This month Taberna del Alabardero is offering a special beer tasting menu at lunchtime. You can enjoy a four-course meal paired with four beers. Today we were invited to sample the tasting menu and I have to say that it was actually very good (though I don’t tend to drink beer throughout a meal). So if you love beer and good food, check it out.
So THIS happened. Sevilla is now a Guinness World Record holder for the longest tapas bar – approximately 500 metres (reports vary). Sponsored by Makro, some 300 bars and restaurants set up along the riverfront between the San Telmo and Isabela bridges, offering more than 45,000 tapas (reports on those numbers vary too). Whatever. It was big, there were lots of bars participating and lots & lots of tapas.
It was also terribly disorganised. Scheduled to run from 10 am to 4 pm, I got there around 11 o’clock only to find it hadn’t yet opened (surprise!) and a long queue already forming. Luckily (??) my back had gone into spasm earlier in the morning, so I was walking with a crutch and a sympathetic security guard let me wait in the Gin Tent so I could sit down.
There was already a lot of food put out, which was going to be given out for free, but all I could think of was all that possible salmonella as most of the tables were right out in the blazing sun (already quite hot at 11, and of course it just got hotter) and many of the tapas were mayonnaise-based (Hellman’s was also a sponsor). At 12.15 they finally started letting people in and – once again because of the crutch – they let me skip the queue. My original plan had been to just check it out, take a few pics and get outta there (I never like this sort of mass food thing) but by then the pain in my back got the better of me, so while I did shuffle almost the entire length of the “bar”, trying to take photos while managing a crutch was suddenly more than I could manage.
The bright spot of this whole hot mess was getting to sample some Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin, which seems to be popping up everywhere these days. I’m actually not a gin drinker (due to an Unfortunate Gin Incident when I was a teenager) but I had tried this gin in a cocktail at the Ispal lunch the other day, so was curious as to how it would taste on its own with just a splash of tonic. Verdict – very nice indeed. But I still wouldn’t drink more than a sip or two.
Anyhow, Sevilla now holds the world record for Longest Tapas Bar. And I should have stayed home. 😉
This week (on October 4) I was invited, along with other journalists, bloggers and regular commentators, to the presentation of this season’s tasting menu at Restaurante Ispal. Ispal has been the dream of Pedro Sánchez-Cuerda Rodríguez (director of Grupo La Raza) for the past 15 years, and together with Antonio Bort (his executive chef), and Ispal’s new head chef Rubén García Chacón, Pedro’s dream has now been realised.
The objective of Ispal, which opened a year ago, is to showcase the traditional cooking of Sevilla, using indigenous products and providing support for local family businesses, and then reinterpreting these popular dishes by elevating them to haute cuisine. This, by definition, involves the use of the highest quality ingredients, meticulously prepared and presented.
The local ingredients include salt from the salt flats of Utrera, cheeses from Castilblanco de los Arroyos, the famous tomatoes of Los Palacios, goat kid from Los Corrales, fish from La Puebla del Río, wines from Sierra Norte de Sevilla, Ronda, and sherry wines from Jerez.
The tasting menu, which you can see below, was spectacular. Many thanks to Fernando Huibrodo for the invitation, and to the entire Ispal team, including maître Alonso Reche and sommelier Cisco Nuñez.
Pedro Sanchez-Cuerda Rodriguez – director of Grupo La Raza
Antonio Bort – executive chef of Grupo La Raza
Rubén Chacón – head chef at Ispal
Fernando Huidobro – president of Andalucía Academy of Gastronomy & Tourism