The holidays typically are times when we all rush about, trying to do all those last minute things that we have slagged off earlier; times when we get together with friends; and times when we manage to acquire those nasty holiday colds.  For me, the past several weeks have managed to cover all these things.

I have been highly motivated lately, and with the end of the year meaning pressing client issues have fallen off a bit, I have been focused on art projects, as you do.  Just before the gran Fiesta del Cuenco at Sol y Mar, I managed to produce several pruebas (tests) of a new series of Cuadros Doblados.  I have done quite of few of these in the past, and have been quite happy with the results.  After an excursion to one of the local markets in Palma where I took photos of various food groups, I decided that several of the photos would lend themselves quite well to the Cuadro Doblado concept.  So with my trusty lata (can) of cola-lite in hand, busied myself on making them. 

My plan is to make an entire series of them in a larger size – the pruebas are only 20 x 30cm and I would like to make them about 70 x 100cm.  Yes, a bit too big for Sol y Mar, but my vision is to have an entire series installed in a restaurant.  I will keep you posted on my progress on making them larger, but for now, here is a sample of one of the pruebas.

The Fiesta del Cuenco went along brilliantly.  I had planned the party meticulously, but had managed to somehow overlook the weather forecast.  For several days before the party, the forecast was looking pretty dire, with Mallorca's winter rains dripping on the island daily.  But either I was a very good boy growing up, or just lucky as hell, it was sunny the day of the party. 

The menu consisted of shrimp-fried rice, Thai green chicken curry, beef terryaki, Basmati rice, chocolate brownies with pralines-and-cream ice-cream, and puff pasty with red-berries and vanilla mascarpone cream.  All the bowls were set out in place before anyone arrived and because I had made so many bowls for the party, as guests finished with one bowlful of whatever they wanted, they could use a clean bowl for their next attack on the food extravaganza.  (yes, I did have a neighbour here helping to wash bowls for the entire afternoon to keep a supply of clean ones ready).   Lots of good conversation, great friends, fab food – it was a very special afternoon.  And as each couple left, they were given two of the cuencos that I had made for the party. 

About the only problem with the party was that the day before, I started to feel like I was getting a resfriado (head cold).  By the time the party began, my head was about to explode.  By the time the party was over, I felt like it actually had exploded.  This wouldn’t have been too much of a bother except for the fact that two days after the party, we flew to Paris.

Going to Paris is always a special thing.  Wait, I should re-phrase that….BEING in Paris is always special.  Going there can be total shite.  The flight from Palma to Madrid wasn’t all that bad, but the connecting flight to Paris was delayed over two hours, and then the terminal (Madrid has two terminals, which feel like going between them is an excursion on its own) was changed.  Even with the delays and the terminal changes wouldn’t have been that bad, except my head was now so full of cold that I felt like the Centre for Disease Control would have identified it as a weapon of mass destruction.  None-the-less, we arrived in Paris safely (just a couple hours late).

Paris over the holidays was crazy, but in a good way.  It was cold in Paris.  Now in all fairness, even I didn’t expect that the temperature in Paris would be anything close to the weather that I have in Mallorca in winter, but geeez….it was below zero when the plane landed.  And for someone who is well-weather-spolit, experiencing zero and below is not a good thing, especially when you are filled with cold.  So I did what any good traveller would do and kept taking the potpourri of meds that I had taken along.  The city, even with the dire cold weather, was humming like a well-honed instrument with throngs of people filling the Champs Elysees doing their last minute shopping.  Well at least that is what one would think on Christmas eve.  But it is Paris, and the Champs Elysees is usually chocker-block with people anyway. 

For me, any trip to Paris means that it is a near-pilgrimage experience.  Once, on a trip to Paris with David and Nancy, we had decided to visit Cafe de Deux Moulins.  In case you don't recognise the name of this cafe, it was where Amélie Poulain worked.  Yes, Amélie, as in the movie "Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie  Poulain."  That was well before I bought Amélie (the boat).  So being in Paris meant that a visit to Cafe de Deux Moulins was almost mandatory.  Sadly, I had forgotten to write down the address when we headed out from the hotel, but after a taxi ride to the Moulin Rouge, it all floated back into my head (amongst the still lingering head cold), and Voila!, there it was.  

One of the fun parts of being in Paris is shopping.  With any serious shop having an address on the Champs Elysees made things easy.  But having said that, a taxi ride to Galleries Lafayette was like having access to everything imaginable under one roof...sort of.  Galleries Lafayette is like every shopping mall in the world all put together (but with a bit of style, of course....but it is Paris after all.)  Dinner the last evening was also sort of a pilgrimage.  After another taxi ride due to the buckets of rain that were falling out of the sky, we went to brasserie La Lorraine.  La Lorraine is a very special brasserie (well I think so at least) and the dinner was pretty good if I do say so myself. 

The next morning it was still bucketing down with rain during breakfast, but by the time we had checked out of the hotel, the skies began to celebrate Christmas by parting the clouds enough to let the sun come pouring down, lighting up the Arch d'Triomphe to an almost gold-like appearance.  Then it was back to the airport for the flights to Madrid and then to Palma.  Paris?  Wonderful, as always.  Home?  What can I say...there is no place like home and it felt great to be safely ensconced in Sol y Mar again.



centre view of Prueba 1


left and right-hand views of Prueba 1

ready for guests

fighting for food at the Fiesta del Cuenco

Paris, the Champs Elysees, Christmas eve

where Amélie Poulain worked

decadent treats at Galleries Lafayette

Christmas morning, with the Arch d'Triomphe bathed in light

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, James B. Rieley