Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ca's Xorc

We ventured out for dinner one night, crossing the valley floor and climbing the windy roads on the other side to Ca's Xorc.

As we walked in, I was immediately struck with the ambiance of this restaurant. I mean, who wouldn't want to linger in this bougainvillea covered pavilion for a meal.... or an entire day/week/month?

Sitting against the warm stone wall of the finca {farm} dating back to the 1800's, we were bewitched by the view...

beyond the ancient olive tree in the center of the patio, the indigo Tramuntana Mountains stretched on for kilometers.

This restaurant and hotel is built around the original olive pressing equipment of the finca, most of which is still in tact.

Isn't it wonderful how they made the beautiful, worn stone mill functional again by adding a plate of glass and turning it into a bar?

The cuisine is a combination of traditional Mallorcan fare with a Mediterranean influence. Fresh, local ingredients are prominent in the meals Chef Guillermo Mayo prepares.

Being a blue and white devotee, I completely fell for his gorgeous tiled kitchen.

Citrus groves abound in this part of the world, so I found it to be refreshingly fitting that containers of lemons were displayed throughout the finca.

Buenas noches.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tomato Coulis....

The garden at Finca Hermosa offered us plenty of vine~ripened tomatoes, peppers and herbs,

We found the withering tomato vines were loaded with an abundance of plump, red fruit. We gathered up several and started incorporating tomatoes into every meal..

Tomato coulis is a refreshing addition to eggs in the morning. To make it, just coarsely chop some tomatoes. Drizzle plenty of olive oil into a saute pan and add the tomatoes to cook. Chop up plenty of garlic and add that to the pan as well {in addition to the cooked garlic, I like to add some fresh garlic just before the tomatoes are finished}. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to suit your taste. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and then serve.

I must give Mr. Splendid credit for coming up with this delightful dish. He started making something like this for me years ago....I used to call it "kerschlop", but now, "Tomato Coulis" sounds more appropriate.

Gracias, darling.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

beneath the Carob tree...

One of the more splendid places I found to spend time at Finca Hermosa was beside the pool, beneath a marvelous old Carob tree {ceratonia siliqua}.

I love gazing at the trees beautiful, old, twisted bark.

The evergreen Carob trees are a prominent ingredient in the verdant landscape of Mallorca. You may have heard about Carob before as a low-fat substitute for chocolate, mostly available at health food stores.

For ages, the pods from the carob tree have been used to feed livestock, and, when options were limited, they have also been consumed by humans.

The most interesting thing about this tree is that each of the seeds inside the carob pod are always the exact same weight, 200 milligrams. Because of this consistency, the seeds have been used as units of weight for small quantities of gold and precious gemstones since early roman times. The weight of one carat is precisely 200 milligrams, or 0.2 grams.

I loved learning this tidbit of botanical history.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Don't hate me because I have too much Jasmine...

Still adjusting to the time zone, I was up early my first morning. I pushed open the very efficient, heavy wooden shutters to see if there was any light outside.


As soon as I opened the doors, I was almost knocked over by the overwhelming fragrance of Jasmine. I was feeling a little woozy anyway, and, I hate to admit it, but this heady perfume made me feel more than a little queasy. 

What a problem to have, right??

Two hearty Jasmine bushes flank the patio outside the garden apartment at Finca Hermosa. 

The local Gardener, Manolo, calls Jasmine "La Dame de Noche", or lady of the night, because her fragrance becomes so much stronger when the sun goes down, but demures as the sun grows stronger in the morning.

Have you ever wondered why white blossoms are usually so fragrant? I love white blossoms, for their delicate appearance as well as for their fragrance. Jasmine, Star Jasmine {for colder climates}, Gardenias, Nicotiana, Citrus blossoms, Tuberose, Stock, Phlox and certain Viburnums are great options for bringing fragrance to the garden {or home}. The reason they smell so deliciously is to attract the bees. Without their strong fragrance the bees would just whiz by them and choose a more colorful blossom to pollinate.

"Can bees smell?", you may ask.

"Foraging worker bees might encounter a bewildering number of flowers to choose from, but they can discriminate between them using subtle olfactory cues" sayeth Dr. Hugh Robertson, professor of entomology and an affiliate of the University of Illinois Institute for Genomic Biology.

He led a study on honey bee chemoreceptors and found that honey bees have 170 odorant receptors. In comparison, mosquitoes have 79 and fruit flies have 62.

Vell, vell {okay, okay in Spain}, I'll suffer through, just for the bees.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Greetings from Mallorca!

I've arrived at Finca Hermosa outside of the town of Sóller, on the island of Mallorca, where we'll be staying with friends for a week. I am mesmerized by the lovely views from my room, the dramatic Serra de Tramuntana mountains encircle the villa, the hills are covered with mix of olive trees, carob trees and brush.

Buckets of bougainvillea are pouring down the walls of this ancient farmhouse,

and pots of geraniums soften the stone walls and accent to the views. 

The background sounds remind me I am somewhere special. I love the constant, gentle clanging of the bells on each of the sheep that graze on the property; the frantic screech of cicadas; and the occasional buzz of a scooter climbing the winding road on the other side of the valley.

I'm not sure if I will be writing posts from my room, or from the dining area above the house;

the view is stupendous and there is usually a pleasant breeze.

Or maybe I'll write a little from the courtyard. It's filled with lush green plants and flowers {someone delivered a crate of lemons to our door the first day ~ my kind of welcome!}

This bench could be a welcome retreat from the scorching sun.

There is also the little sitting area outside the garden apartment, that would be a cool and quiet place to write.

No, I'm not quite sure where I will be writing posts this week. But I promise, I will take the time to put my feet up and share plenty of notions and visions from Mallorca.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Care package and adios...

I was trying to think of what my teenage daughter would enjoy in a care package while she's away at camp... prank kits, blow up balls and puzzles no longer seem to capture her fancy. So, I dropped into Cost Plus World Market and I think I hit the jackpot. I found her sarongs for wearing or decorating her room, a cloth fan {cool way to stay cool}, an exotic looking string of lanterns, some funky monkies, jewelry, a bag,  and bindis....

I love bindis, while they were traditionally worn to signify the marital status of Indian women, they can now be worn by anyone who desires an extra bit of embellishment. I always check for them at Cost Plus, and I especially love what I found on this visit.

I like to bring them to parties to bejewel the foreheads of my girlfriends of all ages.

I was also pleased to find this great bag for myself, I am heading off to a warmer climate and this bag struck me as the perfect companion. Usually when I travel, I hope to find a beachbag and hat upon arrival, but this bag is the perfect color scheme for the clothes I've been packing and that chic tribal look is perfect for my destination. The price was very reasonable, so I figure if I find something I like more, I could get that too... 

Psssst, guess what? I just checked and the bag is now on sale for $17.99 on line, click here to order.

This one is cute too, it's on sale for $13.99, click on the name below the image to find out more.

Red Pandan Tribal Tote | World Market
Red Pandan tote

So Splendid Readers, I am off, my next post will be from an island far~far away, here is a hint as to where I am going...


Monday, July 18, 2011

Beachy candles...

 I'm always on the watch for inexpensive silver trays at estate sales {more accurately, these are silver plated trays, and the one to the right is "restaurant silver", a blend of metals}. I love adopting a little piece of history and making sure the trays are used and enjoyed. 

The trays do a splendid job of framing and containing my collections and making them look "finished'.  Because they are not my family heirlooms, I feel comfortable filling them sand, seashells, 

coral balls and candles,

canning jars configured into lanterns,

 and maybe even some sweet peas, beachwood and sea glass.

These displays on trays can easily be moved outside, inside, boatside...  anywhere I need a beachy glow for a summer evening.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Twig your ride...

I've been on the hunt for a new basket for my bicycle lately.  Our neighborhood is fairly flat, so I love to ride my bike for errands when possible.

Trolling around on~line, I found Cynthia's Twigs.  Cynthia lives in North Carolina and makes these marvelous, sturdy baskets of woven willow for carrying dogs, groceries, picnic, mail.... anything.  I ordered the medium sized basket and found it to be perfect for taking these packages to my neighborhood mail spot.

These envelopes are filled with the Splendid Swag prizes from our recent giveaway. While you don't have to have a blog to win at Splendid Market, I randomly drew the names of the authors of three great blogs. 

Prizes have been mailed off to the following winners:

Jeanne from I dream of..
Stacey from Quintessence 
Tina from Enchanted Home

After I received my basket I started thinking about accessories, so I had to take another visit to Cynthia's site. In addition to great baskets for the the front and back of your bikes, she sells colorful fabric liners and pads for dogs. I also needed to get a bracket to support my basket {read the details about handlebar size if you shop for a basket}.

Now that my quest for the perfect bicycle basket is finished, all I have to consider is which liner to use!

Thank you Cynthia!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

cork bowls...

What do you give a gal who pretty much has it all?

I was struggling with that question after some friends took me on a very special getaway for my birthday....I wanted to get them something to say thank you, but just couldn't think of just the right thing.

Then I visited the Remoldisita show in Seattle and saw these beautiful cork bowls. Years before, I had spent a memorable afternoon at Club 55 in St. Tropez, having lunch at this wonderful restaurant with these same friends. 

La terrasse du restaurant sur la plage de Pampelonne

Amongst other things, we enjoyed the spectacular crudités, served in a rustic cork bowl with a bottle of village rose.

Club 55 is so unique it is nearly indescribable.... rustic, elegant, relaxed, and a feast for all of the senses.

The crudités is probably their most famous dish, the rough cork bowls arrive at your table loaded with whole vegetables, a few hard boiled eggs, some sharp paring knives and anchovy dip {I always request a side of aioli as well}. It's really quite a perfect thing... everyone starts cutting up the vegetables, dipping, sharing,'s a beautiful way to start a splendid meal.

I had never even imagined the possibility of owning one of these wildly natural and beautiful vessels at the time. So, when I met the owners of Bitters Co. and felt one of these lightweight bowls I was beyond intrigued.

I learned a bit about cork that day....okay, this may seem obvious {given that this material has been used to stop wine for, I don't know how many hundreds of years... } but cork is pretty much impervious and extremely sturdy. They suggested that these bowls could be used for soups, pastas and stews. They say that the sauces, oils and flavors do not penetrate the appearingly absorbent cork, and that they can be easily washed with soap and water. They also suggested they could be left in the garden to collect rain and become weathered....they seemed too delicate to me, but, well... it is just bark, right?

Another one of the beauties of cork is that it is a renewable material. To make these bowls, the thick bark is carefully peeled off of a section of the cork tree. The bark grows back on the tree, and is ready to be harvested again approximately 9 years later. Click on cork to read an interesting story from the BBC on the cork harvesting process in Portugal.

I have used my bowl for dressed salads, and it's worked beautifully. I must admit, I haven't been brave enough to fill it with any stews yet.

 However, I did feel comfortable loading a couple of bowls up with plenty of fresh, whole vegetables ala Club 55,

and some rosé, just for the memories, to give to my kind girlfriends. 

By the way, many of you have asked for French rosé recommendations, and here is one I'd like to share with you. I usually just shop for rosé by the color instead of the label, since many of the producers are smaller and distribution is limited. I look for light coral colored wines, they are usually drier and crisper, as opposed to those that are a deeper red, which I've generally found to be too sweet and heavy. Domaine Sorin seems to have had a steady distribution in the US for the past couple of years, I've been able to find it at several major outlets in Seattle, as I recall it is $11 - 13 per bottle.

In addition to the bowls {which come in 3 sizes}, Bitters Co. sells these terrific vases/umbrella stands, also made of cork,

and these chunky cork stoppers,

and these lovely, rustic coasters.