So excited that my long-time Flamenco & Tapas Tour partners – the fabulous Museo del Baile Flamenco – have updated and upgraded their Momentos Flamencos show to include an extra dancer and singer. It adds not only more dancing, but more colour and passion. I mean, it was always wonderful, but now…? You really need to see this.
Peter & Luís at La Azotea
I’ve known Luís (and his biz partner David) from Really Discover for many years. So it was great to run into Luís at The Office (AKA La Azotea Santa Cruz) during a meeting there with the We Love Tapas team. After the meeting Peter and I ended up having lunch with Luís and “talking shop”, which proved both interesting and illuminating. We may also end up collaborating as our tour companies are complementary rather than being in direct competition. Love chance meetings like this…
Alternative title… When Sevilla Tapas Tour Guests Become Friends.
Last night I met up with Mehrunnisa & Omair from London, who had come my way via mutual Twitter and Instagram pals. They had actually arrived in Sevilla couple of days previously but, due to Semana Santa and other obligations, it was only possible to take them out on their penultimate night in town for a flamenco & tapas tour. But we made the most of it!
I knew things were off to a great start when conversation started flowing fast and furious even before we got to the flamenco venue. And by the time we got into the sherry and tapas after the show it was clear that we were kindred spirits. It was a great night out and the time passed far too quickly, but I will look forward to getting together with M & O again on my next London Getaway – I have been promised a Pakistani food tour (yay!).
Last year I attended the first edition of Vinos de España – Una Pasión that was held in Sevilla and had a lovely time. I mean really, who can resist the prospect of being able to “visit” over 45 bodegas in one day? This time I did my best to branch out and try some new stuff, starting off with white wines (before hitting the reds), and was pleasantly surprised by wines from different regions that I wasn’t familiar with. THEN I bumped into Alex, another sherry educator, and after that we kind of gravitated to the sherry room and got stuck in there. Ah well… it was a wonderful afternoon. And as always great meeting up with sherry friends.
Bar Las Teresas yesterday, and a chilled late Sunday afternoon vibe. I stopped by after a lunchtime tapas tour for a penúllitma and a chat with the guys. This is one of the many family-run bars in Sevilla that I’ve developed a close friendship with over the past 24 years. Seeing these bars now being overrun by greedy copycat food tour operators is really heartbreaking. But there are still occasional moments like this.
This takes me back to a subject near and dear to my heart …. the many tapas bars I have come to know and love during the many years in Sevilla. And since starting my Sevilla Tapas Tours many of them have also become places I have enjoyed a working relationship with. This is a job I created for myself that I love, and one that has developed organically since I began the original Sevilla Tapas website in 2007. Then in 2014 I created We Love Tapas as a complimentary “sister company” so I could offer a slightly different style of food & wine tours that would maintain the quality of the ones I had built up over the years.
It was while I was developing We Love Tapas that I first noticed a huge increase in the number of food tours being offered in Sevilla. And upon closer inspection I saw that some of them were actually blatant copies of my own tours. A little further research showed how the copycats had previously been in touch with me for information, or had even sent “clients” on my tours so they could see what I did, where I went, etc. And I found this disturbing. Not because I have a problem with healthy competition – something that can indeed keep you on your toes and stay aware of changes in the market. But because many of these new tours were cutting corners and were so inferior in quality that they were an embarrassment. It always seriously upsets me that someone would ever leave Sevilla thinking the food here is anything less than amazing.
Well, that’s the free market for you. And as I say, nothing wrong with competition perse. BUT… what the fuck is it about people who just copy tours without a care for the bars themselves? I mean, I have personally known all of the bars that have ended up being a part of my food tours for many many years. I know the owners, the staff, we already had a relationship. And we also respect each other. So I’ve never asked them to give me a “deal” on prices, I’ve never insulted them by saying I was “supporting” them and was “good for their business”. Frankly, none of the places I go to on my tours need my business because they are always busy and buzzy… which is WHY I go to them. I love them.
Let me repeat. I LOVE them.
So when I see many of the aspects of why I love them being abused and eroded by thoughtless and greedy tour operators it pisses me off. I don’t have formulaic scripted food tours like these other ones. Mine are very personal and they vary a lot, depending on the number of people and client preferences. For example, there are bars I will only go to with two clients, and other bars I know are good for larger groups of up to 6, because they have the space and we won’t “stick out” like a group of tourists. Which is to say that I respect the “ecosystem” of these bars.
Because these types of bars do have their own “ecosystem”, many having been developed over generations, with family and friends and regular clients that are a part of the fabric of what makes them so special. Of course these are the places that everyone wants to visit. But what I do is choose the ones that I think work well for visiting, and for the others I give a list to my clients and recommend they go on their own.
Something that these Copycat Food Tour Operators haven’t seemed to figure out (duh) is that … you can’t just fill the same bars with more and more tourist tours and expect them to remain “authentic” and “local”! Also guys, there are MORE THAN 3000 TAPAS BARS IN SEVILLA. Surely if you are a new company starting out you should look to find your own favourite bars, and make yourself appear unique by not just doing what others are doing. Think about it.
It’s not often I get so excited about a new tapa at a bar, especially if it’s just going to be either a one-off or occasional daily special. But the other day while on a tapas tour I came across these judiones in the cold salads showcase at Las Teresas and knew I had to try them. Basically REALLY BIG white beans (these are Judioines de la Granja from Segovia), cooked until tender and then marinated in olive oil with garlic, and tossed with spring onion and jamón. HEAVEN.
Last week I got BACK TO WORK and couldn’t be happier. It was great having a whole month off the tapas tours. I was still working on other things, and was actually able to focus on those things. I was also able to relax. Though I also get to relax at work… this pic is from last night’s fab Flamenco & Tapas Tour. Olé!
I can’t believe it’s been TWO YEARS since I last went to the dentist (when I got my first crown and some other work done). But an old filling next to the crown had fallen out and so back I went. I’ve mentioned before how much I love my dentist, which is probably not something most people can say, so I no longer feel the dread of impending pain and financial ruin that used to come over me before dentist visits.
This time there were two visits and on the second one Peter came with me to have his teeth looked at. Even worse than me, he hadn’t been to the dentist in over ten years (!!!), and like me, he’d lost a filling. He also had a serious cleaning done, which has made a huge difference. Now that he is working part time for We Love Tapas he has been put on the “company dental plan”. 😉
Meet Emily! The newest member of my fabulous We Love Tapas team. I’ve known about Emily for quite some time as she is good friends with a few other good friends of mine. Awhile back she was recommended as a possible guide for WLT, but at the time there were no openings. Lately a new position has become available and, although I have received several CVs, I wasn’t “feeling” the applicants, if you know what I mean. Then my friend Juan reminded me about Emily and I knew from our first meeting that she would be a perfect match. It also fits with the way the original WLT team came together, very organically, with one connection leading to another. Just like this time. We are all very pleased to have Emily with us.
Chef Óscar here at Casa Morales has no idea what the barmen have written on the specials board. Do you? The past couple of days I’ve been checking in at my usual “tapas tour bars”, saying hi to everyone, you know, just staying connected. And today this happened. Cracked me up…
Love my life here, love everyone I work with, and I especially love that we are actually friends (and in some cases “family”). Best job in the world. 🙂