Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Cafe Royalty, a jewel in the center of Cadiz

Cadiz, what a beautiful city! More than three quarters surrounded by the sea with very nice beaches and walking areas all along.

This city is the lower end of the Jerez (Sherry wine) region. In this area are located the famous towns of Jerez de la Frontera (another Andalusian jewel) and Sanlúcar de Barrameda (where the Guadalquivir river joins the sea separating the city from the Natural Park of Doñana).
In this region the different types of Sherry wines are produced, depending on where the cellar is: Fino (from Jerez de la Frontera), Manzanilla (from Sanlúcar de Barrameda), Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso and other local names. These wines are classified as "Generosos"(or fortified) wines since  they have a higher percentage of alcohol, other examples are Porto wines, Banylus, Madeira, etc. In any bar where you stop in these towns , they serve them directly out of small barrels, having several types and brands for you to select, which makes it quite complicated if you are not local

The Cafe Royalty is a jewel in the center of Cadiz, 2 minutes walk from the Cathedral.
Dated 1912 it was a gathering place for the city with concerts and many cultural activities, had to close during the Spanish civil war and was forgotten, it even became a warehouse at a certain point. In 2008 the family Serna Martín bought it and had it restored with artisans and specialists that followed exactly what it was in 1912, it took 4 years to refurbish and finally in 2012 it reopened to the public.
Here are some pictures for you to enjoy

the square outside of the Café Royalty

my "montadito"-snack at the Café Royalty

one of the good sherries

walk around the sea side in Cadiz
beaches in Cadiz

bar with Jerez barrels in a square in Sanlúcar de Barrameda

flor de azahar (orange blossoms) in the square of Sanlúcar de Barrameda

fountain and statue in the square outside of the jerez bar

Sanlúcar de Barrameda at sunset
view of Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Beach in Sanlúcar de Barrameda at sunset

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

La Lonja: the fish market auction in Isla Cristina in Andalucía

Isla Cristina in Anadlucía and its Lonja fish market auction
(Isla Cristina is in the lower left part of Andalucía in Spain near the Portuguese border)

Isla Cristina is not an island, but almost. It's a beach town with the second most important fish port in Andalucía.
Here, In the morning boats arrive with seafood while most of the fish arrives in the afternoon. The boats unload their seafood or fish and take it, few meters away, to a place called La Lonja which is a big loft where a fish auction takes place all day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (except from 1 to 4 p.m. during Spanish lunch hours). After the fish has been sorted through the auction, it's loaded on the refrigerated trucks of the different buyers which will take it throughout Spain and Europe to be in the major fish markets the next morning.

Buyers use remote controls to choose what they want that is running on the tape, there is' a device indicating the starting price which quickly descends only that you might press your remote control after someone else pressed it maybe one cent before....and loose your choice, all very interesting.

The tourist office gives a tour of the Lonja on Mondays 'and Wednesdays' afternoons. I managed to be there on my own and nobody told me out, I was very silent and discrete.

Obviously also locals go to the fish market since the town has many seafood restaurants where, specially in the port area, you can eat very good tapas.

I realize that while in Portugal I missed the Spanish cuisine with its not only excellent gourmet food but also informal eating and late hours, more in tune with my metabolism.

Once I arrived at Isla Cristina I went to the harbor where the tourist office is located, got my map with all explanations (great Spanish tourist offices, the best; Portugal has much to learn in this respect). I checked 3 hotels that were the only ones located directly on the sea, choosing the little 2 star hotel, only one that is truly on the beach, "bueno bonito y barato", you'll see the pictures, it also has a covered free parking with a key for private access to the parking grounds, a real luxury. It's called Hotel Sol y Mar. I had a room overlooking the sea,

The big surprise is that this hotel has an excellent restaurant opened only at noon (and only Saturday and Sunday during the low season) with a choice of an area with self-service of tapas or a full restaurant with service at the table

On the beach in front of the hotel, morning and evening a couple of people park their car (when the weather is still cold they'll wear thermal clothing) and go into the sea to collect "coquinas", small clams that are similar to a Venezuelan "chipichipi", which they sell right afterwards, next to the car. The coquinas I had for lunch were excellent, cooking time was just perfect. 
Just great, to try and  enjoy!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beach restaurants in beautiful locations, really on the sea side

Beach restaurants in beautiful locations, really on the sea side, in Algarve's eastern part almost on the Spanish border

There are three restaurants in three different beach towns that are close to each other. All three with great buildings built for the purpose of being restaurants, located right on the beaches and with excellent food, very little or nothing written about them, wonderful surprises.

- Cha com Agua Salgada, Manta Rota, Vila Nova de Cacela
- Pezinhos d'Areia, Praia Verde, Castro Marim
- Restaurante Marisqueria O Costa, Sitio da Fabrica, Vila Nova de Cacela, here food isn't as sophisticated but good fish and a spectacular view

Here follow some pictures for you to enjoy!

Cha com Agua Salgada Restaurant

the view from Cha com Agua Salgada 

this curious copper appliance is called Cataplana, used to cook meat or fish in the oven together with veggies
the Cataplana, it comes in many different sizes
Pezinhos n'Areia Restaurant

Restaurante O Costa

Tuna with onions

la Ria Formosa
more of the Ria Formosa...