elaine

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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!

corpus 2017

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I’ve only missed Corpus here four times in 24 years: once when I was in Granada, another time when I was in Lisbon, then London in 2015, and *that other time* when I was too sick on chemo to go out. Since my first ever Corpus I have followed the advice of my friend (and one of my first English students here) Agustín, who told me the best part of Corpus here is getting up super early and walking the rosemary and flower petal strewn procession route before the procession starts (and everything gets trampled underfoot).

This year we got an even earlier start than usual and invited new pal Elaine to join us. And bonus! We actually came across the guys who were strewing the rosemary (a first for me). Although as lovely as always, there were fewer decorated balconies than on previous years, and it was also sad not to have our usual post-walk coffee & toast at the Horno San Buenaventura (which closed all its brances this past year). But as usual, we left while the procession was in full swing, heading home before the HEAT became too much. Here are some pics (and one vid)…

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sherry time!

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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…

el puerto getaway 2017

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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
• ceviche

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.


El Faro:
• 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!

copa jerez 2017 | forum & finals

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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.

copa jerez forum (2)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

Congratulations!

copa jerez 2017 | concierto & cata

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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

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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…

fabiola

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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!