Happy New Year!

We had a great time ringing in 2017 here in San Miguel starting with a party on our dear friends rooftop overlooking the Paroquia in the centre of town followed by a slumber party back home. Great views, great people, lots of fun. Here’s a bit of a sketchy video of the fireworks but you get the gist!

 

We became honorary Texans for the day. In the South of the USA there is a tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Years Day as a mark of prosperity. This is a tradition Joseph takes very seriously but given that he doesn’t cook…and his usual ‘go-to black eye peas chef’ was out of town (who also happens to be Scottish!) – it was down to me to cook them this year. Following Linda’s recipe, we soaked the dried peas in beer overnight. We drained these the next morning and then fried up some onions, garlic, ham hock and bacon and a few spices before adding the peas and chicken stock to the pan and cooking them for HOURS until they were deliciously soft. I also made a big vat of chilli, rice, cornbread, guac, spinach and artichoke dip, salad and brownies. Enough to feed 30 hungry mouths yesterday afternoon…and then some!

 

 

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2016 in pictures Pt. II

Hold on to your seats folks – here’s the second half of 2016 in pictures.

July/August

We headed back to Europe for the Summer and over the course of six weeks we visited the UK, Switzerland, France, Andorra and Spain with our friend Susan. We saw family and friends along the way and explored new views. Fabulous fun!

We reunited with our Sacred France friends in the Languedoc for 10 days which was fantastic fun. It was special to continue to explore the unique history and energy of the region through the eyes of our dear friend Kathleen McGowan. We celebrated our 11th Wedding anniversary while exploring the deeply significant village of Minerve. Lots of sparkling, lots of laughter, lots of great times with fabulous friends – new and not so new!

Following our escapades in France and Andorra we headed to Spain to see my brother Jason, Amber and little Zeph in time for her birthday near Barcelona. While in the area we visited Girona and the incredible monastery at Monserrat.

After leaving Barcelona we drove down the coast to Valencia for a night and on to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Southern Spain to stay with our fabulous friend Terry near Lanjaron for a week. Time spent at El Rincon is always magical and it was wonderful to take a slightly slower pace for a week. We did spend a day exploring the magical Alhambra Palace and Gardens in Granada though. At the end of the week we drove north to Toledo (just south of Madrid) for a night and on to the airport the next day so Susan could fly back to Mexico. Matt and I then continued to drive north through the Pyrenees and Basque country back to the Dordogne. Incredible scenes en route!

Back home in Cladech, we also spent precious moments with my other brother Robin, Marie Helene and our nephew James and our cats Ronnie and Reggie. Cladech is home and it’s always wonderful to arrive, but so so hard to leave.

The final stop on our epic Summer was a few days back in the UK visiting family and friends. We had a big Ash family reunion and it was great to see Matt’s cousins Liz, Debbie and their family – all back in the UK together which is rare! Our dear friends Liz and Kevin were visiting from Boston and we managed to squeeze in a sublime lunch in Richmond. And of course, no visit home would be complete without time with the Guildford gang – great to see Nic, Peterkin and Bob too.

September/October

After all that travelling it was good to get home to Mexico. September is a big month in Mexico as it’s when we celebrate Independence day and since the movement began here in San Miguel the celebrations here are huge!

Joseph and Eduardo finally moved into their new home and we helped them to kit out their kitchen….and I started cooking for them…still hoping one of them might actually learn to cook before we leave the country next year!

In October I headed back to the UK for a week. Great to see friends and family again!

And we celebrated Eduardo’s birthday

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November

A big month of Day of the Dead celebrations (BIGGER than Halloween here!), dinner parties, visits from friends and Thanksgiving.

We celebrated Joseph’s big 40, a visit from Ed over Thanksgiving and our friends Amanda, Rody, Michelle and James visiting from Portland.

December

And so we made it to December. I started a month with a thrilling three day trip to Hermosillo in Northern Mexico to see some clients…who I now count as friends too! I was able to be a part of their amazing Game of Thrones themed Christmas gathering….and Mexican’s know how to work hard and party hard too! We then escaped to Puerto Vallarta for a fun weekend with Amanda, Rody and lots more friends on the beach.

We then escaped to Puerto Vallarta for a fun weekend with Amanda, Rody and lots more friends on the beach.

San Miguel looks gorgeous at this time of year with the Christmas decorations up and lots of celebrations taking place in town.

We’re getting ready to cook a big Christmas dinner for friends and our Mexican family. Wherever you are…have a peaceful joy-filled Christmas and a fabulous New Year!

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2016 in pictures, Pt. I

January

We said farewell to a wintry Blighty and arrived in San Miguel de Allende! Celebrated our birthday’s and settled into life in the high desert!

February

Our great friend and colleague Traci visited from Iowa – and escaped the winter! We had fun exploring the town, visiting with friends and watching Eduardo participate in a Storytelling Festival showcase.

 

March

Miranda made a quick trip to San Francisco and spent time with clients and friends!

Back in San Miguel is was Easter season – Semana Santa – which is taken VERY seriously in this town. Parades every day…some more reverent than others – each is colourful and unique.

April

Not too much happened this month as Miranda prepared for conference season at work! But in between all that, we enjoyed cherished moments with friends and more exploring!

 

May

Summit time meant that Miranda was in Miami for a week or so working hard and having fun!

And not long after returning to San Miguel we had four of our friends from Romania visit for 10 days. It was great to see SMA through their eyes. We also spent a wonderful weekend on a friend’s ranch and made the most of the warmer weather! Hot Springs, Mariachi bands on our roof and birthday celebrations made it a great month!

June

The beginning of rainy season here in the high desert – hot days, balmy nights and some welcome moisture.

We had a new neighbour for the month – one of Joseph’s closest friends from San Angelo – Matt. Matt is a Spanish teacher and came down to SMA for a month to hone his language skills. Both Matt’s hit it off…bit of a bromance going on…and enjoyed afternoons putting the world to rights over a few beers on our roof. They also have a shared passion for Monty Python…lets just say that there were a LOT of laughs in our house in June!

Part II coming soon! 

Beach time

This past weekend our friends Amanda and Rody invited us to join them for some beach time in Puerto Vallarta. Never one to pass up some sun, sea and sand we boarded a plane in Leon for the short flight to the coast and a welcome respite from the SMA winter. Three nights gave us enough time to recharge our batteries, get some Vitamin D and have lots of fun with a great group of folks.

Amanda and Rody have been visiting PV in the winter for years – escaping the cooler climate of Portland, Oregon. They know PV like the back of their hands and were amazing hosts – knowing exactly what was worth exploring and what wasn’t. We were perfectly happy sitting on the beach, getting to know new friends and enjoying long lingering dinners at some incredible restaurants. Puerto Vallarta really has so much to offer. It’s easy to see why so many return here year after year.

On our first night we had dinner at Hacienda San Angel – once owned by Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. In fact, they owned separate haciendas that were joined by a bridge. Well known for having a fiery relationship, one of them would knock down the bridge every time they had a massive argument..and then they’d reconcile and build the bridge once again. The hacienda was so beautifully furnished and is now a superb restaurant. That night we were entertained by frankly the most sublime mariachi band we’ve heard to date…and we’ve listened to quite a few since moving to Mexico. This group was a cut above the rest! Dinner included a lot of great fish courses…something we are somewhat starved of here up in the mountains so we made the most of being on the coast. I think Red Snapper is my new favourite fish!

We also discovered a new favourite breakfast haunt….La Palapa. Situated right on the beach, we loved their eggs benedict and french toast…nearly as good as our local Lavanda here in SMA.

The following evening we visited Cafe des Artistes and enjoyed another incredible dinner under a forested canopy. Each dish was an adventure for the senses and was cooked perfectly. Afterwards we walked back down the hill and along the boardwalk to Twisted Palms for a night cap before trying to find some of our SMA friends favourite club….Dreams…need I say more?! Boys…they wouldn’t let me in!

Perhaps one of the most magical adventures of our trip was the afternoon at Ocean’s Grill – a restaurant built into the side of a cliff in a private cove. Getting to the restaurant is an adventure in itself….a local bus ride to the end of the route followed by a water taxi out to the restaurant and a somewhat precarious climb in waves from the water taxi up to the timber building. Loved every minute. Once we got up to the restaurant we were able to sit back, relax and admire the view. At times it felt like we were in a Bond movie…enjoying a unique, luxurious experience! We both ordered the fresh grilled octopus which was so tender and delicious. After an afternoon spend chatting and snoozing on a huge couch overlooking the bay, we made the return journey to PV.

The second week in December marks one of the biggest religious celebrations in the Latin American calendar – Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Feast Day. Thousands of people participate in nightly parades honouring the patron saint of the Americas. In PV the parades go on for hours and end at the main church in town which is dedicated to Guadalupe. The streets surrounding the church turn into a massive party with hundreds of food stalls for a 4-5 block radius offering everything from tacos to churros and everything in between. This is how to do feasting in style!

Our final evening in PV saw us heading to the heart of the feast celebrations for tacos, baked potatoes and churros – delish. Amanda and Rody have their favourite food stalls which were all fabulous…even if we were still somewhat full from our Ocean Grill exploits earlier in the day! What I loved about our meander through the streets was the opportunity to once again witness Mexican family values – such reverence for all generations coming together to remember, feast and honour! It was a great way to finish off our weekend on the coast. Given half a chance we’ll be back again soon!

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A huge thanks to Amanda, Rody, Al, Julie and Tony for showing us around PV and to Rosie, Megan and Vanessa for fun times together!

What a whirlwind!

Weww! It’s been a full few weeks starting with our friends from Portland, OR visiting town for a week in mid-November, followed by Joseph’s 40th, then our friend Ed visiting from LA over Thanksgiving week, a trip up to Hermosillo to visit my friends at Nearsoft and finishing off with a fabulous few days on the beach in Puerto Vallarta. Our feet haven’t touched the ground lately!

We love having friends in town because it gives us a good excuse to get out and explore new places. While Ed was here we went back to our favourite breakfast spot – Lavanda – always a favourite. We also discovered the great burgers at Birdie’s Burgers…yummy. Most of all it was fun to be able to share this magical town with a dear friend.

Lots of writing to catch up on. Watch out for more over the next few days.

San Miguel de Allende is for foodies!

e1276e8a-9667-40fb-9cd5-986beda76e09San Miguel de Allende really is a mecca for foodies. Just last year The Independent – a well respected newspaper in the UK – published a fantastic article about the rise of the food industry here. And it was a pretty accurate article.

Since moving here we probably haven’t taken advantage of all the food that this town has to offer but we do have our favourites:

The taco stand on Insurgentes (near the Biblioteca)

Tacos Don Felix – amazing Mexican food!

Lavanda – fab place for breakfast

Nirvana Spa – perfect for a long lingering weekend lunch in the country

Grandpa & Sons – Lovely sliders and lovely ambience at Fabrica La Aurora arts centre

Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at the Rosewood – perfect for sundowners and tapas

Basiliaia – fabulous tacos

Cumpanio – Fabulous little french bakery and restaurant – makes us feel like we’re home. Try the truffle french fries!

Nectar – our favourite little veggie cafe where you can eat surrounded by hummingbirds

Antonia’s Bistro – one of the newest places in town with great views and fabulous food!

Pizza Pig – the best pizza in town – but we’re biased…the place is owned by our wonderful friend Timo!

Actually the list is endless. There is no shortage of international food here from german food at Berlin to an Indian restaurant (run by a Brit), sushi, chinese…and of course Mexican! We could eat at a different place each night and still not visit everywhere in town.

Last week we had some friends in town so we took advantage of several really fun nights out catching up over good food.

The Restaurant is a great place for burgers on Thursday evenings. Best burger I’ve had in a long long time!

Garufa is an Argentine restaurant which had great steaks even if the service was awful! Nevertheless it’s worth it for the flank steak alone!

Berlin is a small bar serving hearty german food – perfect for those cold winter nights.

Perhaps one of the top restaurants in town is Aperi. A fine dining experience housed in a contemporary courtyard. We gathered there last Friday to celebrate Joseph’s 40th birthday over an 8-course tasting menu that was phenomenal. We particularly enjoyed the foie gras, duck confit, truffle and mushroom pasta, pork belly and beetroot, raspberry and hibiscus dessert. All small plates that were mighty on taste and texture-and works of art. What a night!