For years, Barcelona Tapas has been a creatively successful culinary and social scene on a quiet cobblestone backstreet in the tropical, seaside, destination of Puerto Vallarta. The vertical profile of the sun-bleached white building is distinctive with its open spaces – dining rooms on each ascending level.

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It is a extremely popular, hip and happening, dining venue which has recently had a spectacular face-lift that brings the structure and open-aired/interior environment up to par with the culinary delights.

Upon arrival, the familiar, welcoming doorway opens to softly lit aggregate stairs that sweep up each tier of the towering edifice.

A massive Cantera stone fountain babbles gently amidst tropical plantings and an iron grill-work is indirectly illuminated for a dramatic effect. An expansive patio all with honed stone tile floors begins the layers of available spaces.

Next an intimate open-aired dining area with an adjacent chef’s table and luminous, full-wall wine cooler beckons with an inviting aura. The intense red drama of a bullfight is rendered in a large painting on the rear wall – a suiting backdrop to the Spanish theme.

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Continuing the ascension, the delightful glossy black ironwork railing follows along and up the open-to-the-sky aggregate staircase turning past the last landing.  Ahead, the beautiful,  warm glow of the new dimensional ceiling treatment accented with wood and indirect lighting draws the eye upward.

Upon arrival on this rooftop dining platform, what was always an exciting view of the city lights, both in the foreground and circling the bay miles around to the north,  now expresses the new architectural features and finishes dazzling the eye.

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Effective lighting, recessed ceiling details, a new clear glass railing, and modern ceiling fans dangling like detached white nosecone propellers present a whole new, fresh, modern look. The drama and effectiveness of the lighting paired with the wonderful surround sound, coming from eight Bose wall-mounted speakers and 2 sub-woofers recessed into the ceiling, result in an atmosphere and music that are seductive and sensational.

But wait – there’s more!!! Yes, an additional rooftop dining patio is revealed upon discovering the hidden staircase at the far end of the bar. New furniture and a billowing fabric-draped portico are soon to arrive!

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This new space not only increases the seating capacity, but offers yet another  panoramic view and trendy design-themed open venue – expanding the options even more!

The project is Chef/Owner Bill Carballo’s passion.

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He has been at it for years creating deliciously original and traditional Spanish tapas (here his exquisie presentations have been half eaten in the rush to enjoy)

from the immaculate exhibition kitchen at the start of the long bar, with a fine-tuned staff eager to assist and cater to your every need.

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This enchanting transformation has attracted new discriminating, trend-setting clients and welcomed the return of  loyal fans to experience this exciting new and stylish interpretation of Barcelona Tapas.

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The doormen Luis and his affable sidekick are there to greet and assist!

Thank you gentlemen and Buenos Noches until next time!!!!

Fun with PERF!

December 3, 2016

Currently finishing a project that has provided a great theme for incorporating metal, it seemed a worthy blog subject for it’s fun and flexibility! Perf is the product – a perforated steel that comes in several percentages of perforation.

We have used this many times for rolling window shades in a flexible coated nylon material. It is great for filtering for sunlight and privacy while allowing a certain amount of “see-through.” It has been used as an architectural screening material for years. You have probably seen it and not realized it on building storefronts and bus wraps – the perforated vinyl coatings are often used for advertisement because they read as though a solid from the one side and are transparent from within.

Here we are playing around with the steel to create cool elements that compliment the theme of this new taproom. The theme is silver and what material does bring to mind? Metallic. So by dressing raw steel with paint – we apply the silver finish and there we have it!

The required outside patio fencing was constructed with very generic square stock. I called it a hamster cage. It was a bland beige when we first arrived and, without notice, the shopping center management had it and the other structural columns lining the canopy/portico painted chocolate brown.

The plan had been to screen it with perforated panels. The darker paint color created a little better contrast and aided in providing a depth of detail to set-off the silver painted perf.

Inside we needed to fill the volume of this most uninteresting dropped ceiling. Already painted black and looking quite voluminous – but not in a good way – the empty space needed some mass. So in one of those restless, middle-of-the-night design sessions of insomnia the idea to create large drums for lighting shades came to mind.

Drums have been in vogue for several years now. Nothing original from the initial use for table lamp shades except their use was broadened to include suspended fixtures and halved for wall sconces. You’ve seen them – hip and happening – and these were quite over-sized and carried the space.

We needed to fill the void of the 12′ high ceilings in this room that had little or no comfort. All hard surfaces, it was a challenge to maintain the silver theme and edginess of a popular taproom while creating comfort. Seemed an oxymoron of a task. But the mass of the perforated drums in three different sizes grouped in the near center of the room did just that.

The addition of multiple warm white lamps inside will be the crowning touch. (photo to be added here in a week or so)

Then a third use of the perforated material came in the idea for a room-divider/hostess station.

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We needed a place to create a point of arrival. Whether manned or unmanned, this unit can have a chalkboard or other signage identifying special events or beer tastings, with a podium in front creates a translucent backdrop to partially cordon off the rest of the space until the customers are greeted and it also can divide the space for special events and table groupings. to accomplish all of those various purposes we designed it with heavy duty commercial casters complete with brakes so that it could be moved easily for its grand height and weight and  placed where needed for the best advantage.

Stay tuned for the complete un-veiling of this cool new interior in the coming weeks. And meanwhile dream of all the fun you can have with perf!

 

Let’s make guaca20150120_113147mole! Creating a good time—is an art. And as is true with most artistic ventures—as in life in general—some people do it better than others. Enthusiasm is infectious and it generates such greatness from its energy that is should be harnessed. It is about this that I write today.

So hearing the charge “Let’s make guacamole!” will be for some a really exciting, if not challenging opportunity, while to others it will suggest a rudimentary task  and prompt eye-rolling. Those with a lack of enthusiasm or optimism, that everything can be fun with the right recipe, will be the

eye-rollers thinking—what’s the challenge of making guacamole? Having done that a million times and regarding its mastery as already accomplished, will not look forward to such an opportunity.

It’s like all enthusiasm, the glass half empty or half full…and with that let me share with you a cooking class that was such fun that is warranted this blog. Despite the fact that the setting was in a tropical jungle, there were many options that day for activities that would blow your paradise-seeking mind. And with all those incredible options I was having great difficulty making decisions each of which eliminated one over the other.

Otherwise probably not to keen on the idea, but having been romanced by the paella lesson left to simmer on the open grill, I had half an open mind about the seemingly simple offer of a guacamole class.

So with a small herd of turtles in front of and behind me, we climbed the stone steps that wound through the lush green vegetation. Barefoot and still in my wet-suit from an educational and invigorating morning snorkel,  I wondered if I should be returning to the beach or investing the precious time in the seemingly rudimentary guacamole class.

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My reward was at the top of the hill…a statuesque chef donning his attenuated white hat graciously greeted us—welcoming us into a beautiful open-air palapa with its bony wooden structure beneath the layered palm thatch ceiling. There before us was a long rustic banquet table beautifully dressed with multiple molcajete vessels of various sizes filled with dark ripe round avocados, blackened/roasted plum tomatoes, grilled onions, blistered serrano chiles,  freshly cut limes, red ripe plum tomatoes, fresh serranos, bunches of aromatic cilantro and pristinely peeled white onions.

 

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At the point of arrival, a bounty of various  specimen chiles were presented on a large rust-colored clay barro platter and stacks of  little barroware plates were in piles interspersed among the molcajete.

Giant steel stars pierced to allow twinkling light to dance at night painted turquoise for pop in the daytime hung at staggered heights from the center of the grand, voluminous palapa. Surrounded by verdant jungle and colorfully painted concrete walls, the room was expansive yet intimate. The chef in his starched white uniform embroidered with his name and proud logo of the establishment greeted us in his towering hat and welcomed us into this scene that dazzled the eye.

Guacamole I’m thinking…this looks like a bit more fun than merely mashing up some avocados!!! And with that he began his friendly introduction to the fiery cuisine of Mexico’s flavorful salsas! Presenting the platter of chiles he held each up for all to see asking the group if anyone could identify them. The replies came from all around “serrano, jalapeno, chipotle, banana, arbol—cola de rata, poblano, guajillo…” The rapt audience sat encircling the grand buffet on rustic wooden stools engaging in lively conversation as the chef spoke in his open and encouraging manner describing each of the chiles and their many uses.

 

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Now we were invited to approach the table where spaced evenly along each long side were stacks of white linen—pressed aprons and chef’s hats for each one of us—how fun and what a nice addition to the otherwise casual scene. We donned our outfits with giggles and proceeded to admire each other’s instant transformation into the appearance of proper culinary participants!

The chef alternated each pair across the table from one another assigning guacamole for one pair and salsa molcajete for the next and so one down the line. This too produced camaraderie between strangers who at once bonded in the fun of the festivities. Oh, and did I mention that for those who chose to partake that delightful beverages were served of all manner of tropical delights from straight tequila shots to refreshingly poured on the rocks with lime to jaca, papaya, pineapple juices, and rum? All this as the chef assigned tasks for each around the table resulting in a chatter of conversation and progress reports as each  tackled their portion of the process—dicing, mashing, mixing and squeezing. The action continued to unfold as the capable woman behind the counter made fresh corn tortillas and delivered them oozing with molten Oaxaca cheese—quesadillas ready to scoop up the magnificent fresh salsa and guacamole!! Smiles and groans of delight emanated from around the room.

So in summary…the recipe for creating a good time: Presentation, welcoming attitude, disarming  graciousness, with the best representations/samples of the product around which the good time is based! Know your theme/subject and make it fun!

Provecho!

Black kitchens are sexy – as noted in the recent article “Cook in the Dark” by David A. Keeps, in the Wall Street Journal, last weekend September 13-14, 2014.20140919_162130 - Copy And in 2008 when we created a dramatic statement using black custom cabinets contrasted against raw-meat colored granite to many it was quite daring, even astonishing – but everyone LOVED it! image001 (1)Yes, it was a man’s kitchen – but as his female friends can attest, it is genderless in its stunningly composed design. This particular interior remodel featured this striking kitchen and we celebrated the black further by painting all the base trim, doors and molding in a semi-gloss black. Contrasting creamy travertine floors and walls are punctuated by the black trim and monolithic two-sided black marble fireplace and flanking cabinets.

On the heels of that project, we found ourselves celebrating a stone fireplace installation from the 70s. Many thought it needed to go – but rather, we found the same slate stone in large format floor tiles and finished all of the floors throughout with this stunning natural material. All of a sudden the fireplace was at home in a new context. A completely new kitchen – enlarged with many added functions – was designed with black cabinets20140515_094950 and iridescent mossy green granite counter-tops flecked and riddled with gold and black fissures. The slate stone flooring was mimicked in the backsplash with the same silvery slate along with a black and grey stone madras-like mix.

I was there in that second interior today as the client prepared with great focus and determination for a significant reunion of friends coming from all over the country – some not having been together for 40 years! A new commission of a martini alongside a copy of Flying magazine (the client is a private pilot), by celebrated artist Susan E. Roden – delivered today, sparkles with highlights of silver leaf next to the brushed stainless accoutrements. The bright red pops against the neutrals and black anchors of the dark toned bar and obsidian kitchen.20140919_170106

So it’s been fun to read the Keeps’ article and hear of this new craze in dark kitchens – we always knew they were sexy. Clients love being ahead of the trends. But as is always the case – when the trend takes hold, the industry provides a new array of offerings for designers to incorporate. New materials, new finishes – the challenge is to think a bit off from the norm and create before the palette is presented on the industry’s silver platter. Remember though – that good design always transcends trends!