Semana del Arroz 2018

[click on image to enlarge]

This week we were once again at the annual rice cooking demonstration held by the Escuela Superior de Hostelería de Seville at the Taberna del Alabardero, presided over by master rice chef Juan Tamarit.

The school is regarded as one of the best in Spain training people for the hospitality and catering industries, with hands on experience in the bar-restaurant-hotel of the Taberna, a rather splendid 19th century building in the heart of the old city.

The demonstration itself was held in the main courtyard of the building, on a day bright enough to open up the roof for an almost out of doors experience. After the demonstration, of course, comes the sampling of the results (always my favourite part). This time we had a traditional rabbit and chicken paella, a seafood rice, and a vegetarian rice, washed down with a nice cold glass of Tío Pepe sherry. And of course, as always, the chance to touch base with friends and colleagues in the biz.

A big thank you to all those involved in organizing this event. You can register here to take one of the courses being held throughout the week.

Premier Sherry Cocktail Bar

A new and welcome addition to the world of sherry in Sevilla, the Premier Sherry & Cocktail Bar had its official opening on October 19th, with a special master class tasting to showcase some of its brands. The sherry cocktail bar is the sixth establishment in the Premium chain, which was founded in 2010 by brothers Martín and Enrique Maíllo, and has until now specialised in spirits – rum, gin, whisky and vodka, together with a range of tonic waters. The sherry bar is therefore something of a new departure, but aims to maintain the high standards of the group in events, service and quality of product.

In most respects the ambiance is what you might expect of a cocktail bar, with concealed blue light at the junction of walls and ceiling shining through the glassware and serried ranks of interestingly coloured bottles lining the shelves. It’s relatively small size and hints of exposed brickwork give it a subtle sense of intimacy that is quite appropriate to the nature of sherry. The unique element of the decoration, though, are the diagrams along the side wall, designed by José Peñascal, detailing the various grape and sherry production processes, and how they result in the different styles of sherry.

Aside from offering great wines and cocktails, the Premier Sherry Cocktail Bar also gives private tastings, in both Spanish and English, by appointment only. The space can also be booked for private events.

The opening day tasting was interesting and lots of fun, with as good an attendance as the venue really allowed, and was headed by sherry ambassador Pepe Ferrer. An excellent range of sherries from the Consejo Regulador was accompanied by delicious snack pairings.

Many thanks to Cristina Botija and Desirée Ramos of Premium for organising the event, which I hope will be the first of many.

sherry ambassador Pepe Ferrer

pouring palo cortado

the sherry production wall

Pepe Ferrer, Enrique Maillo, Martín Maillo, José Peñascal

Premier Sherry Cocktail Bar
Jaen 1
Tel +34 955 133 032
3.00 pm – 2.00 am (4 am weekends)

Andalucía Sabor 2017

Andalucia Sabor is the Fine Food and Wine Fair of Andalucia, held every two years and showcasing the best of the produce and cuisine of the region. It’s an opportunity for producers to exhibit their wares, and to meet with chefs, food industry professionals and interested members of the general public. As well as the multitude of exhibitors’ stands there are also show cookings and discussions, and opportunities for networking among attendees.

The venue for the 6th (2017) exhibition was, as always, the impressive Fibes Palacio de Congresos in Sevilla Este, with the main exhibition room, two smaller exhibition rooms and the Auditorium housing the Fair.

This was actually the fourth time I’ve attended, and the range and quantity of products this year was, I think, the most impressive so far, and I was able to meet and talk to a number of exhibitors, including some old friends, as well as sampling some of the goodies.

The staples of Andalucian cuisine were all well represented, of course. The two smaller exhibition rooms housed respectively quality olive oils, a market sector that seems to be always expanding and diversifying, and wines and sherries, which also seems to be creating new brands and flavours, as well as the tried and tested old favourites. Also well represented were the regions cheeses, in a bewildering variety that included several I was unfamiliar with, and pork products – not only our very special jamones, but some more unusual ones too (I came home with a jar of lomo de cabeza al orza after sampling a few bites at one of the stands). Other stands featured artesenal bread, jams, and our famous cold soups.

I also try to make a point of going to a couple of the show cookings in the auditorium, though this time, with more than enough to see in the main exhibition, I only saw two – one on the rices of the Guadalquivir, the other a culinary tour of Granada, which at least gives you an idea of the variety of themes on offer.

This year’s exhibition is now over, and as always it’s been a fun and interesting few days, demonstrating once again that Andalucia is blessed with more than its fair share of top quality produce, with an exceptional variety that comes from the many different types of terrain in the region. Will definitely be back for the next one in two years’ time!

Pando Cheese Tasting

Pando Restaurant @PandoSevilla in San Eloy Street has been running a series of excellent “Gastronomic Schools” – educational tastings – of which the latest was this week’s cheese tasting, hosted by Diego Ruiz de Terry of Pando (Grupo San Eloy) and presented by Antonio Rodriguez Vacas of cheese distributors TGT group.

We tasted three very different cheeses, one goats’ cheese, one sheeps’ cheese, and one dairy cheese, accompanied by different wines.

Queso Ibores is a surprisingly mild and creamy goats cheese from the Extramadura region, with none of the harsher overtones of some goat cheeses. We had the natural version, but it also comes flavoured with pimentón, which gives the cheese a deeper yellow-orange colour. Delicious served with a light white wine.

Queso Roncal is a typical strong mature (minimum of 4 months ageing) sheeps cheese from the Navarra region of northeast Spain that has been produced in the traditional way for hundreds of years, and was the first cheese to have a Denomination of Origin (1981). Serve with quince jam and grapes and an earthy red wine to bring out the full flavour.

Queso Mahón is a dairy cheese (a relative rarity in Spain) from the island of Menorca, named after the port which was its point of export. The version we had was an aged variety (it also comes fresh or semi-cured), hard and flaky in texture, with a yellow-orange colour and a strong, rather salty, flavour. Excellent with a nice red wine.

Thanks to Pando and TGT group for putting on an enjoyable event.

III Feria del Pan, Aceite & la Aceituna

This weekend you can pop over to the lovely Patio de la Diputación in Sevilla to sample the best of olive oils, olives and bread and learn about their production at the III Feria del Pan, Aceite y La Aceituna.

Patio de la Diputación
Menéndez Pelayo 32
May 19th – 21st
Friday 15.00 – 20.00
Saturday 11.00 – 14.30 / 16.00 – 20.00
Sunday 11.00 – 18.00

Pando Jamón Cutting Masterclass

masterclass-cortador-de-jamon

Who could resist an invitation to attend a jamón cutting masterclass? Not me, that’s for sure. This was the first of many proposed events by Pando Restaurants & Catering for their #GastroEscueloPando initiative, and what a great way to start. Also, just in time for Christmas, when many families purchase a jamón to see them through the holiday season. Though as we all know, proper jamón cutting is an art form, requiring knowledge, skill and – just as important – practice, practice, practice. And while none of us walked away from the event with finely honed cutting skills, we did take away a lot of new information that will be very helpful for those planning to buy a Christmas jamón.

jamon-masterclass-2

The masterclass was led by professional cortador Victor Fernández. It was a very relaxed and casual setting and everyone felt comfortable asking questions while watching Victor in action. We learned about the different types of Ibérico ham, the different cuts, the different flavours, as we enjoyed plates of jamón being passed around the room, along with glasses of Glorioso rioja. Some brave souls even got up to try their hand at cutting under Victor’s watchful eye.

jamon-masterclass-1

Pando has recently renovated its calle San Eloy 47 location, and has also updated its menu. Worth checking out.

XX Semana del Arroz

semana-arroz-1

The 20th edition of Semana del Arroz (Rice Week) kicks off today at Taberna del Alabardero, headed by Valencian rice master Juan Tamarit. All this week you can find special rice menus in the restaurant paired with wines from the non-sherry branch of Bodegas González Byass, including Beronia Verdejo and Beronia Reserva. From the 22nd to 24th you can also attend seminars hosted by Juan Tamarit and learn the secrets of perfect paella making, held from 10.00 – 13.30 and 7.00 – 20.30. For more information, or to reserve your space, call Taberna del Alabardero at 954 50 27 21 or contact them by email rest.alabardero@esh.es.

Today’s preview and rice tasting at the Taberna was as delicious as the previous one, and we spent a lovely afternoon chatting with other foodie pals and sampling a wonderful variety of flavours.

Whether you are interested in learning how to make this iconic Spanish dish, or if you’d just like to sample some of the best, be sure to visit Taberna del Alabardero this week.

semana-arroz-2

Semana de Arroz
November 21 – 27, 2016
Taberna del Alabardero
Zaragoza 20
Sevilla

Pando Food Photography Workshop

pando foto workshopLast week I was invited to attend a food photography workshop for food bloggers and journalists, hosted by Pando Restaurantes and Gourmedia. It had been awhile since I’d been to the Pando central location in calle San Eloy and I was impressed by the changes to the premises, which were modern without being modernist, and comprising an indoor “terrace” at the front, a large bar area, an interior patio, and a dining room. The photography workshop was held in the bar area, and our tutor for the evening was professional food photographer, and my old friend, Manolo Manosalbas.

pando foto workshop manoloManolo Manosalbas in action

During the course of a fun and informative evening we got to practice our photographic skills on (and later eat) five dishes from Pando’s new menu created by chef Manolo Mediavilla, selected to present a variety of challenges to the budding photographer. Manolo gave us some tips and hints on how to add a variety of perspectives and points of view to our photos, to maintain awareness of lighting and background and give greater depth to photographs, and kept watch over our efforts.

At the end a copy of the book Macuro Tapas, with fabulous food photography by Manolo, was given away as the prize in a raffle, for the further encouragement and education of the lucky winner (who happened to be my pal Peter from @SVQconcierge).

pando photo workshop peterYou can see the results of the participants’ photographic endeavours on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #gastrofotopando. Here are my best shots from the evening…

pando foto workshop ensaladillaEnsaladilla de gambas con mayonesa de manzanilla

pando foto workshop mejillonesMejillones con coco y curry

pando foto workshop sopaSopa de cigales con lomo de salmonete

pando foto workshop presaPresa Ibérica de Bellota, soufflé de calabaza, crema de boletus

pando foto workshop biscochoBiscocho de remolacha con crema de payoyo

Sherry On Top

sherry on top

Last night (July 6th) I had the good fortune and privilege to be invited to the first of a new season of music & wine events in Sevilla with the title Sherry on Top. Organised by the Consejo Regulador de los Vinos de Jerez, in conjunction with the Asociación de Hoteles de Sevilla y Provincia‘s #summerHOTELtime initiative, it aims to attract people to some of Sevilla’s best hotel rooftop terraces with a programme of live music, sherry tastings, and exclusive sherry cocktails designed by the hotels’ bartenders.

sherryontop (1)

Last night’s event was held at the Hotel Inglaterra in Plaza Nueva, one of Seville’s most popular rooftops. Comfortable and elegant, with fabulous views of the Town Hall, El Salvador Church and the Cathedral, it was a pleasant place to spend a balmy evening out of doors, and many of the great and good from the worlds of sherry and hospitality were there, including the newly re-elected head of the Consejo Regulador, Don Beltrán Domecq. As always at such events it was also a good opportunity to renew acquaintance with old friends and make a few new ones.

The tasting was hosted by Carmen Aumesquet and Pepe Ferrer, and featured a Fino, an Oloroso and a sherry Cream cocktail. Live music was provided by Los Quiero, who turned out to be rather good, playing music from the 50s-60s-70s, including some forgotten favourites.

sherryontop (2)-001

Altogether a very nice evening, and I hope to attend a few more of these events over the summer, on from now until the end of September. Check the links below for the upcoming venues and performers and be sure to reserve your spot as space is limited. Salud!

Sherry On Top Webiste
Sherry Wines Facebook

Viña Sevilla – Fiesta del Vino

vina sevilla (1)The Third Fiesta del Vinos, organised by Viña Sevilla, is a great opportunity to discover and learn about the wonderful world of Spanish wines. This edition will be held in creative-space Rompemoldes and will be a bit like a big street party where you can sample a wide selection of wines from different areas of Spain and also meet the winemakers. There will be various wine tastings, interactive workshops, along with homemade tapas and plenty of good music. Entrance is free but if you’d like to sign up for any of the workshops get in touch with Viña Sevilla as space for these events is limited.
vina sevilla (2)

Viña Sevilla – Fiesta del Vinos
Centro Rompemoldes
San Luís 70
Friday May 20th  7.00 pm – midnight
Saturday May 21st  12.00 pm – midnight