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!

Andalucía Sabor 2015

andalucia sabor 2015
This year saw the 5th edition of the Andalucian Fine Food Exhibition (Andalucía Sabor), which was held in the Palacio de Congresos from September 14-16.

This biennial event is organised by the Department of Agriculture, Fishing and Rural Development of the Junta to promote the best of Andalucian produce and gastronomy to a world market. It brings together professionals from every part of the gastronomic world from primary producers, through the Consejos Reguladores to chefs, wholesalers and distributors, and the press. As well as the exhibition stands activities include tastings of oil, ham and wine, ham cutting and cooking competitions and demonstrations, and round table discussions.

In other years I have focussed on the conferences but this year I spent most of my time checking out the products and watching the presentations and workshops. Here are a few of the highlights…

Continue reading “Andalucía Sabor 2015”

A Day at the Fair

feria 2015 (1)portada

feria 2015 (10)bubbles

feria 2015 (9)striking a pose

feria 2015 (6)elegant amazonas

feria 2015 (5)amazonas sharing lipstick

feria 2015 (4)thirsty work being an amazona

feria 2015 (3)mutual respect

feria 2015 (8)standing having a cold beer (while others had VIP seating)

feria 2015 (7)deceptively benign looking ride

feria 2015 (2)la noria

photos from my azahar Instagram account

It’s Sevilla’s Biggest Party…

feria 2015 (1)… and you’re not invited.  😉

Okay, not quite. You are very welcome to go to the Feria but unless you know someone with a caseta (the little stripy marquees) then you will end up crushed into one of the 19 large public ones. With over 1,000 private casetas that’s a lot of exclusion, which seems not very in keeping with what is meant to be a festive local event. Sound like sour grapes? Well, it isn’t. When I first moved to Sevilla over 22 years ago I found myself invited to Feria all the time, including the “noche del pescaíto“, followed by the “alumbrao” (lighting up of the gate and grounds at midnight on the Monday) and all-night partying. There would also be (private) lunches and long evenings going from (private) caseta to (private) caseta. I don’t know when it got tedious for me, but after a few years of this I would make my excuses when the invations came in, and limited my feria-going to one afternoon of taking photos of the splendid horses and colourful flamenco dresses.

feria 2015 (2)

This year I did something a bit different, which was to take in the “pre-feria” on the weekend before the official opening. To be honest, I didn’t know you could just walk in or that the casetas would be open for business. But I was there with a friend taking some photos of the portada and we saw people wandering in, so we did too. Many of the casetas were still having finishing touches done, but we saw several (private) ones full of people and then came across the large Distrito Casca Antiguo and, since it was open, decided to stop in for a beer. The calm before the storm.

feria 2015 (3)As I sit here writing this a few invitations to meet at the Feria have come in by email or text message.  And the other day I was even asked to do a radio interview about Feria (!!) which I turned down for obvious reasons (I don’t think it would have been the interview they were looking for). But you never know. I may end up popping over to people and horse watch for awhile. And before you write me off as a grumpy anti-feriante, I’ve already booked some time off to spend a couple of days at the feria in Jerez, where the casetas are open to everyone and the horses are especially beautiful. Just feels friendlier there somehow.

Feria de Abril
April 21 – 26th

 

Feria de Vinos Generosos Andaluz

generosos andaluz

Another day, another sherry tasting, although in this case not a standard, formal kind of tasting. This was, in fact, the first edition of the Feria de Vinos Generosos Andaluz (Andalusian Fair of Fortified Wines), held at Voraz on the edge of Parque de los Principes in Los Remedios.

hidalgo

It was a nice day for it too; one of those balmy spring days that’s perfect for an afternoon out of doors, meeting the great and the good of the world of sherry, old friends, and our hosts Juan and Jeanine of La Azotea, while sampling a good selection of top class wines represented by bodegas such as Lustau, Hidalgo, Barbadillo, Sacrista AB, Gongora, and others.

potaje

For a 10€ entry fee you could sample as many wines as you liked, and enjoy the snacks on offer. These included lots of tasty jamón, various cheeses, and a massive potaje of white beans and prawns that was prepared outdoors by the Voraz chefs – just the ticket after a few sherries. If you were still feeling peckish you could pop into Voraz and order a tapa or two.

ronquero

We also got to see a ronqueo – the precise and skillful cutting up of a tuna by Rafael from La Almadraba (you’ve seen Rafael here before). Performed by an expert, it took less than 30 minutes to turn a 180kg fish into its component parts, ready for the kitchen. Moments later it was also being served as complimentary snacks.

voraz atun I love these kind of events that let you speak directly to the producers/distributors and allow you to sample a variety of wines in a relaxed and casual ambiance (from “just a drop please” to “I’ll have more of that!”). Hope this becomes an annual event.

 

 

Don’t Come to Sevilla for Semana Santa

Okay, that was a bit of a dramatic title… especially I have nothing at all against Semana Santa. In fact, I’ve now lived through 21 Semana Santas (Easter Holy Weeks) in Sevilla and have always enjoyed them.

jesus among the shoesWhen I first arrived here in 1993 it was a total novelty to me, as you can imagine, and I tried to get out to see as many processions as possible during the week-long festivities. But I also lived a stone’s throw from the Cathedral, so in effect, Semana Santa came to me every year. I soon learned that all my English classes would be cancelled (without pay! – I was a private tutor in those days), and that I had to get any errands and shopping done well before 2 pm. After about 5 pm I could either dodge the processions and crowds in order to get somewhere, or just stay at home – and as the years passed I more often chose the latter. Well, except when I went out to purposely see processions, usually one or two each year.

paso practice

You may think you know something about religious festivals and festivities, but trust me, unless you’ve been to Sevilla for Semana Santa there’s a definite gap in your education. Although Holy Week is an important festival throughout the Catholic world, the celebrations in Sevilla are thought to be the largest and most elaborate. And they are elaborate.

ss 15 (3)

The basic format doesn’t sound too complicated. The celebrations are organised by an association of religious brotherhoods (with the co-operation of the City Council), each of which is directly responsible for one of the processions that carry the statues of the Christ and the Virgin from where they normally “live” to the Cathedral to be blessed, and then return them. The actual mechanics can get complicated, of course, and between the processions and the onlookers a large part of the city, especially along the processional way and around the Cathedral, is pretty much closed for normal business.

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I love all of this, even though I’m not religious, but be warned! If you come to Sevilla during this time and expect to see “the real Sevilla”, you’re kind of out of luck. Most tapas bars in the centre stop selling tapas and you are left with ordering “raciones” or large plates. Which is fine if there are a few of you so you can share them, but it’s not a tapas-friendly environment and bars tend to be heaving (just like everywhere else). And you will already have noticed that flights and hotels are much more expensive during this time. Plus the streets and monuments will be so crowded that you will have a very hard time seeing them.

ss 15 (5)

I would only recommend a visit to Sevilla during Semana Santa if you have a particular interest in seeing this unusual and spectacular event. But if you have a desire to see and experience Sevilla itself, try to avoid this week and come at a time when the city is at its natural best. Either post-Easter to mid-June or September to November.

ss 15 (7)Slippery when waxy (from the procession candles)

Sevilla Orange Days 2015

orange days 2015

Sevilla Orange Days are back! The fourth edition begins tomorrow with a variety of orange-themed activities and, as always, with a delicious route of bars and restaurants in Seville which have prepared tapas based on the #NaranjadeSevilla. Click on the image below (or click here) to see the 27 establishments that are participating this year.

And don’t miss these two special activities this Saturday, February 21st…

Guadalquivir Vally gastronomic products: jams, oils, wines, sweets, teas, chocolates, sparkling wine. In front of the Las Sirenas Civic Centre in the Alameda from 11.00 am to 5.30 pm.

A cooking display and tasting by the Salmeroteca and the Barman Association of Western Andalucía from 12.00 – 2 pm, also at the Sirenas Civic Centre.

orange days 2015 barsSevilla Orange Days 2015
February 20 – March 1

Porsche Gourmet 2014

cartel-porsche-gourmet
Following the success of the First Porsche Gourmet Culinary Competition held last year in Sevilla (in conjunction with Porsche’s 50th anniversary), this second edition has been extended to include western Andalucía. The competition begins in Córdoba city (3-16 February), then moves on to Cádiz province (10-23 February), followed by Huelva province (3-16 March) and finishing up in Sevilla city (10-23 March). A select panel of judges from each city or province will choose the winners of the Porsche Gourmet Award for “best dish” and the Porsche Gourmet Culinary Covap Award for “best dessert”. The closing ceremony will be held in Sevilla late March (date to be announced).

I’ll update the info here when the competitors in each city and province are announced and will also keep you posted on Sevilla Tapas FB and @SevillaTapas. The Twitter hashtag for the event is #PorscheGourmet14.

Promo video from last year’s Porsche Gourmet Competition

Málaga Street Art

malaga street art (1)
Just before Christmas I took a trip to Málaga and stayed at the Room Mate Lola, smack dab in the centre of the new Soho district, which turned out to be an excellent location for getting around. The “Barrio de las Artes”, once a dodgy area of town, has been transformed into a bohemian rhapsody of street art with international artists being invited to add their creations to the walls of the neighbourhood buildings. Somehow I missed getting a photo of the two biggies – massive murals just behind the Contemporary Arts Museum put up by D´Face and Obey – but you can see them here at East of Málaga.

My favourite is the chameleon by ROA, and below you can see some others that I liked. Click on any image to enlarge and begin slideshow…

As much as I like the new Soho, it feels a bit like doing things backwards. “Traditionally” in most urban areas you’d get artists taking over low rent places filled with the usual array of drug addicts, prostitutes and other ne’er do wells, and as they upped the “trendy” the middle class would start moving in and jacking up property prices, eventually pushing the artists out to start the cycle over again elsewhere. But this Soho is a government promoted project, with “street art” being commissioned by city hall, creating an artificial boho feel to the area, which is pleasant to look at but yet feels somewhat contrived. It’ll be interesting to see how it develops.