Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Girona/Gerona, Where Art Thou?

Girona/Gerona, Where Art Thou?

I call your name while admiring your tempting balconies.

Longing to linger on your many bridges.

You tempt me with your friends...Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell. 

Wishing to blissfully meander through your quiet passage ways.  

Have that last sip of cafe con leche in the comfort of my balcon.

Devour your sweets as I stroll through your Carrer de la Forca.

Or dream of the treasures behind your sacred doors.

Dare I faintly hear the bells go ding dong, ding dong at the Church of Sant Feliu.

Or wish to spend a lazy afternoon in your handsome Parc de la Devesa.

Strolling through your most powerful towering statues.

Or best of all, enjoy your sweet breezes during siesta time.

Girona/Gerona, Where Art Thou?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Last Supper in Miami!

As the day got started and the sun slowly peeked its head through the Atlanta clouds I woke up dreaming of yummy food. Not just good food, but REALLY good food. Do you ever do that? Just lay there in those first waking minutes salivating over what you are going to make for dinner or just craving something delicioso? Wishing chef Michael Schwartz would come over, hang out, go shopping at the local farmers market with you?
Michael Schwartz
Chef Michael Schwartz
Who am I kidding? He would probably laugh at all the kitchen gadgets I don't have. I'd like to think he and Ferran Adria (my crush) would call me a "purist" in the kitchen, but let's face the truth - they would most definitely think me a foodie that should stay focused on eating in their restaurants... not cooking with the likes of any skilled chefs!

Ferran Adria
Spain's Chef Ferran Adria
But I love being in the kitchen... even before all these fancy Food Network shows became so darn popular and people began designing these mega kitchens with chef hardware only to continue to eat out - isn't that the American way? Sigh. I like my sweet little kitchen.
Some of my go-to books in the background.

My little kitchen.
I grew up in great kitchens, not fancy ones, but kitchens where my mom took classic Cuban or restaurant dishes she loved and just created them at home - from scratch folks! I think back now at how in the world she did this. My mother always worked outside the home. We were an average middle class family (although I thought we were the richest family ever - even with all our emotional dysfunction) and my mom would come home from work, myself from the multitude of school activities and we would set the table EVERY night for a minimum of a three course meal with wine of course, typically Spanish. I remember spending Saturday mornings at local grocery shops and mom and pop farmers markets in eclectic New Jersey and New York neighborhoods finding the freshest ingredients, fruits, vegetables and meats. This was in the 80's before it became the "it" thing to do.
Fresh fruit at La Boqueria Mercado in Barcelona, Spain
I don't think I ever ate anything out of a can growing up and boy what I would give back then to just eat some "Chef Boyardee"! That was what my friends were eating and what I wanted to eat too. Phew! Thank goodness my mom knew better!

I should have known back then that I was the lucky one, that's why ALL my friends wanted to eat at OUR house. Regardless of what school I went to (and I attended 9) my mom's cooking was always the talk of the town. Some of my friends, even as early as 4th grade would ask what my mom made for the dinner the night before. So needless to say, my mom knows food! However, she doesn't go to many fancy hyped-up restaurants because she traditionally walks away thinking the service was not good enough (this is super important to her) and that she can make a better dish at home for way less.
So when I planned for my mom, sister and I to have our "last super" before my sister's son, Nicolas, was born I carefully chose the one place in Miami that I prayed would not disappoint "Tere" aka, my mom.
Michael Schwartz's Genuine Food & Drink was our choice!

Michael's is in the super hip Design District in Miami.

My sister ordered the greek farro salad with french feta. Light & tangy.

I threw myself in the most delightful wood oven roasted double yolk farm egg dish with
 cave aged gruyere, roasted tomato, chives and a sourdough crostini. Total comfort food!
Although not pictured, my mother, and toughest critic oohed and aahhhed over wood oven roasted eggplant with chickpeas, raisins, pinenuts, roasted tomatoes and greek yogurt. For the main course we were all equally delightfully surprised.

For me it was the grilled pork lion with pear chutney and the made to perfection
wood roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta & lemon aioli.
 Let us not forget the yummy potato chips with pan fried onion dip.
My mom ordered the crispy rice cake with chorizo, Florida shrimp, spicy aioli and fleur de sel and my sister was not to be outdone savored the pan roasted 1/2 "poulet rouge" chicken with parsley and capers. Everything was divine, even the SERVICE!!

Roberto with mom.
Mom even said that she would go out to eat more often if Roberto could come along!
So I mentioned that service is VERY important to my mother. Who is known to request a different server if "unimpressed", send back food if it is not to the zenith she expects, and flat out tell a waiter she is "disinterested" with whatever strikes her at that moment. She is a tough cookie! But the stars were aligned on this night and Roberto A. was sheer magic! He was patient and charming without being overbearing. He laughed at my mom's jokes and was just so genuine about his whole demeanor. More importantly than anything else, he knew the menu INSIDE and OUT! He talked about the food as if he had been as hands on as the chef and listened to what she liked and didn't like. Every recommendation he made for mom was spot on. Along with the wine & dessert, Roberto was superb.
This was my dessert, "Pie in a Jar" = AMAZING!

My sister's decadent Granny Smith Apple & Feta Panini with mini caramel ice cream sundae

Final piece de resistance... the latte

Everyone at the restaurant enjoyed themselves and was hoping for leftovers.
But alas the food was too good to leave anything behind! We will all have to go back soon! My mother is anxiously awaiting her return.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Welcome Nicolas!

On a beautiful Thursday afternoon on the 26th of January at precisely 1:24PM
my sweet sister's perfect little boy was born.

Baptist Hospital in Miami, FL
                          Nicolas Jose was born 8 pounds 3 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.
 He had 10 cute toes and long slinky fingers.

Nicolas came out ready to join the surgical team as he grabbed
the clamps ready to take care of business. What a grip!

                                              Our sweet boy came out alert and smiling.
                                Mom, dad and the whole family was thrilled with his arrival. 

Two weeks later he is as handsome as he can be... even when he asked Tia (me) when she was going to finally blog about him. :)

Happy LIFE to you Nicolas! We can't wait to watch your dreams unfold. Catch all your 1st moments and relish in all you are and will become. May your world be filled with childish enthusiasm, compassion, brilliance and a constant thirst for learning and exploring. May you be bold and fearless, patient and kind. And above all else, may you always know that the very thought of you, the mere idea of you makes your Tia feel like the most privileged queen in the world....
                                                                With love always,
                                                                        Tia Gisy