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!!!!

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When it’s time sensitive and just can’t wait – what do you get? A BONUS BLOG!!!  Yes! A mid-week blog for the holidays! It began beneath a brilliant blue sky yesterday as the air, with a teeny bit of a  chill, was contrasted by the then warm sunshine glistening through a deciduous denuded Honey Locust making it’s lonely leftover pods look like birds silhouetted against the sky.

Scattered all over the ground were the same fallen wonderfully twisted mahogany-colored pods writhing amidst the dried leaves.

The color was so rich and warm it was irresistible. As I bent over to inspect one, I was captured by the unique quality of each pod and the amazing contours of their graceful, elongated shapes.

Almost as though they were varnished, they had a semi-gloss that was naturally beautiful. This is art in nature. This is inspiration. I can see this as a magnificent drapery fabric – a grand wall of these intertwined ribbons of organic seed pods.

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However, on a more current and immediate note – I saw a centerpiece or multiple centerpieces as it turned out. I gathered the pods in my fist as though a wonderfully wild bouquet. I then needed a bag (thank you Becky) as I kept dropping them, in an effort to force the ever growing collection.

Here is the quickie result of the awesome autumnal centerpiece. I had a faux wreath of berries and leaves, tossed in a few recently harvested local apples, (thank you Vigils), some leaves gathered from the driveway as the Bradford Pear – which, a little late this year due to our unseasonably warm Indian Summer this fall, has only started to drop its gloriously radiant leaves. And Voila!

I stood back and looked over my shoulder and saw the collapsed plastic bag still spilling pods out over the counter-top.

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I was about to call all my friends and ask “Do you want a piece of this fabulous, festive, fall, focus of attention? And I quickly realized I could expand the joy for those of you with grand tables  needing a longer statement down the center.

So flanking glass vases provided the extension I needed. Now this was quick – adding gravel, sand or moss in the vases would add interest and depth, maybe pheasant feathers, other dried flower pods and grasses – this was just a start based upon an irresistible inspiration scattered before me.

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So keep your eyes peeled for opportunities when you least expect them and make something out of nothing. Save unnecessary expense when you find your design accessories for free!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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To experience this glorious morning, on the open patio of a tiny commercial kitchen, in an otherwise residential neighborhood paralleling the river Cuale, in the very foodie coastal city of  Puerto Vallarta, is a treat beyond measure—but I will try to share. I will attempt to take you to this special place full of unselfconscious art and function.

The cobblestone streets are dusty and send fine particulates of powder into the atmosphere causing a fairy-dust-like twinkle in the bright morning light. We bump along in a taxi turning and curving along the circuitous route that surely would lead most to believe what they say—that “this place is so hard to find, it has to be good!!!”

The front is shut and  obviously closed for  business. The taxi driver brings this to our attention, “is closed” he says simply— assuming that he will be continuing along the bumpy calle along the rio back to the bustling scene of the awakening city and return us to our point of earlier departure. PA15821103517

“No,” we tell him “we’re taking a cooking class” “leciones en la cocina” we attempt to convey and with that he beams a broad smile and says “really?” and stops the cab along the wrong side against the opposing traffic on the little street in front of the café.

We notice Lola peeking through the door at us as she unlatches the locks motioning us through and welcoming us as we enter the quiet little checkerboard floored dining room. 20140125_204143At night this place buzzes with animated conversations and is alive with color and funky memorabilia, art and posters, collages of collectibles all on brilliantly painted walls creating an eclectic artistic interior of fun and festivity. But on this morning, the room is dormant save the three other guests waiting to participate in the morning’s class.

After brief introductions we are escorted through a doorway to a narrow concrete staircase. PVR 2011 after girls 1 050 Red Cabbage stairsDaylight streams from above and we ascend past more brilliantly painted walls to a second floor open to the sky onto a patio rimmed with potted herbs and flowering plants. P1120475 To the right we realize that the rest of the space is undercover, yet always exposed to the elements from that one open east-facing orientation.

Inasmuch as I love cooking and eating and all things related to culinary pleasures, this is not the focus of this story, but rather, it is to describe this artfully inspired space and all the raw style and primitive grace we encounter in this wonderfully entertaining class of good and indigenous fresh foods and their fabulous flavors.

The space is charming and intimate and spotless. The colors are screaming from every direction including  a whimsical pink door surround seen over the wall of the patio. P1120522 The surrounding area is quite run-down and depressed, yet this jewel of a creative kitchen space shines boldly amidst the  impoverished surrounds. P1120524

The sky is perfect blue and sharply contrasts against the wavy pink paints dividing between pale and happy bubble gum of the stucco wall. A functioning drain-pipe of clean white PVC bisects the wall beneath which is a profusely blooming rose-colored azalea in a clay pot. P1120523

Panning into the covered portion of the space, the radiant coral color wall wraps to the back and transitions with gracefully wavy detail to a paint remarkably resembling the sky blue—of the actual sky—that we encountered out front which slams into a dazzling yellow-gold wall half painted and half tiled with the same luminous yellow color. And I have only described the backdrop!

 

Against these boldly painted and tiled walls are layers of other things that add even more dimension and interest to the kitchen. Blue and white tableware, glazed clay vessels, and a mysteriously faded poster of Frida Kahlo. More of the sky-like blue is hanging in the form of various sized and shaped enamel cooking pots on the coral wall.

 

The crisp white aprons of the two chefs pop against the background of multi-colors branded with the embroidered red and black logo of Frida with a red cabbage balanced atop her head. P1120487

It seems from the murmurs coming from the eager students that this enchanting environment represents the promise of a flavorful feast of color and texture. The food matches the interior. The stuffing for the dark rich green roasted poblano peppers is a colorful collection of shredded carrots, red cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes, raisins and pine nuts creating a seemingly woven fabric of colors and texture. P1120491

 

The finished product, Chiles en Nogada, represents the Mexican flag of red green and white. Plated here on red glass for an artful presentation. P1120518

Myriad handmade condiment dishes and traditional serving pieces contribute to the collection of color we are experiencing in this spectacular sensory bombardment. And I mean that in a really good way. The intensity of the colors and layering, the structure and accessories right down to the food and its presentation results in an artistic expression that goes way beyond the sterile experience often connected with the laboratory of a commercial cooking experience.

 

So we say—why be status quo when you can be individually fabulous, cooking and creating in an unconventional environment that reflects the animation and joy of the flavors that comprise the artful meals?! Thank you Lola for imagining and realizing the Red Cabbage and bringing so many artful, entertaining years and delicious meals to the community of fortunate residents and happy visitors—happy that they were able to find the place!P1120530

 

 

January 16, 2016

 

It could have been a sculptural piece of drift wood or a gnarly tree branch from the woods or a twisted piece of metal from a salvage yard…but the idea is to see things in a different way and once again—as I have done this before— to make something from nothing. And in this case, with no effort or manipulation—just the natural beauty of the found object.

The tide was out making the beach so wide it was like a great runway of wet sand. Scattered on the surface were the leavings of the waves – pieces of shell and polished stones. There amidst the beautiful debris was what looked like the suggestion of an abandoned boat hull—a dried, darkened palm sheath. I instantly knew, this would be another beginning of the tropical table-scape that I am so fond of creating when we are at the beach. P1110860

“Creating something from nothing,” my father would often say. He was a great believer in that idea that one man’s trash was another man’s treasure. We loved to beach comb together whenever we found ourselves at the tide’s edge. Sometimes it was tropical and the coral was bleached white and pocked with texture. Fine mesh pieces of purple sea fan and perfect little green “hat” shells would be nestled among the dense collections of heavier piles of white coral.

Then other scenes would find us on northern beaches of the Maryland coast where there was no coral but the ocean would wash multi-colored surf-polished stones onto the shore blanketing the sand particularly at the very edge where the water would curl between the beach and the ocean’s depths. Tiny purple and pink clam shells would peek, being abruptly exposed and quickly bury themselves back into the wet sand moistened with  each incoming wave.

On this day, the warm breeze is tropical and the beach is expansive offering rare treasures scattered broadly but sparingly on the pristine surface of sand. It is here that I encountered my centerpiece.

Don of course is saying—”what are you going to do with that? It’s too big. Leave it here.” And I assure him that it is in fact a treasure and that it will be magnificent in the center of our dinner table where we are entertaining 11 for festivities this coming weekend. He, as always, acquiesces knowing that it is futile to stand in the way of my wildly enthusiastic creativity. P1110861 P1110871

Over the next couple of days, he and I both collect white stones and shells on our daily beach walks. At my instruction, we only collect white unless it is a particularly interesting shell. The idea is to have the stark contrast with the dark hull of the palm sheath.P1120142

Our dining table is a handsome slab of travertine marble. Laminated to a double thickness and finely finished with a smooth full bull-nose edge, it is the perfect organic surface to build this also very organic centerpiece.

It needs something…the neutral tones are lovely. Yet, the dark espresso brown of the palm sheath with the white of the stones, against the creamy surface of the travertine invites something more. I realize that it can only be enhanced with another layer of organic material – here in the form of the fresh verdant green palm fronds – the perfect punctuation! P1120102

Oh would that I had collected more flat oyster shell halves…they work so well for votive candle bases…but alas, parrot green cocktail napkins will have to do for this last minute detail.

Our woven palm place mats, in their natural dried flaxen color, compliment the rest of the organics on our table. And as night falls, the sun drops beneath the sea’s horizon and twinkle of scattered candles finish our scene. Salud!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I first moved to New Mexico I was enchanted (well…it IS The Land of Enchantment) by so many new things that were woven throughout people’s homes, flea markets and quaint little shops in various pockets of town. I began to collect and seek these vessels and fabrics to incorporate into my new world. Interestingly, these treasures were not and still are not featured – much less celebrated, in more trendy, stylish shops that might do well to focus on these regional functional art-forms as a means to honor our unique multi-cultural influences. We, at PATRICIAN DESIGN, enjoying offering interesting hand-built pieces in our shop for a truly one-of-a-kind collection of home decor, wearable art and  unique gift items.

The first piece of this new influence I bought back in the late 70s. It was this fabulous squat casserole,   P1110590   to which  I have added many various colors and textures that I enjoy using throughout the year.  Christmas is notoriously red and green accented with the bling of silvers and golds. Chanukah is blue and white…but I enjoy all of the colors to celebrate every occasion! So  the many hues of the season can be found in the collection of colorful containers and serving pieces, accents and textiles that I often meld to create the festive celebration of the seasons. P1110594

Everyone who knows me – both clients and friends – know that I love color, pattern and texture. I love contrasts and combinations. Design by eclectic assembly of things that you love and that evoke memories, things that make you smile and feed your soul, results in the most successful and interesting design.  The rich color of terracotta and history of it as a medium for making cooking vessels goes back to Old Mexico and Spain across the water. Spanish terracotta is steeped in centuries of tradition and the Mexican versions closer to home are similarly beautiful and generations old. Other cultures such as Italian and Portuguese also have crafted beautiful terracotta – as is often true, the common features, textures, and colors all share a common denominator of warmth, hand-built art, craft and natural, raw beauty.  P1110596  Notice here, the brilliant colors and intricate open-weaving of the Brazilian lace.

Raw clay colors contrasting with brilliant and rich glazes, fabulous fiber art, wood and other organics all radiating the joy of life and the festivities around food, friends  and family of these varied cultural traditions and  rich indigenous heritages. Functional art at its finest – most honest and humbly celebrated in useful daily pieces – show them, open your cupboards, let them sing.

For the fast switch , KISS is the name of the game – keep it simple and sensational! The Thanksgiving weekend creates a great opportunity to get a jump on Christmas. Yesterday neighbors were out precariously placing lights along their rooflines, lining walkways and blanketing shrubs. We noticed this as we were out walking, observing, not quite ready to dive in to the next holiday ourselves.

But I did think that this was a great opportunity to illustrate a continuation of my favorite seasonal design practices and that is going outside to nature to get inspiration and actual elements for my creations. And the most remarkable aspect of this exercise is that it is all in our own yard. Look around and you will be amazed at what is out there!

For Thanksgiving I had been inspired by the blazing colors of the Bradford Pear that was – is still – screaming with color at the front of our house. 20151126_093537The rich maroons transitioning to corals and rosy tones into brilliant golds and even bright yellows  were irresistible. It’s similar to a maple tree with its magnificent range of fall colors but with precious little round heart-shaped leaves. 20151126_093558

20151126_095436 - CopyI created a tablescape using short-cut branches in a pair of squatty square glass vessels flanking a large square hand-blown glass platter. In the center on the platter, I gathered acorn squash which we will be enjoying baked with brown sugar and butter later this week, and added some ornamental gourds for their interesting shapes and colors. 20151126_093945 After scattering some of the leaves around the arrangement on the neutral linen table runner, the result was boldly colorful, organic and spicy scene bursting with autumnal warmth.P1110503So as I pondered this setting this morning, two days later…the leaves on the table were getting crunchy, the branches were dropping leaves and the water in the containers was a bit cloudy…time to clean it up! Since it seems that everyone is already transitioning to Christmas themes, I thought why not do the same?! The alternative of merely cleaning it up and leaving it barren was a bit anticlimactic after enjoying the spectacular beauty of this recent  holiday table. So here again nature was calling to venture forth and scour the yard for the next seasonal statement.

Now remember, this is just a quick transition…I can take it leagues and layers further as the weeks progress by adding holiday runners, ornaments, some bling and other accoutrements. But for today, the switch is quick. I ventured out into the yard and cut some bushy mugo pine and smoky blue spruce branches,  P1110558 a few holly sprigs from the bushes in front and jammed them into the same freshly refilled square glass vases. In the center, the neutral linen runner remained and on the glass platter I kept the acorn squash, traded the gourds for electric green granny smith apples and a couple of pomegranates ( I had bought three last week and had already picked my way through the many juicy morsels of one – leaving two to do the red thing in my centerpiece today).P1110556

I scattered a few pine cones and Voila – my instantly transitioned tablescape said “Christmas is on its way!”

 

They hung from the exposed structure of the portico that ran the length of the house over-looking the marina and the tropical glistening scene that surrounded the estudio-cafe. Gently twirling blades of colorful aluminum balanced and counter-balanced on wire and suspended from nearly invisible filament. Petals of flowers, leaves, triangles, they dangled and spun in the gentle movement of air. What local artist created such magical sculptures that added such color and dimension to the various heights of space both inside and out ? I must find this fanciful person.P1040400
I discovered he was not a local, rather a visitor del norte. Yes, an American snow-bird escaping the chilly climes and bringing his art, as he vacationed in the southern resort of Puerto Vallarta, for others to share. There was a kismet, a chemistry between the two men, the host and the new-comer. Both teeming with artistic juices looking for challenging means of expression in a variety of media. The host was more than willing to share his space to exhibit these delicate yet powerful pieces. The new-comer when describing his work references “poetic spaces and meaningful places” and nothing could better describe where he found himself and his new venue, the estudio-cafe.20140118_125532
Having enjoyed for years the magic of the estudio-cafe with it’s perfect waterside setting and continuous collection of artists presenting exquisite musical talent and fine art of all manner, engaging conversation in an ever stimulating artistic dynamic, it was this day with the sun-bathed ochre stucco walls and shadows cast by the progression of the day with soft breezes wafting through the architecture, that I was moved once again by the composition of it all.
A three-dimensional collage of color and style, form and scale, art both created and spontaneous – an unselfconscious collection of rare confluence that cannot be created – but happens. This is an incredible experience. And it was with this overwhelming experience that first introduced us to our host and has since brought so many fascinating people into our lives.20140125_131409
This was the beginning of the friendship, spawned by the love of art, related color and shapes, that brought Terry Welker’s work to New Mexico. After a couple of years admiring the enchantment and thrill of his mobiles at the estudio-cafe, I made the call that connected our common love of design and resulted in a premiere exhibit of spectacular, yet modest sized kinetic pieces a our boutique gallery in downtown Albuquerque.A0968D4A-813E-4E75-86B9-71807134DAA5 As he says of his work, “he animates space with sculpture.”
Come to PATRICIAN DESIGN to see these fantastic suspended sculptures and smile at the joy they bring. And also the “host.” This wonderful artist, Federico Leon de la Vega, who by warmly embracing family and friends has created a nurturing atmosphere of love and friendship, limitless talent and sensitivity and who has also generously exhibited his magnificent oil paintings at PATRICIAN DESIGN.20150117_121847 We invite you to experience these two outstanding artists brought together by a remarkable union of creative energy and goodwill.