Thursday, May 28, 2015

Our Visit with Louisiana Architect - Ken Tate

I love how life brings you full circle some times and how on any given day something you never could imagine just falls into place and happens. 

Back in 2003/04 we were working on a home in Arcadia with Nance Construction and looking for inspiration on what could be the next new look for Exeter and Arcadia. In the midst of our research, Nancy Brunkhorst brought this book the New Classicists - Ken Tate Architect ! I loved it! The book - if you can still find a true coffee table book and features a dozen or so of his homes in beautiful detail including detailed drawings all printed on a black background! 

We poured through the book and was struck by a home he had done with lime washed reclaimed brick walls. Nance wanted to do it - the client and I loved it, and off we went! Our house turned out amazing and the limed washed brick became a hit in Arcadia and a real look and feel that still goes today.

That's what great artists and architects do.... Their work gets copied - it becomes part of the fabric and culture of a place. 

So his book, and a second book that followed it, has been used in my office for years. I had just been in Denver a couple weeks ago and one of the builders we were interviewing took me through a Ken Tate house I mentioned that I was going to New Orleans in a few days. The builder said, "Why don't you look Ken Tate up and see what he thinks of us." So that's what we did!

What a Southern gentlemen and the epitome of Southern hospitality! He not only welcomed us he set up lunch for us in New Orleans and then toured us through one of his homes currently under construction in New Orleans. 


We enjoyed our two martini lunch at Lilette's on Magazine Street. We compared notes and shared experiences and we both had to laugh at the similarities of our careers, work, staff, etc. we even discussed collaborating on some projects together! He took us to the Guthrie Contemporary Gallery to see some of his recent paintings and then off to see his project.

Spending the time with Ken was wonderful and brought a whole added richness to our first trip to New Orleans. It's how I love to travel - not just see the tourist sites and eat at the marquis restaurants, but also get out and dine at someone's home, meet the people who truly create and move the culture of a place. Ken Tate is one of those people here in the South!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Our Visit to Louisiana Cajun Country

I wasn't quite sure what to expect once venturing away from New Orleans and heading to the back country of Cajun Country! Would I be venturing into a vignette from Deliverance? Quite the contrary! 

So how did we end up going to Lafayette? We have to chalk it all up to Facebook and the connection I made some four years ago with Interior Designer, Dawn Dupuis Clark, who spotted my work on our Candelaria Design Page and then friended me whereupon we truly became friends. 

She came out to Scottsdale a couple years ago and toured some of my work and so I had to return the favor and make it out to Lafayette. We were not disappointed!

After a beautiful drive north and west from New Orleans via Baton Rouge we made the 2-1/2 hour drive to Lafayette! What I came to find out is Lafayette is the heart of Cajun Country! 

So what is a Cajun? Cajuns mainly came from Acadia - not Arcadia - in Nova Scotia and migrated down to the  Lafayette / Acadiana region of Louisiana. The music is French Based, and more folkish. The food is more spicy!  Creoles on the other hand are a mix of people's. Whites and Blacks some from the Caribbean and some from the north. Given that New Orleans is a port city it became he melting pot of the Creole culture and people. The food is more African and Caribbean based.

Dawn said anyone south of 1-10 is a Cajun.... Hey mom and Dad you live in Maricopa which is technically south of Maricopa - you must be Cajuns! 

So what could possibly be the first stop when you come to Cajun Country? Of course food! Dawn and her wonderful friend Lynne Thibodeaux - how's that for a Cajun name - took us to David Bertrand's Shucks Restaurant! And who should greet us at the door but David himself! He sat us and said just relax and let me start bringing the flavor of Cajun cuisine your way. And boy did he! 

You have to start with a Cajun Bloody Mary and then fresh oysters on the half shell, followed by a little fried alligator and crab claws, followed by oyster stew, and then char broiled oysters - these were the best of the entire trip! Then a little ettouffe' and then some sautéed pan fried oysters and then sautéed redfish! Top it off with a tour of the kitchen and of course David's amazing bread pudding topped with white chocolate buttered rum sauce! Wow!! Great job David and what a wonderful host. If in the Lafayette area - please make this a stop!

Then Dawn and Lynne took us sight seeing to see some of the beautiful neighborhoods and homes in Lafayette! Fabulous - you definitely see a wide range of styles all well done! One development that definitely caught my eye was River Ranch! Fabulous mixture of styles from French Provencial, to Creole Southern / Caribbean to Spanish! Fabulous way to allow a wide range of styles yet it all comes together!

Then to top of our visit we were all invited back to Dawn's personal residence to relax and have a little back patio barbecue. The boys hung out on the back porch and spun stories of Louisiana local and state politics, to sports, to the oil business, and the women were inside and God knows what they were chatting about. The way discussions are done around food and beverage is quite different from how this goes down in Arizona - there is definitely a Southern way - a Cajun Way! 

Thank Dawn and Lynne for the amazing visit and thanks Facebook for yet another amazing connection. Wow - i would never imagined any of this but I love where life takes you if you just venture out!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Orleans - City of Resiliency

We have been in New Orleans three days now and I have to say I am definitely coming back and adding this town to my "Have to" list! 

I know New Orleans is known as a party town and sure that aspect is definitely here but there is a lot more depth to this place than just the Mardi Gras vibe! New Orleans is a foodie Mecca! Quite frankly the restaurants are endless so it's going to take a few trips to get this place dialed in. Thanks for all the great tips we have been receiving on Facebook!

What strikes me about New Orleans is the resiliency of the people and this place. I remember watching the whole Hurricane Katrina debacle and thinking I wish I had been to NOLA before this disaster hit and that this town was done....! Well then add the BP oil spill a few years ago and you would think that that would be the nail in the coffin. Well let me tell you, this place is far from dead. New Orleans is alive and well and the people here are flat out amazing, friendly and frankly all have that can do attitude about them. 

The other thing I notice is despite the problems in Ferguson and Baltimore I don't feel that racial divide here in New Orleans. Quite the contrary! At least from my perspective while here everyone is cool, getting along and just enjoying and contributing to the energy and culture. 

Bourbon Street is definitely a sight to see and you will see just about everything and that's even during the tame hours! I can only imagine during Mardi Gras or SuperBowl week! 

There is a lot to see here beyond the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. Yesterday we went to the Garden District to do a little shopping, dining and neighborhood touring! Beautiful! Of course you have to check out a cemetery here....not sure I would do that at night though! All fabulous - all New Orleans. 

So what do you think of New Orleans? Who has been here both before and after Katrina??? Tell us what you notice....

Ok off to Lafayette, LA to visit one of our wonderful Facebook friend, Dawn Dupuis Clark who has graciously invited Isabel and I over for a little taste of Cajun Country! Stay tuned!!!