Remember when I met Tim @clinchpics earlier this month? Well, turns out his friend Elaine also runs workshops at the same fabulous place – Finca Buenvino – in the beautiful Aracena mountains. So while she was in Sevilla this week we met up a couple of times. First was taking in the whole Corpus Christi thang, as usual before the actual procession starts. We walked the route, then went for brekkie, and afterwards watched some of the procession before heading home.
Later that same evening Elaine joined me on a tapas tour, with two other couples, and it was great fun. She has such great energy and is smart, sassy and well-travelled. We really had a great time together. The good news is that Elaine has fallen in love with Sevilla and is working on a plan to live here at least a few months a year… so we may end up being neighbours!
While I was making my plans to go to Copa Jerez I thought – hey! – why not do another quick overnight getaway to El Puerto de Santa María too? I was last there briefly a year ago for an afternoon sherry event, and before that I had spent a November morning visiting bodegas with Julie & Steve – that was in 2014 (!). But I hadn’t spent more than a few hours in town since an overnight stay in November 2013, and there were a couple of new restaurants I wanted to check out, so I booked a room at quirky and charming Casa de Huéspedes, where I had stayed before. Then it turned out that Tomoko wanted to join us, so another room was booked, and we arrived early evening, after having spent the day at Copa Jerez.
Casa de Huespedes was just as charming as I remembered, and so were our lovely hosts Carlos and Myriam. After settling in and having a bit of rest we went out for dinner at La Bodeguilla del Bar Jamón, a place I’d been dreaming about since my first visit there in 2013 (and which had also been the venue for the sherry event last summer). We sat outside on the terrace with a welcome breeze and ate very well. Afterwards we popped over to Bespoke to pick up my It’s Sherry Time pin and also have a couple of sherry cocktails. By the time we got back to Casa Huéspedes, Tomoko and I had clocked over 16,000 fitbit steps and were more than ready for our (comfy) beds.
La Bodeguilla del Bar Jamón:
• signature jamón tosta with garlicky olive oil and tomato
• salt cod and pepper scrambled eggs
• breaded prawns, peppers and onions with jamón
• presa Ibérica with jamón and chips
Next morning, after a light brekkie at Casa Huéspedes, we made plans for the day. Unfortunately it was already too late to make it for the bodega tour at Gutiérrez Colosía, and the owner of Bodegas Grant was out of town, so we decided to just go out and see what happened. We had booked El Faro for lunch, but there were still a couple of hours until then, so we walked over to the market, and then to Bodegas Obregon, finally stopping at Ángel León’s new Taberna del Chef del Mar, housed in the site of his original michelin star Poniente (which is now located in larger digs across town). We’d all heard mixed things about the Taberna but decided to find out for ourselves, with a couple of pre-lunch dishes. Verdict? Very tasty, excellent execution, great service… but?… just not worth the prices. We’ve had better ceviche in Sevilla for half the price (that small bowl was 15€) and 2€ per croqueta? Seriously? It’s a shame because the place is very pleasant and the rest of the menu looked good too.
La Taberna del Chef del Mar:
• cuttlefish croquetas
Tomoko getting a shot of THAT tempura urta.
Then we got a taxi over to El Faro for our “main course”. We were happy to discover that there is now a tapas menu other than at the bar – one of the formerly unused patios has been transformed into a bright and cheerful tapas area. All I knew was that I wanted to try THAT tempura fish we’d seen prepared during the Tempura vs Fritura competition the day before at Copa Jerez. We started off ordering a few dishes to share, but it turned out that the tempura fish version offered on the tapas menu didn’t include the wonderful “whole fish” presentation you see here. But then it turned out that we could also order restaurant menu items in the tapas area! So we quickly revised our order to include only the Almadraba tuna tartare and then THAT fish. In this case it was urta and it was perfect. Weirdly served with salmorejo as a “dipping sauce”… we chose to drink the soup and just have the tempura urta on its own. The tuna tartare looked like rubies and was served with wasabi, ginger and horseradish. Heaven.
• tuna almadraba tartare
• tempura urta with salmorejo
Peter, Fernando and Tomoko, in the El Faro bodega
By then we were stuffed! But we didn’t want to leave without thanking chef Fernando Córdoba, and when he found out that Tomoko and I are sherry educators he took us to see his bodega. A very generous and caring person – we felt honoured that he spent so much time with us.
There was a bit of a Death March back to the centre of town after that, in the blazing late afternoon HEAT, but we managed to take a look inside Toro Tapas, the new bar inside Bodegas Osborne, before collecting our bags at the Casa Huéspedes and heading to the train station.
Foolishly or otherwise, we decided to stop for a last quick COLD ONE at Bar Apolo on the way, thinking we had plenty of time. And we may have had it not been 40º and we hadn’t had luggage… we arrived at the station with about two minutes to spare and then found out the escalators were out of service (!!). One final sprint up the stairs got us onto the train and literally 30 seconds later it pulled out of the station. Phew!
Day two of the Copa Jerez started with an early tasting of sherries with jamón Ibérico, regional cheeses and tuna dishes. Not a bad “second breakfast”!
This was followed by a Tempura vs Fritura competition, which was quite fun (and tasty) with chefs from Tokyo and El Puerto de Santa María battling it out on stage.
Tempura vs Fritura
After that it was off to the showroom where there were over 200 brands on offer. Of course for Tomoko and me this was really more a chance to say hi to our bodega friends and otherwise socialize. Then it time to catch our late afternoon train and meet up with Peter in El Puerto de Santa María.
Tomoko & Silvia (González Byass)
Rocío & Mario (Bodegas Urium)
[photo by the Sherry Council]
I’ll be writing about the Copa Jerez in more detail over on Azahar Spain, but no doubt you’ll be wondering who won the competition… and it was Team Holland!
Podium onder de Dom
Chef: Leon Mazairac
Somm: Goos van den Berg
- “Zeeland” oyster with green olive gelée and cream of sardine, dressed with chilli oil and Iberian ham sauce. Paired with Manzanilla Pasada La Goya / Bodegas Delgado Zuleta
- Dutch rabbit crépinette seasoned with masala spices and carrot and orange cream. Paired with Oloroso El Cerro / Bodegas Callejuela
- Caramel flower and porcini with a Sherry Vinegar and Jerez Brandy reduction on aged Oudwijker cheese from the region of Utrecht. Paired with Medium Mons Urium / Bodegas Urium
El Loco Sibarita is, in effect, the “nom de chef” of Miguel de Pablos, and I met up with him at his “pop-up” dining experience via my friend Fourat, to sample some of his traditional, yet unique, cooking.
For Miguel (formerly of the El Loco Sibarta restaurant near the Alameda) it’s all about the quality of the ingredients, and he’s actually a bit crazy about that – hence his name.
The four courses we enjoyed (there would have been five, but in the end we didn’t make it to dessert – too stuffed!) were certainly a tribute to his choices. So too were the accompaniments – Miguel’s own signature sourdough bread with quality olive oil, an excellent palo cortado sherry from González Byass, and a pair of red wines (Botas de Barro) with perfect earthy taste and smooth textures.
The space on this occasion was at Cobertura Photo gallery in El Arenal, which was both spacious and cosy, with lots of light and high ceilings. A very pleasant ambiance.
And so to our meal, taken at a leisurely pace through the course of the afternoon as Miguel prepared and cooked our food in the small open kitchen area next to us. First up was a simple salad of tomate rosa wedges garnished with sweet onion, marinated in olive oil and herbs that was a perfect start and exemplar of the importance of quality products. It was followed by a tortilla in the Galician style – softer and less dense than the traditional Andalucian version. Next a fish dish – fresh grilled cod with spring onions and a pimentón sauce, which was as good as any I’ve ever had. Finale was a pan-roasted 45-day aged beef that was succulent and full of flavour.
Miguel’s sourdough bread, made fresh daily, and served with quality olive oils.
- Beautiful tomates rosas, simply dressed with olive oil and salt.
- Tortilla al whisky with lots of lovely garlic.
- Grilled hake with pimentón, spring onions and garlic.
- Fresh lettuce leaves (lightly dressed) to accompany the meat course.
Loved these reds by “Dirty Boots”. My favourite was the Jumilla grape. We also tried old vine Garnacha.Main course: 45 day aged beef from Lyon France. OMG. Exquisite.
chef Miguel de Pablos
Miguel and I are quite excited about working together in the future. It really is a top quality private dining experience with many options. If you live in Sevilla you will soon be able to see his upcoming events on Facebook, which include the full-on seasonal menu experience we had, as well as “tapas nights” and Miguel’s “in search of the perfect hamburger” quest, which includes a starter, a FULL-ON burger with up to 5 extra ingredients, 3 drinks and homemade dessert. I am so doing the burger one next time…
I first met fellow sherry educator (and professional venenciadora) Fabiola Bonke @spanjetotaal a couple of years ago at a casual sherry tasting held at Bodegas Faustino Gonzalez @cruzviejajerez in Jerez, which had been organized by my friend Tomoko @tomokotours. Fabiola is Dutch, but her parents are both Spanish, and she has become the most important sherry expert in Holland. Awhile back she got in touch saying she was going to be in Jerez for the Copa Jerez finals and would be staying overnight in Sevilla on the way.
So I recommended a couple of nice reasonably priced hotels and she chose one that is literally a stone’s throw from my house. And so just after she arrived and got settled in I picked Fabiola up for a sherry-based Tapeo Extremo. Our first stop was Las Teresas, my favourite place for both ambiance and jamón Ibérico de Bellota. They also have some excellent sherries.
After that we carried on to two more bars – Bodeguita Romero and La Cata Ciega, sampling amazing sherries and tasting delicious tapas. And all the while talking talking talking… what a lovely evening. And the good news is that we will be meeting up again in Jerez because I am also going to be at Copa Jerez. Yay!
Juan, me & William
It’s been quite a week for meeting up with people, either for the first time or after a long time. William @madguide1 fits into the second category. We first knew each other via social media as he is a Spain expert for the very famous Rick Steves global tours. Then one fine day we had time to meet up while he was in Sevilla… that was a few years ago. Then I saw on Instagram that William was back in town this week with a tour group, he promised me that FOR SURE when he was back in September that he’d make time to meet up.
Later that same day I was having lunch with my dear friend Juan Tarquini @jmtalexeew, at his fabulous Vineria San Telmo, when a guy sits down at the table next to us. Suddenly I hear… SHAWN??? Heh, it was William. He was there to meet two other mutual friends, María and José who, along with their partner Victor, run the excellent Taller Andaluz de Cocina cooking school. I mean, what are the odds? I love when stuff like this happens. 🙂
William, José & María
One of the hazards of being a high profile Queen of Tapas and sherry educator is that just when you thought you might get an actual day off you get invited to go out and eat and drink fine food and wines. 😉 This week’s guilty parties were winemakers Finca Allende, and hosts and food pairing providers for their cata (tasting), Abades Triana restaurant.
The setting, the modern glass palace just acros the river in Triana, was actually rather pleasant, light and spacious, with a view of the Torre del Oro and the boats on the river.
The cata itself was conducted by Miguel Ángel de Gregorio of Finca Allende. They are a fairly small bodega from Briones in the Rioja Alta, and it was interesting to learn something more about this wine region. Miguel Ángel, who is clearly passionate about his wines, first arrived in Briones in 1986, and considered the climate, and especially the land, as ideal for the kind of terroire driven wines that he wanted to make.
We tried six different wines, two white and four red, each made with grapes from specific parcels of land, and which paired very nicely with a menu that progressed from a soup starter (salmorejo), through a tartar of urta (fish), a pluma Iberica, and beef to a chocolate mousse dessert. Exquisite.
Thanks to Finca Allende and Restaurant Abades Triana for an enjoyable, very interesting, and tasty afternoon. More on the wines, etc coming up on the Azahar Sevilla blog.
About a million years ago I met Nancy Li on a travel forum called SlowTrav (now defunct) but we ended up having several mutual virtual friends, and I finally met her when she and her husband David came to Sevilla in 2014. Meanwhile we stay in touch on Facebook. Nancy is a crazy cat woman wannabe (she loves them but is allergic) and in fact it was Nancy who first told about wet-combing cats. Guess what? It rocks.
Anyhow, Nancy and David are back in town this week, along with Nancy’s old school chum Phillip, and they were happy to come out with me to do some Tapas Research (ie have lunch) at a new bar I hadn’t been to yet. Happily the meal was very nice, as was the company. It was nice to reconnect. HOWEVER, something Nancy told me was quite disturbing, which is that the woman she is renting her holiday apartment from informed her that The Dude is actually a lady (???). I have yet to investigate this matter further, but will definitely be checking out The Dude a bit more carefully next time we meet up.