LE WEEKEND

I knew that when I got to Barcelona, I'd be getting loads of visits from my friends! So far I've had Sophie (London), Erin & Dan (Seattle via Paris), Valentina & family (Milano), Berengere (Paris), this weekend it was Silvia (Milano) and next week it's Amanda (Seattle via London). 

I hadn't seen Silvia since 2012, when she came to Seattle to visit me and we then went off to Hawaii (Maui & Big Island) for a couple weeks, so it was great to catch up in person. Our goal for this weekend was getting our bodies & minds to the beach for some relaxing & suntanning! On Saturday, we went to the beach in Barceloneta, lunch at El Gallito then back home for rest before getting ready for a night out! We tried out this restaurant I'd heard about called Big Fish in the Born, the restaurant design was nice but the food was too oily/flavourless and the atmosphere was dull. It's a shame as it had potential!

On Sunday, we went for brunch at Granja Petitbo (my favorite) then off to the beach in Garraf - by 5pm, it was still 30C in the shade... a hot day!  We were so beat by the heat when we got back, that we ordered Indian and watched a movie... Life is hard, I'm telling you!

PS: I have to start checking out more new places for coffee, brunches/lunches, HH, cocktails and dinners, will make more of a conscious effort to visit them with my SLR and post reviews here! Next on my list is Taranna and Satan's Coffee Corner.

BEAUTIFUL RECIPE ILLUSTRATIONS

How stunning are these illustrations of classic Mediterranean recipes! I would definitely buy a cookbook that is compiled of recipes laid out like this, wouldn't you?

These illustrations were created by Felicita, take a moment to check out her other work.

FILMS THAT HAVE TOUCHED ME SO FAR THIS YEAR

I have always loved film primarily because through it, I continue to experience things I never have before, but also because it makes me feel powerfully, in ways life doesn't always do - that's not a bad thing, who wants to continuously live the ups and downs of cinema! There is no genre I don't like, maybe just Horror as fear is not an emotion I open my heart (or my nerves) to. 

This year four films have marked me so far: Enough SaidShort Term 12, Fruitvale Station and Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me.

enough-said_toronto.jpg

Enough Said is an 'indie' romantic comedy, thus making it a little deeper and darker than your average RomCom, as it not only touches your heart but it hits a nerve too. It is written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, and stars the late James Gandolfini (who I've had a big crush on since The Sopranos - god that twinkle!) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus who have an unappeasable onscreen chemistry; the supporting cast is also excellent, Catherine Keener and Toni Collette make for exceptional sub-plot manipulators. Enough Said tells the story of two middle-aged single parents, Eva and Albert, who by a somewhat chance encounter, get a second chance at love, that is, if their insecurities, children & previous mariage baggage, don't get in the way first. Louis-Dreyfus' Eva really leads you on an emotional roller-coaster of her own creation, resulting in cringeworthy misunderstandings which are both amusing and traumatising for all involved (that includes you, the viewer). It is an all round perfect movie: superb actors who bring to life their characters by laying out their vulnerabilities; Holofcener's script and direction never feels heavy, even when the subject sometimes is; and one can only be enchanted by the visually expressive and warm toned LA backdrop. 

Short Term 12 is one of those films that really reaches deep and makes you feel things only a therapy session can! I know that that may not be what a lot of people want from their cinematic experience but it's something I cherish as priceless (unlike a visit to the shrink - $$$). Written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and staring the expressive & feisty Brie Larson (from The United States of Tara fame), Short Term 12 is a compelling story set in a group home for troubled adolescents who have been abandoned by those whose role was to protect them, and who instead are being taken care of by a group of similarly troubled yet devoted young adults who take it upon themselves to provide the best care they can for these hurt souls. I loved this film. I don't want to harp on about it as I cannot do it justice but watch this clip which tells you all you need to know.

Fruitvale Station, written & directed by Ryan Coogler, is based on the highly political shooting of Oscar Grant in Oakland by the transit police on a subway platform in the early morning hours of New Year's Day, 2009. This film relays a story of a great injustice, of prejudice against African Americans and of police brutality which is still too common in the United States. By leading us through the 24hrs prior to Oscar Grant's murder, Coogler brings Grant to life, giving us who didn't know him personally, a very hopeful and poetic view of the 22 year old and his struggles to be a better man, son, father and husband to those he loved. This hope is continuously abashed as unlike those onscreen, the audience know how the 'story' ends. Michael B. Jordan gave a first-rate and heartfelt performance, well deserving of the acclaim he received; as to Ryan Coogler's film, he makes you really feel the injustice and the loss of Grant by romanticising and deifying him which achieves the result targeted but also leaves you wondering whether that is who Oscar Grant really was.  

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is a brilliant documentary because Elaine Stritch was a brilliant woman. Elaine Stritch passed away yesterday at the age of 89 - she embodied the caricature of a Broadway actress: ballsy, beautiful, sarcastic and forever iconic. The documentary, directed by Chiemi Karasawa, meets with Stritch at 87, while she prepares for a solo show, is contemplating her retirement and her own mortality. Elaine takes us through her daily life in all her flamboyant honesty, showing us the good and the bad, with not one bit of self-pity or apology, as she struggles old age, diabetes and memory loss. I sat watching that movie, in awe of this bold, self-aware woman, often in tears and/or in fits of laughter. You owe it to Elaine to watch this film and take note of her message: be yourself and never apologise for who you are.  

LE WEEKEND

My 'grande amie' Bérengère came to visit me for the weekend. We met 10yrs ago in London where we were both working for Getty Images, and instantly became friends! I will definitely be interviewing Berenji for the blog as she has a very interesting life and a precious way of giving importance to things that most of us take for granted; and since she lives in  Paris, I will get her to do a post on the 10 things she loves about her city, which I have no doubt you'll adore!

We spent an afternoon at the beach in Sitges, which is a typical beach town of the Costa Brava, super crowded beach but it was nice to walk around the old town doing impromptu photo shoots. (this visit to Sitges was a lot more civilised than when I used to live in BCN in my 20s: I used sun lotion, I was sober and I didn't get lost!) We also visited the Palau de la Musica which is a stunning building and has beautiful mosaics (see photo). I finally made it to see a Flamenco show Ryan told me about, I was sceptical as Catalunya is not known for its Flamenco but it was a great show at the Taller de  Musics, a small music school with a little bar/stage, totally worth checking out! On Sunday, we had brunch at Granja Petitbo with MamaKikoy, then walked up to Casa Fuster for a last drink & view of the city before Berenji had to jet back off to Paris.

Pinteresting: the Pineapple

Last year, MamaKikoy was decorating her home in Barcelona in a Tropical/Colonial chic style - she grew-up in Kenya you see, so she has a natural feeling for it and the result is a classy, peaceful and inspirational space, no tackiness whatsoever which can be a risk with that style. At the time, Zara Home (give them credit, it's due), was way ahead of the curve and had some tropical style items, including these gold pineapple lamp bases which were fabulous (see first photo) - MamaKikoy swiftly snapped them up and promptly placed them on her bedside tables with nondescript white lampshades thus counteracting any chichi-ness protruding from the base. Since then, we've been pinning pineapples on our shared Pinterest board and have come to realise that we no longer have to seek them out, because PINEAPPLES ARE EVERYWHERE!!

Here is a curated selection from our Pinterest board:

LE WEEKEND

I went to Switz this weekend for a little partial family reunion as for once in a blue moon, my grand-parents happened to be in the same place at the same time (they've been divorced since the 50s). My uncle Jean-Luc and his family live in Geneva, my grandfather lives in Rolle on the lake and my grandmother & mother were in town visiting. Being in Switzerland feels so normal probably because I grew-up there but it definitely doesn't feel like home, it just is the one place I know like the back of my hand and I take comfort in that since I move a lot. It was nice to see the lake, the mountains and the family, for a rare drama free reunion!