My Saturday night consisted of changing my sheets, watering the rooftop plants, moisturing my feet and netflixing with the cats while eating oatmeal. How was yours?
Many years ago, on one of my first visits to Córdoba, Peter @SVQconcierge and I happened upon this tiny cul-de-sac alley (that just happened to have a little bar at the end – perfect for Beer O’clock!), which we seemed to only ever find again by chance on subsequent visits. Like this time. Only since we last stumbled upon it the name has been changed (a quick google tells me it was in fact changed in December 2014). What was previously Calleja de Arcos is now Calleja de Salmorejo Cordobés, or Tomato Soup Alley, and comes with a recipe for Córdoba’s famous cold soup. I actually prefer this to the more well-known gazpacho. Originally made with a mortar & pestle, these days using a blender or food processor is more common. Here is the translation…
- 1 kg tomatoes
- 200 grams bread
- 100 grams extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- 10 grams salt
Wash and then mash the tomatoes. Strain to remove the skin and seeds, then mash the pulp again, adding the bread, oil, garlic and salt, and keep blending until smooth. Top with chopped hard boiled egg and bits of jamón Ibérico.
Salmorejo is a part of what I call the Córdobes Holy Trinity of tapas, which also includes flamenquín and berenjenas fritos. We ended up ordering all of these when we were at Taberna El Gallo the other day and – wow! – I have to say that all three were probably the best I’ve had anywhere. The salmorejo was delicious and had a lovely texture, not “over processed”, as if a mortar & pestle had been used. Also a nice touch – the hard boiled whole quail egg. The flamenquín was unlike any I’d had before, simply with pork loin and serrano ham rolled up, breaded and deep fried. Most places add cheese or other fillings, but the waiter at El Gallo told me this was the original version. Last but not least… amazing aubergine/eggplant frites! Crispy fried, tender (not mushy) inside, and – most importantly – no gacky sweet molasses (called miel de caña “cane honey” here) squirted all over them. I love this bar.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I went to Córdoba this week to see Roma @artsylife again, after finding out that she was back in Andalucía but wasn’t going to make it to Sevilla this time. This happily coincided with feria, and we spent a great day out together with Peter @SVQconcierge.
I first met Roma when she came on a tapas tour in September 2014, and saw her again when she returned for a second visit to Sevilla in October 2015. During that trip she also became an honourary We Love Tapas team member when she volunteered to be our
victim guest on a practice run of the Oldest Taverns Tour. Good times. Come back soon, Roma! xx
Peter & Roma
Aside from going to the Feria we also did a fair bit of tapearing…
breakfast of champions at Bar Santos
an elegant pre-feria lunch at La Regadera
late night snacks at Taberna El Gallo
the Cordobés holy trinity at Taberna El Gallo:
salmorejo, flamenquín, berenjenas fritas
I hadn’t planned on going to the feria in Córdoba this year. But when I saw Roma @artsylife posting pics from Málaga on her Instagram, and when she said she wouldn’t make it to Sevilla this visit, we decided to meet up for a day in Córdoba. So Peter and I caught an early train and, after meeting up with Roma for a nice lunch at La Regadera (warning: never try to eat at any ferias) we got a taxi to the fairground. And well, it was HOT. But we managed to find a couple of nice air-conditioned casetas to enjoy a cold beer and watch people dancing. Like in Jerez (and unlike Sevilla) the casetas in Córdoba are all open to the public. But unlike any other feria I’ve been too, many also have A/C. Bliss. Click through to see more pics…
Five years ago I wrote a blog post about having seen this graffiti four years previously on a wall near the train station in Jerez. Something had moved me to take a photo of it. I think it was the heart under the sad message “I have cancer” that made it so poignant. Then a couple of days later I suddenly doubled over in pain and the rest, as they say, is history. Something I obviously hope will remain history.
I don’t know what made me think of this graffiti when I was back in Jerez for feria last week, but on the way back to the station I decided to have a look for it…. and there it was! Well, sort of. I thought that because I hadn’t noticed it again in over nine years that it had probably been painted over. And it turns out it had been, but not by another layer of graffiti as I had suspected. Someone just blanked it out with white paint.
I have to admit that at first this kind of gave me the shivers, especially as you can still see a ghost of the message showing through. I’ve often wondered if the person who created the original had actually had cancer, or if someone they loved did, or… well, there are many possible scenarios. Likewise now I am wondering why the graffiti was painted over. Did the artist (or their loved one) die? Or did they get better and this was a way of wiping out this spectre of their past? Or was it simply that the bar next door just didn’t like it being there?
Anyhow, I much prefer this modified version I made of it four years ago. It was a bold statement then as I still hadn’t reached “five year club” status. Though I think that no matter how many years go by there is always a “for now” lurking there when I think “I don’t have cancer”, because really, how do I know? Only the next PET scan can say for sure. Perhaps better to just think “I had cancer” (tenía cáncer) and keep hoping for the best while continuing to carpe that diem.
I met Tim @Biltawulf last year when he and his friend Ed came on a tapas tour with me. Then earlier this year Tim got in touch again – he was planning another trip to Sevilla, this time to celebrate his 40th birthday with four friends from London. I was looking for something different for him, and in the end took them out on Saturday afternoon for a Tasting Triana Tour. But as Tim arrived a day earlier than his friends, we met up on Friday afternoon too and he helped me with some Tapas Research. This turned into an impromptu tapeo, starting with cold beers in the sun before heading to Sahumo (which had a new tapas menu I was keen to try out), with a short detour to La Cata Ciega across the street, as we got there before Sahumo was open.
The next day was the tapas tour and then, after Tim’s friends left early Sunday afternoon, we met up again for yet another impromptu tapeo, this time taking in Casa Morales, Abacería Antigua de San Lorenzo and Eslava, finishing with a birthday cake and cava. Then it was time for Tim to catch his flight home. Looking forward to getting together again, either here or in London. Good ol’ Twitter does it again.
As you can see, the tapas tour was a serious affair. Birthday treats at Eslava.
You know how it goes… you have that one extra glass of wine at lunch and then on your way home you see something in a shop window that catches your eye. Luckily it wasn’t shoes (that never works out well – tipsy feet are much less fussy than sober ones) but these super cute, and totally unnecessary plates. Actually it’s a fish dinner plate, a fish soup bowl, and two smaller plain blue plates in between. They make me smile. What’s the best/worst thing you’ve ever bought while under the influence?
As everyone knows, Tío Pepe is the flagship brand of Bodegas González Byass, probably the biggest of the Jerez sherry houses. The annual Tío Pepe Challenge is a competition for bartenders to mix and present sherry based cocktails, and this year’s Grand Final, featuring eight bartenders from the Americas and Europe, was held on May 17th at GB’s bodega in Jerez.
The setting, in one of the cathedral-like bodegas that has been converted for events and functions, was suitably magnificent, and many of the great and the good from the world of sherry were in attendance as the eight competitors (who all seemed remarkably young) were put through their paces in front of the esteemed panel of judges. The competition started with a blind tasting test of 4 sherries, followed by a test/demonstration of their skills with the venencia, before the main event – the mixing of the sherry cocktails.
Each contestant in turn had seven minutes to mix two cocktails – an Adonis (a mix of fino, vermouth and orange bitters invented in the 1880s in honour of the first Broadway musical to pass 500 performances), and a signature cocktail of their own, during which they demonstrated that cocktail mixing is, among other things, a form of theatre. This meant lots of tasting for the judges (with some samples of various other cocktails for the audience too), but they finally arrived at their verdict.
And the winner… Joao Vicente of the Alto Bar in Berlin for his Jerez Sin Fronteras (black tea infused Tío Pepe, Nectar PX, Nomad Whisky).