I’ve been doing sherry tastings at various venues over the past few years, but recently I found a great place – and a great “biz partner” – that allows me to start offering them on a regular basis. But why stop there? To wit, I am now offering late afternoon sherry tastings and also regional wine tastings, perfectly paired with tasty tapas. Check em out…
I first met Martha @marthakimes when she joined one of my tapas tours as a solo traveller back in November 2014. She then came back on her own last November, which included a memorable evening out with Ania @ania_marchlik at La Azotea (I think that was the night I sold Ania my old iPhone…) and since then Martha decided that Sevilla is where she would like to live when she retires. To wit, this latest trip Martha
dragged invited her husband Joe with her, hoping to get him to fall in love with her adopted city.
It’s quite impressive that Sevilla has won such an honour in Martha’s heart, since she has travelled pretty much everywhere, and has seen many amazing and beautiful places. And yet, this is where she wants to be. You can see how committed she is by the tattoo she had done between her last two visits.
NO8D0 … Sevilla’s official motto
Anyhow, Martha, Joe, Peter and I got together a few times during this visit, and we did our best to convince Joe that this is also where he wants to live when he retires. I hope we succeeded, because it would be great having M & J as neighbours.
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I went to Córdoba this week to see Roma @artsylife again, after finding out that she was back in Andalucía but wasn’t going to make it to Sevilla this time. This happily coincided with feria, and we spent a great day out together with Peter @SVQconcierge.
I first met Roma when she came on a tapas tour in September 2014, and saw her again when she returned for a second visit to Sevilla in October 2015. During that trip she also became an honourary We Love Tapas team member when she volunteered to be our
victim guest on a practice run of the Oldest Taverns Tour. Good times. Come back soon, Roma! xx
Peter & Roma
Aside from going to the Feria we also did a fair bit of tapearing…
breakfast of champions at Bar Santos
an elegant pre-feria lunch at La Regadera
late night snacks at Taberna El Gallo
the Cordobés holy trinity at Taberna El Gallo:
salmorejo, flamenquín, berenjenas fritas
That’s the three of us – Caroline, Sonja and me – getting nicely squiffy last Sunday afternoon in Sevilla. Where to start with these two? Caroline first got in touch with me mid-September 2011, asking about booking a tapas tour for the end of that month. And since then they just keep coming back! To date they have taken THREE different tapas tours with me. The last couple of visits we just ended up meeting for tapas, and they have always been happy to help me out doing Tapas Research. Which is really what we were doing on Sunday. Honest. So five visits in total. So far.
On this occasion Caroline was here to celebrate a Very Important Birthday and she had invited 15 other friends to join her. I helped her with organizing the group dinners, and then we finally were able to get together, just the three of us. It’s funny how time goes by but then you meet up with people again and it just feels so comfortable. Anyhow, I am now being threatened with a SIXTH VISIT 🙂 in September. Can’t wait. xx
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!).
I kind of hit the ground running after getting back from my London Getaway. I had already planned to get together with Jane & John and Sue & Monty, but before those meet ups took place I had the pleasure of being introduced (via email by Annie Manson) to Fran & Kaz Kuzui. Fran & Kaz were travelling around Andalucía, doing some research on Japanese influence on southern Spanish cuisine, and would also be spending a couple of days in Sevilla, so we arranged to meet the evening after I got home from London. They had also tried to meet up with my friend Tomoko in Jerez, but there had been an email glitch, and so I invited Tomoko to come and stay over so we could all go out together.
It was a fabulous evening. Fran is a native New Yorker who now lives in Tokyo with her husband Kaz. Aside from being film producers and art lovers, they are both also food & wine lovers, and as usual Sevilla worked its magic on them. By the end of the evening we had all become fast friends and F & K were already talking about planning a return visit to Andalucía. Come back soon! xx
I have “known” travel and food writer Sue Style on Twitter for a few years now, and we’ve even collaborated on a couple of articles about Sevilla and Andalucía. So I was thrilled to find out we were finally going to have a chance to meet in person.
Sue and her husband Monty were travelling with friends in Jerez and said they would have a free day in Sevilla before their flight left on the evening of lunes santo (Holy Monday) at the start of Semana Santa. This turned out to be a bit trickier than I had considered, with traffic issues and whatnot, but in the end we managed to get together for a lovely afternoon tapeo.
After a plate of perfectly sliced jamón Ibérico and some fabulous Goya manzanilla pasada at Las Teresas we headed over to La Azotea Santa Cruz for our “main course”. One of our favourite dishes was the courgette and anchovy salad with frozen grated goat cheese. Sue loved it so much she was inspired to create her own version of it when she got home to Alsace.
As we have a mutual friend in San Sebastián – the lovely Gabriella Ranelli of Tenedor Tours (aka Shawn of the North 😉 ) – I’m thinking it would be fun to organize a San Sebastián meetup that would half-way for Sue and me.
A few weeks ago Jane & John got in touch with me, saying they were coming to Sevilla and that our mutual friend Simon Majumdar had recommended that they look me up. Well, it turned out that they were arriving in Sevilla the very day I was leaving for London, but happily they were going to still be here when I got back. Jane had already done some Serious Research on my Sevilla Tapas website, and I also gave them some extra tips to keep them going. And then we finally met up!
Peter also joined us on what ended up being one of our favourite things – an afternoon Tapeo Extremo with new friends – which of course properly began in Bar Las Teresas with a plate of jamón and some chilled manzanilla. A few bars and many glasses of wine later we walked J & J back to their apartment (turns out they were also neighbours!) with full bellies and lots of nice memories.
I think Jane put it best when she wrote on her Facebook page…
Love it when we travel and come home with the best souvenir of all: a new friend!
Yep, she’s even got me “slumming” on FB now 😉 since she refuses to use any other social media. Honestly, the things I do for my friends…
Good times! And although J & J say they seldom return to the same place, they are considering another Andalusian adventure. Fingers crossed.
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.