Sorolla, el pintor de la luz

One of my favorite´s  place to sketch  in Madrid. The Spanish painter, Joaquín Sorolla was born on February 27, 1863 in Valencia, Spain. The artist’s house and was converted into a museum after the death of his widow. It is situated at Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 37 -Chamberí – Madrid.

Sorolla’s work is represented in museums throughout Spain, Europe, America, and in many private collections in Europe and America. In 1909 he made a successful debut in the United States in a solo exhibition at the Hispanic Society in New York City. The resulting critical acclaim won him a commission to paint President William Howard Taft in 1909. In 1933, J. Paul Getty purchased ten Impressionist beach scenes made by Sorolla, several of which are now housed in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

In 1960, Sorolla, el pintor de la luz, the master of depicting sun and water, a short documentary written and directed by Manuel Domínguez was presented at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2007 many of his works were exhibited at the Petit Palais in Paris. In 2009, there was a special exhibition of his works at the Prado in Madrid, and in 2010, the exhibition visited the Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba, Brazil.

From 5 December 2011 to 10 March 2012, several of Sorolla’s works were exhibited in Queen Sofía Spanish Institute, in New York. This exhibition included pieces used during Sorolla’s eight-year research for The Vision of Spain. His style was a variant of Impressionism and whose best works, painted in the open air, vividly portray the sunny seacoast of Valencia. Sorolla was from a poor family and was orphaned at age two. He displayed an early talent and was admitted to the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia at age 15. After further studies in Rome and Paris, he returned to Valencia.

Upon his return to Spain, he purchased a beach house in Valencia, on the Mediterranean shore. For the rest of his career, he drew his inspiration from the dazzling light on the waters by his home, and his beach scenes are marked by sharp contrasts of light and shade, brilliant colours, and vigorous brushstrokes. That´s why he is called the ¨painter of the light¨ (el pintor de la luz).

The Museo Sorolla – The building was originally the artist’s house and was converted into a museum after the death of his widow. Designed by Enrique María Repullés. The principal rooms continue to be furnished as they were during the artist’s life, including Sorolla’s large, well-lit studio, where the walls are filled with his canvasses. Other rooms are used as galleries to display Sorolla’s paintings, while the upstairs rooms are a gallery for special exhibitions. In 2014, these rooms held an exhibition of David Palacin photographs of the ballet Sorolla produced by the Spanish National Dance Company.

It´s nice to see the actual place where he lived and produced so many of his artworks. There is also a nice entrance garden with a fountain where you can just seat there and make some sketches while admire the flowers and statues.

Don´t forget to visit this small museum if you have a chance on your next trip to Madrid. You won´t regret it!!

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St Valentine’s Day in Spain

It’s not a traditional holiday in Spain, but most of the places in the world celebrate it with the traditional bouquet of flowers and romantic diners. the closest concept about it is from people of Valencia and their most romantic day of the year is, in fact, October 9th, when they celebrate both; the Day of the Valencian Community (Sant Valentin) as well as the Day of Saint Dionysius (Sant Dionís), locally known as the patron saint of lovers. This is a public holiday marked by many festivities and colorful costume parades held in the main plaza of every town and village.

A distinctive tradition on the Day of Saint Dionysius is the custom of offering ladies a Mocadora (Mocaorà) as a sign of love and appreciation. This traditional gift consists of a nice package of marzipan figurines handcrafted by local confectioners and then wrapped up in an elegant piece of silk.

In the Land of Cervantes, you don’t need a reason to get caught up in the fire and romance of Spain. The whole country is teeming with spectacular parks and gardens that inspire love.

Here is the recipe.

INGREDIENTS
150 grams of ground almonds
135 grams of sugar glass
1 egg white
30 grams of mashed potato
Pastry dyes and flavor extract of each fruit. Cocoa powder
If you have too much thickened water
Some pine nuts to decorate

Start boling a potato and make a very fine mashed potato. Set it apart to use later. Beat the egg white to the point of very compact snow. Until the container is turned over, it stays well attached and does not fall. Add the icing sugar and mix well taking into account that the point does not get off. Add the mashed potato and almond flour and knead well. Distribute the dough in as many portions as we want to make different figurines and add to each portion the fruit dye, the flavor extract and let it rest for a while before making them. Take the dough and mold with the fingers the desired figures. Place in a tray and let dry a few hours and if you want to follow the tradition, wrap them in a neck scarf and give them away. If you have more dyes and flavor extracts, you can make pears, lemons, oranges, strawberries … Go on, you are totally allowed to just play with them and make fruits for the ones you love!

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Gin & Tonic: Spain’s Obsession, Despite the Recession

Gin and Tonic

SRapallo, Strawberry G&T II, watercolor, 2017

SRapallo, Strawberry G&T II, watercolor, 2017

You probably always thought Gin and Tonic was just another kind of drink, right? Just put gin, tonic and some lime, right? Yeah, me too, but not in Spain. You even may think that is definitely not the most exciting cocktail you ever tried, but once again, not in Spain. In Spain the casual G&T is practically an art form, as bartenders pays attention to which gins they use with which tonics, and add thoughtful garnishes and thick ice cubes, serving the drink in goblets. They have entire booklets for G&T on bars, you can even get lost trying to choose one recipe over the other. Literally every bar you go into, from a cocktail bar to a crappy little sports bar, had 25 to 30 gins.

To write this post I made a little research over the subject and found out they have 65 types of gins, but only 5 types of tonics. There are not a ton of different tonics on the market in Spain. They have a dozen or so different tonics and a lot of companies make them. But most bars make their own tonic syrup and carbonated it. They are also very picky about the ice too. Just not any type of ice… no, most fancy bars just use Kold-Draft. Because the idea is that you want larger, denser ice with less air trapped in there, so it melts slower. It keeps the drink colder longer and there’s less dilution, which is ideal for something you’ll be sipping on.

They also have special Gin Clubs where you can choose from more than 40 gin brands paired up with their own trimmings. You can take it into infinity and beyond. It is refreshing, not overly sweet, and easy to drink. But in my case, just one drink for the night, the second G&T normally gives me a brutal headache the day after. But like the Spanish after discovering that G&T is much more than a normal and even boring drink served in plastic cups, it’s safe to say I had never tasted the true potential of this glorious convergence of grain and bubbles. Sounds even poetic.

The recipes are endless, from juniper berries, verbena, edible flower, black pepper, strawberry, cucumber, lime and lemon of course, but also orange, herbs like rosemary, chili and quinine, rhubarb, celery, melon, raspberry and thyme. You can be insanely creative on Gin & Tonic. Enough talking, let´s have a drink!!!! Here a simple strawberry gin tonic I prepared. I must say it was a pleasure night, preparing the post, making the G&T, photographing it, drawing and painting it and sipping my G&T while listening nice music. Jazz, of course!

Strawberry G&T

SRapallo, Strawberry GT, watercolor, 2017

SRapallo, Strawberry GT, watercolor, 2017

Ingredients

3 strawberries
18 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 12 oz. navy-strength gin
4 oz. tonic
Cinnamon stick

Instructions

Muddle 2 strawberries and ⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper in a shaker; pour into an ice-filled goblet. Stir in 1½ oz. navy-strength gin. Top with 4 oz. tonic; garnish with a strawberry and cinnamon stick.
If life give you lemons, make a Gin & Tonic.

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La Ardosa

Bodega de la Ardosa, Madrid

SRapallo BodegaArdosa, watercolor, 2017.

SRapallo BodegaArdosa, watercolor, 2017.

Calle de Colón, 13, Malasaña

One of the first bars we visit when we arrived in Madrid. It´s a old bar with excellent salmorejo (cold tomato soup made with bread, oil, garlic and vinegar) and croquetas or tortilla de patatas (potato and onion omelette). You have to try it!

As a decor I specially love the grotesque  Goya´s drawings hanged all over the walls. Most of the people don´t even notice them. They have two ambient s;  one in front and the other at the back of the bar, you have to pass below the counter top.

A brief history

In 1892 Rafael Fernández Bagena, owner of vineyards in the region of La Ardosa, Toledo, created and founded the chain of Bodegas La Ardosa in Madrid, which would have 36 establishments. Some are still open in the streets Sta. Engracia, 70 , Ponzano, 10 and Abtao, 32.

Gregorio Monje, a butcher by profession, acquired La Ardosa in 1970. In 1979 he began working there with his wife Conchita, who presented the tavern to the most prestigious tortilla competitions, and his sons Rafael and Ángel.  At the death of Gregorio. In 1995, the distributor  was sold and the children continued with the brewery business. Currently, La Ardosa is run by Ángel, assisted by  his wife, Concepción, and by a team that he trained and educated to serve beer with the same dedication and devotion as always.

During the 80’s he specialized in beers, becoming an institution. They worked the English Bass brewery, the German Warsteiner and were pioneers in importing Czech beers like the authentic Czech Budweiser and Pilsner Urquell. Ah, they also have Guinness and Bombardier.
This place is crowded on weekends, well… in fact every night – the Spanish way of life. They are pro…. they drink Monday to Monday.

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Adorable Chunks

Srapallo, Chunks, watercolor, 2017.

Srapallo, Chunks, watercolor, 2017.

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This is our cat Chunks, a Himalayan-Persian cat that I had from China, where I lived for some years. Thinking about “furry”, he is the first thing that comes to my mind. He is not only furry, I use to say that he a veritable “furry factory” because he obviously leaves fur all over the house. He is adorable, a good companion, sweet and affectionate . These cats are sweet-tempered, intelligent, and generally very social and good companions. Because of their heritage from the Siamese cats, they tend to be more active than Persians.  Chunks loves to play hide and seek, and also fetch a paper ball  or a kitty toy will entertain him, but just for a while. He is a kind of an old cat already. What he loves the most is nap, nap, nap…. all day in different beds. One thing he doesn’t like is when his food container is low on food… somehow I always think that he doesn’t like when his whiskers touch the bottom.

Este é o nosso gato Chunks, um Persa da Himalaya que eu trouxe da China, onde vivi por alguns anos. Pensando em algo “peludo”, ele é a primeira idéia que me vem à mente. Ele não é apenas peludo, costumo dizer que é uma verdadeira “fábrica de pelos” porque ele, obviamente, deixa pelos pela casa inteira. Ele é adorável, um grande companheiro, doce e amoroso. Esse tipo de gato tem um humor gentil, inteligente, é geralmente muito sociável e são grandes companheiros. Por causa de sua herança siamesa, eles tendem a ser mais ativos do que os persas normais. Chunks adora brincar de esconde-esconde e também buscar bolas de papel que a gente joga para ele ou brinquedos de gatos, mas não por muito tempo. Ele já é um  gato idoso, considerando a idade. O que ele mais gosta mesmo é tirar sonecas, sonecas, sonecas… o dia inteiro e em camas diferentes. Uma coisa que ele não gosta é quando o prato de comida dele está com pouca comida… de alguma forma eu sempre penso que ele não gosta de encostar os imensos bigodes dele no fundo do prato.

Sennelier colors, Daniel Smith colors and Maimeri colors on hand.paper sketchbook.

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Sublime Terrine

Sublime Terrine

 

I just love terrine and pates and… well, French Cuisine.  Last weekend we went to visit the Monastery of Uclés, located 98km from Madrid and I bought a bottle of Vermut by a local producer. Well, it was the excellent excuse to prepare another terrine. This time I put pork, veal and cow meat. Wrapped in bacon and also pistachios, mushrooms, rose pepper and  truffles.

We put in this terrine porcelain we bought on my last trip to Paris, at Au Bain Marie shop.  If you want to try it, below you can find the recipe.2 tbsp brandy, optional – Vermut in my case

SRapallo, Terrine, watercolor on Archer, 2017.

SRapallo, Terrine, watercolor on Archer, 2017.

    • 12 rashers bacon
    •  100 g pack pork mince
    • 100 g pack veal mince
    • 100 g pack cow meat mince
    • 50 g (2oz) pistachios, roughly chopped
    • 50 g mushrooms chopped and seasoned with truffles´s oil
    • Bay leaves to decorate
 Method
  1. In a large bowl let all the meats to macerate for 20-24 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) mark 4. Put the 1 or 2 bay leaves in the loaf to decorate.  Use about the bacon to line the inside of a 900g (2lb) loaf, leaving excess hanging over the sides. Mix together the meats and put them on the food processor, but don´t let much time, just to cut in small pieces.
  3. Press the mixture into the loaf tin, leveling the surface. Fold any overhanging bacon over the filling; cover with remaining rashers. Press down again to make sure the surface is smooth. Lightly oil a small sheet of aluminum foil and press on top of the loaf tin. Wrap tin well in a further double layer of foil, then put into a roasting tin.
  4. Half-fill the roasting tin with boiling water from the kettle and carefully transfer to oven. Cook for 1½hr until the terrine feels solid when pressed. Leave to cool.
  5. Serve the terrine warm or at room temperature in slices with toast and salad.

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