Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The House at Spindrift

the house at spindrft The main house - (Click to enlarge photos)

Chapter 29

I was so pleased last night when I discovered some coloured slides I had taken in 1968 of the Spindrift estate to complement my black and white photos. For me it was like finding a small treasure in these few transparencies. Unfortunately I don't yet have a slide scanner for uploading them to my computer but for the time being these images will suffice, even though they were reproduced in a low tech manner by using a strong light and a close camera on macro. The above photo shows the main house located at the back of the property at Portals Nous.

portals beach 1968 The Beach at Portals Nous 1968

My story of Dina Moore and the Bowdens will continue after showing these photos of their beautiful old Mediterranean house and garden.

Ajoining the outer street wall by the entrance was the small house of the Mallorquin couple Catalina and Juan who were the estate caretakers. Catalina cooked and looked after the house while Juan tended the garden and did repairs.

I remember the kitchen of the main house being fitted with old-style double stone sinks with tiny drainholes, used in the manner which I still use today for dishwashing...left side filled with hot, soapy water for washing, right side filled with cold water for rinsing. It was an interesting house although I didn't see all the inside rooms.

flowerpotThe large dining room table was frequently covered with books, newspapers and cuttings which Dina Moore was preparing to save or send to friends who could be interested in news items she had found. I often received envelopes of clippings from her with handwritten notes on her stationery adorned with the image of the Spindrift seahorse informing me of some upcoming musical event in Palma, or a writeup about The Guitar Centre or the Juventudes Musicales, an organization dedicated to furthering young peoples' interest in music.

Here is again the photo print of me in that yellow dress I made before leaving Vancouver. I realized later that this was taken in the garden at Spindrift, not in Palma as I had previously thought. Part of the house is visible behind.

sharon at spindriftHere is a view across the small cove as seen while standing in the garden.

garden at spindrift In the centre of the garden, up a narrow winding path was a small one room stone cottage built in the Mediterranean style, with tiled roof and windows looking over the garden and sea.

cottage at spindrift The Cottage Studio

It was fitted out as a small library with books, a table and comfortable sofa. Dina Moore Bowden kindly invited me to come and spend time in this quiet studio to practice my guitar and read her books. It was a lovely retreat, where I sat alone reading for the first time George Sand's book "A Winter in Mallorca". I read it there, albeit slowly, in the original French as "Un Hiver à Majorque". The name George Sand was the pseudonym of the French novelist Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin who spent a miserable and cold winter of 1838 - 1839 with Frédéric Chopin in the Carthusian monastery in Valldemossa.

That was the first time I had heard that it could be very chilly in Mallorca in winter time. I had brought no coat with me from Canada, thinking Spain was the land of sunshine, every day of the year!

Here I am by the gate, wearing again my straw basket, my one blouse and skirt.

sharon at gate Why is it that as we get older we start to carry more baggage when we travel? At least I do. As a young woman I was content to move to a strange land with one small suitcase, one blouse, two homemade dresses, almost no money and a head full of dreams. Perhaps it's having the dreams and expectations of a wonderful life ahead that makes carrying an extra pair of shoes or warm sweater seem unnecessary.

Continue on to Chapter 30 Dina Moore Bowden
Go back to Chapter 28 Spindrift

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Chapter 28

seahorse(Click to enlarge photos)

Imagine the story of a musical California socialite who falls in love with her voice professor, who marries him, gives birth to a son and eventually settles with her family in 1932 on a beautiful Mediterranean island, where they build a house on a rocky promontory overlooking a small bay, naming it Spindrift.

 view towards fincaFoto credit to Trip Advisor Dizzyo6
The Spindrift promontory in background

This is the true story of a very special lady, Dina Moore Bowden, who became a legend both in her native California and on the island of Mallorca.
But for the moment, I will only outline the setting for this family tale, with which I was privileged to have a fleeting encounter during my years in Mallorca.

Dina Moore Bowden was the mother of George Moore Bowden, the Mr. G. mentioned in my memoir. I will tell more of her history later, but for now I want to describe my brief but memorable visits to Spindrift.

The finca or estate was built beside what was then a sleepy little beach cove called Portals Nous, at only a few kilometers from Palma, the capital city.

beach portals Foto credit to Mallorca Fact
Small cove beach at Portals Nous

Dina had chosen the image of a seahorse to represent Spindrift, to be repeated in ironwork, in decor and on the letterhead of her stationery.

Antoni Mir's photoPhoto above from Antoni Mir's book 'Els Tres Bowden'

The land was surrounded by rock walls and at one end was the high cliff which overlooked the sea. There was a manhole built into the ground which, when raised, uncovered a secret iron ladder leading down to a small cave-like hole in the cliff wall from where one could swim. Another small ladder went into the water so one could climb down into the sea.

Following are my original black & white photos taken in 1968.

the point
At the top of the promontory was a stone covered patio with an old millstone mounted as a table, with folding green-painted wooden chairs as well as concrete benches around the edges.

the point
Small pine trees gave shade overhead while dry desert yuccas and succulents edged the pathways. The scent of warm pine needles was everywhere.

stone bench
On one side of the patio was a wrought iron gate leading to the rough ground outside the edge of the estate. The seahorse image was at the centre.

zoom of gate My photo of gate from 1968

Once Mr. G., his daughter Helen and I were having a small picnic, consisting of sandwiches we had brought from the apartment while seated around the round table.
thatched pole
When Dina walked up to see how we were doing, she looked with some disapproval at our meager meal, saying that it wasn't really sufficient and that we should have something better than that.

stairs in garden
I imagine that since I had recently arrived from Canada, where a picnic consisted of sandwiches, that I couldn't think of anything else to bring. However some time later, a basket arrived filled with hot and cold goodies prepared by Dina's Mallorquin cook, Catalina. I learned then that the midday meal, no matter where it was taken, should be a substantial one!

Antoni Mir's book
I was recently given a copy of a book written in Mallorquin by Antoni Mir I Marquès entitled 'Els Tres Bowden' (The Three Bowdens) in which he tells the story of Mr. George Charles Bowden (the father), his wife Dina Moore and their son George Moore Bowden. Although I have not a full domination of the Mallorquin language, (similar to Catalàn), I have managed to read and understand nearly all and have found background material which fills out my knowledge of the family. It is a most interesting book and I hope one day that Antoni will also publish it in English and Castellano.

Here is Antoni Mir's website. "La Guitarra Balear", written in Spanish.

I will be continuing in following entries with this story of my contacts with the Bowden family in Mallorca.

Continue on to Chapter 29 The House at Spindrift

Go back to Chapter 27 Spanish Omelette

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Spanish Omelette

Chapter 27

Spanish Omelette(Click to enlarge)

La Tortilla Española

Although this is not a recipe blog I do like to occasionally show how to prepare the dishes which I learned to love after arriving in Spain. I was introduced to several by the Bowden family's Mallorquin cook, Catalina, and by Helen who showed me how she cooked Spanish style in her tiny kitchen.
Many times when we went on outings in the Citröen, whirring and jouncing across back country roads, we had a tortilla packed somewhere in a picnic basket, along with some nisperos (loquats), sobrasada, Inca biscuits and a bottle of wine.

The Spanish potato, egg and onion omelette is such a popular addition to a summer meal, or as a picnic item, since it holds up well being transported in warm weather. It's also common as a tapa, being served with a slice or two of crusty baguette bread and a small glass of vino.

Here's how I make it:

Spanish Omelette

Ingredients for 4 servings:
3 medium potatoes
3 large eggs
1 onion
salt 1/2 teasp & pepper to taste
olive oil
Italian parsley, chopped (optional)

I use a 7-inch non-stick pan as it's easy to fill, making a nice high and rounded tortilla which is easy to flip over.

1. Slice potatoes lengthwise once, then slice both pieces thinly into half moons. Chop onions into 1/4 rings.

2. Coat the bottom of the pan with oil and when hot add potatoes. Keep turning so they do not burn or go brown.
When golden, remove from pan and set aside in large bowl.

NOTE: Some folks prefer to gently boil or steam the potatoes for 5 - 10 minutes rather than fry them. I've seen it done both ways and I also like to do this.

3. Put chopped onion in pan, if necessary add a little more oil and sauté until soft, without being dark brown. Remove from pan and add to potatoes in bowl.

4. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, add salt & pepper and chopped parsley, and pour over potato & onion mixture in bowl. Turn gently to coat all.

5. Add 2 TBS oil to pan and when hot, pour in the egg, potato and onion mixture. Run the edge of a sharp knife or spatula around the rim of the pan while the egg is
setting to loosen the edges. I also poke it several times in the middle to let some of the runny egg seep down to the pan. Don't let it get too dark or burn.

6. When the edges are set and the middle is still half runny hold a plate over the top and flip pan and all over on to the plate and gently slide it back into the pan.
Don't overcook as the centre should still be juicy.

7. Let cook a minute or two more on that side, then slide it out onto a plate.

8. Cut into wedges as a luncheon dish, or into small squares with toothpicks to be served on a buffet or as a tapa. Or keep it whole to take on a picnic.

The edges should be fat and firmly rounded. If you've never tried making one before, start with a small non-stick pan and when you're an expert move up to a larger pan. A small 7 inch pan will make a nice luncheon omelette for two.

whole omelette
Once you've made a tortilla and have mastered the knack of flipping it over, I'm sure you will find it a welcome addition to your picnics, luncheons or tapas menus.
I hope you like it!

tortilla for oneTortilla for One

Continue on to Chapter 28 Spindrift
Go back to Chapter 26 Driving the Island
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