I’m happy to report that my Sherry Tastings have become quite a success. Different from my Sherry & Tapas Tour in that, although there are snacky food pairings during the tasting (to me sherry is always better appreciated with food, especially by “novices”), it is a more concise introduction to sherry, lasting about 1.5 hours. At the moment I’m working with a few different venues, looking for the best “fit”, though it may turn out that I end up with more than one option. It’s all good! 🙂
So this came up for me again this week when I saw that a random food blogger (who had been in touch with me awhile back, suggesting they would like to write about my tapas tours – nudge, nudge, wink, wink) had actually landed a freebie tour with a corporate food tour company here, and were tweeting about them, as promised. And all of me went … ewwwwwwwwwwww.
You see, I’ve been getting requests like this for years. And while I know how most restaurants feel about such requests (they hate them with a passion) I wondered how other food tour companies felt. As in… hey, give us a free food tour for “exposure”. The “us” usually includes a friend or partner, since these people tend to be here on holiday, not for work, and think a promise of a blog post means they get to dine out for free. And to be honest, none of the bloggers who have asked for (or insinuated they wanted) a freebie has ever been anyone of consequence.
On the other hand, proper journalists always offer to pay for their tours – and rightly so – since they are here in Sevilla at the behest of their employers, and have a budget that allows for this. To wit I have been featured in some pretty top notch publications, including the Sunday Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, National Post, Telegraph Travel… to name a few.
Other times I end up “meeting” food and wine writers on social media – usually via Twitter or Instagram – and when I find out they will be visiting we will either meet up for a drink and tapa and a chat, or – if they want a full tapas tour – they offer to pay the bills if I would take them around. And you know what? This I don’t mind at all. Because I am already “connected” with these people, even if we haven’t met in person yet, and I want to spend some time with them. And they also respect that this isn’t my hobby. So if I am willing to spend an afternoon or evening taking them out, then at least they are happy to pay for the food and drink so I don’t end up out of pocket. Fair enough.
But some other food tour companies here obviously think offering food bloggers freebies is “good for business”. And who knows? Maybe it is. For them. But when I look at these random bloggers, and then I look at the people, serious food and wine writers, who actually respect my work enough to pay for it, I know which camp I’d rather be in.
The one Spanish flag that unites us all.
I know we need the rain, but it’s so hard to wish for it when the sky is this beautiful (and I can still wear sandals!). I was thinking that Anna @annalibera would bring rain with her from Galicia when she visits next week (like she usually does!), but they are in the middle of a drought up there so who knows what will happen.
A quick check back (my goodness this daily blog posting thang is useful 😉 ) shows me that I didn’t have to start wearing tight & shoes until November 7th last year, so there are probably still a couple of weeks of sandal weather left.
How’s the weather where you are?
A photo of the “office” this morning, with an important difference. Normally Peter’s laptop would be set up on the white table on the right but, at least for this month, he has moved to his own place. We’re still not sure if this will be a temporary situation or a permanent one, but we both agree that it was a necessary one.
Don’t get me wrong. We are still very good friends, and I hope will remain so. But after over 13 years of being flatmates and workmates it was time for a break. I have to admit this was mostly my decision, but I do think it will be a good thing for both of us. I guess I just got to the point where I had forgotten what it was like to just be me at home, and not have another person there, always around, and always reacting to this other presence in my house.
During my last visit to Málaga in August I went through all kinds of emotions when I first got there. I don’t know why, but I was feeling a bit fragile and a couple of times I was even downright panicky. Also sad. But I was also comfortable staying at my friend’s place and visiting my other Málaga friends. The only thing missing were the cats! Then Peter came down for the last two days, staying at a nearby hotel, and suddenly I was “reacting” again to this dynamic we’ve developed over the years, rather than just feeling like myself. And it made me realize that it’s only when I’ve been away that I’ve caught glimpses of another Shawn, either someone I used to be, or someone I could be, and I really wanted a chance to pursue that fleeting feeling. At home. With my cats.
So yesterday I helped Peter move stuff over to his new temporary home. Finding short-term rentals here is almost impossible now due to AirBnB, etc, so whatever happens this place will be temporary as it’s quite expensive. But just for one month it will be fine. And depending on how things go, Peter may come back here in November, or he’ll look for a permanent place of his own.
Right now I don’t really know how I’m feeling. Waking up on my own and feeding the cats, making coffee, turning on the computer… there is both sadness and relief. I can plan my day without having to think about someone else, which maybe sounds selfish, but this is just what I need right now. Maybe a month will be enough of a break for me to feel grounded in myself again, maybe I’ll need a few months, I really don’t know. I do know that if this wasn’t an initial one-month arrangement I don’t think I could bear the sadness. I couldn’t have watched Peter leave with his last batch of clothes last night thinking I’d never see him again. But he’s still around, just over in Santa Cruz, and that’s a comfort.
I’ve actually got a busy day lined up for today, so I’d better get moving. I won’t be posting this on Facebook, which I usually do with my blog posts. I actually seldom use my personal FB, and it was only a year or so ago (maybe?) that I started auto-posting these posts over there. Things have become a bit muddled, as I now have a bunch of “friends” over there, and I’m not sure I want to share this with them all. But this blog has always been where I talk to you guys. So once again, thanks for listening, and for being here. Will let you know how things go – wish me luck! xx
The other day I got an email from Steph, an Australian woman who is travelling around Spain this month. She had just spent some time with my friend Gabriella @tenedor in San Sebastián and asked if I had any tours available for her to join while she was in Sevilla. Well, the only possibility was for her to join another couple on a Flamenco & Tapas tour on her last night in town (yesterday), which she happily did, but we also got together for lunch on Sunday – that’s Steph up there happily chowing down on some fried blood and onions – and I also gave her my handy tapas bar “short list” for her to use before the tour.
It was so much fun meeting her, and then last night going out with Diana & Peter, who were also lovely. I honestly feel so blessed that my work (including social media stuff) puts me in touch with so many amazing people.
I had planned to do sea walks every morning while I was here… ha. Finally ended up doing ONE yesterday, out to Pedregalejo to have lunch at Andrés Maricuchi. It was like going home. As soon as Andrés saw me he came rushing out to give me a big kiss and Julián set up a nice table for us that caught a refreshing sea breeze. As the afternoon began to cloud over we walked back to the centre of Málaga for rooftop cocktails. An excellent final full day in Málaga.
Today is rainy – actually the forecast is for thunderstorms all day – so it will be a morning of museums before a final lunch and then HOME to the gatitos. I can’t wait to see them again.
beach boat barbecue
sardines, breaded rosada, tomato salad, boquerones al limón
sundowners at the rooftop bar of Roommate Valeria
So I was in the Atarazanas Market yesterday and saw a couple of tourists looking over the display of various meats in manteca, which for those of you who don’t know are meats preserved in pork lard, often (but not always) coloured and flavoured with paprika. The man even leaned over to smell one of them at which point the vendor came over and said in his best English, “That is pork meat in butter!”.
Trying to be helpful I said to the couple that it was actually lard, not butter. Then I explained to the vendor that he was telling them it was pork in mantequilla (butter), not manteca (lard), and we all helped him with pronouncing this new word. The couple went away happy and the vendor said to me, “So what are you, a teacher?” And then he said, “I always say butter to them and they always understand me perfectly.” Well, I tried…