Uno Gusta de Seville

IMG_6793IMG_6871Where: Seville, South of Spain (Andalusia)

When: 7th-10th May

accommodation: Air BnB Apartment in the Calle Zaragoza, 5 minus walk away from the Cathedral. Extremely comfortable with all the necessary mod cons including a shared roof terrace and a wonderful host name Sebastian. There’s a place to leave luggage if you’re on a later flight.

Sights & Attractions: Walking around Seville is like walking around an architect’s dream world. Simple yet stunning Moorish buildings are encountered on every street, terracotta and earth colours are prevalent and detailed with quintessential blue tiles. There are plenty of museums that you can go into but we preferred wandering the cobbled back streets and stumbling into beautiful courtyards – especially given the weather was brilliant.

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A must visit is the Alcazar  it was less than ten euros and the Palace itself is just a doorway into the vast botanical gardens which you could spend hours getting lost. Even though there was a queue to enter it reduced rapidly and you when you get in it doesn’t feel busy instead it’s extremely peaceful.

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IMG_6881Placa De Espana, located in the Park Maria Luisa. Photos do not do this place justice it is quite simply breathtaking and took us completely by surprise in it’s magical beauty. Take up the oars and have a romantic boat ride around the moat and enjoy passing under the quaint bridges and observing the different tiled mosaics dedicated to each province of Spain.

IMG_6921Entertainment: Aside from the obvious bars and restaurants Flamenco still reigns supreme in this neck of Spanish woods. Casa Anselma over the other side of the bridge was our destination of choice for a Friday night. Rocking up at midnight the place was packed and already in full swing, a few smart dodges and elbow manoeuvers and we were by the bar (no cerveza ni vino – gin and lots of it!). A special and supremely entertaining evening where men bashed the hell out of instruments and the matriarch and foreboding bar owner took to her own personal stage to sing.

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Food & Drink: “En Seville no se come sino que se tapea” 

Legend has it Seville invented Tapas and there is no shortage of places to try the many and varied tastes of southern Spain. Favourites are always croquettas – try cola de toro (ox tail) – calamares and braised pork cheek. Also rife is Gazpacho which was delicious but probably not something I would have regularly. The tomatoes though are a dream – huge juicy red slices sprinkled with olive oil and a touch of salt. Place to browse before sitting would be Calle Mateo a short walk away from the Cathedral – the street is chock-a-block with dining options so I would recommend heading there and doing a bar crawl.

Local or house vino (blanco or tinto) is good value for money (12Euros for a bottle) and always good quality – don’t expect drinks list like you do in the UK just order they’ll usually have what you’re wanting. Cerveza are cold and refreshing and the gin and tonic is served wonderfully although slightly dangerously – at a 50:50 ration with plenty of ice.

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Rating: 10 out of 10 – cannot recommend enough and I will certainly be visiting other areas in the Andalusia region.

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George’s Grand Tour by Caroline Vermalle

2015-04-30 20.27.30Title: George’s Grand Tour

Author: Caroline Vermalle (translated by Anna Aitken)

Publisher: Gallic Books (16th May 2015)

Paperback: 192 pages

Refreshments: Kir Royale

Synopsis:

At the age of 83, retired butcher George Nicoleau is about to set off on the greatest adventure of his life. George and his neighbour Charles have long dreamt of a road trip, driving the 3500 kilometres that make up the stages of the Tour de France. And now that George’s over‐protective daughter has gone to South America, it’s time to seize the moment. But just when he feels free of family ties, George’s granddaughter Adèle starts calling him from London, and he finds himself promising to text her as he travels around France, although he doesn’t even know how to use a mobile. George is plagued by doubts, health worries and an indifference to modern technology. And yet – might the journey still prove to be everything he had hoped for?

Review:

Whimsical, delightful and wonderfully aspirational to live life to the full and embrace new adventures whatever your age – not to mention stay in touch with your grandparents and NEVER never become ageist. The  perfect summer compliment to a trip to the park on a Sunday afternoon, just take a tissue just in case.

Rating: 8 out of 10

 

Alyn Williams at The Westbury Mayfair

Alyn Williams at The Westbury LondonWhere: Alyn Williams at The Westbury, Mayfair London.

When: Saturday 2nd May from 1-4pm

 

Atmosphere: Dark wood fittings and deep forest green furnishings you felt like you’d walked into a luxurious library but instead of bookshelves there are beautifully built-in wine racks with clear glass frontages so that you can have a good nose around.

Discrete opulence – not a hint of ostentation – lovely plump comfortable armchairs, for me the piece de resistance were (randomly) the napkin rings which were heavy-duty amber coloured glass affairs.

Service:

The best service I have ever been privileged to enjoy. The sommelier magically appeared and circulated with the waiting staff proffering expert and interesting details on the food and wine we were being served. At a count I’d say there was about six people attending our table but there was no hint of intrusion or overbearing attention. Sublime service with a smile.

Tasting Menu

Aperetif was a lovely bubbling glass of Pol Roger, Brut Reserve which was sharp and fruity A perfect accompaniment to pursuing the menus.

Amuse-bouches came in the form of choux pastry filled with a delicate blue cheese mousse and a bread basket which was sublime and still warm from the oven.

1. Marinated langoustine/mackerel/scallop/kiwi/cucumber/arrow grass
The plate was beautiful three exact strips of each of the fish sat on top of delicate pieces of kiwi and cucumber. Usually,  I’m not a fan of fruit with my savoury but the kiwi brought all the flavours together. First to hit was the rich buttery avocado mousse which was then cut through by a sharp acidity of kiwi finishing up with the fresh tastes of the sea.

Wine: Riseling (Chateua Bela & Egon Muller) from Slovakia – extremely fruity on the nose and provided a surprisingly buttery partner.

2. Cornish Monkfish/Morels/Cucumber
Meaty piece of fish perfectly cooked sat atop an earthy, course, mushroom puree – an inspired contrast to the previous fish dish.

Wine: Malvasia, Istria Croatia I’ve never really tried Croatian wine but this was sharp and refreshing cutting through the mushrooms and providing a compliment to the lighter flavoured fish.

3. Frozen aerated foie gras/beetroot/sour cherries/pistachio
Phenomenal. The foie gras looked a bit like a sea anemone in texture or perhaps a sponge, as it hit your tongue it was an enjoyable cold shock which then melted into its trademark creamy texture. It was original and playful on the palate with the richness then cut through by the sharpness of cherry and beetroot.

Wine: Moscatel, La Cigarra like it’s food partner this was a fun, bubbly, pink affair with generous flavours of berries without being overbearingly sweet.

4. Barbequed Holstein tartare/Mersea oyster/mustards/grelot
The oyster was poached and had the texture of a plump mussel and the tartare was woody – a very refined and memorable take on surf and turf.

Wine: Wasn’t wine. Old Ford Export Stout, Redchurch Brewery (Shoreditch) was a surprising but inspired choice by the sommelier.The appearance of an espresso martini in a wine glass  the stout gave a deep earth flavour with hints of the very same coffee.

5. Welsh spring lamb/niçoise/tomato/tagette (Or you could have had Pigeon)
By this point I am running out of words for delicious and tasty so I leave you with simply the vision of me with eyes closed making yummy noises and the knowledge that tomatoes – apparently British – can have flavour like bursts of sunshine.

Wine: Chateau, La Gasparde Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux  robust deep flavours and fruit on the nose perfection.

(NB: My dining partner had the pigeon which was equally delightful partnered with a wine that tasted nice but smelt like manure – this was highlighted by the sommelier with a chuckle)

6. Meyer lemon/caramel popcorn/vanilla
Served in a tiny little sauce pan this palate cleanser was sharp without being eye-wateringly so with textures and flavours that resembled an upside down creme brûlée.

7. Manjari chocolate/candied orange/yoghurt
Chocolate and orange are a match made in heaven. The various textures of the candied and fresh orange pieces gave a sweetness to the bitter chocolate – which was erring on the slightly too solid side.

Wine: Sherry, Manzanilla Pasada, ‘Pastrana’ Hidalgo provided further flavours of orange and nuts without being saccarchine.

Rich and strong espresso were brought and accompanied by: little mango tartlets with a meringue carefully perched, salted caramel truffles and a turkish delight.

Price: Credit Card Busting

(£130 per person for tasting menu with matched wines + £30 for 2 glasses of champagne + £10 for 2 espresso = £345 inc. 12.5% VAT)

Rating: 10 out of 10 – given the price (for us this is) definitely a treat but an exceptional one and one that will be revisited in the near future… hopefully.