to disappear in a small space) to her prep counter and returns with a plate of something yummy (cosas ricas.) “Try this,” she says in Spanish. “I just made it today” and she sets down a generous serving of bacalao (salt cod) pate. Paz is so cheerful and warm that you feel like you’re sitting in her kitchen at home. She explains that she used to have a career which had her traveling a lot, but wine is her passion and she is much happier with this business. In between glasses of wine and anecdotes, she disappears again and comes back with Escabeche of Iberia Secreto. When I saw Iberia Secreto on a menu in Granada, I just presumed it was just a cute name. However, Paz explained that Secreto is a special cut of pork. Read more here.

I asked her what dish would best be paired with the Mencia and she laughed teasingly as if to say, you can’t handle bold Spanish wine like a Spaniard? However, after a pause to think, she disappears again and comes out and says, “try this” while setting down a small plate and then introduces me to aged chorizo and cheese from the same area of Northwestern Spain. To me, the partnership made perfect sense and I was anxious to wash the bites down with the wine and ask for a refill.

Note: When I return to Spain, it will be to Galicia.

Here’s what I tasted:

2015 Ignacio Marin Elements Tierra Earth

  • Grapes: Garnacha and Carinena
  • Region: Carinena
  • @bodegasignaciomarin

2015 Vina Costeira Mencia

  • Grape: Mencia
  • Region: Valdeorras
  • @costeira.es

2018 Honoro Vera

  • Grape: Monastrell
  • Region: Jumilla
  • #bodegasjuangil

Four glasses of wine later and stomach full, I felt like a true Madrileña! When I left Paz said, “Come back when I’m less busy and I’ll sit down and teach you a lot more.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t return until the day before I had to leave and that day Donde Sánchez was packed. I waved, but I don’t think she saw me because she was too busy pouring wine with a smile and preparing  “muchas cosas ricas.”

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” ~ Julia Child

Until next time, let accidents happen and lick your plate clean.

@AllegoryPR #MyArt Escape

Donde Sánchez Cosas Rica is a retail store and bar specializing in wines, craft beers, sparkling wines, vermouth, cold meats, cheeses, pate, preserves, chocolates, jams.

  • Find it on the lower floor of Market Antón Martín
  • Santa Isabel, 5 28012 Madrid
  • Tue – Fri 12:00 – 9:00 p.m.
  • Sat 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Postscript: It doesn’t cost to drink or eat well in Spain. Paz’ store is not only a great experience, but great value. She’ll introduce you to wines that don’t break the bank, but are unique and from all areas of Spain. Her homemade tapas are delicious. Eat there and/or takeaway. Check her schedule for special guests and entertainment.

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