Sevilla Blog

Semana del Arroz 2018

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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.

Madrid Fusion 2018

Madrid Fusión is an international gastronomy fair aimed particularly at chefs, but also at other industry professionals. As well as the main exhibition area, the highlights are the cooking demonstrations and master classes, wine tastings and competitions, and seminars on a wide range of topics from new cooking techniques to environmental issues.

This year’s event is the 15th edition and runs from the 22nd – 24th of January, and is extra special for Sevilla because the City Council and Tourism Board is promoting the city and its tapas, including a Tapas Jam Session “show cooking” on the opening day. This fabulous video features the four bars taking part in this presentation and I am so proud to be able to say that they are not only four of my favourite bars, chefs, owners and teams, but they are also my friends. I’d love to be there to cheer them on, but I have a previous work obligation so will be there in spirit instead.

The featured bars are: La Azotea (chef Santiago González) Cañabota (chef Marcos Nieto), El Gallinero de Sandra (chef & co-owner Nacho Dargallo) and Lalola Taberna (chef & owner Javier Abascal).

Watch the video – it’s gorgeous.

La Goya XL, Saca IV

This past Monday was the presentation and tasting in Sevilla of the latest bottling of Delgado Zuleta’s Goya XL, an exquisite “en rama manzanilla pasada” that has aged and rested for more than ten years, and was selected from just six casks from the Solera Reservada de La Goya by winemaster José Antonio Sánchez Pazo. There are only 3000 bottles of this very special limited selection wine. The presentation was held in the elegant central courtyard of the Taberna del Alabardero, which proved to be the perfect setting.

There have only been four sacas (bottlings) of this wine in the history of the bodega, beginning in 2012, and they have been roughly two years apart, whenever the winemaker feels it is the right moment. Each bottling has had its own personality, and on this occasion the microclimate over the past few months in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, with a mild summer and autumn, led to a robust growth of yeast (creating the all-important velo de flor) and other exceptional characteristics that tell the winemaker that it is time for the next Goya XL saca.

According to Sánchez Pazo, this Goya XL is more alive than the previous ones, pale gold in colour with iodized reflections, and nicely unctuous, leaving light tears after swirling. It has a balanced nose in which the saline and dry tones stand out, with some hints of a slight oxidation but with great finesse. Full in the mouth, with a persistent and elegant finish and that rounds out the previous perceived sensations.

Sánchez Pazo, recently incorporated into the winery, has more than 30 years experience in sherry bodegas. It is clear that he sees his new position not only as a great responsibility, but also as a privilege. This was his first time choosing the casks that would be used for Goya XL and his passion while speaking about this wine was obvious, and infectious.

Goya XL goes through many years of intense aging that are balanced with others that are more of a “time-out”, a difficult balance to maintain that will allow the wine to continue aging throughout the years without losing the yeast. It requires very light “topping up” from the criaderas to provide nutrients for the yeast while maintaining its manzanilla pasada status.

Delgado Zuleta was founded in 1744, which makes it one of the oldest wineries in the Marco de Jerez. In 1918 it took the artistic name of a famous flamenco dancer, La Goya, for its main manzanilla, and in 1987 it merged with the Rodríguez La-Cave winery. If you are ever in Sanlúcar de Barrameda you must visit the bodega.

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.

Riding the C5 in Sevilla

For years I’ve seen this cute microbus all around town – and I mean ALL around – but not in a way that made any sense. I’d wonder how the C5 bus stop could be in so many seemingly random spots and where it could possibly be going. Then one day my friends Julie & Steve informed me that “riding the C5” was one of their favourite pastimes when they visited Sevilla, so I put it on my To Do list, and today I decided to take the plunge.

There are three of these Mercedes Sprinter diesel microbuses used on the route, measuring 7.7 metres long and 1.9 metres wide, with a capacity of 27 passengers (13 seated, 14 standing), and equipped with an electric ramp for people with limited mobility.

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Calling the C5 a circular route is a serious simplification. We started at the “start/finish” stop just behind the Alfonso XIII Hotel and from there it was like being on a Magical Mystery tour. We had no idea where the bus was going to go next as it trundled down one narrow street to another. Just when I thought I knew where we were headed it would abruptly turn, even occasionally backtracking down a parallel street to end up almost where it had just been. Whoever designed the route must have been either mad or a genius. Or drunk. We noticed that sometimes even locals getting on the bus had no idea where it was going, and would get right off again after checking with the driver. But it clearly serves a purpose, as long as you’re not in a hurry, connecting parts of the “casco antiguo” (old centre) that larger buses can’t access.

AND…it was fun. Plus it could also serve as a totally wonky “off the beaten path” tourist ride for visitors, though it’s a bit of a bumpy ride at times, and the driver doesn’t stop anywhere for long, so taking photos is tricky (as you can see above). But I’ll certainly be doing it again. 🙂


Repost from Casa Azahar

Viña Galvana by Delgado Zuleta


This week I was invited to a cata for this year’s edition of Bodegas Delgado Zuleta’s D.O Cádiz white wine Viña Galvana. Delgado Zuleta is of course best known for its sherries (it’s said to be the oldest bodega in the marco de Jerez), especially Manzanilla La Goya, but also produces local white wines.

The 2017 Viña Galvana (85% Palomino Fino and 15% Moscatel) is a fresh, light wine with a bright pale gold colour and a touch of fruitiness, and pairs well with fish and seafood. Really a perfect summer wine. The label pays tribute to one of Sanlucar’s most popular events, the annual horse races on the beach which take place every August. The cata was presented by Jorge Pascual, the Director-General of Delgado Zuleta and enologist José Antonio Sánchez Pazo, with promotion by @ProbandoGastro.

The event was hosted by Cinta Romero and her team at La Cochera del Abuelo, who also provided a light post-cata lunch. Thanks to everyone who helped organise this very pleasant event.

Palacio de las Dueñas

The Palacio de Las Dueñas is the Seville home of the Dukes of Alba, and until her recent death, of Cayetana, the 18th Duchess of Alba. Last year the house was opened to the public, and recenly I took a rather delayed opportunity to see it for myself.

The palace was originally built in the 15th century by the Pineda family, one of the original aristocratic houses of Seville, and was named for the adjacent Monastery of Las Dueñas (finally demolished in 1868). In 1496 the house was sold to Doña Catalina de Ribera, widow of Governor Don Pedro Enriquez, according to legend in order to pay for the ransom of Don Juan de Pineda, taken prisoner by the Moors during the wars against Granada. In 1612 it passed by marriage to the family of the Dukes of Alba, where it has remained ever since. In the 19th century parts of the palace were converted for a time into a boarding house, and Antonio Machado, probably Seville’s most famous poet, was born here in 1875.

From the outside, despite a substantial entry gate with a glimpse of garden beyond, it’s only moderately impressive, and it’s full extent really only becomes apparent once you pass inside. The main palace is essentially Renaissance, and built around three sides of the central courtyard (the fourth side giving onto the gardens), with additional wings and courtyards, and surrounded by gardens and outbuildings. Despite being near the city centre it’s an oasis of peace, calm and greenery, and it’s easy to appreciate why the family loved the place so much.

The tour begins in the front garden courtyard, where our handy audio guide explains some of the history of the Palace. Ahead of us is the apeadero, a typical feature of all grand houses, where visitors would have alighted from their carriages, but our route takes us off to the right to the stables, and through to the famous garden of the lemon trees immortalised by Machado. From there we come to the central courtyard, the heart of the old palace. This is built on two floors in the Gothic-Mudejar style with the typical columns, arches and decorative plasterwork of the period. In one corner the principle staircase, adorned with tapestries and with an outstanding ornate coffered wood ceiling, leads up to the private residence of the Dukes of Alba (not open to the public).

Arranged around the courtyard on the ground floor are a number of rooms that traditionally formed the public part of a late mediaeval palace. These include the chapel and is antechamber, where the extended family and their friends would gather for religious occasions, the Flamenco room, complete with a tablao for dancing, and of course, a library. All these rooms also serve to house an important collection of art and furniture collected over the centuries.

Tucked away beyond these are the Olive Oil Patio (so named because it was once used for storing olive oil), and the quiet space of the Santa Justa garden, which has a picturesque creeper clad balcony overlooking one corner, one of my favourite places in the palace.

The Palacio de las Dueñas is almost like a bridge between times present, and times past (at least if you were wealthy), and offers one of those rare glimpses into another style of life. It’s well worth a visit.

Calle Dueñas 5
Sevilla
Tel: +34 954 214 828
Palacio de las Dueñas Website

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