I’ve been doing sherry tastings at various venues over the past few years, but recently I found a great place – and a great “biz partner” – that allows me to start offering them on a regular basis. But why stop there? To wit, I am now offering late afternoon sherry tastings and also regional wine tastings, perfectly paired with tasty tapas. Check em out…
During the last Vinoble (in May 2016) one of my best “souvenirs” was buying one of these very cool pins that had been designed by Carmen from Bodeguas Gutiérrez Colosía, but shortly after I posted this photo, it went missing and I was heart broken. Then when I knew I’d be visiting El Puerto de Santa María again this week I asked Carmen if she had any left. And she did. ONE. Which she left for me at her fabulous tapas and sherry bar Bespoke. 🙂
And of course while we were there we had to try a couple of sherry cocktails…
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
I was a bit “last minute” getting things organized to attend this year’s Copa Jerez. Actually, what happened was that both my friend Tomoko @fu_yan and I had made the same mistake while registering online, so it turned out that we weren’t registered at all! Thankfully the good people at the Consejo Regulador said we could get passes for the second day of the two-day event (the first day was fully booked), and would be able to attend the forums and showroom. I got to Jerez on the first day (to save having to take a 7am train on Tuesday) and I’m so glad I did.
What happened was this! Another Jerez friend Pilar @enosherry was working as a guide/translator with the Copa Jerez international competitors and was told she’d be leaving them at the Claustros de Santo Domingo for a sold-out concert & cata, and then would pick them up afterwards to take them to the dinner venue at the end of the first day’s activities. We arranged to meet up at La Moderna across from the Claustros while the concert was on, and Tomoko and I decided to go a bit earlier to have a snack. Then while we were waiting for Pilar she sent us a message saying that there were a few empty seats at the concert and we should come over.
The “concert & cata” format has been kicking around the sherry triangle for awhile, with different sherries paired with different flamenco styles, but this night it was extra special. Josep Roca was our host along with Diego del Morao on guitar. But not just any guitar – this one was the last guitar Paco de Lucía had commissioned, but sadly never got to play as he tragically died before it was completed. I have to say it was a very moving and beautiful (and delicious!) experience. Also perfectly coordinated with a small army of waiters bringing the next sherry to us just as the next musical piece began. Well done, Consejo!
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!
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.
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).
The plan had been to pop over to Jerez for the day, take in the feria during the afternoon, and then return to Sevilla in the evening. Then my friend Tomoko @TomokoTours told me about the Tío Pepe Challenge finals happening that evening and I scored an invitation for me and Peter. In theory we could have still come home on the last train while buying the tickets online I thought I’d just check to see if there were any hotels available at a reasonable rate – and there was!
An hour later, with a hastily packed bag and after last-minute “leaving cats overnight prep”, we were in a taxi to the train station. First stop (after checking into our hotel) was meeting up with Tomoko for a pre-feria lunch. Experience has taught me that it’s best not to try and eat at any ferias, so we had a bite at Tabanco Las Bandarillas before catching a bus up to the fair grounds. I was all ready to spend a happy hour or so taking photos of all the beautiful horses but… there weren’t any. I mean, there were the commercial horse carriages that you can hire for a ride around the grounds, but I didn’t see any individual riders other than a small group of them as we were leaving. I first noticed this dearth of horses a couple of years ago, and was told it was due to the heat wave that was going on at the time, and that the horse owners didn’t want to risk the health of their magnificent beasts. But this time, and also last year, were practically horseless, without the excuse of a heat wave. Has anyone else noticed this?