Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine
I absolutely love sherry. Not the insipid rubbish your Nan use to drink (the sweet British or Cypriot stuff that can no longer legally- thanks to the EU – be called sherry), but the proper stuff (Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso etc) made in the “Sherry Triangle”. With the help of places like the lovely Bar 44 in Cardiff (and surrounds) and the excellent International Sherry Week initiative, sherry is rapidly shedding it’s old spinster aunt image in the UK (and beyond) and becoming trendy. I always thought it was cool, but am pleased to see others agree.
Not only is it one of the great white wines of the world (ranging from the super dry Manzanillas – from Sanlucar de Barrameda only – and Finos to the unctiously sweet Pedro Ximenez wines)
and the best value to boot, it is increasingly being used in cocktails (I personally love a drop of Fino in my Bloody Mary’s) and as a longer drink with a mixer added. This means a whole new younger audience are starting to become aware of the delights of sherry. I am very partial to a Fino and tonic (in a proper Spanish G&T glass – the quinine seems to work really well with the savoury flavours of a Fino). Rebujito (fino and 7up, with ice) is also very popular in the sherry town that is Jerez.
It is lovely to see young and old all drinking sherry in the bars in Jerez.
A week in Jerez (one of the three towns, along with Sanlucar de Barrameda and el Puerto de Santa Maria, forming the “Sherry Triangle”) on holiday is my kind of heaven. What’s not to like about good food and wine (sherry and more) at bargain prices, with a bit of Flamenco thrown in for good measure.
We had a marvellous time in Jerez and I have listed below some of the food and drink places Mrs. SF and I visited and enjoyed during on our week long trip.
Tabanco Platero (Plaza Plateros, 11403 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain –Website )
A lovely little joint with a good (if slightly limited – house sherries are from the Romerito range by Cooperative Nuestra Señora de Las Angustias, as well as La Ina Fino and Micaela Manzanilla) selection of sherries. Rock bottom prices (€1 – €1.50 for a copa of sherry, €4 for 1/2 bottles and €6 – €9 for a full bottle – other than Palo Cortado which is €15) made this our start off and end of night stop off (handily only a stone’s throw from our apartment). The deal is sweetened by a bowl of oIives with each drinks order (how they made any money is beyond me)
The short, but very nice, selection of tapas (€2 a pop, bar from a few posh ones which are €3) operates to soak up the booze. It was fascinating to watch tapas fly out of a kitchen no bigger than the average broom cupboard.
They also do bargain flights of sherry (solo – €4.50 for 5 glasses I think) or with cheese or meats (€8), which are well worth a go.
It is a bar that is popular with young and old in Jerez with the vast majority drinking sherry not beer. A gem of a place in my opinion, with the only draw back being the difficulty in getting a seat. It was always busy.
Tabanco El Guitarron de San Pedro
(Calle Bizcocheros, 16, 11402 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain – Website)
Lovely little bar this one, with an amazing array of sherries. You can go for the perfectly nice “house” sherries for €1 or move up the gears and go for something special (a single vintage Lustau Anades 1997, for €7 a glass, for example). The list is a marvellous array of what the Sherry Triangle has to offer.
The tapas here are also very good – biggest tortilla de patatas I have every seen – with loads to compliment the main event in the form of the sherries.
If you go at the weekend around 15.30 (also some weekdays at 21.00 or 22.00) they have proper Andulasian flamenco (the predominately Spanish, rather than tourist, audience really get into it). A perfect way to spend an afternoon in Jerez – sherry, tapas and flamenco. Bit off the beaten track, but well worth the effort to track down, this is a must go to place if in Jerez.
Bar Juanita (Calle de Pescadería Vieja, 8-10, 11403 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain – Website)
Offering tapas and more substantial meals, we had a pleasant selection of mainly sherry based tapas here.
Dishes included tuna with peppers in sherry vinegar, meatballs in an Oloroso sauce, a couple of tortillitas (thin crisp pancake\rosti affairs with tiny shrimps embedded in them) and a lovely beef cheek dish.
Numerous sherries are on offer, with the “house” Fino being the ever reliable Tio Pepe.
All this came to a very wallet friendly €16.50, including the half bottle of Tio Pepe.
If you want something more substantial than tapas, the fish here looks very good (Jerez’s fish market is epic).
Bit more touristy this place, but still a good one to try.
La Carbona (Calle San Francisco de Paula, 2, 11401 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain – Website)
This lovely restaurant is situated in an old sherry bodega and they have a fine selection of sherries and other wines on offer.
We arrived “early” for lunch at 2pm, but by 4pm the placed had filled up with Spanish families.
We were there for their sherry tasting menu, 5 courses with sherries paired with each course.
A marvelous way to see how versatile sherry is as a food wine (here even taking on that tricky food, wine wise, the artichoke with a great match in the form of an Amontillado)
Every dish was good, but the stars of the show were a gorgeous mackerel cake ( top left in the picture above), matched with a Palo Cortado and an enormous hunk of perfectly cooked beef, matched with an Oloroso.
A photo malfunction meant I failed to get picture of the Palo Cortado (hence only 4 bottles and glasses in the photo)
Fantastic value for money at the ridiculously (in my view) low price of €38 each all in wine and food.
Good place for lunch if visiting Lustau
Val de Pepe (Calle Paraíso, 8, 11405 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain – Website)
We went to this place (based on a top tip from @purpleteeth – thank you) after getting caught out in the open during a not so brief downpour and it proved to be the perfect tonic to banish the dampness (we had not really packed for heavy rain).
Excellent food (as tapas and as more substantial racions) are on offer here at very reasonable prices.
Highlights were a fantastic beef carpaccio (madly cheap at €2.20)
and a lovely bottle of Tierra de La Cadiz red wine recommended by the waiter.
This was a lovely drop and fantastic value at a mere €12. Nice selection of sherries here also (I started off proceeding with a very pleasant Valdespino Fino).
The bill was a very pleasing €47 (great value for what we got I thought)
Reino de Leon Gastrobar (Calle Latorre, 8, 11403 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain – Website)
Nice place this, in the heart of the old town, with both tapas and a full restaurant offering
The tapas and racions (half and full) on offer are a nice mix of the rustic and the more elaborate.
We had a selection of the more rustic dishes on the menu
The very good olives came gratis with the drinks.
There is a lovely selection of sherries on offer (slightly more pricey than the Tabancos – you pay for the less rustic interior), as well as a very decent selection of other reds and whites from Spain. We have a lovely Fino en Rama Cruz Viejo ( Faustino Gonzalez – pricey at €5.95 a glass but the price reflects a miniscule production run and it being hand made) and a glass of red wine from Tierra de La Cadiz (Barbazul – €2.60 a glass) each with our food. All in the price was a very fair €44 (not bad bearing in mind the cost of the Fino we had)
Space dictates that I cannot go into detail on all of the places we visited, but we also enjoyed:
Tabanco El Pasaje (Bit touristy, but good food, sherry and flamenco. House sherries served curiously in shot glass and your bill is written in chalk on the bar, which gave it a bit of a Wild West saloon feel);
Albala (High end place with a very interesting tapas menu – sea anemone omelette anyone – and a good place for lunch if visiting the Real Escuela de Arte Equestre or Sandermans. It is next to a great little sherry shop, La Casa de Jerez, which has some lovely bottles at very good prices);
Alboronia (Good Moorish inspired tapas with a fantastic value house red – from Ribero del Duero – at an amazing €8.50 a bottle/€1.80 a glass); and
Calidad en Boca (Wine shop and bar, with decent tapas and nice selection of sherries – I had a lovely glass of Botaina Amontillado here – and other wines. You can also buy a bottle of wine in the shop and drink it in the bar with an uplift of €5 per bottle regardless of bottle price).
I loved Jerez – interesting city with fantastic food, wine and people. It is also seriously easy on the wallet (glass of sherry, other wine or beer – that will be a Euro). Little bit rough around the edges perhaps (some lovely building have been left to seemingly slowly disintegrate), but beautiful nonetheless.
This time of year is a good time to visit Jerez, as not too hot and you have the Moto GP and the famous Feria del Cabello (Horse fair, but also a really big sherryfest). Book early though (i.e now).
Highlight of our trip was an afternoon with the lovely people from Bodegas Urium who treated Mrs. SF and I like we were old friends. Mrs. SF was even serenaded.
Fantastic matching food (a beef and artichoke stew, cook using and paired with their wonderful Palo Cortado, will live long in the memory) to go with their stellar wines (all tasted direct from the butt). These are wines made with love and passion and it shows.
If you want to taste how fabulous sherry can be then you really need to try their wines. They are, without exception, outstanding.
You can get Bodegas Urium’s fantastic wines in the UK from Sherry Boutique (retail website should be up and running in May/June 2016 or you could go to Jerez :)).
If you want a Jerez like experience with sherry and tapas in Cardiff, Penarth or Cowbridge, Bar 44 is the place to go.
We stayed in Apartamentos Casa Juana in the old town. Very traditional old Spanish house split into apartments. Quite rustic but good value, with a great location and a lovely roof terrace.
Direct flights to Jerez from the UK are few and far between (we flew from Standsted with Ryanair), but it is only an hour on the train from Seville (much better connected to UK). A two centre trip taking in Seville and Jerez would be lovely.