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Bobadilla/Antequera-Granada high-speed rail link gets 62m euro

August 17, 2015 – 9:40 am

Today, a new investment was announced for the Antequera-Granada high-speed rail link, with AVE trains due to start running in 2018. Andalucia’s budget for 2016 includes 62 million euros to  finish this AVE route linking Antequera (Santa Ana Station), the geographically central junction of the region, with Granada, while nearby Bobadilla was an important junction on the old train network.

A few weeks ago, it was announced that the PGE (Presupuestos Generales del Estado)  was allocating 192m euros to the Bobadilla-Granada line (half of the province’s total budget). This will be a relief to many since the current works which were halted in 2014 remain a construction scar on the landscape and EU funding had to be returned for not completing the works by the previous deadline.

Antequera is already served by the Seville – Malaga line, which continues on to Madrid from Seville.

Andalucia was the first region to have the revolutionary pointy-nosed trains, which can travel at speeds of up to  310km/h. AVE means Tren de Alta Velocidad Española. The first route which launched was the Madrid-Seville service, starting in 1992 in time for the Expo 92 in Seville.

The current AVE train routes are these:

Additionally, last month, the EU assigned 140 million euros of funding, via FEDER (Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional, the European Fund for Regional Development) to the Bobadilla/Antequera-Algeciras line. This will help to develop the Mediterranean Railway Corridor.

The section from Algeciras to Gaucin (station in El Colmenar village) – popularly-known as Mr Henderson’s Railway, built in 1892 – gets 19.5 million euros for security installations


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The heat is on – 10 top tips to cope in a southern Spanish summer

August 15, 2015 – 9:46 pm

Whether you have made Andalucia your permanent home, you’re staying for a long sojourn over the summer months, or you’re just here on holiday (or planning to be shortly), you will be aware of the extreme heat in July and August, especially in the inland cities such as Seville and Cordoba where the mercury routinely hits 40 degrees C, or 104 F. So what can you do to cope with these absurdly high temperatures? Here we offer some handy tips.

Teprerature Forcast

1) Use air-conditioning, but within moderation. While it’s hard to survive without those cooling blasts of air, too much air-con isn’t great either, for your health or your bank balance, if you’re the one paying the electricity bill. Many people will put it on for 20 minutes or so in the bedroom before retiring, to cool the room down to a bearable temperature for falling asleep. If you’re going to a restaurant or house with air-con, take an extra layer as you can soon feel cold.

2) Shower regularly. Nothing cools down your body temperature like a shower (as well as ensuring you’re sweet-smelling!). If you’re not going out afterwards, don’t dry off completely, as the water left on your body will keep you cool for a precious few more minutes.

3) High temperatures mean that we sweat a lot, and we need to drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids – at least five litres per day to keep hydrated, as well as eating salty food or snacks to replace the salts. This is especially true for young children and old people, who can quickly become dehydrated, and who need to be closely monitored. Beware of headaches, as these can be a sign of dehydration.

4) Mad dogs and Englishmen… get your errands done in the morning, before the mercury has risen too much – it will still be in the bearable high 20s or low 30s. Stay in the shade, drink water, don’t exert yourself physically. By 1pm you’ll be ready to jump in the shower/pool/sea.

5) If you have a long enough cable, put a fan in or near the window at night, so that it draws in the cooler evening air into your house – many buildings hold the heat for many hours after it’s cooled off outside, hence why you see locals sitting in the street. Also, no-brainer – close curtains and shutters during the day to keep the sun out, then open them again at night to let that refreshing night fresquito air flow in..

6) Put a flannel in the freezer – the ice-cold, damp piece of fabric will provide a few minutes’ welcome relief.

7) Wear natural fabrics – a cotton sarong, which is loose, breathable, and leaves your arms free when tied around your neck, is perfect for wearing at home, in the garden, or around the hotel.

8) Make sure your laptop doesn’t overheat – use a stand with a fan to dissipate the heat, and make sure the air vents are free from dust so it can “breathe”. Don’t leave your mobile phone out in the sun or in a car either, as it could overheat and shut down. Always leave devices in the shade – if they do overheat, take out of cases to cool down, and close battery-draining apps.

9) Wear a hat – shades your face from sunburn, protects your head from sunstroke. Baseball hat with peak or safari hat with a brim, or large floppy straw hat.

10) It’s extremely draining physically to move around when it’s this hot, so do as the Spanish do, and take a siesta during the hottest hours.

From hot sun to cold water – the dangers

One other important point to bear in mind is that if you’ve been lying in the sun, and your body is at a high temperature, and you jump or dive into cold water, the shock to your body of such a sudden and extreme change in temperature might cause you to feel faint or dizzy. Obviously this would be extremely dangerous while in water, especially the sea. There were three cases of drowning last week in Andalucia, two people in their 70s and one in his 50s, and at this stage it seems likely that the causes of death were cardiac arrest. Advice is to splash your body with water to reduce its remperature before going into the water.


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Adios Cilla

August 7, 2015 – 9:03 am

What’s your name and where do you come from?”

For many of us, back in the 1980s and 1990s, Saturday nights were all about watching Blind Date before going out. With her red hair, broad smile and warm manner, Cilla always set the nervous contestants at ease, as they chose their potential partner from three possibles. For those around in the 1960s, she was a popular singer.

So it was very sad news that the much-loved presenter, singer and British national treasure, Cilla Black, had died last Saturday, 1 August.

Cilla passed away at the age of 72, suffering a stroke while staying at her house in Estepona.

Long-term Estepona lover

She has been coming to her villa in the seaside town near Marbella every August for nearly 20 years. She would spend time with other British celebrities such as Paul O’Grady, Dale Winton, Cliff Richard, Jimmy Tarbuck and Max Clifford, frequenting a variety of establishments from upmarket Villa Tiberio, La Sala in Puerto Banus, karaoke venue Live Lounge, to Peggotty’s Fish and Chips.

Apparently the entertainer had a reservation for her preferred table in her favourite restaurant in Estepona town, Robbie’s, the night she died. Cilla had arrived at Malaga airport the previous day.

Cilla is said to have fallen while on her terrace and knocked her head on some furniture, causing a stroke. She was found her by eldest son Robert – her other two sons, Ben and Jack, were also staying in the villa. The singer and TV personality had been widely quoted as saying she didn’t want to live past the age of 75; she was suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis and hearing loss.

Cilla’s life

The Liverpudlian, who was born Priscilla White, first found fame as a singer in the 1960s, with hits such as Alfie and Anyone Who Had A Heart. In 1969 she married her manager, Bobby Willis, and they lived in Denham in Buckinghamshire.

She bought the villa in Estepona in 1996, naming it Casa Roll, a culinary pun which attracted much admiration on Twitter after her death was announced. Bobby died in 1999, and her son Robert became her manager. In 2013, Cilla celebrated 50 year in showbusinesses with a TV special.

Her autobiography, What’s It All About?, was published in 2003. ITV recently screen a drama starring Sheridan Smith, called Cilla.


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Atararazanas project approved

July 29, 2015 – 2:51 pm

After many years of prevarication, consultation and administrative wrangling, the Royal Shipyards of Seville, which date from Alfonso the Wise’s reign in the 13th century, are finally going to be restored and converted into a cultural centre.

The 25-million-euro project, presented by Fundacion La Caixa and Fundacion CajaSol, was approved by the Comision Provincial de Patrimonio Historico de Sevilla (Consejeria de Cultura) this week.

Back in 2008, the Junta granted a 75-year lease of the building to Fundacion La Caixa. Originally mooted as a Caixaforum cultural centre, which are renowned for their avant-garde architecture and high-quality exhibitions, the mudejar Atarazanas (shipyards) will now be funded as a Fundacion La Caixa centre, with the main Caixaforum transferred to the Torre Pelli, Seville’s new, and only, skyscraper. The  178m-tower was initially built by CajaSol bank, which was taken over by La Caixa during the construction process.

The project has been presented by Seville architect Guillermo Vazquez Consuegra, who had undertaken many commissions in the city: he designed the extension to Fibes Exhibition Centre; was responsible for the refurbishment of the Palacio San Telmo; and converted the Pabellon de Navegacion, which he also created for Expo 1992, into a museum.

Centro Cultural Atarazanas will have an open ground floor, so that visitors can fully appreciate the medieval arches, half of whose columns’ height are buried under the ground. The first floor, built by Carlos III as an artillery store at the end of the 19th century, will be an exhibition space.

Located close to the Cathedral and Alcazar, between Avenida de la Constitucion and the riverside Paseo de Cristobal Colon, the refurbished Atarzanas will form an important element of the monumental area of Seville.

The new cultural centre has been described as “un centro cultural de divulgación científica, técnica, artística y cultural” (a centre for scientific, technical, artistic and cultural dissemination).

Here is a short video (in English) about La Caixa Foundation.

La Caixa Foundation


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Historic houses opening to the public in Seville this autumn

July 17, 2015 – 3:27 pm

If you are planning a visit to Seville once the intense summer heat has dissipated, then you may be pleased to hear that, from this autumn, two important historic monuments with aristocratic heritage will be available to visit for the first time.

One is the Palacio de las Dueñas, the home of the late Duquesa de Alba, who was Europe’s most-titled noble and a familiar face in the city. Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart possessed numerous properties all over Spain – from city palaces and castles, to country estates and seaside villas; it said that you could cross the country from end to the other without setting foot off her land. But the Duchess’s favourite, especially in her later years, was her 15th-century palace in the heart of Seville.

Alf Cay holding hands.
Duquesa de Alba celebrated her wedding to Alfonso Diez at the Palacio de las Duenas, with press and adoring crowds packed into the street outside her gates.

This is where Cayetana spent her final hours surrounded by her family, before passing away last November; in happier times, it is where she celebrated her third and final wedding, to Alfonso Diez, with adoring crowds packed into the street outside her gates. The 80-something bride ventured outside with her new husband to dance for the delighted throng.

Sevillanos were, and indeed continue to be, fascinated and intrigued by this colourful woman, of highly aristocratic birth yet of the people. Cayetana was a larger-than-life character, rarely out of gossip magazines and TV programmes, ceaselessly commented on for her unconventional fashion sense, her family’s foibles and her unending appetite for travel. She was also a passionate devotee of Seville’s most emblematic events and traditions – bullfighting, flamenco, Semana Santa and Feria – right up until her death.

Entrance to the palace.
Entrance to the palace, which dates from the 15th century and has an impressive art collection.

So the opportunity to see inside her home, to look at her furniture, photographs, and other personal items, will be grabbed with great enthusiasm and excitement. The palace’s art collection extensive with important 19th and 20th-century Spanish paintings, as well as a watercolour painted by Jackie Kennedy when she visited, plus works by the Duquesa herself, who was a keen artist and found great solace in her painting.

mach plaque.
Tiled plaque commemorating the birthplace of poet Antonio Machado.

In addition, the palace is the birthplace of the much-loved Sevillano poet, Antonio Machado, who famously wrote:

Mi infancia son recuerdos de un patio de Sevilla
y un huerto claro donde madura el limonero…”

“My childhood memories are of a patio in Seville
and a bright garden where a lemon tree grows…”

The palace is scheduled to be opened to the public in October. Watch this blog and our Facebook page for more details.

Casa Rosa, the latest attraction you can visit in Seville this autumn.
Casa Rosa, the latest attraction you can visit in Seville this autumn.

The other is the Casa Rosa, a pretty, candy-pink French-style villa with magnificent gardens at the far end of Parque Maria Luisa.

mach plaque.
Itinerary for visit to Casa Rosa´s gardens – starting at the house, point 2.

The house was part of the vast estate of Palacio San Telmo, the palace which is currently used as the offices of the Junta de Andalucia’s President.

The palace was occupied in the second half of the 19th century by the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier (he was French aristocracy, she was a Spanish princess; they were cousins), who created an estate, comprising gardens, orchards, and hunting grounds, which stretched as far as Plaza de Americas (built subsequently for the Exposicion Ibero-Americano 1929).

A large part of the Montpensiers’ San Telmo estate was converted in Parque Maria Luisa in 1914, and the park was chosen as the site of the Expo 29.

The Dukes built Casa Rosa for their tailor, Juan Cruz, in 1880; it was extended in 1894 by the Marchioness of Angulo, who named it Villa Eugenia, and again in 1927, as part of the urban reorganisation for the 1929 Expo. In the 1990s the Junta de Andalucia carried out a refurbishment, and a decade later Casa Rosa stood in as the temporary offices of the Junta President while Palacio San Telmo was restored.

Villa Eugenia/Casa Rosa brought a new style of architecture to Seville, with its rectangular shape, mansard roof, look-out tower and Art Nouveau entrance canopy. These late 19th and early 20th-century features blend with the mudejar-style azulejos (ceramic tiles) for which Seville is famous, made just across the river in Triana.

Situated at the far end of the original San Telmo gardens, beyond Plaza de Americas between Avenida de las Palmeras and Avenida Manuel Siurot, now-named Casa Rosa has been described as a “joya romantica“, a romantic jewel.

In the gardens, which are shaded by scores of tall palm trees, you can see 100 botanical species from five continents, across a 7000m2 area. The visit will follow a set route, taking in the house’s patio, pond, aviaries, and old stables and zoo.

Casa Rosa and its gardens will be open for guided visits from 7 October. To book a visit, click here.


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Cultural events in Seville for summer 2015

June 29, 2015 – 9:50 am

In visitor figures released last week for May, Seville’s position as number one destination in Andalucia was confirmed, with overnight stays by foreign visitors who stayed a night in the city up by almost 10%.

Visitors to the Alcazar are up year on year by 11.5%, with the best May ever, and up over 13% so far this year – the Game of Thrones effect, perhaps? Several episodes of season 5 of the hugely popular HBO drama series, aired from April to June this year, were filmed in the palace and its gardens.

As every year, there’s a full programme of events for hot summer nights in Seville, from open-air movies to concerts and theatre.

 

 

 

Now in its 16th season, the night concerts in the Alcazar Gardens are the highlight of Seville's summer outdoor season.
Now in its 16th season, the night concerts in the Alcazar Gardens are the highlight of Seville’s summer outdoor season.

MUSIC

Best venue: Concerts in the Alcazar Gardens. To 12 September

From flamenco and jazz to classical, outside in the beautiful gardens, next to the Gallery, which recently featured in Game of Thrones as the Water Gardens of Dorne. Monday to Saturday, 10.30pm (doors open at 9pm – get there early to enjoy the moonlit scented air without the usual crowds). Printed programme available.

For more details see here.

 

 

Live music on Wednesday and Thursday nights in August:
Live music on Wednesday and Thursday nights in August: “not a month, a country”

 

Best for undiscovered bands: Nocturama. To 4 September

Concerts in the gardens of the CAAC,  the historic monastery where Columbus planned his voyages and now a contemporary art centre. Pop, indie and on Wednesday and Thursday in August and early September, 10pm (doors and bar open at 9pm).

For more details see here.

 

This screen will be next to the river on the Muelle de las Delicias.
This screen will be next to the river on the Muelle de las Delicias.

CELLULOID

Best screen: Open Star films by the river. 9 – 30 July

The world’s largest outdoor screen comes to Seville, on the Muelle de las Delicias, between Puentes de Los Remedios and Las Delicias. Two restaurants, live music, and a 350m2 screen (four times the size of a normal cinema’s). Action, thrillers and romance, with children’s movies (Cinderella, Annie, Penguins) on Sundays. Screenings at 10pm (doors open at 8.30pm).

For more details click here.

SThe huge patio of the Diputacion, home to outdoor movie showings.
The huge patio of the Diputacion, home to outdoor movie showings.

 

Best for foreign language: Films in the Patio de la Diputacion. To 14 September

In this large patio opposite the Jardines de Murillo (red building on corner opposite Puerta de la Carne, Menendez Pelayo 32). Daily showings at 10.15pm. Nearly all dubbed except for these in original version, on Sundays: Deux Jours, Une Nuit (VOS French, 5 July); Omar (VOS Arabic/Hebrew, 12 July); The Little House (VOS Japanese, 19 July); and Timbuktu (VOS English, French, Arabic, 26 July).

For more details click here.

 

Outdoor films are part of Sevillano summer life.
Outdoor films are part of Sevillano summer life.

Best barrio cinema: Cine Pumarejo. 2 – 30 July

Get in with the locals one of the Macarena’s most characterful squares with its crumbling mansion, beloved by the community and with its own currency, the puma. You can watch Spanish films, mostly comedies, on Thursday nights at 10pm.

For more details click here.

 

 A cultural smorgasbord at CICUS - poetry, theatre, flamenco, art and film.
A cultural smorgasbord at CICUS – poetry, theatre, flamenco, art and film.

 

Best for a bit of everything: 21 GRADOS. To 29 August

This one is more off-beat and literary, as expected from a university cultural initiative – open-air cinema (Orson Welles movies on Thursdays in July, in English; Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop on 25 August), music, theatre, exhibitions and poetry; flamenco on Thursdays. Events start at 10/10.30pm

For more details click here.

 


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6th Copa Jerez: And the winner is…

June 12, 2015 – 5:36 pm

As I mentioned in a recent preview  blog post, last Tuesday 9 June saw the world’s foremost sherry-pairing culinary contest: the Copa Jerez.

Sommelier Ian Adams and Chef Michelle  Matthews in front of the judging panel
Copa Jerez 2105 winners, Sommelier Ian Adams and Chef Michelle Matthews, of 16 Romolo in San Francisco, in front of the judging panel.

Teams of chefs and sommeliers from restaurants in eight countries – seven from Europe, plus the US –  each had to produce a three-course meal, every dish paired with a sherry. The event took place in the cradle of the sherry industry: Jerez de la Frontera.

The idea of the competition is to show the extraordinary versatility of sherry; how the different types of fortified wines pair beautifully with every type of dish, from seafood to beef, cheese to chocolate. Each team had already won the national final in its country.

German sommelier pouring sherry for the jury German sommelier, Guido Walter, pouring sherry for judge Beltran Domecq, president of Sherry’s Regulatory Council.

Judges for this sixth biannual event were a glittery array of culinary and wine professionals:  Pita Roca, sommelier of El Celler de Can Roca, holder of three Michelin stars and recently voted (again) the World’s Best Restaurant; Pedro Ballesteros Torres, Master of Wines, and member elect of the Governing Council of the Institute of Masters of Wine; Michael Weiss, Dean of the Wine Studies Department of the Culinary Institute of America in New York; and Beltran Domecq, winemaker and president of the Regulatory Council of Jerez Wines.

A day of hectic action, drama, tension, highs and lows, ended with victory for Team USA: sommelier Ian Adams and chef Michelle Matthews, of 16 Romolo in San Francisco, won the competition, with Ian additionally taking home the prize for Best Sommelier.  As well as presenting – and justifying – each sherry, and how it matches the dish, along with the chef who explains their choice of recipe, the sommeliers have to explain each wine to the press.

A charming, articulate and self-assured wine professional, who isn’t even 30, Ian did an excellent job of explaining his sherry choices to an audience which was far from captive, or even static – we journalists were constantly moving between the kitchens, the judging room and the press area itself to watch the finalists in action.

Belgian team working in the kitchen
Belgian team, who won Best Starter Pairing, working in the kitchen.

The winning menu from 16 Romolo was:

Starter: lightly poached prawn (looks more like lobster or crayfish in the photo below) in escabeche, with shaved mojama infused in cold saffron tomato broth, garnished with chive oil and chives, paired with Manzanilla Pasada Pastrana Hidalgo La Gitana

Main course: Pan-seared sweetbread and roast porcini-filled fresh pasta, liquorice-infused veal demisec, creamy artichoke puree, shaved black truffle, paired with Amontillado from Bodegas Gutierrez Colosia

Dessert: Toasted orange and Marcona almond semifreddo with warm Amontillado-infused chocolate ganache, finished with sea salt, paired with Palo Cortado VORS Apostoles from Gonzalez Byass

The three USA pairings
Winning combinations: the three USA pairings.

Due to logistical problems (our driver couldn’t find the venue), the Seville press group missed the first course, and as a non-meat-eater I couldn’t try the main, but I can tell you that the pudding was phenomenally good – tangy, sharp citrus; rich, sherry-soaked chocolate; and a savoury touch from the salt, paired with a complex Palo Cortadot. Ian explained that the Palo Cortado which he chose to match the dessert was very well-balanced, including all the flavours from the orange to the savoury finish.

Ian told the judges that “it had been fun to begin the day with a wine from Sanlucar, then change gears and go to El Puerto de Santa Maria, before closing it out and coming home to Jerez” for the final sherry.

Ian Sherry winning sommelier checking the sherry's aroma
Ian Adams, winning sommelier, testing his chosen sherry.

I grabbed a few minutes with Ian after he presented his main course sherry. When I asked him where he had studied to become a sommelier, he told me that he had no formal training, but had “trained in the nightclubs of LA and the steakhouses of Texas.” Ian moved from being a bartender in Los Angeles to the world of fine dining in his native San Francisco, where he was introduced to the world of port, madeiras and sherries. “Sherry was one of the things I thought was really cool,” he says. Great to see the new generation taking up the mantle of sherry ambassadors – in the US, sherry is very popular as a cocktail ingredient.

Ian also explained how he fell in love with the story of sherry, partly through learning about the history of the land where it’s made. He made his first trip to Spain in April this year, to visit the sherry bodegas.

Danish (Thai) team presenting their desert The Danish team, who are both from Thailand, won Best Creative Pairing; here they’re presenting their dessert, with matching sherry.

The other winners of Copa Jerez were:

Best chef: Adrian Zarzo (Holland)

Best starter pairing: Belgium – Salted cod with crunchy skin, Belgian asparagus salad with oyster sorbet, botargo (cured fish roe) with yoghurt cream, paired with Tio Pepe Fino en Rama 2015

Best main course pairing: Holland – Lamb sweetbreads, lentils and shrimps, paired with Oloroso 1930 Almacenista Lustau.

Best dessert pairing: Spain – Chocolate and Pedro Ximenez cream, with aniseed, orange, nutmeg, coffee and cinnamon, paired with Pedro Ximenez Antique Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla

Belgium and Spanish team offerings
Belgian (Best Starter Pairing, in front) and Spanish (Best Dessert Pairing, at back) offerings.

Best creative pairing: Denmark – this team were a Thai chef and sommelier, whose first course was so complex, consisting of many different elements, that it caused a delay which nearly had them disqualified. I tried their dessert and, while it looked exquisite, in a beautiful bowl, the flavours were not to my taste – the salt was overpowering, and the muscatel wine with which they matched it tasted chemical.

Some interesting pairings from teams included Holland’s starter: beef tartare with horseradish and quinoa, paired with Bota de Fino 35, Saca de Junio 2012 from Equipo Navazos - the first time I’ve ever heard of red meat being paired with fino; normally it would be served with a more full-bodied sherry such as an oloroso.

Competing for the first time this year was Russia, whose dessert was superb –  a chocolate mousse with smoked nuts and a raspberry-basil sorbet paired with Pedro Ximenez – but sadly this team, which had the only woman sommelier out of the eight countries, did not win any categories; Germany and the UK also went home empty-handed (the German dessert was yet another chocaholic’s dream, while the British offering was a new take on the classic bread and butter pudding). Chef Carlos Martinez, of the Lyttelton restaurant in London, is Spanish – he hails from Valencia.

You can watch a video about Copa Jerez 2015 here.


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Foro La Zagaleta – The Culture of Art

June 9, 2015 – 11:42 pm

GUEST BLOG POST: CHRIS CHAPLOW

Foro La Zagaleta
Foro La Zagaleta

The fourth edition of Foro La Zagaleta was held on Friday 5 June 2015, with the theme of the Culture of Art. As with previous years it was held in the Marbella Palacio de Congresos and coincided with the Marbella Town Hall’s tourism initiative called Marbella Luxury Weekend.

Opening

The opening addresses were by Chairman of La Zagaleta, Oswald J. Grübel and Marbella Mayoress, Angeles Muñoz.

Oswald Grübel joined Credit Suisse Group in 1970 as a Bond Trader and, after a distinguished career, he was called to the Executive Board of Credit Suisse in 1991, serving as CEO of Credit Suisse Group from 2004 until his retirement in 2007.

Oswald announced that 2014 had been La Zagaleta’s best year for sales since it was founded in 1991. Turning to art, Oswald jokingly referred to La Zagaleta’s relationship with art, suggesting that many of the houses were indeed works of art. On a more serious note, he suggested that western Governments wanted to keep interest rates low for the sake of their budget deficits. “We all feel this is not going to end very well.” He had our attention and continued “Money will depreciate and art will be an excellent investment,” but added a caveat “one has to have expert advice”. At least we were in the right place.

Angelez Muñoz @AngelesMunoz_ thanked La Zagaleta for hosting the fourth forum and expressed a hope that it would continue for many more years to come. She reflected back to when the idea was first floated; to bring to bring some of the best speakers to Marbella. Marbella Luxury Weekend had been inaugurated the year before and now the whole even made Marbella a “referente turistico” (tourist point of reference).

Presentations

Borja Borrero @BorjaBorrero1 opened the presentations as Head of Creativity for Interbrand EMEA. Borja has led creative projects with global impact such as the repositioning of Movistar, Bankia, Iberia and Repsol so he was worth sitting up and listening to.

Borja talked about the intersection of Art, Branding and Luxury. Great brands are an art – he demonstrated this with images of the design trade marks (logos) of Coco Cola, Mickey Mouse and General Electric. The Picasso signature is now a design mark.

“Why is one brand worth more than another?” Borja asked. “The mark has a separate value from the product,” he answered, and somewhat uncomfortably reminded us that “When you by a luxury product, you are buying 70% or 80% the brand.”

Borja added. “We are in the era of ‘you’, where the brand is integrated with the consumer”

Nuria de Miguel @Nuriademiguel was the second speaker. She had a career in publishing and in 1989 she joined La Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado in Madrid where, since 1993, she has been Secretary General. In this position she reports to both the museum board and the museum director on behalf of the Amigos.

Nuria, an accomplished presenter, gave us an overview of the museum itself, which has 33,000 works, 2.5 million visitors a year, 400 employees, and an annual budget of €38m. She then explained the work of this 30-year-old foundation, known simply as ‘Amigos’, whose membership numbers 28,000 individuals, companies, groups and corporations who fund the foundation’s programme with sponsorships and donations.

Nuria outlined the work of the Amigos. An annual programme of activities, including both offline and online courses; book readings, including those for children; conferences; and the production of publications and initiatives such as “La Obra Invitada” to bring works from other national and international museums to the Prado.

The role of the Amigos is much more wide-ranging than I had expected and covered areas that I had assumed were within the remit of the museum itself.

Lord Mark Poltimor, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and Chairman of Sotheby’s Russia
Lord Mark Poltimor, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and Chairman of Sotheby’s Russia

Lord Mark Poltimore, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and Chairman of Sotheby’s Russia, Mark has over 30 years’ experience in the art market and is the auctioneer for Russian paintings sales. He works with Russian private collectors and institutions. He has been at Sotheby’s in 2002, and specializes in Old Masters, English, Victorian, 19th Century and Modern and Impressionist works.

Lord Poltimore opened his very natural style presentation by telling us the art marked had changed dramatically in the last 20 years. There is currently a trend to go for brands (Artists have become brand names), and headlines and hype.

In true British style he apologized for talking about money but as an auctioneer at a business event he had little choice. Lord Mark explained the golden nugget of the Key Investment Factors, some obvious and others less so. They are: Identification, Artistic provenance, Historical importance, Subject, Size, Rarity, Quality, Condition, Promotion (literature, advertising, exhibitions, etc.), Freshness to market, and Fashion & Trends.

“L’ Allee des Alyscamps”, the autumnal scene painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1888 shortly before he cut off his own ear, must have ticked the key investment factors as it sold on 5 May to an Asian buyer for $66m (auction record for Van Gogh is $83m). The painting had sold for $2m in 2003 and $11m a few years ago; it’s a classic trophy picture with an upward investment record.

“The world has gone modern,” explained Lord Mark after a recent $22m sales for a contemporary work that had sold for $12m in 2002. He explained the rationale, “Modern makes a statement, and people like to be seen as trendsetters, they like it when a visitor to their home says ‘I hate that painting …you paid how much?’ “

The Sothebys Deputy Chairman gave examples of how good wines can have an impressive investment record. A case of a rare 1982 wine worth $2k in 1990, and $15k in 2010, sold last month for $47k. Apparently “there are still great drinkers out there buying this wine”.

Lord Poltimore showed us a black and white photo of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis wearing an imitation pearl necklace with John Kennedy Junior pulling at them. She bought these from Bergdorf Goodman in the 1950s for $35. They sold at auction in 1996 for $211,000, a phenomenal bargain, as owning the ‘original fakes’ gave credibility to sell copies of fakes. The buyer sold 130,000 copies at $200 each, grossing $26m.

He showed us with a photo of his sturdy Victorian dining room table (valued at £5,000 in a 2005 valuation), recently valued at only £800, to remind us that not all objects increase in value with age. Some items, he demonstrated, go up and down as fashion changes.

Lord Mark also mentioned a recent high-growth sector, which he felt would go up in value – classic cars.

His final words of advice: “Buy the best you can afford – don’t necessarily go with the trend; go against it. If you have £1000 to spend, buy one thing and not ten, and buy something that is easy to live with.”

Round Table - TRENDS IN TODAY'S ART MARKET
Round Table – TRENDS IN TODAY’S ART MARKET

Round Table – TRENDS IN TODAY’S ART MARKET

Lord Poltimore’s presentation led neatly into the round-table moderated by Mara Torres, @maratorres_ who was this (and last) year’s forum presenter. Mara did a fantastic job with ample experience as she is the current anchor of Televisión Española’s La 2 Noticias, and one of Spain’s best known journalists.

The round table – or better described as the familiar round sofa (last year red, this year blue) – the standard light with dark curtains covered in stars glowing provided that cosy night-time chat effect.

Lt consisted of Armando Andrade, born in Lima in 1952 a renowned artist, graphic designer, publicist and a specialist in communication. Founder and President of Brandgroup.

Juan A. Rodríguez Gamero, @juanrgamero is an online marketing professional who worked as Marketing Manager at Balclis, the leading Spanish auction house, and currently acts as Manager at The Art Market-Agency, a marketing agency that specialises in art. He also represents the auction meta-search engine; Barnebys.com.

Mauricio Álvarez de las Asturias Bohorques, Viscount of Caparacena, is Managing Director of AXA Art Spain & Portugal, the insurance company dedicated exclusively to the protection of works of art. His distinctive experience and know-how acquired over the years make this company a point of reference for all those who look after works of art or antiques.

Some notable quotes from this round table:

Lord Mark: Internet is a change to the art world, but only a small part of Sotheby market is online. The information is great, but you have to be careful.

Armando Andrade: The fundamental question is this: how do you value a work of art? The auction is, of course, the way. It’s difficult to work out why there’s such change in price from one auction to another within a relatively short time span.

Mara asked: What are the keys to know which artists will be the next success stories?

The brand of the gallery is important.

If a gallery has confidence in the artist and assures a re-evaluation of the work, the client will buy.

Lord Mark: the Saatchi family has had considerable success with British art, but failures with young Russian and Chinese artists. Success shouts louder and such news travels faster and further than failure.

Presentation

Carlos Falcó, Marquis of Griñon @CarlosFalcoMDG was born in Seville. His family vineyards with Denomination Valdepusa (Toledo) have been associated with the title Marquís of Griñon since 1292. The winery is a pioneer at European level in introducing new technologies in viticulture, such as drip irrigation or the use of digital sensors as a control method. Carlos published his first book in June 1999, ‘Entender de Vino’, (Understanding Wine) which is now in its 16th edition in Spain. Mr. Falco is also President of Círculo Fortuny – the association of Spanish elite brands.

Carlos regaled us with some statistics, “The rise of luxury spend worldwide had risen from 600 billion to 800 billion in the last few years, mainly as a result of the emerging markets.
70% of the world’s luxury products come from Europe, and it is the motor of the economy. The EU has 7% of the world’s population, 24% of the GDP and 40% in well-being spend. Angela Merkel has said that the only way for the EU to be successful is to do ‘excellence’.”

Carlos gave us this advice: “The Spanish brand is fine, it is not inferior to anything, but we are selling ourselves short in the world….we need to go abroad more… however in terms of innovation and culture we have nothing to envy in other EU countries.”

Carlos criticized the outdated definition of luxury which according to the Real Academy Española refers to something excessive, expensive, little practical and useless.

Lujo (from the Latin: lexus)
Demasía en el adorno, en la pompa y en el regalo.
Abundancia de cosas no necesarias.
Todo aquello que supera los medios normales de alguien para conseguirlo.

I recall a speaker at a previous La Zagaleta forum trying without success to define luxury.

Round Table - CONNECTING WITH THE LUXURY CONSUMER THROUGH ART
Round Table – CONNECTING WITH THE LUXURY CONSUMER THROUGH ART

Round Table – CONNECTING WITH THE LUXURY CONSUMER THROUGH ART

Carlos Falcó in his role as Executive Chairman of the prestigious Círculo Fortuny led a debate on the role of art within a luxury brand’s client outreach strategy. Taking part were.

Arturo Berned @ArturoBerned was born in Madrid in 1966, and is an architect and sculptor whose work is based upon the reinterpretation of both shapes and metal. With an abstract approach, his works are mathematical and geometric and often based on the Golden Ratio named after the Greek letter Phi.

Rosa Lladró @lladro is the daughter of Juan Lladró, the eldest of the Valencian ceramics company’s founding brothers. Rosa was appointed a member of the Lladró board in 1984 and Chair in 2003. Currently President of the Spanish Confederation of Glass and Ceramics.

Some notable quotes from this round table:

Rosa Lladró mentioned that their ceramics were “nothing to do with borders, we sell to a hundred countries, it is the personality of the owner that we sell to.”

Carlos Falcó quoted Oscar Wilde by stating “The price of everything and the value of nothing” and returning to the definition of luxury he said that “to eat bread soaked in virgin olive oil alfresco with the family was luxury.”

Arturo Berned: The value of a piece of art has a lot to do with the feeling of the observer.

Rosa Lladró advised potential art investor to “invest in what you love”.

Dani Garcia chatting to Mara Torres
Dani Garcia chatting to Mara Torres

Live Demonstration – ART EXPRESSED THROUGH GASTRONOMY

Always a highlight of the forum is the live cooking demonstration by two-Michelin-star chef, Dani García, showed the attendees how cooking can also be art form. Or did he?

To help the reader decide, here is the definition of ‘art’ from the Oxford English Dictionary: “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form, such as a painting or a sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

Dani said himself “Although the kitchen is in part artistic, philosophical and creative, I don’t think that a chef is an artist…..Well the inventor of the tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette) was a ‘crack’.”

Dani García @danigarcia_ca, born in 1975, is a local Marbellan hero. He is one of the important figures of the current Spanish gastronomic scene. His gastronomic concept, like his strong accent, is based on Andalucian tradition.

Links to an interview with Dani Garcia and other related blog posts on Andalucia.com:
Interview with Dani Garcia
Andalucia Sabor International Fine Food Exhibition I
Andalucia Sabor International Fine Food Exhibition II
The Ultimate Tapas Experience(s), courtesy of Dani Garcia and other top Andalucian chefs
Dani Garcia heads to New York
TEDx Marbella

Not afraid to experiment with the latest and riskiest techniques, both in the kitchen, and in business or on the stage. A strong supporter of the troubled Málaga catering school, “La Cónsula”, where he first studied. Early on he joined the kitchen at Martín Berasategui Restaurant in Lasarte, Guipüzcoa, before returning south to Ronda where he was chef at Tragabuches. He opened Restaurant Calima in 2005, help re-brand La Moraga in Malaga, opened (and closed) Manzanilla in Malaga and New York. His other projects include a bistro called MilMilagros in Marbella; a Dani Garcia cafe in Malaga Airport (just after security), and he currently heads the spectacular Dani Garcia and Restaurant Bibo at the Hotel Puente Romano in Marbella, has two Michelin stars, and the Repsol Guide has awarded him three Sol Awards. His catering support the top events in Marbella.

Mara Torres interviewed Dani whilst the impromptu kitchen was being set up on stage. “What are you next projects?” “To be happy”, Dani quipped. “Seriously, when I was younger (and I still am young), I had loads of projects in my mind. Now I don’t, because you never know what is round the corner.” He continues jokingly “Perhaps open a pizzeria, or even make hamburgers in McDonald’s.”

This brought a loud laugh: non-Spanish readers might not be aware that the fast food chain has teamed up Dani in Spain to include on the menu for a limited time “Grand McExtrem BiBo Burger by Dani Garcia” We now see Dani’s smiling face on every bus stand from Albacete to Zaragoza. Dani’s burger is nice, but to me it still is both a McDonald’s burger and a textbook example of brand-stretching.

Dani’s justification was that many could not afford to eat at his restaurant that ‘only’ serves 17,000 a year, and this way his McDonald’s recipe reaches 70,000 a day.

My prize for the most retweeted (7) and favourited (7) tweeted photo of #FLZ15 goes to @luyk_e with a photo of @DaniGarcia and @maratorres_ talking on stage. Well done!

Dani believes that gastronomy should have an element of seduction which he refers to as ‘morbo’.

We enjoyed live demonstrations of his creations that did indeed turn out to look like art. One was chocolate ‘lacework’, and an edible coral reef.

Round Table - SPANISH CRAFTSMANSHIP: CULTURAL HERITAGE AND THE NEW CONSUMER
Round Table – SPANISH CRAFTSMANSHIP: CULTURAL HERITAGE AND THE NEW CONSUMER

Round Table – SPANISH CRAFTSMANSHIP: CULTURAL HERITAGE AND THE NEW CONSUMER

The Director of the Fundación MOVEX led a debate among talented artisans who will explore their profession and the challenge of retaining their cultural identity in the midst of a very demanding and modern client base.

Felipe Conde, is a third-generation guitar-maker (luthier) from Madrid. He is the direct descendant and heir of the Conde brothers, and Domingo Esteso, who established his workshop in 1915. Their guitars are 100 per cent handcrafted, lavishing great care upon every detail, from the selection of the finest-toned woods to the impeccable workmanship and finishing. His son Felipe Jr. and daughter Mar have recently joined the family business, representing the fourth generation of the Esteso-Conde luthiers. Celebrated artists like Leonard Cohen, Paco de Lucía, Al di Meola and Enrique de Melchor play or played the guitars built by himself or his late father or grandfather. As the production is unique, Felipe always makes two, just in case.

Guitar making
Guitar making

Francisco Carrera Iglesias @paquili1 This gold embroiderer was born in Seville in 1957. He spent six months with the Martín Cruz sisters, which enriched his work in gold embroidery. Francisco’s workshop in Seville mainly focuses on works for Semana Santa processions. Major collaborations include a project with Gastón and Daniela to design and hand-embroider fabrics for the decoration of the Royal Theatre of Madrid in 1998. Over the past ten years, he has also participated in the “Fiestas” Collection by Loewe, consisting mainly of work with glass, silk and jewels and has collaborated with brands like Del Pozo International, or designers like Colour Nude, Ca avete, Juan Vara, Antonio García and Victorio & Lucchino.

Jaime Mato G. Ansorena, @AnsorenaArte has been the CEO of Ansorena since 1999. The family business was established in 1845 and in 1860, was named Jeweller and Diamond Merchant to the Royal Household. In 1974 a specialist auction house was set up. Ansorena also manages private sales and has a valuation and expert assessment service.

Javier Gallego, is a leather expert born in Ubrique. He currently presides over the Movex Foundation, a laboratory for experimentation and innovation in the leather industry. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Piel Design Master program, organized by the Centro Superior de Diseño y Moda de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid with the support of the Loewe Foundation. He has spoken at events such as: National Meeting of Science and Craft, National Meeting of Craft and Luxury and TEDx Bastion.

Norman Vilalta @normanvilalta Born in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia (Argentina) in 1971, Norman Vilalta went to the Universidad Católica Argentina, where he earned a Law Degree. After working as a lawyer, he decided at the age of 31 to take a shoemaker’s apprenticeship at Stefano Bemer’s workshop in Florence. He opened his own atelier in Barcelona and in 2010 joined the Cofrade de Maestros Zapateros de San Marcos, a guild of master shoemakers from the 12th century (the oldest master shoemakers’ guild in the world). International clientele and renown earned him a coveted slot as one of the best shoemakers in the world in 2015. Vilalta launched his first ready-to-wear shoe collection in 2014 with outlets in NYC, Seoul, Madrid and Barcelona.

Some notable quotes from this round table:

Javier Gallego: More than 3,000 inhabitants (of 17,000 registered inhabitants) in Ubrique make their living from handicrafts.

Francisco Carrera Iglesias: Spain and Andalucia still have potential with lots of handicraft workshops that now don’t exist in other places. Chanel in Paris has had to buy three workshops in France in order to guarantee its supply.

One of the reasons for their gold embroidery workshops’ survival is the renewed interest in Semana Santa. The skills are passed down from father to son – there is no school that teaches this trade. Francisco is lucky that his children have an interest in the craft.

There is a recent idea to put the name of the craftsman on the product and how many hours it took to create.

Norman Vilalta: The thing that all the craftsmen have in common is that our heart is in our job.

Round Table - MALAGA:  TRANSFORMING A CITY THROUGH ART
Round Table – MALAGA: TRANSFORMING A CITY THROUGH ART

Round Table – MALAGA: TRANSFORMING A CITY THROUGH ART

Mara Torres moderated a discussion on the economic and cultural impact of art on a city like Málaga.

Fernando Francés @FdoFrances born in Torrelavega in 1961 is the Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art in Málaga, better known as the CAC. He is considered one of the 500 most influential Spaniards, according to newspaper El Mundo, is in the ranking of the top 25 figures of the art world in Spain, as well as in the top 25 of the international art scene, according to Vanity Fair. He has advised and curated numerous national and international artistic projects; has collaborated with major national media as an art critic; has directed prestigious publications and art journals. He guides courses, seminars and lectures in organizations and public and private centers.

Francisco de la Torre was born in Málaga in 1942. Mayor of Málaga since year 2000, he is married with four children. De la Torre has a degree in sociology and a doctorate in agronomy and regional development from the University of Rennes (France).

Francisco Javier Ferrer Morat began his professional career in the Municipal Planning Department of Málaga, where he was Head of the Building Conservation Section and was responsible for the legal consulting aspect of the city’s urban ordinance plan. He directly participated in the pedestrianisation of the historic city center, the creation of cultural incentives, such as the Center for Contemporary Art, the Automobile Museum, the Revello de Toro Museum, the collaboration with the Picasso Museum, the Art Natura center, the acquisition of collections for the Picasso Birthplace Foundation, and he also coordinated the founding project of the Museum Carmen Thyssen.

José María Luna has been Director of the Picasso Foundation-Birthplace Museum since 2011, now called the Public Agency for the Management of the Birthplace of Pablo Ruiz Picasso and other cultural facilities, among them, the new Centre Pompidou Málaga and the Russian Museum Collection. Luna has a degree in Philosophy (with a focus on Art History) from the University of Málaga, where he also studied for a PhD in Art History.
He was also the Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Spanish Prints of Marbella, and later served as Director, from 2009 to 2011.

Some notable quotes from this round table:

Francisco de la Torre: Malaga has become a cultural city open to the world. The plan was: first, Malaga Picasso museum and then the Thyssen, and then other museums and art galleries; now even more new ones are opening, such as the Automobile, Pompidou etc. it has been a long journey. Next is the expansion and development of the city’s port.

People with talent look for a city with art. On the tourism front, Málaga has grown 125% in six years.

Fernando Francés: Art serves to change the world; CAC is the oldest of the new museums.

Javier Ferrer: The art effect is a protection for the city, and apart from this the city develops commercially.

Jose Maria Luna: It also increases the self-esteem of the city’s inhabitants.

In answer to Mara’s question “Where are the museums headed?”

They are changing. Working on the path to attract younger visitors.

Fernando Francés: And take the museum to people’s homes.

Francisco de la Torre: Underlined the importance of SOHO (up-and-coming street art district of Malaga near the CAC)

Fernando Francés: The CAC is not a place to store old things. It is a place to have your mind opened.

Jose Maria Luna: Visitors at the Picasso Birthplace are older than those of the CAC. We have university groups doing acts and presentations.

Javier Ferrer: It is also important to do research on who does not come.

Closing Remarks

Jacabo Celestino, Managing Director, on behalf of the La Zagaleta’s management team, closed the forum by thanking the sponsors, speakers and organizing team. “We have all something in common with the houses in La Zagaleta and that is to do things well, more than well.” Jacabo explained “La Zagaleta is a very hierarchical organization, everybody from top to bottom understands who is the boss…….the client”. A lot of business in Andalucia need to understand this.

Jacabo Cestino, Managing Director, La Zagaleta closes the foro
Jacabo Cestino, Managing Director, La Zagaleta closes the foro

Housekeeping

This year there were 22 speakers (8 at the podium and 14 in the round table discussions. This was more than previous editions (except the marathon two-day first edition). So I tip my hat to the organizing team for pulling this off. La Zagaleta have experimented with the format again and there was support amongst the attendees for this year’s concept: a longer morning session, with networking lunch and no afternoon session. I think that is more time-efficient, and those who had other commitments simply dropped the lunch and did not miss any presentations. My personal preference would have been for more formal presentations and less round table discussion, but I appreciate the need to ‘ring the changes’.

Afterthoughts

We do need to be thankful for La Zagaleta. I was reminded of this the following day when by chance I took a wrong turn into the hinterland west of Estepona. I encountered a huge unfinished development, where roads had been constructed and abandoned, street lamps are rusting and there are big holes where manhole covers had been stolen. A few super-high-density apartment blocks were complete, with vast overgrown unkempt wasteland in between awaiting a similar fate. Surely low-density would have been a better solution for all except the developer. Over the hills in La Zagaleta we have something that is unique and to be proud of; long live the little shepherd girl, long live the La Zagaleta brand.

Links to the previous La Zagaleta Forum reports:

2014 – The Brand of the 21st Century

2013 – Brands & Trends, Management & Leadership in Challenging Times

2012 – Marbella: luxury brands examined


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6th Copa Jerez – best sherry and food pairing in the world

June 5, 2015 – 9:55 pm

This bi-annual cooking and pairing competition showcases the wines of Jerez: sherry.This 6th bi-annual cooking and pairing competition showcasing sherry wines is on Tuesday 9 June.

6th Copa Jerez – Best Sherry and Food Pairing in the WorldJose Lopez-Montenegro – sommelier of  Atrio restaurant in Caceres.

Every two years, the world’s finest chefs and sommeliers come together in Jerez de la Frontera to compete in a unique international gastronomic competition, where dishes are paired with different sherry wines: Copa Jerez.

Each pair of chef and sommelier, representing the restaurant where they work together, has already achieved top place in the national culinary pairing contest in one of the eight countries, which took place in 2014.

This sixth Copa Jerez takes place this Tuesday, 9 June. The winner of the last competition, the fifth Copa Jerez in 2013, was Clou in Denmark.

The nations represented in this year’s Copa Jerez are: Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, the US, the Netherlands, the UK, and, for the first time, Russia.

The Copa Jerez is not only a chance to showcase sherry wines and their perfect match with many types of food, but is also a powerful draw for restaurateurs and gourmet food and wine experts from around the world – around 500 are expected to attend .

Each team of chef and sommelier has to produce three dishes, paired with three Sherry wines.

Spain’s representative is the Caceres restaurant, Atrio, which has two Michelin stars. Its chef and sommelier, Alberto Montes Pereira and Jose Lopez-Montenegro, have chosen this as their three-course menu matched with Sherry wines:

  • Carrot, nettle and fennel ravioli paired with Manzanilla Sacristia AB Seleccion Personal Antonio Barbadillo
  • Pork tempura with tomato and amontillado sauce, crayfish and sweetcorn paired with Amontillado El Tresillo 1874 Viejo from Bodega Emilio Hidalgo
  • Chocolate cream with PX, aniseed, orange, nutmeg, coffee and cinnamon, paired with Pedro Ximenez Antique Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla

The other restaurants competing in this year’s Copa Jerez are:

  • The Lyttleton (The Stafford Hotel, London, UK)
  • Marais Soir, Munich (Germany)
  • Kiin, Copenhagen (Denmark)
  • 15 Romolo, San Francisco (USA)
  • Wine Religion, Moscow (Russia)
  • Comme Chez Soi, Brussels (Belgium)
  • Zarzo, Eindhoven (Netherlands)

6th Copa Jerez – Best Sherry and Food Pairing in the WorldCelebrating winning the national final of Copa Jerez: the chef and sommelier (wearing red neckbands) of Atrio restaurant, with judges – Beltra Domecq, far right, is also judging the international final.

 


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Olive Oil Experience in Seville

June 1, 2015 – 10:30 pm
The Aceite Olive Experience next to Palacio San Telmo

The Aceite Olivo Experience, with the tasting carts lined up outside Palacio San Telmo in Seville.

Display of Evoos

Display of EVOOs – in all shapes of bottles and tins.

Anyone who knows Andalucia will know the importance of olive oil in the diet here. For breakfast, on toast, in cold soups, to dress salads, poured over everything from potatoes to fish.

This week in Seville, you can taste a variety of dishes which are being made with EVOO – extra virgin olive oil, as well as seeing an exhibition of more than 200 olive oils. More than half of these hail from Andalucia, especially Jaen and Cordoba provinces, such as Cortijo Espiritu Santo, although also Seville, Almeria and Malaga.

This exhibition, Aceite de Oliva, Toda Una Experiencia, which takes place in a temporary marquee outside Palacio San Telmo, near Puerta Jerez in Seville, is on until 5 June.

Preparing Alinado de Patatas

Preparing aliñado de patatas.

Crushing the Garlic for Ajo Aceite

Crushing the garlic for ajo-aceite.

Among the tapas you can try are polea, a cold, thick soup of grapes, milk, flour, and of course olive oil; aliñado de patatas (potatoes, spring onions, parsley, sherry vinegar and olive oil) , carpaccio de presa with pipirana (salad of finely chopped peppers, onions, tomatoes and olive oil), and asadillo de pimiento (roasted peppers).

The Four Main Varieties

The four main varieties of olive oil.

Tasting Area

Tasting area of Olive Oil Experience.

If you’ve never tried different varieties of olive oil, it’s well worth tasting these to learn how distinctive the colours, flavours and aromas are – you may have seen the yellow tasting carts around the city over the past few days. The four types of olive oil used in the tastings are sweet arbequina, aromatic cornicabra, fruity hojiblanca and spicy picual.

If you don’t manage to make it to this tasting experience, be sure to experiment with olive oils next time you’re shopping – try a new one; a whole new world of sensations awaits.


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