I first met Alexandra del Bene in March 2011 (wow, so long ago!) while out on a walk when I spotted her painting the shutters of a bar and I stopped to talk to her. Since then she has not only become THE urban artist in demand by local bars, shops and restaurants who don’t want their shutters tagged and defaced by graffiti bandits, she has become a successful artist with exhibits here and abroad, as well as becoming a published author with her book 6 Años Pintando Sevilla. And since that fateful day she has also become my friend! 🙂
So the other day, just like the first time we met, I was walking past a bar and saw her hard at work. But this time inside. I had seen some previews of her latest challenge on Instagram, but omg, in person it was just stunning. And it’s not even finished yet. Alexandra was hired to paint a fresco ceiling in the abacería section of El Rinconcillo, originally founded in 1670 (in the same family since 1870). So I went inside for a chat and helped with a couple of things (so now I can officially say I assisted in this amazing work 😉 ). The bar reopens next Friday, August 23rd, and I’m going to be there.
I’ve known Rafael almost forever and he is without a doubt one of my favourite people in Sevilla. Some of you might recognise him as “the best jamón cutter in town” from posts on my blog and instagram. He is also the person who changed my life in terms of sherry by one day giving me a glas of VORS palo cortado by Bodegas Tradición, which led to me going on to become a Sherry Educator. But I know him best as just one of the loveliest guys ever, always willing to chat and share his stories about growing up in Sevilla.
Back in June I noticed that I hadn’t seen Rafael at his usual jamón cutting station at Las Teresas (aka My Happy Place) for some time, but assumed he was on summer holidays. Then July came and still no sign of him, so I asked where he was. Turned out he had suffered a heart attack (!!!) and was on medical leave of absence, which has since turned into retirement. But I was told he was fine and still popped by the bar most days, usually in the early afternoon.
So of course I was thrilled to run into him at Teresas this week. I think it was the first time I’d ever seen him without his usual white shirt and dark tie “uniform” and, while he looked a bit thinner he insisted that he was feeling fine and enjoying his early retirement. It’s funny how some people can feel like such an important part of your life even though they aren’t actually “close friends” as such. So while I know I will continue to miss seeing Rafael behind the bar, I am so happy and relieved that he is okay and doing well. Though my Happy Place won’t be the same without him.
In most bars this is known as “la carta” (the menu) but here at Casa Moreno Emilio calls it “la lista de auto ayuda” (the self help list). This week I’m doing the rounds – stopping in at my favourite bars that are going to be closed in August for their much deserved summer holidays. It’s nice doing this, just to have a drink with them and say… see you in September! Also, I get kisses. 🙂
This ALWAYS grosses me out. Bread baskets re-stacked and reused after being on dirty tables, bar stools, even the floor… never cleaned, the serviettes lining them rarely changed. And in the worst case scenarios, unused bread gets “recycled”. Does this happen in other countries?