Foodie Hub Tapas Awards

foodie hubAbout three years ago my Twitter pal Niamh @eatlikeagirl got in touch with me about joining a new foodie venture called Chowzter, headed by the dynamic and totally food obsessed Jeffrey Merrihue @jeffreymerrihue, who is also at the helm of @mofilm, as well as being the driving force behind Chowzter (now the newly rebranded @FoodieHub). So okay, I put up my Seville page on Foodie Hub, which I was very pleased with, and then last summer (2014) Jeffrey showed up close to my doorstep and asked if I was free one day to show him my favourite bars in Sevilla. Well, if there is something I LOVE doing it’s exactly that. Plus I was interested in actually meeting Jeffrey. And it was so much fun. We did a crazy afternoon “tapeo extremo” visiting an outrageous number of Sevilla bars in a ridiculously short amount of time, and then repeated the exercise a couple of days later in Malaga with the newly initiated Victor from @WeLoveMalaga. And not only was it great fun, but I got to meet Jeffrey, which made all the difference from this simply being an interesting project I was adding my name to… well, to being a wonderful and crazy foodie adventure that just gets better and better.

jeffrey me (2)

Fast forward to Summer 2015… Jeffrey was going to be back in Marbella and suggested a meet-up/dinner with all the FoodieHub Spain experts, which (of course!) promptly morphed into an epic tapas weekend in Malaga & Marbella, and also gave birth to the FoodieHub Essential Tapas Guide. I love that this is a “living online guide” that is always growing as we add more to it. Here are some highlights from our Malaga FoodieHub tapas tour…

malaga foodiehub tapas tour (1) malaga foodiehub tapas tour (2) malaga foodiehub tapas tour (3)

After this “light lunch” we were whisked away to Marbella for the Main Event. The Essential Tapas Awards event and an exquisite beach-side dinner at the elegant Restaurante Santiago. Rather than MORE food pics I shall just post this lovely photo taken by Victor, which for me captured the gorgeous ambiance of the setting where we dined like royalty.

victor

Here is a shot of the awards handed out earlier in the evening…

foodiehub winners

It was an amazing weekend and really great to meet up again with some of the Spain food experts I already knew, as well as getting to meet the others. But the extra special treat for me was after I came home and got to present the FoodieHub award for Essential Traditional Tapa to my “family” at Bodeguita Romero. Father and son Pedro & Alejandro Romero were thrilled that their spectacular pringá montadito had won.

romero (2)

romero (1)

You can download the free FoodieHub app here, and keep up with global foodie news on their Twitter and Facebook accounts. Also check out the amazing FoodieHub YouTube page, but only if you’re not hungry! It’s a real honour – and also lots of fun – being a part of the FoodieHub team.

Sherry Sipping in Sevilla

sherry sipsSeana Rizzutto Yee AKA @SherrySips

Some of you may know about my sherry epiphany a couple of years ago, which resulted in the creation of my Introduction to Sherry tours (chosen by The Telegraph this year as one of their top ten food and drink holidays in Spain). Sherry has become quite important in my life and I am always eager to learn more and share that knowledge.

So when I found out that Seana Yee was coming to Jerez I got in touch via Twitter in case she had time to come to Sevilla. Seana lives in Portland and was here on a sherry odyssey lasting the better part of two weeks, visiting bodegas in Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María (sound familiar?). I think because it was becoming apparent that we knew so many of the same people, and also that the planets and stars aligned just right, Seana found she had a free day and took the train to Sevilla to spend last Sunday with me. And what a day it was!

We met late morning and did a quick tour of the Metropol Parasol (which hadn’t existed when Seana was last here) before setting off in search of churros. Instead we ended up having tostadas and cava (don’t ask) at La Azotea in Barrio Santa Cruz, which proved to be a good start to what was to be my first ever Tapeo Extremo con Jerez.

sherry sipping collage[click on image to enlarge, but not if you’re hungry… or thirsty]

First up was Las Teresas for some jamón, queso and caña de lomo, paired with wonderful Botaina amontillado from Bodegas Lustau. Seana had a bodega tour (her last) booked with Lustau the following day so this proved to be a nice preview. Then we stopped in at Casa Morales for some fabulous lomo en manteca – we told barman Diego we were looking for a special manzanilla and he pulled out a bottle of manzanilla pasada from Bodegas Sacristia AB… perfection. Then we headed over to visit my “family” at Bodeguita Romero. Of course Seana had to try their famous pringá montadito, along with Pedro Romero’s equally famous papas aliñás… with these we had a nice Alfonso oloroso. Moving on to my favourite braised pork cheeks in town, Alejandro Romero recommended Palo Cortado Leanor from Bodegas Gonzalez Byass. We were pretty much stuffed at this point but I wanted to take Seana to the home of the “crackburger” La Brunilda, which was just around the corner. We were too full for a burger so opted for some lovely payoyo cheese from Cádiz instead, which was paired with La Bota de Manzanilla 55 from Equipos Navazos.

Last but not least I took Seana to meet the lovely Silvia Flores @vinosyflores who works as sommelier and event organizer for the Corte Inglés Gourmet Experience. There we enjoyed a perfectly chilled glass of Tío Pepe en Rama 2015 (which I’d had the pleasure of trying at the annual presentation earlier that week) and then Silvia surprised us with a glass of Apostoles VORS Palo Cortado and a plate of exquisite Michel Cluizel chocolates. Oh my!

palo cortado

We headed back to my place after this for a short rest before going to an early flamenco show at the Flamenco Museum. Then we said our “hasta luegos” as Seana left to catch the train back to Jerez and I headed off on a tapas tour. Honestly, in just one short (and seriously sherry-filled) day I felt like I’d made a friend for life. I’m also thinking of adding a Gourmet Sherry Tour to my repertoire after this, to complement the “beginners course”. We shall see.

Thanks so much for coming to visit me, Seana. Our love of sherry and cats shall endure! xx

You can also follow me and Seana on Instagram (go on, you know you want to)…
SherrySips  |  azahar

Vendimia de Jerez 2014

vendimia 2014The Fiesta de la Vendimia (Autumn Festival and Grape Harvest Fair) kicks off today in Jerez de la Frontera with activites for all ages. The programme includes open days and visits to wineries, master tastings, grape stomping, children’s entertainment, concerts, tapas and wine pairing, routes through the vineyards of Jerez, conferences, exhibitions, concerts, competitions … and don’t miss the gastronomy fair in the Alameda Vieja.

vendimia tapasCheck the official programme for more details.
Vendimia 2014 Programme

Tapeo Extremo™

jeffrey me victorJeffrey, me and Victor in Málaga

I can’t even begin to count the ways that Twitter has changed my life, but this is yet another one. Back in late 2012 my Twitter pal Niamh Shields @eatlikeagirl got in touch with me about joining a new international foodie venture called Chowzter,. At first glance Chowzter didn’t seem like the sort of thing I’d be interested in (though I remember years ago saying the same thing about Twitter!) but I decided to give it a go as it had been recommended by Niamh and there wasn’t a lot of work required to set it up. Thus I became their Sevilla food expert.

Then about ten days ago I got to meet Chowzter founder Jeffrey Merrihue @jeffreymerrihue. He was holidaying in Marbella and came up to Sevilla for the day to do a tapas tour with me, which morphed into a tapeo extremo (a term coined by my friend and travel writer Annie Bennett @anniebennett a few years ago when we went out for tapas – I have no idea why! 😉 ). That day Jeffrey and I broke my personal record by visiting 7 tapas bars in 4 hours.

tapeo extremo sevilla 08-08-14Tapeo Extremo Sevilla 08-08-14 | 7 tapas bars in 4 hours

Chowzter began as an argument between two well-travelled food-obsessed brothers about where to get the “best this-or-that” in every city they visited. Not Michelin star fare (everybody knows where to find that), but fabulous day-to-day local food. Fast feasts. The trick was to find passionate locals who wanted to share their knowledge. Which now includes me. And now also includes Victor Garrido @welovemalaga, who runs the best tapas and walking tours in Málaga. At first Jeffrey asked Victor if he wanted to meet him in Marbella, but then mentioned that he’d never had good food in Málaga (!!!). And when he asked if I wanted to come down for the day too… well, it just had to be another Tapeo Extremo!

tapeo extremo malaga 14-08-14Tapeo Extremo Málaga 14-08-14 | 10 tapas bars in 4 hours

Jeffrey, Victor and I met in front of the Atarazanas Market in the centre of Málaga and what happened next was epic. Of course you can’t “properly” visit every excellent tapas bar in any city in just one afternoon, but the purpose of tapeo extremo (if there needs to be one) is to show someone with huge interest and little time as much as possible. Both tapeos were wonderful, though I think Málaga had the advantage of the bars being closer together, having both Victor and me as guides, and also knowing by that time that Jeffrey was a complete food maniac (had I known this in Sevilla we would have got into more taxis). But I’m sure that Jeffrey will agree that both Victor and I killed it, and we both loved showing someone around who clearly appreciated the best. In fact, Jeffrey’s enthusiasm was so contagious that I’m now helping find “chief Chowzters” for other areas in Spain and Portugal. So watch this space and also @SevillaTapas for future developments. And thanks again for a great couple of days, Jeffrey. Hasta pronto!

Eating Out in Antequera

First I want to thank my friends at Pollo y Ensalada for not only recommending every place we ate in Antequera, but also for joining me in a couple of meals, including the fabulous tasting menu at Arte de Cozina.

I should also point out that although only in Antequera for just over 48 hours I did manage to sample a wide range of tapas from the rustic to the sublime. So this is a quick guide to eating out in Antequera. For more detailed reviews (with more photos!) have a look on the Azahar Tapas Antequera page.

a la fuerza churros A La Fuerza is best known for serving a dynamite breakfast, including fabulous churros & chocolate and the famous molletes of Antequera. It also serves lunch and dinner, but the food we tried there other than breakfast was hit and miss.

A La Fuerza
Calle de la Alameda de Andalucia, 32
Tel 952 841 607

 

arte tapas chorizo burgerGourmet-style tapas without “gastobar” pretentions and, along with “big sister” Arte de Cozina, there is a lovely tradition here of rediscovering lost recipes and creating them anew.

Arte de Tapas
Calle de la Calzada, 29
Tel 952 840 014

rincon lola matrimonio

Rincón de Lola is traditional tapas fare with a few twists thrown in, like the flamenquín filled with avocado and the chorizo “hot dog”.

Rincón de Lola
Encarnación, 8
Tel 625 040 997

5 sentidos bloody mary

New kids on the block, 5 Sentidos is owned and run by two former employees of Rincón de Lola. The food is innovative and interesting, and this very young bar is still evolving. Worth a visit to see what’s new.

5 Sentidos
Plaza Fernández Viagas, 11
Tel 633 353 234 / 693 475 675

porras

Passion and tradition come together at Arte de Cozina. Traditional dishes, previously lost to time, have been rediscovered by owner and chef Charo Carmona, and have been lovingly recreated here. Excellent service in a beautiful rustic ambiance.

Arte de Cozina
Calle de la Calzada, 29
Tel 952 840 014

Azahar Tapas Antequera

A Rare Glimpse…

tapas tourPhotos of yours truly are few and far between online but this was such a lovely “feel good” moment that my friend Peter @SVQconcierge happened to capture at the end of a Sevilla Tapas Tour that I decided not to worry about all my chins showing (that’s me in the middle).

I really do have one of the best jobs in the world. 🙂

Granada | Tapas at the Palacio de los Patos

I’ve been a fan of Hospes Hotels ever since I was writing as the Seville Expert for SimonSeeks and was given the opportunity of staying at their luxurious rustic-chic Las Casas del Rey de Baeza and sampling the delights of the Senzone restaurant there.

So when I was invited to take a tour of five-star Palacio de Los Patos while I was in Granada this week I jumped at the chance. In a word – stunning. The swanky deluxe rooms are located in the old lovingly restored 19th century palace and the “Dreamer” standard rooms are in a modern annex, along with the restaurant and spa. At first I didn’t know what to think of the façade, which I was told was meant to mimic the moorish latticing in the Alhambra, until I saw the effect from the inside of the spacious minimalist rooms. The cool alabaster tiles let in a cool diffused light without letting others see in, and all the Dreamer rooms look onto the garden. Which is what this post is mostly about, because after once glance at the garden area I was in love.

This is a fabulous oasis in the centre of the city, with various fountains cooling the patio area where you can either sit at tables to eat a meal or curl up on sofas to enjoy a drink. Large trees and hanging wisteria provide natural shade and all the greenery running along the wrought iron fence shuts out traffic and city noise. My favourite was the gnarly pomegranate tree, which I was told was over 200 years old. If you don’t know, the pomegranate (or “granada” in Spanish) is the emblem of the city.

I was surprised to see that the Senzone Restaurant offered tapas as well as a full-service menu and an intriguing tasting menu made of Riofrio caviar products, and so I was thrilled to be invited to a tapas tasting lunch the next day (my last day in town). I went with my friend John Sullivan, ex-Londoner, musician and fellow foodie, who has been living in Granada for over three years now.

And well, the food was gorgeous, the setting divine, and the service was both efficient and friendly (but Hospes! please get those poor girls out of head-to-toe black when it’s 35º out there!). We tried four tapas, which were all so good that they left us hankering to come back and try out the rest of the tapas menu…

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