August 30, 2015

Hasta luego Madrid!

It is time to say good-bye... I am packing up the house after two lovely HOT months surrounded by family, friends and good vibes.

The pool toys are stowed away in the cellar, the bikes are tucked into the garage, the garden furniture covered up, the appliances unplugged, the pillows wrapped up, the beds stripped off, the left over food offered to a neighbour, and life seems to be sucked out of the house at every one of these steps. 

Our summer house stands for long sleep-ins, endless kids' sleep-overs, breakfasts on the terrace with churros and dulce de leche, late lazy lunches, impromptu aperitifs with neighbours, fun dinners with friends, giggly Cava pow-wows with girlfriends, animated family movie nights, vivifying teenage discussions, in short it is full of life. 

We have made a conscious choice of making this our home and although we do not live in Spain any longer, it has become our family base. We arrive the day after the kids break up from school and it takes us less than 24 hours to get back into the rhythm of Spanish lifestyle. It costs a great deal more when leaving at the end of summer.

But rather than being sad, I am happy. Happy for another summer spent "at home" in my pink house surrounded by my loved ones and tons of guaranteed sunshine. I am very spoilt! We have seen our kids grow up here, we are surrounded by friends and who can resist the Spanish "jamón iberico" or a glass of "tinto de verano"? Oh, and did it mention all the sunshine?!?

So, just let me turn off the WIFI before I get too emotional ... I'll see you in Paris!

August 29, 2015

Platea - the real food experience

I am no foodie but I will happily follow my friends who are to indulge in some yummy delicacies. A few months back I had visited the much acclaimed Eataly in Milano and was quite disappointed by the "factory-feeling" that hit me while I was being "processed" through the rounds. Don't get me wrong the food was good but the atmosphere was hectic and you could hardly understand what your table companion was saying the noise was so overwhelming.

Mamita Cubana's call to check out Platea, a gourmet food hall in Madrid did not fall on deaf ears. It is located in a former cinema and the architect Lázaro Rosa-Violán clearly did his best to keep the theatre atmosphere mixing it with authentic Spanish decor and presented in a sleek look drawing inspiration from the 1940s and ’50s. Sculptural wood walls curve into a canopy for the ground-floor bar, while red leather banquettes in the balcony restaurants give a nod to the stage curtain.

Mexican, Peruvian, Italian, and various Asian cuisines are offered as well as restaurateurs Paco Roncero, Pepe Solla and Marcos Morán who have six Michelin stars between them. The theater-turned-food spectacle covering over 6000m2 makes it possibly the most interesting eatery in Europe.

Eataly might have high quality food but Platea clearly completes the foodie experience by offering sight, taste, smell and sound along with outstanding food. Just think: tapas taken to its logical extreme.

Former Carlos III movie theater
built in the 1950s by architect Luis Gutiérrez-Soto


Five floors of food galore 

Take a seat

Lots of Jamon... this is Spain after all.

How many different ways can you serve it?

Pinchos de aceitunas... yum!

Asparagus tempura

Bañuelos de Bacalao

Mini Tortillas

Your order locked in a beeper

 Opps, it's flashing... my order is ready

One of the many free standing kitchens

It's 2pm... still too early for lunch

More bañuelos ... shrimp this time!

Thinking about it...

A tinto de verano is the answer for a hot summer day
along with some pizza to start!

Peruvian Ceviche

Mexican Tacos del Pastor

August 27, 2015

Meeting Bond... James Bond

Who can resist James Bond? He's a legend. The British secret agent is one of the very few characters who has managed to survive 3 generations... despite cinematographic and technological advancement.

My parents watched Bond movies before I was born, I saw my first one "Moonraker" aged 13,  and I am now taking my kids to see Ian Fleming's latest adventures of 007.

So I jumped at the occasion when Mamita Cubana asked me if I would accompany her to the "Designing 007" exhibition to discover the design and style in James Bond films over the course of five decades, through a various themed areas and environments from 1962’s Dr. No to 2012’s Skyfall. It featured over 500 unforgettable objects, including costumes, gadgets, props, storyboards and models, some we recognised, many we had to explain to our kids.

Did you know that the code number 007 is from one of the key achievements of British naval intelligence, breaking the German diplomatic code in World War I?

Just thinking of how much work went into writing scripts with an old-fashion typewriter or drawing storyboards by hand because computers had not been invented yet, the processes exhibited were mind-boggling.

The piece de resistance must have been Ursula Andress' white bikini in "Dr. No" (1962) - cited as the most famous bikini of all time and an iconic moment in cinematic and fashion history - exposed next to Halle Berry's orange version in "Die Another Day" (2002).

I will hold that image in mind next time I graciously emerge out of the sea in my pink bikini!

James Bond is in Madrid

My favourite James Bond... Sean Connery, he starred in five films: 
Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and Never Say Never Again

50 years of Bond style

Sketch of the Hotel Cala Di Volpe on the Italian island of Sardinia 
which inspired the setting for the movie "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977)

August 25, 2015

A house full of workers

Help! They are destroying my house or at least it sounded like it.

We are lucky to have our base in Madrid to where the family "escapes" every summer. This year I have had all the practical joys of a homeowner.

Having being contacted one morning - very early I might add - by a marketing sales operator of our phone company who convinced me that installing the latest optic fiber system would be convenient and cheaper than my current deal with them I agreed.... the flow of workers in my house has not stopped since... and that was two months ago!

When the technician finally turned up, he informed me he couldn't pull the optic fiber cable all the way though the existing tubes, I therefore needed to contact a builder who banged holes into the wall around the TV to be able to hook the system up. Once these were closed, the boiler had to be checked (overdue for about 5 years). The air conditioner gave up during the hottest month of July ever recorded in Spain and therefore the tiles in the bathroom needed to be bashed up to get to the tubes. Oh, what a surprise, then we had a water leak. The plumber banged more holes into the kitchen, the study, the living room and the bathroom walls to find its source.

Today, the builders are back to cover up the holes. Unfortunately, the quality and thoroughness of these workers does not equal Swiss precision and I am left will marks on the wall which have been painted the wrong colour shade and cracks alongside where the holes used to be due to the extremely thin plasterboard walls and ceiling.

But, hey, the house is still standing and the sun is out. Let's hit the pool, kids!

August 23, 2015

A personal visit to the Taller del Prado

It was over a decade ago when I first met my colourful Chilean friend back in Madrid. We started chatting one day at school pick-up and she complimented me on the shade of my lipgloss. Her comment stuck with me because it seemed odd that anyone would notice such a detail. At the time, little did I know that she is an artist and her business are colours. She is a lady who knows her stuff, techniques, composition, dimensions, perspectives, proportions and pigments!

I, therefore, jumped at the invitation to visit her wonderful workspace in a downtown Madrid atelier exposing a breathtaking view. El "Taller del Prado" (Prado Atelier) is a professional workshop known for their preparation, generosity and dedication. A place of teamwork and friendship where artists come together to exchange opinions, critiques and ideas. It seems being a student there develops individuality and uniqueness, following the path of solid technical and pedagogical principles.

Well, I am far from being an art expert - other than just appreciating the nice things in life - but even I can tell how happy my friend is to have found a space - her space - surrounded by people who share her passion and with whom she can paint side by side.

Most personalized Birthday Card ever

Ready to step behind the scene

Just sitting on this terrace would be enough inspiration for me!

Little visitors

Madrid's Gran Via seen from above

Just the way you've always imagined an atelier should look like

Work in progress: the props

My friend's easel

Longing for a peek behind the curtains

El Taller del Prado workspace

August 21, 2015

Madriamigas meet Vogue

After two lovely weeks lounging under a sunshade along a Spanish beach, what better way to kick myself back into action than a visit to the Thyssen Museum with my Madriamigas (Madrid girlfriends)? The exhibit "Vogue: like a painting" sounded like the perfect fit and sure enough it was. Not too engaging, but beautiful, elegant and inspiring without spending hours in line to buy tickets.

The exhibition encompassed sixty fashion photographs that took their inspiration from classical painting, housed in the archives of Vogue magazine and taken by eminent photographers of the last three decades.

Echoes of the work of Constable, Zuloaga and Sorolla were present in the photographs included in this exhibition, which brought together names from classic photography with talented photographers from new generations, such as: Irving Penn, Annie Leibovitz, Tim Walker, Paolo Roversi, Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, David Sims, Erwin Olaf, Mario Sorrenti, Michael Thompson, Peter Lindbergh and Cecil Beaton.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum named after its founder who's collection was initially housed in the family estate in Lugano in a twenty-rooms building called "Villa Favorita"

Tim Walker, The Dress Lamp Tree. 
What painting was the inspiration for this photo? Totally clueless.

The coffee cup on the floor makes all the difference.

Tim Walker, Lily Cole on a staircase somewhere in India
Romantic, soft and exotic

How well do we know our art history? Hmmm.

August 16, 2015

August 5, 2015

My PiNk Paris

My fetish colour is PiNk beyond a doubt, to the point where my friends far and wide will think of me when they stumble come across a pink object. I'll just take that as a positive sign, right!?

However, there are plenty of pink shots to focus on around Paris. Here are only a few. Check out all my photos at Paris in a Flash on Facebook and follow me when I return back to the city in September.

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