Good times with Ross & Annie from Australia. They first went on a Sevilla Tapas Tour with me in November 2011, and are now back in Sevilla for an extended visit. Two weeks ago they did a We Love Tapas Tour with Delia (as a #tapas “refresher course”) and on Sunday we had lunch at La Sal. Really great catching up over tintos de verano and tuna Almadraba.
I’ve been to several fabulous events at La Cochera del Abuelo since it opened, but this was the first time I’ve taken part in one. The owner of La Cochera, my friend and colleague Cinta, called me up the other day asking if I would do a short sherry presentation for a team-building event. And of course I said yes. The event was a cooking competition between three teams, each making their own version of salmorejo and tortilla de patatas. Then came the sherry tasting, followed by the judging of the dishes, and finally the competitors sat down to eat. That sneaky Cinta surprised me after the tasting by saying I was going to be the judge (!!!) which basically meant that everyone who didn’t “win” would hate me and not her. But that’s okay as they have all left town now. 😉
Really hoping to do more events together with Cinta. And of course my (postponed) 25th Spain Anniversary Party will be held at La Cochera. Stay tuned…
Yeah, I know I should know better, but sometimes hopeful optimism takes over. Like yesterday. I was out having lunch with Peter and saw Caesar Salad on the menu, saying it was made with the restaurant’s own char-grilled chicken. Now I know that chicken isn’t a traditional ingredient in this salad, but I also know that this restaurant has a nice char-grill, so what the heck. And well, as I say, I should have known better.
I had even joked with the waiter that I wasn’t actually expecting a proper Caesar salad, saying that in all my years in Sevilla I’d never had a decent one (other than at home). But I was at least hoping for a nice crisp green salad with freshly grilled chicken and a “caesar-ish” dressing. Nope. What arrived was a plate of bagged mixed greens, some tiny hard croutons, parmesan, and chunks of tired chicken tasting of fridge. So as usually happens in these cases, Peter ate it. 😉
Later on I jokingly put a post up on Instagram saying I should give a master class to chefs in Sevilla who offer Caesar salad on their menu, and apparently ruffled some feathers. Suddenly I was “insulting” chefs, blah blah… who did I think I was, etc.
My point is… if you want to offer a mixed green salad with chicken and parmesan on your menu, go right ahead. Just don’t call it a Caesar salad.
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…