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Basque Country

The days are very short now - however this is a nice time of the year to take a long weekend trip to - San Sebastian and the Basque Country.

Originally founded in the 12th century - San Sebastian is the culinary capital of Spain. The Basque cuisine in and around San Sebastian is considered to be the best food in the country. It is almost impossible not to get a good meal in this region. In fact San Sebastian boasts more Michelin star restaurants per square meter than any other capital in Spain.

San Sebastian Spain

With plenty of raw materials to work with (fresh seafood - locally grown produce - and meat and game) - Basque chefs have taken traditional recipes and built upon them - creating a world-class cuisine. From the sea come dishes like pil-pil - a delicate green sauce used in making cod. From the garden - there are beans and peppers - which are used to create menestra - a mixed vegetable dish - or pisto - a type of ratatouille - made of tomatoes - marrow and peppers. Complimenting the dishes are some of the best wines in the world - - Rioja and Alavesa.

Indulging in up to six meals a day - the people of San Sebastian really do know their food. The city has more bars and restaurants per head of population than anywhere else on earth.

A Good Review of > Spanish Food

Constitution Square

Today the heart of the city is Constitution Square - and one of the first things you will notice upon visiting is the numbers on the balconies. This dates back to the Middle Ages when the Square was used for bullfighting. These numbered rooms with a bird*s eye view of the action were rented by curious spectators.

A short stroll away at the Farmers* Markets is the essence of San Sebastian quality cuisine - fresh local produce. The Spanish believe eating is an adventure to be shared and a way of bringing people together.

San Sebastian itself has three beaches: La Concha - Ondarreta and La Zurriola. La Concha (seen above) was made fashionable by Queen Isabel as from 1845 and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Ondarreta lies at the foot of Mount Igueldo. The villas and gardens which adjoin the beach give it its aristocratic charm. These two beaches - La Concha and Ondarreta - form a beautiful bay.

San Sebastian annually hosts two spectacular events - a Jazz Festival that is one of best in Europe and an International Film Festival - deemed one of the four most important in the world. Many other cultural fests celebrating dance - Basque folklore - sports - music and food - make San Sebastian a colorful and fascinating place to be year-round.

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum

An excursion to the many surrounding coastal villages is a lovely experience. A visit to the new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is recommended. Gehry*s design demonstrates a distinct sensitivity to the museum*s surroundings. Located at a bend in the Nervión River on a former industrial site - the building makes the most of its location by forging a strong visual presence in relation to the Museum of Fine Arts nearby and to the University of Deusto across the river - as well as to additional points along the riverfront. From this position - the museum serves as a gateway to the city*s business and historic districts.

Do not miss the new Chillida Museum. Also good to walk off all the extra calories accumulated in this gourmand weekend.

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Luna y Bombé

Little Luna The Little Bombe Cat

Luna (slightly bowl-legged and pigeon toed) is usually very patient with Bombé - but we all have our limits ! For example - when served their pâté at cocktail time - Luna graciously moves back as Bombé robs her tidbit off of her miniature tablecloth. This happens every time.

Luna can never quite figure out what happened to this long awaited treat and - very confused - she sadly leaves the scene of the crime. Now - do not forget - Luna came to us at 3 weeks and Bombé spent seven hard months on the street.

Almost identical twins - we spend the day saying - *no - that is Luna - no it is Bombé* - the difference is in their personalities. Luna - extremely delicate - suffers hypersensitivity and would never repeat a punished act. Never !

Bombé on the other hand - well maybe she just needs more attention. Her latest discovery in life - lately - is to cause objects to fall and make big and different noises. Our nerves have been very tested lately.

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Our Favorite Recipes ( and Chefs )

Well - after all - a Basque recipe would be the order for today. Since the end of Franco´s fascist regime over two and a half decades ago - a quiet culinary evolution has made steady progress. The result is that Spain has literally burst onto the international culinary scene.

Rustic cooking celebrates the sea - the orchard - and the farm - elements that are cerebrally represented in nouvelle cuisine wit. The chef that started it all is our very good friend - Juan Mari Arzak. He offers a combination of langoustines - fresh morels and a spoonful of almond puree. His blood sausage or morcilla - a Spanish staple - is wrapped in beet leaves and accompanied by teaspoonfuls of grapefruit vinaigrette.

Juan Mari Arzak Recipes

A great Juan Mari recipe may be found here:

Juan Mari Arzak - one of Spain's 3 star Michelin Restaurants

Enjoy! - - ¡Buen provecho! - and - Un Bravo para Juan Mari !!

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We began writing to you early in October.

The building next to our computer window was being renovated all through September until now. Rat-tat-tat and our nerves (and minds) are completely gone. You can imagine what this was like - between Bombé and the workers ...

So much unkindly invasion into our ears and minds (exactly eight hours a day - plus) truly dampened any abilities and attempts toward creative writing. Please understand that our intentions were sound - but the environment was impossible.

Noise Makers

As a neighbor pointed out - one man worked - - another read the newspaper and a third watched the two.

It was a BIG building !

Too Much

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What to do When You are Down

Very important - go to a nearby museum. Of course - it is easy for us to say this as Madrid has so many Museums

There is something about Museum visits that take you from your pities. Do not feel you have to view absolutely every object though - this just produces stress - not a good emotion.

We visited The Prado Museum. Just one room this visit - yes - - of course - a difficult choice. Goya this time.

Goya Painting

Goya began his artistic activity in Madrid as a tapestry cartoon painter at the Santa Bárbara Royal Tapestry Factory - which produced decorative tapestries for the different royal sites. This cartoon was painted by Goya for the King*s Dining Room ( Charles III ) at the El Prado Palace. Goya created it as part of series dedicated to the seasons of the year. The wine harvest represents autumn - and the three other tapestries - symbolizing the remaining seasons - also hung in the same room.

This is a very serene composition - with the figures in the foreground grouped as if a squat triangle. The coloring is very pure - and the fields of color are clearly set apart > this was to facilitate the work of the tapestry weavers. The basket propped atop the head of one of the figures is considered one of the finest Spanish still life*s.

Just one object. Then a coffee in the coffee shop where people watching completed the treatment. What were we down about anyway ?

Visit - The Prado Museum

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We Love to Hear from Our Friends.

Toot Your Horn

Please write to us. If you like we will publish your correspondence in our next newsletter and web site. Tell us about yourself - your needlepoint *addiction* - what you would like us to add or remove from our newsletters ... or any of your favorite anecdotes! If you prefer to remain anonymous be sure to include this at the end of your note. Please give us a toot ! Just click below and write - it is that simple.

For those of you in the United States -

we hope you enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday in company of your families and loved ones.

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Nice Thoughts from (and for) Our Friends.

*Hello Samantha, I am writing a note to say that I really like your newsletters and please continue to send them. I live in Maine - USA and like to do needlepoint projects - especially during the cold and stormy winter months! Thanks again for a wonderful newsletter, Your USA Friend, Lydia


*First let me say that your designs are glorious - as well as the packaging! I purchased your kit #6089A Blue Sampler at Featheridge Designs in Washington Depot, CT. USA. I noticed immediately that there was no wool code card - and would like to make sure in advance that I have the correct number of wool skeins.* - Connecticut


We do not add the wool code cards to the Sampler Kits as they only contain eight colors. If you would like one - we will send it to you. Please advise. Please do not worry - we will send you any extra wool you request. The number registered on the kit controls the dye lots to insure we match your kit. The amount of wool listed is correct and should be enough - however let me know and we will send you whatever you feel is necessary (and a tad more).

*Thank you so much for the photos they were wonderful ... it is so amazing how much it looks like the original ( Napoleon II ). I am one who enjoys owning things that are different from everyone else and believe me my fireplace screen will be a one of a kind.* - NJ

*Jan, received the yarn, CD and catalog ........ thank you so much. Loved the CD your designs are beautiful and I definitely need to order several more...they will go beautifully in my new home ... I love your taste ... the problem is which ones do I choose !!! Give Missy the California girl - Luna and Bombe a stroke for me. Have A Good Day*

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Another Gift From Us


A gift is a wonderful exchange - both ways - giving and receiving. We enjoy both immensely and - for this reason ...

... we would like you to have a Samantha Taylor Calendar for your desk. To receive our gift - please e-mail us - requesting the calendar and your mailing address:

Now - do not feel pressured to make a decision - we will be offering this gift throughout January - to give you time to make the proper choice - yes or no - please think about this seriously.

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Favorite Sayings

Favorite Sayings

*Excuse him - He does not have a Grandmother* - is one of our favorite Spanish sayings. This is applied to a person who brags about himself - meaning - if he had a grandmother she would do the bragging for him.

This is all for now - - ¡Hasta Pronto!

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