Andalusian roadtrip: the food

I know I always write long blog posts about the food I had during my trips, but this time I figured to take a different approach as there were far too many restaurants I did 🙂

The restaurants you see below are not the only restaurants we did during our trip in Andalusia, but they sure were our favourites with DéO and Eslava in Sevilla as two of the best during are whole trip. No Michelin starred food or fancy smancy things, just good honest food and mostly tapas in all kinds!!  With special thanks to trip advisor and some local people to guide us to these places 🙂

Malaga

El meson de Cervantes

El Meson de Cervantes Malaga

El Tapeo de Cervantes : this might also be the smallest restaurant we did during our trip (you are literally breathing down each others neck ), but they serve some great tapas and I hope you don’t mind the waiters telling you what you should be eating 🙂

Tapeo de Cervantes Malaga

Vino Mio : we did this restaurant at the end of our trip when we had enough of eating tapas every day. They serve Balinese inspired food 🙂 (I know! But we were so sick of eating the tapas the whole time) and they also sometimes have some flamenco dancers dancing the night away (not really my thing, but it was nice to watch)

Restaurante Vino Mio  Malaga

Jerez de la Frontera

Albala

Albala Jerez

Reino de Leon Gastrobar: on top of the good food we got a beautiful interior :-). I also can’t get enough of one of the dishes on the picture below 😉

Reino De Leon Gastrobar Jerez

Detabernas: in a small street where you wouldn’t immediately go, but it is worth going.

Detabernas Jerez

Sevilla

Eslava: One of our favorites and looking at the people waiting in line for a table tells me I’m not the only one who likes it here and lots of locals btw.  I can still taste the rich flavors of fresh food prepared in the perfect way! Simple, but amazing!

Eslava Sevilla

DéO: together with Eslava one of our favorites. Refined food, great wine selection, good prices aaaand the most friendly staff!!

DéO Sevilla

Vineria San Telmo

Vineria San Telmo Sevilla

Taberna Coloniales: no nonsense food for low prices and great portions. Special thanks to the Taylor family for this one 😉

Taberna Coloniales Sevilla

Conil de la Frontera

Doña Lola: Serves the most fresh fish ever! From the sea directly in your plate (Great tuna!!)

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Andalusian Roadtrip

Andalusia flag

It seems like ages ago I went on holiday, but in reality it has only been a month… time flies when you’re having fun I guess 😉 My last trip was a 2 week tour through Southern Spain aka Andalusia where people are happy, eating good food and enjoying life. Just the way I like it.

Andalusia by parador

We started our trip in Malaga that to my opinion is the perfect city to transit when visiting Andalusia as when comparing it with the other cities we visited like Sevilla, Malaga was the one that convinced me less to visit again (but this is a personal opinion of course). What we did like when arriving in Malaga was finally feeling the sun (I could use some of that right now actually) and we did have some very nice food, but more about that later

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Malaga 5 Malaga 4

Malaga 3

Malaga 2 Malaga 1

After 1 day in Malaga we set sail to our first destination Jerez de la Frontera. One tip when you are planning a trip to Andalusia renting a car is a must!! The panoramas you get to see when crossing Andalusia are just amazing and would be a shame to miss. AND when having a car at your disposal you can stop whenever and where ever you want. For example while heading towards Jerez we drove by Gibraltar and as neither me nor my fiancee had ever seen the “Strait of Gibraltar” we decided to have a quick stop and photo moment 🙂 ooooh yeah baby!!

Gibraltar (1)

Gibraltar 2

Gibraltar 3

When me and my fiancee (and when I was younger and still traveled with my parents) travel we like to have a “base” point, so sleep in one town like in this case Jerez and travel from this base to other cities, towns… you could of course also stay in every town or city you visit, but that would be too much fuzz to always pack and unpack your luggage :-).

Although we also became a big fan of Sevilla, when thinking of Andalusia we (my fiancée and me) think of Jerez and all the beautiful towns around it that we visited…strange. Not sure why, maybe it was the visit at the Tio Pepe Bodega (as you could read in my 2 previous blogposts: post 1post 2). Or maybe was it Conil de la Frontera one of the famous “Pueblos Blancos” with its narrow streets (when you see the pictures below you’ll figure out why they call them that) overlooking the Atlantique Ocean. Conil? (Definitely the “happy place” I think about when I’m sad!!) Or the thought of walking to one of Europe’s most ancient cities like Cadiz?

Conil 1

Sometimes I really which I could just share all my mental pictures with you guys (mmm, maybe better if I didn’t ;-)) that you could see all the beautiful places I have seen during this trip!! Cadiz was maybe the biggest surprise as it is maybe the most undervalued city in Southern Spain that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I think it is the only city I have every visited where as a tourist you can walk around and find your way without using a map. Yes sir! Cadiz has 4 different routes (each one has a different color) and to make it more easy when walking out of the Tourist office you only have to pick a color and follow the lines painted on the street. I thought the lines were only to give you a head start, but they are all over the city!! So basically you be a tourist without looking like one always looking at his map to make sure he’s taking the right street…OK, if you’re wearing white socks in white sneakers or sandals, I sure they’ll still figure it out, but besides that they won’t 😉

Cadiz 1

Cadiz 2

Cadiz 3

Cadiz 4

Cadiz 9 Cadiz 10

Cadiz 11

Cadiz 7Cadiz 6

Cadiz 5

Cadiz 8  

The lines lead you through the most important streets and make sure you see the most important sights of this ancient town. Oh and there is a nudist beach, not that I’m against saying the gifts of nature, but some pieces of nature are too rough to be explored or seen 🙂

Andalusia got a very special place in our hearts and even though it will never replace Italy, it is getting very close! Stay tuned for more about our trip in Andalusia and of course my preferred topic the food 😉

Enjoy your day!

To be continued…

Unknown is unloved, the sherry saga continues

I must confess, I always thought there was only 1 kind of Sherry (I’m sure I wasn’t alone thinking this), but I have never been more wrong as there are a few more :-). Behold and feast your eyes on the different kinds of Sherry:

  • Fino (‘fine’ in Spanish) is the driest and has to me the sharpest smell of them all. The wine is aged in barrels under a cap of flor yeast to prevent contact with the air. This wine is made 100% of Palomino grape and only has 1g of sugar per liter of wine (4 years aging using the Solera system). Goes well with Spanish tapas or sushi.

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  • Amontillado finds its existence when the “flor” from the Fino disappears and so basically the wine comes in in contact with oxygen, this will give a sherry that is darker than a Fino but lighter than an Oloroso (8 years aging using the Solera system). This sherry has much a softer aroma than the Fino and I could smell some almonds (FYI, the aroma mostly comes from the yeast). Also 100% Palomino, but already a bit stronger alcohol level of 16,5%. This goes well with white meat, fish and aged cheeses.

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SAMSUNG CSC-> Aged for 30 years.

  • Oloroso is my personal favorite (both the “dulce” and the “dry” one) and has aged in contact with oxygen for a longer time than a Fino or Amontillado, (again using the Solera system) producing a darker and richer wine. With alcohol levels between 18 and 20%. I don’t know if it is the fact the Oloroso’s are the most alcoholic Sherries is why I like them this much ;-). Goes perfect with red meat.

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  • Palo Cortado maybe the most unique wine of them all as initially it is aged like an Amontillado and also smells like it, but eventually gets similar character closer to an Oloroso when you taste it. This “mix” happens by accident when the flor dies, or is killed by fortification or filtration. So basically this doesn’t happen very often. Also this wine ages for 12 years using the Solera system and still using 100% Palomino grapes. Goes well with red meats.

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SAMSUNG CSC -> Aged for 30 years. Mix of 87% Palomino and 13% PX

  • Jerez “Dulce” wines (Sweet Sherries) are made either by fermenting dried Pedro Ximénez (PX) (or Moscatel grapes, but less), which produces an intensely sweet dark brown or black wine, or by blending sweeter wines or grape must with a drier variety. Like the Nectar or Noe

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SAMSUNG CSC -> Aged 30 years. This is also the sweetest wine/sherry they have with around 400g  sugar per liter.

  • Cream is a common type of sweet Sherry made by blending different wines, such as Oloroso sweetened with PX. A good example of this one is the Solera or Matusalem both consisting of 75% Palomino and 25% PX grapes. Don’t worry it is not too creamy

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SAMSUNG CSC-> Aged 30 years.

It was an eye opener for me to find out there were so many and I know this might all seem weird, but try to put all of these sherry’s next to each other like we did during our visit and taste and compare them attentively and I’m sure you’ll understand it instantly 🙂 just like I did.

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Isn’t it special that depending in which “stage” the wine is in the it will change its kind? Like It all starts with the Fino and at the moment the flor is not there anymore they speak of a Amontillado and eventually evolve into a Solera which as I mentioned before is one my personal favorites as are other Oloroso’s and Amontillado’s.

The one that was less my taste was actually the Fino. Not that it wasn’t good, its smell and taste was just too sharp for me, but it is very possible that if you put them all next to each other you’d prefer the Fino over the other ones…

I do also want to share a few anecdotes from the Bodega. The first one would be about Bodega Tio Pepe being in the Guinness book of records :-). Yes, as they have the largest weather vane in the world (48 feet tall, with an arrow 26 feet long).

Tio pepe windroos

Did you ever hear about the sherry mouse? The story goes that a worker from the founder Manuel Gonzales saw that a mouse was sipping and liking glass of sherry that they had forgotten in the cellar… so since that day you’ll find in that exact same spot a glass filled with sherry with a little ladder next to it specially for the “sherry mouse” being able to have their daily sip of sherry 🙂 (see pictures below)

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And the last thing I want to share is that Gonzales Byass’ barrels find a very good cause after being used for making sherry, as the factory first repairs them and afterwards get send (sold) to whiskey makers in Scotland like Dalmore.

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One thing is sure that I’ll be having a dinner with friends where I’ll be pairing sherry with my dishes instead of regular wine hoping they’ll become as enthusiastic as me (OK, maybe not 100% like me, but close enough 😉 )  As to my opinion sherry is a wine that doesn’t get the attention it deserves!!

Good that I said I’d keep it short 😉

I would like to thank William for telling me I had to go, Peter for helping me to get in and Oscar and Lola for teaching me and introducing me to the wonderful world of sherry!! Thank you all, both me and my fiancée learned a lot and became a big fan of sherry!!

BTW in case you Belgian readers would want to know more or even taste the TIo pepe (or other Gonzales Byass products check the following link 

Cheers!

Unknown is unloved, how I discovered Sherry

Something for old ladies and English Lords, that’s what most people think of when you say the word “Sherry”. For me sherry was something unknown. I mean I did know what it was but that’s where it stopped. A couple of weeks ago I was doing a tour of Andalusia and stopped for a few days in Jerez de la Frontera and as the name might tip-off this is the place where the Sherry comes from… so not visiting a sherry bodega would have been a crime… luckily my friends William Wouters and Peter Bollinger could help me with which one to visit as they know much more about this than me 🙂 . So with a little help from my friends my fiancee and I were able to visit Spain’s n°1 sherry Bodega Gonzales-Byass also known as Tio Pepe.

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Since my visit to the Bodega I’m VERY excited about sherry, so I’ll try to temper my enthusiasm and keep it as “short” as possible ;-)…

The whole Gonzales-Byass Sherry making story started around 1835 by Manuel María González Angel, who was later joined by his English agent Robert Blake Byass  I think this makes it clear where the name of the Bodega Gonzales Byass comes from… the part of the company Robert Blake owned got bought back by the González family, they decided to keep the name.  The name Tío Pepe actually comes from Manuel González beloved uncle. Today the whole bodega is still owned by the family (unlike lots of others).

Tio pepe kathedraal

Walking through this enormous bodega (I have never seen something this big) is like walking through history as every corner and even every barrel has a story behind it.  One of the stories Lola told us (our guide) that is quit special was that for the visit of the Spanish Queen Isabella II the firm had a special barrel build “La Concha” commissioned by nobody less than engineer Gustav Eiffel (Yes, that Gustav Eiffel), next to this barrel you will find 11 others that represent the apostles… no this isn’t a typo, 11 as they put the one from the bad apostle (Judas) with the sherry vinegar barrels as they were afraid his barrel would bring bad luck for the others. I could tell you more stories, but I promised to keep it short(er) and I would just advice to visit the bodega and be as amazed as me.

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One of the most impressing views you see during your tour in this Bodega is without any doubt when you enter this “monument” which is a very big round depot filled with 250 barrels that represent every country they export to (every barrel has a different flag on it). BTW did you know they also make the wine for during mass in Church? 🙂 They do, I really didn’t know this.

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I must say that the oldest barrels or cellar or even the barrels with signatures from famous people are also impressive 🙂 (I’m sure you will be as well)

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Or the 1st “office” from Tio Pepe’s founder Manuel Gonzales. On this picture you see all different bottles, this way Mr Gonzales knew which blend/ mix was in which bottle. As there was not a lot of light inside of the room, Mr Gonzales had something that looked like a bird cage with a candle in it. He would hold his glass against this candle to be able to see the color of the wine…

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Now I think the time has come to talk about Sherry… First things first, something important to know is that sherry is a wine and it is not only something that can be drunk before or after dinner, but something also very suitable for during your meal. Sherry only gets made using 2 kinds of grapes (the 3rd one would be moscatel, but this is rather rare) Palomino and the Pedro Ximénez (which is the sweetener in the Sherry making process). Depending on the mixing of these grapes (of course in combination with a few other steps during the production process) make the wine either sweeter or dryer. A special process they use to make sherry is called the “Solera” system. What basically happens is that the barrels are piled up with all the top barrels filled with the youngest sherry and the oldest at the bottom. Every x months they will bottle sherry, but only using the bottom (oldest) sherry and only 1/3 of what is in the barrel. After this they will fill this barrel again with the sherry from the barrel on top of this and that barrel on its turn will be filled with the sherry from on barrel on top of it… and this continues until they get to the youngest and that one gets filled with newly made wine. (Check this link for more details about the process). So basically when you buy a bottle of sherry that has an age 30 years on the bottle in reality is a blend from much older sherry sometimes up to a few hundred years. It is it is not as simple as how I describe it, but that is in big lines what it does. What is amazing is that every step of this system will give a different type of sherry (BTW the Solera wine is also one of my preferred ones). Something very cool to see was the inside of a barrel while the wine was in there, as the Bodega used glass as closure instead of wood and you could clearly see the yeast which works as a kind of wall to keep the air separated from the wine. FYI this white layer is called “Flor” 🙂

Solera process by CAPIRETE  VINAGRE DE JEREZ

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A difference with the vines from “regular” wines (that rimes) and the ones to make sherry is that these vines are put deeper in the soil as the weather in the South of Spain can get very hot and the top layers would be totally dried out and the lower layer of the soil would still contain water. Talking about the vines, a question that came to mine when I was driving through Andalusia was that I did see a lot of olive trees, but not too much vines… so one of my first questions during my visit was where they have their grapes 🙂 and it seems they are more north around Sanlucár (and I can confirm it as I drove by them 🙂 ). Also something interesting to know is that because the vines are so low, every x time they flip the branches (and grapes) over a wire… this way the grapes won’t touch the ground.

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Now that you know a bit of the basics we can continue with something that I’m sure most of you didn’t know, so stay tuned for next week’s post as I was amazed 🙂

Cheers!