That title was pretty stupid, was not it? But I just wanted it to be very descriptive for the last three nights long weekend in Seville with days out Jerez for sherry and Jabugo for jamon iberico. You get a major idea of what's been going on, of course?
I will stop the persecution – it was not our usual weekend. This trip was our first outgoing contribution to my husband's operation (7 weeks later) and we did it very easily. We both tired easily and actually we just wanted to get out of our house and get some Spanish in our system. And warm. Or something like that.
Thursday Evening in Seville
We flew to Seville from London Gatwick with BA, and the flight (all goes well), it land at 19:15, which is great to go out for dinner.
We booked the hotel until the last minute – because we were not sure it was. In fact, we booked tickets in July 2017 for the sale of BA (£ 170 per business class) and we literally played it at the ear. But as fortunate it should be, everywhere in Seville was reserved for our dates and Saturday night was particularly difficult (or did not exist), so I was frantic with my last plan. There you go, the Os live dangerously.
We have a room for 2 nights in Hospes "Las Casas del Rey de Baeza," which you can book as a Design Hotel via Starwood and earn points. We had a better price and were very happy to have confirmed the room. On our previous visit, we stayed at Alfons XIII, a magnificent city, but there was not even one place.
The hotel was pretty nice – and quite unique, but I felt that bathrooms can really work with the update. Besides, I have no complaints. The location was not bad, the room was pretty nice and we liked the bar and the seating that is so close to home as it can be. Which is exactly what we needed.
We arrived at the hotel, refreshed quickly, and met the beautiful Shawn Hennessy of Azahar Seville at the reception desk. Shawn is one of our fairy in Seville – we met for the first time on a previous trip, and I do not think there is anyone who knows Seville and the area and her restaurant just like her.
We had booked gourmet tapas tourism – and took us wherever she wanted. We were at almadraba tuna season, so we had a lot of it (which was unbelievable), of course a lot of iberico jam and a little introduction to Sherry. Everything that could be useful in the next few days.
Shawn is very flexible – and you get what you pay for. You can choose a normal or gourmet tapas tour and you can decide to pay for her time and then pay for your own food and drink separately during a tour or you can choose one at a price. You can read about the previous experience and also about enriching the food trips I wrote back a moment.
Whatever you do, book Shawn forward because she is incredibly busy (and she can do just one evening a day). You will also find several restaurants that you can visit during your trip.
Friday in Seville
The breakfast ended before we wanted on Friday (and since we were on a completely different program), we decided not to stress and wake up early and find breakfast on the way.
As all the routes led to the El Corte Ingles department store and we wanted to have some churros, Shawn designed Centuria, a very traditional local place that serves little more than churros and coffee. I was so nervous to consult – and I speak Spanish. I managed to order 2 coffee with milk (coffee with leche) and 2 portions of churros, but the waiter thought there was too much. It turns out that one was enough and the whole thing cost 5 euros. I think it's worth a visit, but it's not such a breakfast! It turned out I liked 1 churro at the hotel buffet and not 7! Oh, good!
We spent a few hours in El Corte Ingles (if you go, visit also the Gourmet Experience on the top floor) and walk a bit because Seville has some decent shopping. It's all branding on the street, but since we visited it, there are plenty of upmarkets. No complaints here.
For lunch, we were pleased to meet my friend Ana (and her partners Vitor and her two children) who live near Malaga and schedule a visit to the Portuguese Consulate in Seville to meet. We had to find a place to park and decided to go back to Vineria San Telmo, which was great, just like our last visit.
We had a quiet afternoon (with our friends) in the living room of the hotel and then we took a taxi to the area of the cathedral and spent the rest of the evening in the colors recommended by Shawn. It was great. We also met Fiona Flores Watson, who also writes about this part of the world for The Telegraph, which was also beautiful.
Saturday in Jerez de La Frontera
On Saturday morning, we had breakfast in the hotel and then we drove to Jerez de La Frontera, home of the sherry. 100 km separated both cities and the journey took about 90 minutes.
As I have already mentioned, this journey was literally arranged a week before the arrival – and I can not thank Nadia, which I met when I visited Finca Cortesina 5 years ago and since then has been a great friend of mine who has decided what we should do in Jerez.
It was not difficult: we should have a private tour of Gonzalez Byass, followed by a very tasting. Most tasting around the city in other wineries runs until midday (which I did not expect) and after lunch there are not many open (and closed on Sundays). So the book before the trip – trips cost 21.50 Euro with 4 wines and tapas and absolutely worth it.
Sherry comes from southern Spain, in the triangle formed by Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María. Sherry can be dry or sweet – and finally, I finally figured out what shocks. I learned a little, I drank a little – and I admit one thing, we brought home. It turned out we had something for Oloroso and Palo Cortado. I found this site that has interesting information about sherry, appropriately called Sherry Notes.
I also learned that the "drink" that most people in England consider Sherry (the famous Bristol cream) is something that is only produced for the UK market (and the cause of laughter or three Spanish). There's the whole world I'm going to discover (just like I drank and enjoyed Port).
For lunch, Nadia (and her friend Jose of González Byass) booked a table at La Carbona and we had a really nice lunch. I have not had shrimp (for understandable reasons) for a long time and I really screamed when we got it. I missed the red soups – they had it on the menu. The restaurant was also beautiful (I could not capture as much as it was packed) and we loved it. Lunch for 2 was around 125 euros if my memory helped me properly.
We wanted to wander a bit, but it was time to relax. Jerez does not really have a luxury hotel option and we stayed out of town, at Casa Vina de Alcantara, which is owned by another Gonzalez family branch and is known to be a place to stay. It's really like a house (of course with its own bathroom), and if you come back home late, you'll have to wake up a patrol – we had to, and it was a bit weird.
The room was very comfortable and I knew there was a great pool there. But I forgot to mention that since the time we landed in Seville, rain did not stop. They did not have the moons, everyone was pleased – of course, except for us. But as you can see, it did not stop us from doing anything and gave us a lot of excuses in the afternoon. I had a rather nice post-sherry nap.
For dinner, and as she did, Stuart and Anna, the very good friends of my husband Simon were in their house in the nearby Arcos de la Frontera. We persuaded them to pick us and take us to dinner at Jerez (and a lot of time to buy the most important items at El Corte Ingles supermarket when we left the next day and it was Sunday that meant it would not be there without opening supermarkets) .
The dinner was in A Mara (also chose Nadia and Jose) and it was really good – a modern decor with traditional food and we really enjoyed it. Dinner was just four for us for EUR 100, but we are not worried
Sunday in Jabugo
We were not quite ready to leave Casa Vina de Alcantara, but we had a very important meeting in Jabugo, home to another of the top Spanish gifts for the whole world: 100% jamon iberico.
We had a deliciously simple breakfast (according to your choice) and what was the nicest freshly squeezed orange juice I had for a very long time. This guest house was very stylish, but I'm glad we stayed there. I suppose it will be completely different, so maybe I should come back?
Drive from Jerez de la Frontera to Jabugo was about 200 km, lasting about 2h30. If we returned to Seville yesterday (and we were only in Jerez for a day), the journey between Seville was under an hour and a half.
Going to Jabugo was a very emotional moment for me – I was probably 20 years old with my family, and thanks to my love for my father and mother it was the basis of our diet. We admire "jamon iberico de bellota" and Cinco Jotas is always "our family brand". At home, we almost bought Cinco Jotas (we are really good customers and next to the hand-cut sleeves we get from El Corte Ingles – as they are delivered all over the world), we also buy two legs a year. I hate so much deception that I can tell you that this Christmas ham was called Juan Jose Javier Jesus Jago. Count the number of names and Js … it will be up to 5.
Once you get to Jabugo, you will see how Cinco Jotas controls the city (and employs a huge part of its population). We went on a tour that was really unbelievable – do you know that you feel like going for a wine tour, if you have ten times that you feel you know you can make some wine? (I'm probably amazed). That's exactly the opposite. I have never seen anything like this – and the smell of the building was most divine.
I do not want to destroy the educational experience you get, so here is an article with a few facts about Iberian ham – and why not all the hams are the same.
The visit to the room above .. was like a Catholic and went to the Vatican. And I'm not exaggerating – if you think every foot is 500 euro (or something more), do math. It was interesting to see how they were also organized by the buyers. From the Royal Family, the top chefs and, of course, El Corte Ingles (who is their biggest customer), many buy it in advance – because the quantity is limited.
Tasting is the moment when we were waiting and filled with surprises, apparently paired with Fino Sherry (Cinco Jotas actually belongs to the Osborne family). Instead of giving you some pieces of ham, they give you slices of different parts of the hind leg (the hind legs are called jamons, and the front legs are called pallets and are worth considerably less.) When you hear the jam, you know it's the back leg.
After the tasting, we had lunch at the Las Bellotas Hotel, which, as you can imagine, represented the Iberian pork in different ways. It was amazing.
On a really special day, we drove back to Seville, where we spent a few hours before departure. But, of course, before we asked where we could buy some Iberian pork that would bring us home. And guess what? We found out what might be the only butcher that opens in Spain (or on virtually anywhere in the world on Sundays). Five kilograms of "secretaries, solomils and plumbers" made their hand luggage in the UK and brought good luck.
And what a wonderful weekend we had in Seville and around. I'm a growing fonder and fonder of this part of the world and this weekend was just perfect, except rain (almost never appearing).
Stay in Seville in Hospes Casa del Rey de Baeza – rates from 190 Euro per night without breakfast.
Stay near Jerez in Casa Vina de Alcantara – rates from 150 EUR per night including breakfast (we had a paid reservation here but were surprised to be surprised on arrival).
Come here: We flew with British Airways from London Gatwick – £ 100 tickets in economy, 150 business class.
We got: we hired a car with Avis (and code N744400 used as BA Gold). Our car was 100 EUR for 4 days, which was an excellent value.
Drink: Visit the wine bar Gonzalez Byass in Jerez de la Frontera. We are guests of the brand and tour is worth 21.50 Euro.
Eat: the best iberico jam in the world (my words, not theirs). A visit to Cinco Jotas (about 1 hour 40 minutes from Seville) is worth CZK 53, including a tour of the cellars, meadows and jam tastings. Custom visits can also be arranged. For more information and other Cinco Jotas jamon de bellota varieties, call Cinco Jotas at +34 603 599 061 or visit them Website. On this occasion, we were their guests and loved each day.
Eat and explore: Shawn's book from Sevilla Tapas for a meal after meal, from 80 euros per person for 3 hours and a few hours of food and drink.
Post After weekends in Seville with the days when Jerez for Sherry and Jabugo for Jamon Iberico first appeared at Mrs Oround the World – the luxury travel blog Ana Silva O'Reilly.