Monday, October 8, 2018

Back From Italy

Great to be back to Arizona! Love all the rain and enjoyed a wonderful morning hike this morning.

We had an amazing Candelaria Design Tour Italy – our 15th Italy Tour and our 17th Tour overall. Starting our trip in Florence we spent two amazing evenings in this Renaissance masterpiece. We then made our way to our farmhouse compound in Umbria where we spent the week exploring both Umbria and Tuscany! From there our base trip finished in Venice. Then a few of us went on to Lake Como and the Villa d’Este where we celebrated Isabel and my wedding with a small ceremony. Overall, one of our best tours ever and always nice to leave Phoenix when its 107º and come back to October and the 60’s!

Our Italy Tour next year will feature Florence, Umbria, Tuscany, and the northern Italian region around Treviso. That tour begins September 11th through the 25th . Our Spain Tour will begin on May 29th through June 11th and will feature Barcelona, Granada, and finish in San Sebastian. Both tours are filling fast so get on board quickly!

Tomorrow tune into ABC 15 and Sonoran Living at 9am as I will be speaking about the hot trends in Kitchen remodels. LIKE our Candelaria Design Facebook Page and post a picture of your kitchen and we will select one kitchen for a design consultation! This will be my second appearance and I’m excited to be featured once again.

Lot’s of great projects on the boards and under construction right now and my first week back from Italy was busy! A special thanks to my team while I was away! We are cranking on so many great projects and have a busy Fall coming our way. My partner, Meredith Thomson, AIA is off to Cincinnati, Ohio this evening for the American Institute of Architect Custom Residential Architects Network AIA CRANS and Principal, Vivian Ayala will be off next weekend to the BOND Custom Forum for America’s Leading Custom Home Architects . We are proud to be ranked Number 14 in the entire country for 2018. Both will come back with a lot of info from these events on the trends in custom home design!

Of course, one of my favorite things to do besides designing and architecture is cooking. We got busy in the kitchen this week for sure. Sunday night, I whipped up a wonderful grilled swordfish – see the recipe below.  Then Monday I welcomed my project team from one of our Paradise Valley projects who had flown in from across the country come over for dinner at Casa Candelaria. Nothing like Hatch Red Chile short-ribs over homemade pasta. No pressure cooking for likely the top cabinetmaker in the world and probably the person who has designed and installed some of the most beautiful kitchens anywhere, Christopher Peacock. Fun evening for sure!

Then Friday night we fulfilled our silent auction donation for a Paella dinner for 8 for Gigi’s Playhouse . Tons of fun and so fulfilling to donate this dinner for one of our favorite charities.

Then last night I got back to my Traegers and smoked some ribs and roasted a chicken over a cast iron skillet of golden potatoes for Mom and Dad and a few close friends. Add a grilled artichoke and some of our wine from Italy and you have the makings of a wonderful evening.

I’d like to make a couple call outs of new books available written by two of my good friends. The first is Glam Italia! How to travel Italy: Secrets to Glamorous Travel by Corinna Cooke Corinna runs her own Glam Tour and I love her passion for Italy! Dinner is long overdue my friend.

The second is Chopping Wood by my good friend, Jim Steg! Love your zest fir simply going for it – relentless!!! You definitely want to pick up both of these books.

Then the book we are featured in by Patricia Hart McMillan, Christmas by Design – Private Homes decorated by leading designers is coming out soon in time for the Holidays! We have three Candelaria Design homes featured so get your copy now as the perfect gift for the Holidays.

Finally, our Candelaria Family continues to grow, as our long-time associate, Tim Mathewson and his wife Amber gave birth to their new son Maverick Woods Mathewson! We wish them both endless happiness and love with their new family!

Grilled Swordfish

This is a real easy way to enjoy a swordfish steak. I picked up a nice swordfish filet from AJ’s. Let it come to room temperature and then brush it with olive oil and I squeezed a little lemon over the top then sprinkle a little paprika on both sides and set it on a hot grill pan that you pre-brushed with olive oil. Just leave this on the pan for about 5 min and flip and get the grill marks on the other side – again about 5 min or just enough time to get the grill marks as the fish will finish in the sauce.

Then for the sauce, I get a non-stick skillet and add a couple tablespoons of butter and melt that over medium heat. I halve as many cherry tomatoes – I like the multicolored tomatoes – and add those to the melted butter along with a couple tablespoons of capers, three or four chopped cloves of garlic and one diced shallot. Then as that starts to cook I squeeze the juice of one lemon and about a cup of white wine. Let that all cook down and as it cooks and your swordfish gets its grill marks add the swordfish to the tomato sauce and bath the swordfish in the wine and tomato sauce until the tomatoes are softened and the swordfish is cooked through. Add chopped thyme, basil, salt and pepper along the way and serve with the tomato / caper sauce spooned over the swordfish and garnish with fresh cut Italian parsley. Pour a glass of Pinot Grigio and add a baked potato with butter, sour cream and chives and enjoy!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Welcome Back To Italy 2018

I never tire of coming to Italy. This is my eighteenth visit and our 15th Candelaria Design Tour. I would have to say, Italy does now feel like home, as I have probably been here more than any other place other than home! We have a beautiful tour this year, starting in Florence, a week in Umbria and Tuscany, and then we will finish the tour in Venice with a small group of us on to Lake Como for a special celebration of Isabel and my wedding – our fifth anniversary right at the spot we tied the knot, Villa d’Este!

It has been quite a journey to come back here as we had to miss last year due to my Isabel’s fight against breast cancer and then a brain tumor. I promised her we would return and that she would conquer this battle and be the victor which she has done and she returns now cancer free. We again, thank all of you for your prayers, meals, gracious deeds, etc. that you all did for the two of us during this difficult period. It meant so much to us knowing we were not alone in this fight. It has brought on an awareness of how prevalent cancer is out there and how precious every moment one has as you never know what lies ahead in the road. All we know, is that for NOW, now is all that matters and so we are celebrating every moment of every day and in particular this year’s tour to one of our favorite places on earth, ITALY!

I have so many memories that rush back to me while on this tour, in particular here in Florence. Such a magical place and over the course of the last 18 years I have been coming here it is somewhat awe inspiring to notice the change in technology from those first trips with no cell phones to how easy it is to travel here and navigate around compared to then. It is also reflective to look back at how I have changed since that first trip in 2000. Many of those memories come back to me while walking down the streets of Florence remembering the first time I saw the Duomo or crossed the Ponce Vecchio. It makes me wonder at age 57 if I really have more trips ahead of me or in back of me. 

I love sharing this journey with my travelers, this time 22 travelers, many having this tour their first experience traveling to Italy. What an honor it is to share this with them. I have had so many rookie travelers from past journey’s go on to become amazing world travelers because of this Tour. I love that. Travel is amazing – it wakes you up and gets you out of your comfort zone and I love seeing my travelers bring parts of this trip home and into there everyday lives. Americans are always in such a hurry to get to the finish line and Italians celebrate the journey. They are marvelous and beautiful people and truly one of the best joys of coming here. Over the years, I have made so many wonderful friends here and that too I cherish.

Our trip here went without a hitch thanks to the impeccable planning and execution done by my business partner, Evelyn Jung! She makes this tour and all of our tours click! She is our mission control and she is a master at it. We traveled all day Wednesday and arrived Thursday afternoon to the Hotel Brunelleschi to a champagne welcome and check-in. Bravo – that is the way to check in. I love this Hotel and have been coming here for years. They treat us like family and it was wonderful for a number of my travelers already tell me “they feel like they are home” here. 

After settling into our rooms, unpacking and freshening up, we all met at the hotel terrace for a welcome cocktail and then we were off to dinner at the Buca San Giovanni Restaurante right in front of the Duomo! What a great spot to kick off our tour with the stars overhead and the Duomo as our backdrop. How can it get any better…..well it does as my travelers will all see. 

Following dinner, many returned to the hotel to battle the jet lag and a few of us
wondered down to the Westin on the Arno for some rooftop cocktails and then I enjoyed a cigar and some gelato on our walk home. Fantastic start to our 15thTour and I know how special every single moment is.