Showing posts with label spain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spain. Show all posts

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Devour Seville, a foodie adventure

My wanderlust list is quite extensive, and my top ten destinations keep changing, but Seville has always been in my top five places to visit.
The time came that I actually made it to Seville this January.

Being a food-lover, Seville was a dream destination for me to explore Andalucian cuisine. What better way to enjoy the cuisine than to jump into tapas and wine tasting through Devour Seville food tours?  It was an excellent choice.  From the first contact to booking, and the tour itself, it was super organised—The website was clear and easy to navigate, booking was very easy, and they really made sure that I was reminded about the tour up to the day.

The meeting point was very central and just a ten minute walk from my hotel.  I was quite surprised that there were about ten people on tour; for cold January, that was pretty impressive.  It was a colourful and diverse group of American guests, one Irish guest, and me, Brazilian.  Some of the guests from the US were on holiday, and others lived in Europe, like me. I was all good banter.
This particular tour was about tapas and wine, but when they say wine, it includes vermouth, varieties of sherry, and local wines.
Vermut and local cold meats

We started with a short walk to our first stop, Maestro Marcelino, a tapas bar with a mixture of deli and boutique-style foods located in the Sant Cruz area near the Seville Cathedral. They have barrels selling wines by the glass, or you can bring a bottle to fill up.  We tried their local cured meats, mojama, chorizo, chicharrones, caña lomo, Iberico Bellota, and montaditos—little sandwiches. We had the grilled pork loin, and we washed it all down with a sweet red vermouth on tap.

The next stop was Las Teresas, a busy traditional tapas bar; there, we tasted Jamon Iberico de Bellota—acorn-fed Iberian ham, aged sheep cheese, and a glass of dry manzanilla sherry, a variety of fino sherry made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. It's very pale and dry.  We also tasted Amontillado, a sherry wine characterised by being slightly darker than fino.

The final stop was Vineria San Telmo. This place serves a modern take on tapas using fresh local ingredients. We had hot-off-the-grill tapas and three modern style local wines from Cadiz, Rioja, and Sierras de Malaga. It was just a fantastic place for a degustation of modern Seville cuisine.
Panko Prawns - delicious king prawns cooked in Japanese panko breadcrumbs, served with arugula, grilled zucchini/courgette and paired with a soy mayonnaise

A mild chicken liver pate aperitif served with caramelized onion, melted cheese and a tomato confit and crispy toasted bread - ideal for stacking!

A crepe de morcilla, using delicious blood sausage mixed with rice to create a unique texture and amazing taste, typical from Burgos in Northern Spain, served in a crepe with caramelized onion and lightly fried beetroot on top and a sweet pepper sauce.

beautifully prepared pluma ibérica, a cut of pork taken from near the ribs, served on a bed of pumpkin with a deliciously light curry sauce - so good!!

Our guide, Fleur was fabulous, knowledgeable, and very patient. She is British but has been living in Seville for the last six years. She told us various local curiosities, and it was a very entertaining evening.

The tour was a mix of traditional and modern establishments in Seville. At the end of it, I was fully satisfied and needed no more food until the next day. The tour was supposed to take 2.5 hours, but it ran over a bit, although no one seemed very preoccupied. It is ideal for first timers and an intro to the Seville food scene.  It is highly recommended.

Disclosure:  I was a guest of Devour Seville. All opinions are my own.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Spain, Galicia: exploring the fishing industry in and around Vigo

Porto de Vigo

Spain is well known for its fish and seafood industry, and Vigo is the biggest fishing port in Spain.  The port is divided into many different sections of products that arrive or are transported via the sea along the coast.

A visit to the fish and seafood port early in the morning was a very insightful experience of the seamen's life and how it all works. It's an intense, tough labour. This part of the harbour is open twenty-four hours, seven days a week.  The pick of the action happens between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. when the fishermen come to shore with their produce to be sold or auctioned to the local industry and beyond. Some fishes come from other ports to be sold here too.   The fish and seafood are divided in artisanal, small fishing boats; big catches and seafood.
Porto de Vigo

Some factories have containers on the site where they start the process of cleaning, packing and then moving the feedstock inland to be distributed fresh or to carry on to be frozen or canned.

The canning industry in Spain is huge and is considered one of the best in quality. There is a good variety of canned fish and seafood in the market, some preserved in brine, olive oil, tomato sauce and other salsas. The process of canning in some smaller scaled factories are all made by hand and with much care, making them a gourmet product for the luxury market. They pride themselves on making it all in-house, including the recipes for the sauces.  Their system allows for traceability from fisherman to consumer.

Some of the fish and seafood products include sea urchin, razor clams, clams, mussels, oysters, octopus, baby squid and small sardines as well as the usual sardines, tuna and mackerel. 
Bateas, Galician mussel farm platforms
Bateas, Galician mussel farm platforms, are rafts made of wood with hanging ropes for cultivating typical Galician molluscs. They can be spotted along Vigo estuary, arranged neatly along the coast.

Mussels and oysters from the Vigo estuary are safe to eat as they go through a very strict process to reach your plate with optimal freshness and quality. The best place to taste mussels and oyster is in Calle de las Ostras in the Old Town in Vigo.

I visited a couple of gourmet canning factories and tasted some of the fish and seafood offerings. The presentation of the products is aesthetically pleasing to the eye; as for the taste, they were surprisingly better than most canned fish and seafood around on supermarket shelves.  They make an excellent addition to the store cupboard. They make a quick snack or accompaniments to an aperitif. There is also a trend to use these products as ingredients in cooking and baking, using the oil or salsas to enrich the recipes.  Some high profile chefs go as far as to make foam and elaborate sauces for their dishes.  It is all about the introduction of new concepts using innovative processes and always using high quality material for their creations.

A Visit to Real Conservera Española

Tasting time: Real Conservera Española

Conservas La Brujula, they sell their sardines at Brindisa in London

History of Canning


The method of Nicolas Appert (1810) which secured the stability of food through the tightness of the container and the sterilisation of the product was improved by the Englishman Peter Durand, incorporating the metal container.

England, France, and the United States had quickly set up preserve factories since before 1820 to make food portable and available to the armies, both for the battlefield and for the famous expeditions into unknown territories. At the same time, the emerging global conserve industry began its journey on the path of innovation, making progress in canning, in technological science and the specialisation of its products.

The French started setting up small canning factories specialising in fried sardines in oil, the celebrated sardines Nantes, which dominated the market until the great sardine crisis which ravaged the French coast in 1880-1887 and the start of the fish canning industry in Galicia, Vigo.

I learned a lot about fish and seafood  on this trip. A very educational  look at behind the scenes where and how food is produced and processed.

Ideas of dishes using canned fish and seafood

Sardine in potato salad

Empanada de Bacallau (cod)  and uva pasas (raisins) - Galician way

Aperitif  for cocktail hour, place the can  on ice for 10 minutes  for better taste and texture for mussels, razor clams and clams.

White tuna was added as topping on a tomato soup (Salmorejo), mussels as topping for canapes,  Guacamole and cockle dish, layered potato salad with mayo and white tuna - suggestions by Spanish blogger Carmen of Guisandome La Vida

I also visited Marfrio, a leading producer and processors and marketers of frozen seafood in Europe
Polpo alla Gallega - paprika and olive oil  - this was a gigant octopus from Peru - Frozen and sold in Spain



A photo posted by Rosana | London 🍾🍷🍽🍸✈️🌶🇧🇷 (@rosana_mcphee) on
A photo posted by Rosana | London 🍾🍷🍽🍸✈️🌶🇧🇷 (@rosana_mcphee) on
A photo posted by Rosana | London 🍾🍷🍽🍸✈️🌶🇧🇷 (@rosana_mcphee) on
A photo posted by Rosana | London 🍾🍷🍽🍸✈️🌶🇧🇷 (@rosana_mcphee) on

Disclosure: I was a guest of Anfaco-CECOPESCA on this trip. All views are my own.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Stylish eats and stay in Barcelona

Grand Hotel Central Barcelona, Skyline

A stylish stay at the Grand Hotel Central Barcelona

The Hotel
Grand Hotel Central, is in the heart of Barcelona well located for sightseeing and shopping, between the Gothic district with its spectacular Cathedral or the ancient city walls and “El Born”.  This is where the amenities and luxuries of a five-star hotel are combined with a sense of sophistication and finesse.

This very stylish hotel has 147 spacious rooms & suites with the best of a new design. It has a very famous and inviting infinity pool, Skybar, its City Restaurant serving seasonal market-fresh Mediterranean cuisine with local produce of the best quality, the stylish City Bar offering all day dining including salads, tapas and an extensive signature cocktails selection surrounded by good music in a relaxing atmosphere.

There's a Wellness Suite with its carefully designed treatments, the Thermal Suite that offers a private steam and sauna experience, the well-equipped Fitness Center. It all creates a unique lifestyle and modern experience with a sense of elegance.

The Pool, Skyline Bar

The Pool, Skyline Bar  and City Bar

The Pool and Skyline Bar are officially open from April to October.  Outside this timings, it's open for guests only, and drinks can be ordered via a telephone in the bar area, very exclusive.

This outstanding outdoor space on the roof of the hotel where the magnificent swimming pool stretches towards infinity, blending into the rooftops of El Born. It offers one of the most breathtaking views of the city.

One of the most exclusive venues of Barcelona, a genuine metropolitan oasis, highly recommended for those who know how to enjoy the small pleasures of life while savoring exquisite drinks to the sounds of gentle music. During the daytime, the SkyBar is exclusively for hotel guests, but in the late afternoon, it opens its doors to everyone who feels like having dinner while floating above the city.

The City Bar is the perfect place to relax after a day of sightseeing and shopping. The service is outstanding.

Fantastic Eats in Barcelona

Foodie Tours are great! They are one thing I've been experiencing when abroad - I just love them. It's the perfect way to learn about the city; there are plenty of historical insights to be learned as well the food habits and fantastic little hidden places, always guided by local.  Sure, there's always the restaurant guides that show you THE 'cool' places to go, but nothing beats local knowledge.

In Barcelona, I had an excellent experience with Food Lovers Company.
An authentic experience of  Catalan and Spanish culinary culture. This tour enabled us to discover the Old Town since it follows the last pieces of a city full of history: the Roman, the Medieval and the Gothic city, and the most riveting spots in the area. They selected, the less crowded streets so that we discovered beautiful hideouts and alleyways to reach neighborhood eateries.

Nuria, our guide on the Tapas Tour was great. The tour was supposed to take 4 hours and 4 places, but we got on so well. It took a little longer... actually, much longer, so many sights and so many delicious food and drink to be had.  The tour costs EU 95 ( about £75/ US$108) - money well spent! Highly recommended!  

Here are some of the highlights both on and off the tour.  I must stress that I haven't been to all the places I would like to go, so I have a task to go back and discover more of Barcelona and surroundings. 

Mojama de atún hecha en casa con naranja y almendras | tuna, orange & almonds

Pan de coca de cristal con tomate de colgar
 | Tortilla
chocolate, sea salt & bread

Sangria : fully artisan, a perfect combination of wine and fruit with a frizzante touch, there are four different sangrias to choose from two red wines, white white and cava
little enticing places around Barcelona

Vermouth - a fortified wine flavoured with various botanicals and spices
rustic pan tomate

eat in and out - little windows serving food and drink

fried anchovies

fresh anchovies, tomato and onions - simple and delicious

ham and roasted pollo +  squid ink croquettes - amazing! 

off the menu: tripe stew
Patatas Bravas and natural, biodynamics wines and local grapes
Torta de Santiago and delicious coffee at Café del Pi, in Plaza Josep Oriol

Next stop was El National: Restaurant in Barcelona with different spaces where you can enjoy traditional recipes of the Peninsula, made ​​with high quality products and a unique atmosphere . Located on Passeig de Gràcia , it is a reflection of the social and cultural life of Barcelona.

El National


Pan tomate | Cava | Montaditos variados


Esqueixadas (Cod & tomato salad) |  Gildas (Mini skewers of green peppers,olives and anchovies)

El National : Passeig de Gràcia, 24 Bis, 08007 Barcelona, Spain 

La Bombeta de la Barcelonetta : mash potato balls filled with meat on a pool of aioli, spice tomato sauce and chilli oil - Delicious!

Hot chocolate and churros at Bar Xador -
Unique, modest and surprising find

  Bar Xador : Carrer de l'Argenteria, 61, 08003 Barcelona, Spain

 La Boqueria 

The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, often simply referred to as La Boqueria, is a public market in the center of Barcelona located just off La Rambla. It sells an array of products, fresh produce, wines, fish and stalls selling overpriced tapas and drinks. It's very colourful with lots to see. It seems to cater for the tourist who believes in its hype.  Not my favorite market to date, but worth having a quick look around.
walking down La Rambla  to La Boqueria

Wow that was a lot to eat and drink  in one weekend!

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