All the cats were fine, as always, after the Sanlúcar Getaway. Two nights max is the longest I will ever leave them on their own. But although well-fed and watered, and with an extra sand box and all that… this is what they missed the most. And me too.
Bajo de Guiá – where the Guadalquivir meets the sea
Two days before leaving for Sanlúcar the weather forecast abruptly changed from lovely and sunny to RAIN for all three days of the getaway. And with thunderstorms on the last day. But aside from a bit of rain the first morning, we were spared. Okay, it wasn’t blue skies and sunny, but I was so happy it wasn’t raining, since we did a LOT of walking over those three days. Here are a few of my favourite pics.
lemon tree in the bodega garden
looking out over Sanlúcar rooftops
fabulous catavinos bar table
donkeys being prepped for the San José pilgrimage
dusk view of the square from my hotel room
So there I was – as usual – making last minute bodega visit plans via Twitter and WhatsApp the day before my trip… and mostly that worked out, except that two of the bodegas I wanted to visit weren’t available at such short notice. Really, it was probably enough seeing five bodegas in two and a half days, but I am always left wanting more. I think I might plan a longer stay in Jerez soon and make day trips to Sanlúcar and El Puerto while there, and keep it down to one bodega a day. Well, maybe two now and then… 😉
This time the bodegas were all very special in their own way, as bodegas tend to be, but there were also a couple of totally blow-me-away moments. I’ll write about this more over on my BRAND NEW Sherry Educator pages on Sevilla Tapas. But please be patient, because it may take awhile to get them set up properly. You can have a look now, but things are very much still “under construction”.
Meanwhile, a sneak peak of where I visited this time…
… was mostly disappointing this time round. The first day we just had a few very mediocre tapas here and there (the tortillitas de camarones at Casa Balbino – pictured above – being the exception). The second day we went to a new “gastrobar” that was quite nice, but you know… gastrobar. But third day lucky! Following a tip by José Caireles (whose bodega of the same name we weren’t able to visit this time) we ended up at the best hole-in-the-wall spot ever. The Peña Bética de Carlos serves up super fresh fried fish in a no-nonsense tiny space that also houses a local fan branch of the Sevilla’s Bétis football team.
Carlos cooks up perfectly fried fish and seafood in the small kitchen behind the bar, while brothers Manuel and Carmelo take care of the customers. There are about eight tables, all of which had reserved signs on them when we walked in around 1.30 pm on a Thursday. We managed to squeeze into a small spot at the bar and within minutes all tables and any standing space between them and the bar were full. It was organized chaos. I couldn’t believe this all ran so smoothly with just 3 people, but later Manuel told me it used to be just him and Carlos. Then when things started getting busy his brother Carmelo joined the team.
Not all of these dishes were ours. The couple standing next to us at the bar let me take photos of their prawns and salmoretes, even offering to share their dishes with us. All of it was delicious, but that big fat cuttlefish in the middle of the collage was definitely the star of the show. What a great experience, so much more fun than one of the expensive touristy beach restaurants in Bajo de Guía. Thanks again José!
After a two-hour BUS RIDE FROM HELL we arrived in Sanlúcar with just time to drop off our bags and make it to the first bodega visit. Much later we returned to the hotel to find this lovely room and lovely view. So far not as rainy as I’d feared. More later…
By happy coincidence this Saturday’s sherry cata at the Consejo Regulador in Jerez happened to be on the same day as a combination birthday-farewell party for our friend Momoko, who has been living in Jerez for the past three years. Now that her book research is done she has to return home to Japan, but we are all hoping she will be back in Jerez – her true home – before long. Momoko was taken totally by surprise and spent much of the time at her party – at the fabulous Bodegas Faustina González – with happy tears in her eyes. I’m glad I had a chance to see her before she leaves next week. And as always it was great catching up with Jerez friends, and also meeting some new ones.
Seriously I don’t even know where to start… it was amazing, a dream come true, an experience I will never forget (and hope to repeat). For the moment I shall leave you with this bucolic pic of the Ibérico pigs snuffling around in the open mountain air, looking for acorns. More to come…
So… I loved this place. One of Madrid’s coolest new cocktail bars. Even though I’m not so big on cocktails, or alcoholic drinks other than wine. But during my last Madrid Getaway I ended up stopping in here two days in a row, early evening, for a cocktail. And it was lovely. Great ambiance, friendly staff, tasty drinks… looking forward to the opening party of their sister bar here in Sevilla in the Mercer Hotel.
Taberna La Manzanilla is a special place I always visit when I’m in Cádiz. And this last trip I had an extra reason to do so after having tasted their amontillado fino at Alabaster in Madrid, when co-owner Fran gave us a taste of it from his “secret stash”. So it was fun to tell (Manzanilla owner) Pepe this story and show him the photo. Oh, and the amontillado fino is fabulous.