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Cerdo Iberico
Black Iberian pigs
Patio style restaurantStreets of the Juderia




(Sanlucar de Mayor)


Almaria, San Jose



Andalucía (Andalusia) Food, cooking and flamenco
Cadiz - Sanlucar de Barrameda - Cordoba - Malaga - Ronda - Jerez - Granada - El Puerto -Sevilla(Seville), often overlooked, Almaria and the Cabo de Gato are situated in the quieter, more agricultural east.

Andalucia is the deep south of Spain and home of flamenco. It is the land of salads, fried fish and seafood and the famous cold soup gazpacho, not to mention sherry.

Cooking of the region
Fritura is fish and/or seafood fried in thin batter. 

Parillada is a selection of griddled fish and seafood. 
The commonest way of cooking fish is "a la plancha", simply griddled and served drizzled with olive oil, garlic, lemon and parsley.

Pescado a la sal a whole fish cooked in a block of salt. (Many sea salt pans are to be found in Andalucia, giving a readily available supply).

Gazpachocold soup of tomatoes, garlic, cucumber, peppers and onion
The most prized fish of eastern Andalucia is the Mero, Restaurante Tempranillo Website in San Jose serves it with small clams in a emulsified (egg and oil) clam sauce, accompanied by thin chips. 

Moros y Cristianos - (moors and christians) rice with black beans, which reminds us of the strong arab influence in Andalucia, long occupied by the moors. 

An Andalucian cookery book

Cadiz(seafood - tapas in the old town and restaurants behind the beach in the newer town, we like Mariscos La Marea, Paseo Maritimo 1), "El Faro" website is a top class elegant restaurant (formal with slightly over fussy service) in an unprepossessing street near "La Caleta" (junction of Venezuela and San Felix) make excellent tortillitas and specialise in "a la sal" dishes as well as more innovative creations). For something cheaper try "Grimaldi" in Calle Libertad just by the central market.

Sanlucar picturesSanlucar de Barrameda - restaurants overlooking the Guadalquivir along Bajo de Guia  -"Casa Bigote", "Mirador de Donaña", "Poma", "Secundina" and others, there are of course restaurants around the plazas of the town and in a couple of places, in a converted bodega.

Cordoba.Cordoba's juderia or old quarter is a maze of narrow alleys where a number of excellent restaurants are housed in the open interior patios of old manor houses. Try them for breakfast, lunch or dinner and if you get the right waiter the service will be as entertaining as the food is enjoyable. One of our favourite dishes is "cardos con gambas y  almejas", cardoon in seafood stock with baby clams and prawns. 
Cordoban restaurants: "Restaurante de Federacion de Penas", "El Churrasco", "Los Deanes", "Casa Pepa de la Juderia". 
Perhaps the best known restaurant in Cordoba is "La Caballo Rojo", near the Mesquita, serving mozarabic dishes (typically meat and game in warmly spiced, sweet, fruity or Pedro Ximenez sauces), a little more formal than some and a popular night out destination for animated groups of Cordobans. "Bodegas Campos" is also very good <website>.
(the main restaurants in the Juderia are signposted for pedestrians - it goes without saying that here as in most spanish old quarters the car should be parked and forgotten until you want to move on).
Flamenco can often be seen in the patio at "El Cardenal" Torrijos 10, next to the Mezquita. Although aimed at tourists, the quality can be very good.<website>  
Cordoba is quite traditional and much is closed on Sunday evenings.

MalagaThe parador Gibralfaro has an excellent restaurant and there are some smart bars, some rather reminiscent of English pubs, below it in the town. The old town east of the Guadalmedina has many good bars and restaurants. We liked "Cortijo de Pepe" on Plaza de la Merced for tapas and "El Chinitas" <website> on Calle Moreno Monroy 4-6. (95 221 09 72) for a full meal or tapas in a traditional environment (smart). "El Chinitas" is just to the south of Plaza de la Constitution off Marques de Larios. Remember to order a Malaga brandy when here, "1866" being a good example.

Ronda has an excellent (modern) parador and "Pedro Romero" opposite the bullring, named after the famous bullfighter.
The Albaicin, GranadaGranada. The parador, in the grounds of the Alhambra, if you can get in or Mirador de Morayna in the Albaicin. It is also interesting to drive out and up to Pico de Veleta for a drink, snack and mountain views. But don't expect luxury in the mountains, where it's too high to pump water and generally below zero.

near Jerez
The bustling sherry town of Jerez is sometimes overlooked but a short stay in the excellent Hotel Jerez website (now back to 5 stars, excellent restaurant) allows for a pleasant if rather long walk down Avenida Alcalde Alvaro Domecq to the innovative "El Gallo Azul"tapas bar <browse menu> with restaurant upstairs (junction of Larga and Santa Maria) and on to Plaza del Arenal and the alcazar (you could make the fascinating "camera oscura" there an objective), with the old town beyond.

El Puerto de Santa MariaWe stay at "Hotel Monasterio San Miguel", only a few hundred yards from the bustling restaurant area (walk down Calle Chanca and turn right) along the Rio Guadalete at Calle Ribera del Marisco , mostly seafood but don't overlook the impressive asador. Cadiz's El Faro has a sister restaurant "El Faro del Puerto" up beyond the bullring (Carretera Fuenterrabia/Calle Valdes, just walkable, taxi better), set in the edge of a park.

Hotel/restaurante BenazuzaSevilla. (Seville) Tapas in "Triana" is the "must do" here. Calle del Betis and Calle San Jacinto on the south bank of the Guadalguivir. "Kiosko de las Flores" does wonderful fried fish.
In the "La Macarena" area "El Rinconcillo" is said to be the first (1670) tapas bar (Plaza de los Terceros) but remember its a pilgrimage place for tourists so be prepared to politely decline the waiters sales line of a whole meal, there are many other bars to try! Here's one not to try.We like to stay in the "Casas de la Juderia" 

Dorada a la Sal
Take enough salt to bury the fish, put half the salt in a large casserole and make a depression for the scaled and gutted fish, which is then buried. A little water can be sprinked on the salt to consolidate it.Cook in a medium oven for about 40 minutes for an average sized fish. Break open the salt and serve with potatoes.

soak a slice of bread  per 1 lb of tomatoes for an hour
RIPE plum tomatoes skinned and seeded
1 garlic clove per pound of tomatoes
a little good Spanish extra virgin olive oil (I like Carbonell or the one the paradores sometimes sell.
a good splash of good sherry vinegar
1 cup of water per pound of tomatoes
blend and refrigerate
serve with bowls of chopped onion, cucumber, green pepper &
and olive oil crutons.
(There is also a white garlic based version).

Clams in sherry
Fry finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil, add seeded, skinned and chopped plum tomatoes and some paprika. Cook down and then add dry sherry (try dry oloroso). Bring to the boil  and then add the clams and cook until opened. Serve with bread.

Iberico and Serrano ham
"Serrano ham" comes from the white pigs of Trevelez (Sierra Nevada) and Teruel (Aragon).
"Iberico ham" comes from the black Iberian pigs (Cerdo Iberico)  extensively farmed in the hills of Andalucia (and on the extensive dehesas of Extremadura) near Huelva, feeding on the acorns of the cork oaks, the bark of which is also used to make wine corks. Jabugo (Sierra Morena) is the most famous of some 30 producers, who  are considered to produce some of the best Spanish ham. The dry mountain air with low night time temperatures contributes to the salt curing of the ham and the production of the penicllium mould that forms on it. Ibirico website
Bellota is 75% Iberian, with 40% of weight gained in extensive conditions.
Recebo up to 30% of fatening on grain.
Pienso/cebo/campo grain fed Iberian ham.
 Walking in the Sierra Aracena
A range of fortified  wines made from the palomino fino[1] grape on the chalky soil around Jerez (hair-eth), Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria. (15-17%). Sherry does not come in vintages like other wines. It is aged in a "solera" system where the wine drawn off from the oldest barrels is topped up from the next oldest and so on. This gives both a complex wine and a consistent one. The vintage year of a sherry can therefore arguably be said to be the foundation year of the bodega! 

For seafood or ham:-
Manzanilla (manth-are-knee-ah) fresh, crisp and salty, made from coastal grapes at Sanlucar de Barrameda. Great with tapas, seafood or on its own. Serve chilled. Does not keep, finish the bottle ! (A further aged version is labelled "pasada" rather than "fina" and it is even possible to have a "manzanilla amontillada".) 
Fino, light clean aperitif wine. Serve chilled. Keeps one week to one month once opened. 

For drinking alone:-
Amontillado, darker and nutty. Serve slightly chilled.
Palo Cordato, a rare type with a raisin palette.
Oloroso, mellow and nutty.Keeps for several weeks once opened. In my opinion look for a "Dry Oloroso" Drink with heavy red meat or on its own.

Pale Cream, a fino sweetened with Ximenez grapes that have not been sun dried.
Cream, Amontillado or Oloroso blended with Ximenez to give a warm sweet result. Aunties favourite ! 

Dessert wine:-
Pedro Ximenez (him-en-eth) heavy dessert wine, perfect with raisins and ice cream or in mozarabic sauces.

Remember that the dry finos etc. do not keep long. Avoid buying from a low turnover off-license. Drink as soon as possible once opened.
1] Palamino fino is 90% of production. Other grapes are Palamino Jerez, Listan and Pedro Ximenez. A small amount of sweet Moscatel sherry is also produced, mainly for export. Moscatel is also used to sweeten other sherry due partly to the shortage of Ximenez. 

Table wines
In Andalucia, if you want a change from sherry, look out for unusual white table wines made from sherry grapes, try "Castillo de San Diego" (palamino grape) or "Marques de las Sierras" (Montilla-Moriles, using Pedro Ximenes grapes). There is a friendly rivalry between Cordoba and Sevilla, so it may be diplomatic to drink sherry in Jerez and Sevilla ; manzanilla in Sanlucar and montilla in Cordoba and Granada.

Fritura - The fried fish of Western Andalucia
Sevilla and Càdiz are probably the best places to sample this speciality. The pieces of fish should be thinly battered and the finished product crisp and dry enough to serve on a paper napkin without leaving grease stains. A good place to sample this in Sevilla is the freiduria "Kiosko De Las Flores" at the very edge of the Triana barrio near the Puente de Isabel II (Triana bridge) on the river front. 
Order a mixed plate of fish and seafood or you may find dogfish flavoured with cumin, an excellent combination (cazon en adobo) or "Bienmesabe" (literally- "it tastes good to me") marinated fried fish.
Accompany  with a cold beer or try a bottle of table wine made from the sherry grape "palomino" . Castillo de San Diego by Barbadillo is a commonly available example.

Fried "Fish and Chips" did not become  established in England until the 1800's and I wonder if this British institution is in fact an introduction from Spain, carried over with the sherry trade.

Tortillitas de camerones
A Càdiz speciality, tortillitas are small flat fritters made from flour and egg flavoured with the tiny Càdiz prawns, cooked in a saltén (thin frying pan). They may give the expanation as to how the word tortilla came to mean corn fritters in the new world. 

Flamenco, often considered the "european blues", has its roots in India along with the Gitanos who perform it. 
Over the centuries, despite much persecution, the musical cultures of Andalucia and the Gitano have  combined to create flamenco, now the authentic art form of Andalucia, although many  appreciate it all over Spain. (When the cantor (singer) "Camarón de la Islas" died flags flew at half mast all over the country). 
Flamenco is a robust combination of song, dance and music that overcomes lingustic barriers and  appeals direct to the emotions. Flamenco is not the polished polite music of the conservatoire. Flamenco is not the superficial, eager to please music of "pop". Flamenco isn't "nice". 
At its best, flamenco strikes straight at your soul. 

If you would like to prepare yourself try:-

Rough Guide to Flamenco (CD) 
Enrique Morente - Rafael Riqueni - Jorge Pardo - Tomasa La Macanita
Carmen Linares - Ketama - Camarón - Miguel Poveda - Pata Negra
Duquende - Jose Soto - Chano Lobato - Carlos Benavent
Potito - Pepe Habichuela - Diego Carrasco - Pacote

"Flamenco" by Carlos Saura (Video)
Leading exponents of the art come together for a series
of powerful performances. Includes dancing by the now
world famous Joaquin Cortes. Beautifully filmed.


Estrella Morente"My Songs and a Poem" by Estrella Morente (CD)
One of the best recent flamenco recordings
Listen to the audio clips at Amazon.


"The Flamencos of Cadiz Bay" by Gerald Howson (book)
Gerald Howson worked in Spain between 1954 and 1957, returning to England to exchange his guitar for a camera only when he became ill. While there, he entered fully, musically and romantically[1], into the flamenco way of life in Cadiz. His book is a fascinating insight into that Andalucian way of life. 

1] "Out in the street there was nothing but the empty road disappearing into the darkness towards the lights of Cadiz in the distance. We could hear the murmur of the sea stretching along on either side of us.
'They tell me you have been seeing my gitana' he said. 'I cannot tell you the disgracias (unhappiness) I have suffered with her over the years. She's a bad one, but I can't help loving her. Why not leave her to me, eh? I know her at least, and what is one woman from the Sala more or less to a man like you? What do you know of her or our troubles?'
We walked on in silence."

"This beautiful and exuberant memoir does honour to the flamenco way of life" Sunday Times (London)

"Duende" Jason Webster (book)
Jason Webster was born in San Fransico and grew up in England and Germany. After living in Italy and Egypt he went to Spain to learn flamenco. The book is a autobiography/novel of his experiences in Alicante, Madrid and finally Andalucia, searching for the powerful state of ecstacy and desperation that is "duende" and finding passion, drugs and life on the edge. 

"A woman stands at the back of the stage and approaches the audience as the guitars play on. Raising an arm above her head, she stamps her foot hard, sweeps her hand down sharply to the side and stares at us in defiance. The music stops and everyone falls silent.
Power emanates from her across the square. Breathing hard, legs rooted to the ground, chin raised, eyes bright, her face a vivid expression of pain. Everyone in the audience focuses on her as she stands motionless, leaning forward slightly, head thrust back, black hair falling loosely over her dark yellow dress. Stretching her arms down at her sides, she tenses her hands open, although recieving or absorbing some invisible energy she needs to continue. For a moment I think she might never move,need never move even, so strong is the spell she has cast over us..."



See also :-

Andalucian cookery book
Cookery reference books
Walking in Spain
Spanish photos
Spanish pronouciation & general guidebooks
Food of:-
Andalucia Asturias Basque Country Canary Islands Castile Catalonia & Balearics Extremadura Galicia Valencia Tapas Glossary Books