I have ALWAYS wanted to do this. And now I have. For years I’ve heard about the wonderful sounding horse races on the beach in Sanlúcar de Barrameda and every August I have somehow never managed to make it. In part I blame the very shoddy public transport between Sevilla and Sanlúcar… nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is going to get me to sit on a bus for over two hours for a journey that normally takes just over an hour by car. But I digress. Because yesterday I did have the chance to go by car with my friends Markus, who runs Veoapartment, and Peter Seville Concierge.
We set off in time to catch the first race (the times announced were vague, we got there for the 6.30 pm race to discover that it didn’t start until 7.00, más o menos.). Eventually we managed to find a spot in the front row and waited for things to get going. I had my camera ready to take some photos but other than a few pics of the horses making their way to the starting gate I got nothing because they ended up whizzing by again in about three seconds flat. So I decided to try Vine for the next one. Six seconds.
In between races we went over to one of the beach restaurants in Bajo de Guia to enjoy a cold beer and the sea breeze. But after the second race we decided that was enough and headed back into town for a bite to eat before heading back home. The obvious choice was Casa Balbino, home of The Very Best tortillitas de camarones, well, anywhere. As usual it was jam-packed but we found a little corner spot in front of the bar and started off with – what else? – a chilled glass of made-in-Sanlúcar manzanilla and some plump and juicy locally caught langoustines. Then the super-crispy tortillitas, some seafood croquetas and gambas pil-pil.
On the large flatscreen above our heads we watched recaps of the races which were quite a bit different from our blink-and-miss-it experiences, as cameramen in cars and at various strategic points along the beach caught the entire races. But I was still glad I went and experienced it for myself, and a day trip to Sanlúcar is always enjoyable. All in all, it was a lovely Sunday.
There will be one more weekend of races 16, 17 and 18 of August.
The plan for yesterday was to take the bus to Sanlúcar de Barrameda to visit their Feria de la Manzanilla for the first time. Unfortunately the bus service to Sanlúcar was less than feriante friendly with one bus at 10 am and the next not until 2 pm and when I mentioned this on Twitter my friend and sherry expert Annie Manson said that, knowing me, I’d end up creating my own Feria de la Manzanilla here. So that’s what I did. 🙂
Sanlúcar de Barrameda is located at the mouth of the Guadalquivir river where it meets the Altantic and, along with Jerez and El Puerto de Santa María, forms the famous Sherry Triangle in the Cádiz province. It is also home to the oldest horse races in Spain, which take place just before sunset along the beach during the month of August. Another Sanlúcar event I have yet to witness. But I digress…
My companion yesterday was Peter Tatford Seville Concierge and at one stop Eduardo Blanco Different Spain also briefly joined us. Since my idea was to recreate being in Sanlúcar the obvious place to start was Restaurante Barbiana which not only features wines and seafood from there but also makes the best tortillitas de camarones I’ve ever had outside Sanlúcar. We started with a nice plate of jamón Ibérico de Bellota paired with a manzanilla fina from Bodegas Barbiana, served at a perfectly chilled 1ºC. For our tortillita I chose an amontillado to go with it which worked very nicely.
Then we went on to La Moneda, which was where we ment up with Eduardo. There we tried two different manzanillas (Solear and La Gitana) with fried salmonetes (which I was told came from Sanlúcar) and a very nice soupy rice with gambas, clams and monkfish.
For our third stop we taxied over to Taberna Chani in Nervión to try their manzanilla en rama from Bodegas Baron, which we paired with fabulous fried boquerones (also from Sanlúcar) and some grilled Almadraba tuna cheeks.
And then we were done. I have to say that although the food and wine were all very pleasant the whole Feria de la Manzanilla in Sevilla thing didn’t feel as successful as my recent impromptu World Sherry Day event because I didn’t feel like I’d actually learned anything new. Although I asked lots of questions about the different wines, and about which foods they would go best with, the response at these bars wasn’t as friendly or enthusiastic as I found last week. I mean, I know you can get palo cortado from Sanlúcar, and also some good dessert wines, but these weren’t suggested to me even though I’d told everyone I was trying to learn more about Sanlúcar wines. Bit of a shame, but ah well…