Posted on October 29, 2017
I was thrilled yesterday to be headed again to El Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). With all the changes that have happened in Nashville over the three years I lived abroad, I was happy that Cheekwood still hosts one of my favorite fall events and one of the most important festivals in Latin American culture. On El Dia de Los Muertos families honor relatives who have passed into the next life by creating altars as memorials and tapetes (carpets or murals usually made of sand to represent the brevity of life). They also celebrate the gift of living with joy and thanksgiving. The fall before I moved to Morocco, my International Club students and I really enjoyed the event. This time I was with my friend Sara, a teacher at Centennial High School, who was excited that their school had done its own festival and students were also participating in Cheekwood’s Tapete competition. I was excited, too, that her son, Trent, was at his first celebration.
As we headed to the food trucks, I saw another old friend, David, who had taught my students Latin dance years before. “Welcome to Nashville!” he grinned.
He pointed to a booth where I’d see what he had been up to. There I saw another Colombian friend, Marcela Gómez, who had founded a company called Mi Tribu (My Tribe) which gives back to her home country and shares its beauty with the world. Mi Tribu sustains female indigenous and displaced artisans who create the unique goods and reminds women everywhere we belong to the same tribe. Check out the website for Christmas gifts that will continue giving.
As Sara, Trent, and I walked to the Frist Center to see the Aztec dancers, we passed a long line of school busses. In its fifth year, Cheekwood’s El Dia de Los Muertos fiesta had drawn students from many Tennessee and Kentucky middle and high schools–some sharing their native tradition, others wanting to learn more. The tradition here was alive, well, and growing. Authentic crafts, foods, art activities, face painting, and live music against a backdrop of gorgeous grounds beginning to burst into autumn color was energizing. Seeing people of all ages from diverse backgrounds having fun together was beautiful.
Posted on December 10, 2016
Santo Domingo has surprised me with its wealth of food choices– from mega groceries full of imports to familiar chains and international cuisine. While many coworkers have cooks and cars, I have neither, so I try to do a big grocery trip on Saturday or Sunday as I did in Morocco to make comfort food–cold salads for lunches and seafood chowder, chilli, Irish beef stew, or jambalaya for dinners–to last the work week. But come the weekend (or sooner when I miss my deck and grill so much I have to find a place to sit, sip, and socialize outdoors), I head up the street in my Piantini neighborhood to an area that after four months here finally feels like home.
Two blocks from the apartment–dangerously close for sugar overload– is a bakery/brunch/tapas/coffee destination. A coworker took me to La Cuchara De Madera (The Wooden Spoon) last August promising it “feels like visiting a friend’s house.” She was right. On a second visit, I met the owner’s father who gave me a tour. I have always loved baking, but in the heat (only the bedrooms are air-conditioned) up until the last month turning on the oven was done on a must-do basis. Knowing cheesecakes and cherry pies are just around the corner is a lovely thing. To locals, La Cuchara is Birthday Cake Central, cozy quarters for a late breakfast, battery recharge station for afternoon coffee, and gathering spot for evening wine and tapas.
A couple of blocks beyond are three patios illuminated by twinkling lights and friends’ laughter.
Bravo Forna offers Italian dishes, fresh salads (Insalata de Pollo Santa Fe below is my fav), fantastic sangria and great music in a relaxed setting.
Another place I’ve enjoyed my weekly fix of grilled steak is Sonoma Bistro–always full of locals. They have a deli and wines, cheeses, and Angus beef in the market next door. But of course the ultimate treat is meat on a grill surrounded by friends under the stars. For a cookout on our friend’s rooftop terrace, we bought some ribs and Italian sausages at Sonoma and turned them over to our friend, Master Chef Moises. Between the meat, the view, and Dharma’s hospitality (and potato recipe) it was the perfect night.
Moises Cordero now caters for Destination Weddings at Punta Cana, Samana and beyond (for catering, call 829-944-1521), but when I first moved here he was the man behind the grill at Shorthorn at Galeria 360 just past Agora Mall–both within walking distance of my street brimming with beautiful (though out-of-my-budget) boutiques. Below are photos of our feast there last summer with Steve, Sana, Taylor and Mariya, our friend and coworker who is marrying Moises in January.
Moises also took us to his friend’s seafood restaurant next door, Pier 47 , which was delicious and and just around the corner from the mall’s Margaritaville.
Recently I took Griselda’s advice (below) and checked out Ciao–a great place in our neighborhood not only for healthy soups, wraps, and salads but also a great American-style burger. And around the corner just before Blue Mall is a popular trio of restaurants where folks frequent for food and drinks at 2 for 1 prices–Francesco Trattoria, La Posta Bar, Julietta Brasserie (beautiful indoors and out).
Everyone here has been gearing up for Christmas since trees sprouted all over town November 1. It’s almost 11 PM here and outside my window speakers have started blaring from a party in the courtyard next door. Think I’ll check it out…salsa music calling…
(Added the next morning…So The Who may still hold the title for the World’s Loudest Band by the Guinness Book of World Records for a 1976 concert, but the DJ under my window until 4 AM last night blasted that record with speakers we used to call “mind-blowers” (this from a girl whose hearing was maimed by bands like Aerosmith, YES, and Pink Floyd back in the day). The good news is the rooster that crowed from the same apartment building starting at 4 AM hasn’t been heard since Thanksgiving.)
Posted on June 28, 2016
Posted on August 20, 2015
For more on the beauty of Girona and the Costa Brava Coast, see my 5-Part Series (links below) and go here for more information.
Discovering Costa Brava: Spain’s Medieval Coast, Part I
Discovering Costa Brava’s Medes Islands, Part II
Discovering Costa Brava’s Bounty, Part III
Cycling Through Costa Brava’s Medieval Villages, Part IV
Discovering Costa Brava, Part V
Posted on February 5, 2013