A few years ago my wife and I happened to be in Seville for the Spring Fair which takes place around this time of year. Everyone dresses up and there was food, wine, music and dancing throughout the day which continued long into the night accompanied by fireworks on the banks of the River Guadalquivir right next to the Plaza de Espana.
We soaked up the atmosphere of the fair and spent the rest of the day "bar hopping" partaking in glasses of Sherry here and there occasionally accompanied by a dish or two of tapas. There was a limitless range of tapas including salted almonds, olives, those little fresh silver anchovies, braised ox cheeks, char-grilled tiny peppers and it seems that every bar has a vast array of hams hanging from the ceiling... (hungry yet)? However, the star in this part of Spain is undoubtedly fried fish. There's a huge variety and it's all so beautifully fresh.
I've tried to replicate the fried fish coating at home and I think I've come pretty close using a combination of 1 part cornflour, 2 parts semolina, a shake of paprika and a pinch of salt. As far as the fish is concerned you can use anything really: prawns, squid, any variety of white fish (cut into bitesize pieces). Toss them in the coating mix (I pop them all in a bag and give it a good shake) and then fry in hot oil (I like to use groundnut which can take a higher temperature). Then drain them on kitchen paper and serve with wedges of lemon and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Garlic mayo too if you like. You make the rules here and can add in other tapas recipes to follow the fish and settle in for the evening.
It has to be dry Sherry to drink with this for the full Andalucian experience and we have just the thing... The 2022 bottling of Tio Pepe En Rama has now landed (half bottles also available) and is as fresh as fresh can be. If you're looking for something lighter try Manzanilla. Moving through the Sherry spectrum you could enjoy a dry Amontillado as well. Vina AB is just perfect for serving with meat-based tapas, or there's Delgado Zuletta's Amontillado Especial which is slightly fuller and nuttier in flavour. Sitting between Manzanilla and Amontillado is Barbardillo's superb Manzanilla Pasada Pastora - an aged Manzanilla with one foot in the Amontillado camp. To complete the range try a dry Oloroso in the form of Leonor or again there's a version from Delgado Zuletta. For our full range of Sherries please click here.
If you have a sweet tooth, look up a recipe for Crema Catalana which is the Spanish version of Crème Brûlée where the custard mix is infused with lemon and orange peel and a hint of cinnamon rather than vanilla. It may take a couple of attempts to perfect it, but it's very satisfying to make. Seville is full of orange trees and the fruit is so plentiful that much of it is simply allowed to fall into the streets.
With an extra-long weekend coming up at the end of the month why not plan a Tapas and Sherry meal? There are plenty of Tapas ideas and recipes online but most of the preparation can be done in advance so all you have to do is finish off the dishes as required and settle in.
Tickets are on sale for our Spring/Summer Winetasting on Thursday 19th May at Ipswich Town Football Club. Please click here for details and to purchase tickets.
Please note that the shop will not be open, nor will we be delivering, on the Thursday & Friday Jubilee Bank Holidays on 2nd & 3rd June.