Thursday, March 31, 2011

Old Spain, New Spain

My father-in-law snapped this shot in Madrid...He called it "Old Spain, New Spain." I think it's pretty clever...Every generation of Spanish women seem to have their uniform...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday #50


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Save the Date!!!!!

We are ready to celebrate! Tomorrow is our last day in the Test Kitchen...Ajo Blanco, a quick and easy chilled garlic and almond soup, is on the menu...Wish us luck! Most of the recipes are in the cookbook and the editing process has begun...AND...we've set a date for our Tasting Party!! On May 9th, not only will be hosting a fabulous Tasting Party, with food, special drinks, cooking and cocktail demonstations, gifts, and raffle prizes...but we will also start taking Pre-orders for the cookbook at the party and online through Paypal.


You may have already heard the news on Tiff's facebook page, but just in case you didn't know, ALL pre-orders are 10% off for followers of this blog. If you follow this blog on google or facebook, you will be eligible for the discount on EVERY copy you pre-order. We are super excited! Every partygoer gets a raffle ticket with their entry fee and will receive an additional raffle ticket with each cookbook they pre-order. And don't worry if you don't live in Madrid, we are holding a special "out-of towners drawing" and everyone who pre-orders a book on May 9th, no matter where they are in the world, will get the chance to win a raffle prize as well. All prizes are to be determined...Stay tuned! More details will follow over the coming weeks about how you can pre-order your copy of "A Drinking Girl's Guide to Spanish Food-Quick & Easy Recipes to Make You the Toast of the Town." Hasta luego...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tales from the Test Kitchen...Not Your Abuela's Paella

Our time in the test kitchen is almost done...We have only one recipe to test next week...Ajo Blanco, a refreshing chilled white garlic soup, and one more to double-check. This week saw three days of cooking and eating in both my kitchen and Tiff's too. We finally made our paella with a little of a modern twist as most of us won't be cooking over an open flame. We wanted a recipe that any cook could make right on the stove using regular cook wear. We chose to a mixta variety with shrimp, chicken and chorizo...Delish!



We've also done some rearranging of menus and some redoing of recipes...One of our delightful surprises is the dish you see below...Fried Manchego Cheese. Manchego is the most famous of Spanish cheeses and even here, it's not super cheap. The good news is, in the States, you can find it, albeit expensive, at your nicer grocery stores, but you can also substitute other less expensive selections. Any hard cheese, like cheddar, mozzarella, or swiss will do quite nicely. Ours is breaded with panko flakes and spiced with spanish paprika. We originally planned to suggest it with our paella, but since it needs to be served immediately, it works better as a tapas...slice it up and let people go at it with toothpicks with some sweet mustard for dipping. Then get ready to soak in the compliments... We revisited our cream of asparagus soup recipe...Tiff made a great soup last month with white asparagus, popular in Germany and also in Spain, but not widely available in the states, at least not all year. Since we are Americans and are trying to bring the Spanish foods we love to American kitchens, we chose to go green...asparagus, that is...This time out, we beefed up the amount of asparagus, reduced the chicken broth, and voila...perfecto! Soon we will be out of the kitchen and on our computers, trying to get this cookbook to print. We hope to be taking pre-orders by the end of April...Thanks to everyone for your interest and support...Hasta luego...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Tale of Two Cocktails...

Tiff and I did a lot of work in the Test Kitchen this week...I must say though, that hard work is made easier with a good cocktail...and when your work IS making cocktails...well, even better! Above is what I am calling "Tiff's DDR Sangria"...that's Designated Driver Required...This sangria with mango, apples and strawberries packs a sweet punch that can really sneak up...Drink it with friends and you'll be fine...hahahaha...
Our second coctail of the week was a redo...We weren't really happy with the Cranberry Black Currant Spritzer...it was too sweet for our Paella menu, so it was back to the bar to mix up another cocktail...This one requires you to take you bar items to the kitchen to make a simple syrup infused with strawberries (in season in Spain right now) and mint...Served ice cold and it just might be one of the most refreshing drinks on the planet...again...Tiff is to thank for this creation...A true gift to the world of refreshment...A definite keeper!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tales From the Test Kitchen--An Elegant Option for Guests

As you surely know by now, my friend, Tiff, and I are working on a fun little cookbook about Spanish food and wine. It's called "A Drinking Girl's Guide to Spanish Food," and it's in that spirit that we start today's menu with our cocktail. This Lemony Cava Cooler has yet to be named, but it tasted fabulous and was the perfect compliment to this seafood-centered menu. The main course you see below is Sea Scallops with Cava Cream Sauce...see a pattern forming here? The cream sauce Tiff developed for these scallops was subtle yet elegant. It was so light, creamy and worked well with the salty flavor of the capers and meaty scallops...And it looks really impressive...that's why we think this is the perfect meal for company...There is just something about veggies wrapped in jamon...what's not to like??? We wrapped asparagus with serrano ham, but prosciutto works well too, flavored them with pickled peppercorns, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil and roasted them until they were just right! What can I say, but "Yummy Goodness!"
These sauteed mushrooms, flavored with garlic, bacon and onions, were so good, we gobbled them up right after we photographed them. So they not only make a great side, but a wonderful appetizer as well...Tune in next time for...A Tale of Two Cocktails...Hasta luego...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Save the Birds...Don't Clean Your Windows!

Yesterday morning, I walked into the kitchen to get things ready for Tiff and I to test recipes for the cookbook, and when I looked out the window, I saw this...It was hard to capture it on camera, but if you look closely, you can see that a bird flew into my kitchen window at full force. It looks like he was pretty big too...check out that wing span...from one side of the window to the other. You can even see the impression his feathers made at the bottom of the silhouette. It seemed he'd hit so hard against the window, I was afraid he might have killed himself...but no...When I opened the window, there was nothing there. Guess he shook it off and lived to fly another day! Thank goodness! I would have felt terrible if he bit the dust! So I think I can say with a clear conscience that "no birds were harmed in the posting of this blog entry"...Hasta luego...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Around the World in a Day...An Expat Linky Party!

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A British Expat with a great blog called Happy Homemaker UK is having a party...an Expat Linky Party...to be exact! I'm participating in this fun event today! I'm following the link associated with the picture above and posting a link to one of my favorite entries back to my site. She is trying to get as many links as possible from all around the world...I hope you'll considering joining this fun, little expat celebration...I guarantee there will be lots of funny stories from people living life all around the world...Hasta luego...

Friday, March 18, 2011

20,000 Hits...Whoopee!

20,000 hits is deserving of 20,000 thank you's! I was so excited to see that the hits on my blog topped 20,000 today! So glad to have you with me on this journey! There are exciting things in store this spring including more Followers Giveaways and the publication of our cookbook...all followers will receive 10% off on pre-orders when we start taking them...Thanks again and hasta luego...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another Followers Drawing...Triple Your Chances to Win!!!

I am so excited about this month's giveaway! Spain Is My Happy Place is partnering with Context Travel to give two lucky people a "Goya in Madrid Walk." This giveaway will be for all my followers in Madrid as the walk is for May 7th, but don't worry...I wouldn't leave the rest of you out...All other followers will be eligible to win a cute piece of pottery from Cruz...one of the pottery factories from Puente del Arzobispo, Spain...So how can you triple your chances to win??? Get someone else you know to become a follower too and make sure I know about it. All followers have a chance to win...if you follow through facebook AND google, you have two chances to win, and like I said, if you get one of your freinds to follow too...it triples your chances to win! For those of you livving outside of Madrid, you might win this cute little box from Ceramica Cruz...it's perfect for jewelry, keys, etc...Now, for you Madrid folk...Here's a little bit about the tour company who donated this €146 valued tour...Context Travel conducts walking tours in 14 cities around the the world, including some great sities in the US. The guide for this tour is Alumenda. She was our guide for the "Life Is A Dream, Intellectual Madrid" walk. She was on time, prepared, and extremely knowledgeable. Whoever wins this walk is in for a treat! As described on their site, "Context is a network of scholars and specialists—in disciplines including archaeology, art history, cuisine, urban planning, history, environmental science, and classics—who, in addition to our normal work as professors and researchers, design and lead in-depth walking seminars for small groups of intellectually curious travelers." Here's how they describe the "Goya in Madrid" walk...
"This three-and-a-half-hour art tour of Madrid focuses on the figure of Francisco de Goya, a singular force in Spanish painting at the end of the 18th century. By combining a number of his hidden works located in-situ in various churches of the city along with the masterworks in the Prado, we'll paint a portrait of Goya, his patrons, and the political context in which he lived. We begin with the late Baroque church of San Francisco el Grande, which holds an altarpiece by Goya in its original location. Within this majestic setting we will consider the role played by Goya’s patrons in his artistic production, as well as his occasionally conflicting rapport with fellow artists. After a short bus ride we will find ourselves at the small oratory of San Antonio de la Florida, decorated by Goya in 1798. This visit is particularly relevant to our examination of the development of Goya’s career since it constitutes a unique surviving example of his work as a fresco painter. Goya is also buried within the church.

Our seminar then continues to the Prado Museum. We'll pass by the memorial, outside the museum, to the victims of the insurrection quelled by the French in Madrid in 1808, the subject of a major canvas now hanging inside the Prado. In addition to this work, we'll consider the Majas, the Second of May, 1808, and his dark and haunting last works, the Black Paintings.

The subjects depicted by Goya are intrinsically linked to his life in Madrid as a court painter and as a direct witness of the popular uprising against the French in 1808. As a result, our walk will look closely at the political events of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and paint a portrait of the larger European context at the time. Our walk will also offer us ample opportunity to discuss the influence of the city and its history on the style and on the personal life of Goya. By the end of our time together we'll emerge with a very vivid portrait of one of the most important Spanish painters of his time. "

Wow! I'd like to thank Paul Bennet and everyone over at Context Travel for their generosity! So what are you waiting for...Become a follower and tell your friends to do the same! Buena Suerte! I'll be anouncing the lucky winners on March 31st! Hasta luego...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Beat the Madrid Heat Tour: Part 10-Would You Like Me to Take Your Picture? St Petersburg Version...

You know the deal...You visit a new city and you want your picture taken in front of the famous sights...We took a Scandinavian cruise at the end of last summer and our most anticipated port was St Petersburg, Russia. We had gone over our excursion options with our Russian friend, Irina, here in Madrid, and she helped us choose the one that would maximize our scant nine hours in this famous city. The last stop on the tour was a "photo op" in front of The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood...I wanted this pic somethin' fierce, but of course, the problem always is getting everyone into the photo when your traveling with just your own family. So we go through our usual shots...Husband with the kids in front of the Church...Then Me with the kids in front of the Church...Then my oldest gets a picture of me and the Husband in front of the Church...The Church is even more beautiful in person than in the pictures. Here's a little about it from Saint-Petersburg.com...

"This marvelous Russian-style church was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in March 1881. After assuming power in 1855 in the wake of Russia’s disastrous defeat in the Crimean war against Britain, France and Turkey, Alexander II initiated a number of reforms. In 1861 he freed the Russian serfs (peasants, who were almost enslaved to their owners) from their ties to their masters and undertook a rigorous program of military, judicial and urban reforms, never before attempted in Russia. However, during the second half of his reign Alexander II grew wary of the dangers of his system of reforms, having only barely survived a series of attempts on his life, including an explosion in the Winter Palace and the derailment of a train. Alexander II was finally assassinated in 1881 by a group of revolutionaries, who threw a bomb at his royal carriage.

The decision was taken to build a church on the spot where the Emperor was mortally wounded. The church was built between 1883 and 1907 and was officially called the Resurrection of Christ Church (a.k.a. The Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood ). The construction of the church was almost entirely funded by the Imperial family and thousands of private donators.

The church was closed for services in the 1930s, when the Bolsheviks went on an offensive against religion and destroyed churches all over the country. It remained closed and under restoration for over 30 years and was finally re-opened in 1997 in all its dazzling former glory."

When other tourists see us switching around and getting pictures...a couple of them asked if we'd like for them to take a picture of all of us in from of the Church...Yes, of course, we would...but even in this age of digital cameras, you never know if you are going to get a good shot...When I offer to reciprocate, I line up the people in the shot and make sure that the famous place they are standing in front of is well represented in the picture...Our tour guide, Katerina? Not so much...the tallest onion dome spire...chopped off...
This well meaning tourist?? Even worse...

Good grief...Too much vodka??? Come on!
Ugh, finally, one good shot...We got our picture! Check block! Hasta luego...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award...Awe, Shucks!

This week, I received the "Stylish Blogger Award" from one of my fellow bloggers in the blogosphere. I was honored because Nieves, who has a wonderful blog, Sangria, Sol y Siesta (great title), is a native Spaniard and I think it's cool that she likes my little blog and my take on her country! This is an award that come with some pleasant strings attached...

There are Four Rules associated with this award and they are as follows

Rule #1: Thank and link to the blog from which you received award. With pleasure...Thanks, Nieves, from Sangria, Sol y Siesta for this wonderful award. Again, I am honored!

Rule #2: Share seven things about yourself. I agree with Nieves...this is harder than Rule #1 and I will look to some of here "things" for inspiration...

1. I love starting projects and would rather tackle a closet than fold laundry.

2. I am writing a cookbook with one of my BFF's about Spanish Food due out this spring!

3. I want to write a book about our life in Spain, a la "A Year in Provence" when we get back to the States.

4. I've always been interested in becoming a real estate agent. I love looking at houses and properties!

5. I love to stay up late and sleep in...I feel like I'm most creative at night when everyone is asleep.

6. Some of my favorites...Movie: Coal Miner's Daughter...TV show...Old-The Andy Griffith Show & New- Modern Family...hahaha...I just realized these are VERY different families.

7. I like it hot...My dream is to settle down where I never have to wear a winter coat.

Rule #3: Pass it on...share this award with 15 more blogs, recently discovered (or maybe some oldie, but goodies??)...Here are some blogs I enjoy and I think you might too:

1. The Long & Short of It All: A Dachshund Dog News Magazine-I have a Doxie and I love them. This is a great blog about dachshunds and the people who love them...

2. Tenerife Journal-This is a great blog about a place I find very exotic, the Canary Islands. This Canadian expat has lived in Mallorca as well and I love seeing Tenerife through her eyes...

3. 4 Kids, 20 Suitcases, and a Beagle-This blog is written by a woman who has lived all over the world and birthed all four of her kids in diffferent countries. She currently lives in Qatar and she has a hilarious outlook on her life where ever she is living it...

4. Itchy Feet at Forty-This blog is written by a woman who live in Gibralter...Imagine living on a little swath of land with Spain on one side and Africa on the other. Though on the Spanish mainland, the Gib belongs to the Brits and this makes for some interesting discussions...take a look...

5. Beyond the Queen and Driving on the Left-I have been turned onto a lot of British blogs lately. This lady has a great sense of humor. Case in point, she has a badge on her blog declaring it a "William and Kate Free Zone." Very funny...

6. Life in the Expat Lane-Miss Footloose is living fancy free! I love reading her stories about her travel and life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East...here's a tease...she writes that she has "visited my butcher's bedroom in Palestine, eaten fertility sausage in Kenya, and almost landed in prison in Uganda."

7. French Village Life-This is one of my most recent discoveries...What can I say, I just want to know if French Village Life is all I've imagined it to be...find out along with me...

8. Cob Cottage Studio-I found this blog and am fascinated with it because it deals with two things I wish I had...the talent to paint and horses. Her paintings are amazing!

9. Cattle, Kids & Chaos-This blog is about a family who lives in a ranch in Australia...I have very romantic ideas about farming and ranching...and Australia...I totally love reading this blog about this family's life!

10. Brit Gal in the USA-I think this blog is cool because rather than Americans like me blogging about living in foreign countries, it's a foreign view of America. Pretty cool to see how others view what you see as normal...

11. Andorra Daily Photo-This is a little embarrassing, but although I had heard of Andorra before I moved to Spain, I had no idea it was a tiny little country in between France and Spain. I am fascinated by these little countries in between countries and how they manage to maintain their own identities...

12. Baking My Way Through Germany-Do I even really need to describe this? Isn't the title enough of a tease. This blog is written by a woman who is in culinary school and we get to share in her triumphs and defeats...

13. Barcelona Daily Photo-Since Barcelona is still on my travel "To Do" list, I keep an eye on this blog daily to see what awaits me. Rob and Mandy do a great job showing us all Barcelona has to offer...

14. Plaid Pages-A Journal- This is a pretty little blog that I recently found, I love looking at it. You never know what sweet surprises await you there...

15. Grandma Linda's House-Reading this blog will make you wish she was YOUR Grandma. I love reading about all her exploits in Washington State. She has a strong wonderful spirit and I find her very inspiring...

Rule #4: Contact them and tell them about the Award. That is the fun part! Hasta luego...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Cowboy in Madrid...

We saw this cowboy back in September at the Rastro in Madrid. It is a flea market held on Sundays in the Rastro section of the city. We took some of my husband's family down to this famous weekly market. I saw this man lighting a cigarette...It looks like he should be sitting by a camp fire, but here he sit in a city doorway...I have no idea if he's a native or a transplant, but I just loved the way he looked sitting there...Hasta luego...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tales from the Test Kitchen: Drunken Desserts...Cheers!

Yesterday was Dessert Day in the Test Kitchen. Tiff and I ran through and photographed all the desserts for the cookbook. Spanish cooking is all about keeping it simple, minimizing your time in the kitchen and maximizing your time with family and friends. All of these desserts will leave your guests satisfied and keep you where you should be when entertaining...sipping coktails and chowing down with them! As usual, all recipes will be featured in our cookbook, A Drinking Girl's Guide to Spanish Food-Quick & Easy Recipes to Make you the Toast of the Town" coming out this Spring!

First on the list was the selection you see above, the Spanish version of Arroz con Leche or rice pudding...very traditional! Arroz con Leche takes a little time, but it's super easy. It's sweet, but not too sweet, and tastes great with a little sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve it warm, right out of the pan, as dessert or even a breakfast cereal, or cold, straight from the refrigerator. If you are serving it for guests, you'll probably want to make it ahead of time, perhaps even the day before. If you put it in dessert bowls ahead of time and refrigerate, just pull it out when you're guests are eating their meal, and it will warm up a bit and serve as a refreshing finish to your meal. Serve cinnamon schnapps as an appertif, if your guest have been good...
My favorite dessert was this colorful selection above...Tempernillo Poached Apples & Peaches...It was my favorite! The fruit really soaked up the favor of this spiced wine. You can totally make it ahead of time because the longer the fruit soaks in the wine, the better the flavor. Served warm with vanilla ice cream...aaaaah...I wanted to eat the whole pot! Besides the fact that it is simply beautiful, it is so easy, and this recipe is dual purpose...for a great mulled wine...pour the heated wine into mugs warm and forget the fruit...;-)
This recipe was inspired by my elderly neighbor who invited us over for cafe con leche one morning. What she made for us was an quick version of cafe con leche with instant coffee and sweetened milk. We serve our version in shot glasses. It's super rich and a little goes a long way, and tastes great served with assorted chocolates, fresh strawberries and clementines. For a fun twist, use this sweet liquid as a topping served over ice cream, with whipped topping, chocolate shavings and your favorite nuts for a Cafe con Leche Sundae! So fun!
Spaniards love their sweets and Chocolates and Clementines are a refreshing way to finish off any meal. Pre-peeled or not, the sweet and juicy clementines are super easy, and also very traditional, and we serve them with an assortment of dark chocolate with almonds, milk chocolate with rice crispies, and puffy milk chocolate squares filled with chocolate mousse. We served these with little lattes. Home espresso and specialty coffee machines are all the rage, and often an affordable way to "Be Your Own Barista." Have some assorted coffee flavors on hand and let your guests customize their own cup!

Below is another super easy finisher! This cake is from Puente, a town famous for its pottery...and its super light pound cake with just a hint of lemony flavor. The townspeople always know when the Americans have blown through town because we buy out the bakery! They freeze well, too, so you can buy several to have on hand for the following recipe...If you don't have any puente cake, your favorite store bought pound cake or sponge cake will do just fine! Cut a nice thick piece, add some strawberries and drizzle it...or soak it...with a nice sweet sherry. We use the 10 year aged Pedro Ximenez variety here in Spain...It is delicious and so simple. Depending on the amount of wine you've had that evening...the simpler, the better, eh...serve it with your favorite coffee...in Spain, it's Cafe con Leche, which mostly resembles a small latte and we love it. We hope you will too! We start taking pre-orders for the cookbook soon...Hasta luego...

Friday, March 4, 2011

I Saw Pro Soccer Player, Diego Forlan, at Lunch Today!!!

Unfortunately, he had his shirt on...Hahahaha! This picture was not from the restaurant. It's from the internet. I was too afraid to take a picture. It is so hard to know how to act when you see these famous soccer players. I know my boys would want me to get a picture or ask for an autograph, but I don't want to bother these guys or make a pest of myself. Such was the case this afternoon, when I was having a late lunch (or just lunch by Spanish standards) at one of my favorite spots in Boadilla with the in-laws. I looked over and saw Diego Forlan chatting it up with some guy by the front door. Diego Forlan plays in the Spanish Liga for Atletico de Madrid. He was also the Golden Ball Award winner in the 2010 World Cup where he played for Uruguay. Below is a picture of Forlan having lunch with a girl who looks strikingly similar to the one he was dining with today. This picture below was obivously taken by someone who obvious has more courage than I do...
But back to day...At the same time as the Forlan siting, my husband was on his way to the restaurant. We could see him walking up the street from the nearest light rail stop. I called him on his cell and I tried to warn him that Diego Forlan was standing by the front door of the restaurant, but he couldn't understand me and just kept saying, "Yes, I see you in the window." When my husband walked into the restaurant, Forlan's back was to him, but he was in his way. My husband was just about to say a firm "perdon," but Forlan stepped aside for him and my husband saw his face. Then he came over to the table and said, "Hey, that's Diego Forlan." I told him, "I know! That's what I was trying to tell you on the phone." Too funny! We toyed with asking him for an autograph, but then he was done talking and out the door with what looked to be his girlfriend and another guy. Since I have been in this restaurant several times before, I felt comfortable asking the owner what the protocol is when seeing a famous soccer player in a restaurant in Spain. He told us that Diego Forlan comes in for lunch quite often with his golf teacher, and that after he finishes eating and gets up to leave, it is totally fine to ask for a picture and/or autograph. He added that Forlan is really a nice guy and wouldn't mind at all. Next time, I will be ready...Hasta luego...


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tales from the Test Kitchen: Garlic, Garlic & More Garlic...

This week, the theme in the Test Kitchen was garlic, garlic, garlic! Spaniards love garlic and so do we!! We started by roasting some cloves. Here in Spain, you can buy jars of fresh peeled garlic. Though you can roast them with peeling on, roasting time is greatly reduced when the peels are off. We used some of that roasted garlic in our tapas selection for today...Patatas Aioli. These are basically roasted potatoes with a garlic mayonaise sauce...so so good!More roasted garlic in this wonderful Cream of Aspargus Soup that Tiff created. It is so full of flavor, but oh so smooth...It is a wonderful complement to today's main dish......of Gambas al Ajillo! This delicious seafood dish is chockful of garlic and tiny cayenne peppers! They were so cute! I've never seen such tiny little peppers, and they pack a nice punch too!
Every main dish needs a side...Today that was Sauteed Green Beans with Pine Nuts, as well as onions, and you guessed it...Garlic!
The only thing we made today that didn't include garlic was our cocktail! We haven't settled on a name yet, but this cranberry mojito wine spritzer was quite refreshing with the meal. More tales from the Test Kitchen to follow...Hasta luego...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Puente...It's a Pottery Thing!

Spanish pottery, from plates to tiles, is world renowned! If you live in Madrid, one of the best places to visit for a huge selection of pieces and styles is the town of El Puente del Arzobispo, fondly referred by American expats simply as "Puente." Literally translated, it means The Archbishop's Bridge, was named after the 14th century bridge which spans the River Tajo. If you are lucky enough to live in Spain, you can purchase enough to serve sangria and tapas to your friends and family when you move back to the States for quite a reasonable price. That's why most expats load up because you'll never be able to purchase it in the states for what you can get it here. That is thanks in part to the high cost of shipping and duty and taxes that apply. LaTienda has a great selection of Puente pottery if you get the urge to see some more. Above is a plate I purchased from Cruz pottery They have very intricate designs and they are all hand painted. I got to go behind the scenes with my in-laws last Feburary. In honor of my trip there this week, I thought I'd finally get off my duff and get this post done...The following pics are courtesy of my father-in-law...Thanks, Papa...
Puente is a beautiful, clean and quiet little town. There are at least 20 different pottery shops there, most of which make their own brand of pottery. It was so sleepy last February that we found most streets deserted save for some shopkeepers visting on benches outside their stores and a little old lady who said we really should step inside the church on the square because it was really beautiful.
Here in Puente, they love to portraits on hand-painted tiles. My friend, Nickie, had one painted of her three adorable kiddos! Here's one of Pope Benedict... And Pope John Paul II...or as they say in Spain...Juan Pablo II...These two of the former and present pope are hanging in the town's church...A beautiful fountain in the town square...everything in this town is adorned with pottery...Even the sidewalks are bordered in colorful Spanish tile...Notice the ceramic urns topping this beautiful building on the square...
Here's a closer look...
The dome on the top of the church's steeple is tiled as well...
One of must-see shops in Puente is definitely Cruz. If they aren't open, no problem, just ring the bell and they will open up just for you. This is one of the tings I love about Spain. These artesan live and work here and are more than happy, proud even, to show you what they have made and how they make it...Here are some pieces on the floor waiting to be fired...
Here is the matriach...showing up just how they paint by hand...they totally freehand it...amazing! She uses the bamboo pole to steady her hand while painting...She spins the platform with her free hand to turn the plate as she paints. Here is a traditional piece, popular as a gift for graduations...it is a Pen and Ink Holder...
Holy Water Fountains are popular for collecting, as is this piece below. I saw so many on the walls that I asked what they were used for. They are decorative pieces reminiscent of the trays used in the barber shops to collect the remants of a shave...Would you have guessed that? I thought it was for serving appetizers...
Here is my mother-in-law talking with one of the Cruz ladies...
They were so kind to open their shop to us and we had a blast touring the warehouses. They are my favorite shop for decorative plates! I am placing a special order this week for another company called De La Cal...I'll have to post the pics when I pic up the order later this spring...Hasta luego...

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