Viña Galvana 2017

This week I was invited to a private tasting for this year’s edition of Bodegas Delgado Zuleta’s D.O Cádiz white wine Viña Galvana. Delgado Zuleta is of course best known for its sherries (it’s said to be the oldest bodega in the marco de Jerez), especially Manzanilla La Goya, but also produces local white wines.

The 2017 Viña Galvana (85% Palomino Fino and 15% Muscat) is a fresh, light wine with a bright pale gold colour and a touch of fruitiness, and pairs well with fish and seafood. Perfect for the summer weather. The label pays tribute to one of Sanlucar’s most popular events, the annual horse races on the beach which take place every August. The cata was presented by Jorge Pascual, the Director-General of Delgado Zuleta and enologist José Antonio Sánchez Pazo, with promotion by @ProbandoGastro.

The event was hosted by Cinta Romero and her team at La Cochera del Abuelo, who also provided a light post-cata lunch. Thanks to everyone who helped organise this very pleasant event.

Velázquez | Murillo |Sevilla

This year is the 400th anniversary of the birth of Bartolome Murillo, probably Sevilla’s most famous painter, and has been officially declared the Year of Murillo. As part of the commemorations the Fundación Focus-Abengoa, in collaboration with the Prado Museum, London’s National Gallery, and others, has organised a very special exhibition comparing the work of Murillo and Sevilla’s other most famous painter, Diego Velázquez.

velazquez murilloThe two painters, born in Seville a generation apart (Velazquez in 1599 and Murillo in 1617), and having their formative influences there, nevertheless had quite different career trajectories, Velazquez leaving Seville to work at the Spanish court in Madrid in 1623, while Murillo spent his entire working life in Seville. It’s not known whether the two ever actually met in person (though they must have been aware of each others’ work), but while there is no record of a meeting, it’s not impossible as Murillo visited Madrid on several occasions, although art experts think that there was only limited reciprocal influence.

santa rufinaSanta Rufina by Murillo (left) and Velázquez (right)

However, it’s clear from the 19 paintings in the exhibition, 10 by Murillo and 9 by Velázquez, that there were common influences in the cultural world of Sevilla in the 17th century. This shows itself in both the choice (or commissioning) of subjects, especially in religious subjects pertaining to Sevilla such as the Saints Justa and Rufina and the Immaculate Conception, as well as of Saint Peter and the Adoration of the Magi, and the highly naturalistic style of the scenes of everyday life.

day to day lifeEveryday scenes by Velázquez (left) and Murillo (right)

It’s also appropriate that the exhibition is being hosted in the Venerables Hospital, a building that is of the early 17th century, and which has both a historical and current associations with the two painters. Around mid-January the exhibition, which continues until February 28th, surpassed the 50,000 visitor mark.

Velásquez | Murillo | Sevilla
Hospital de los Vernerables
Plaza de los Venerables 8
Open 10.00 – 18.00 (last entrance at 17.30)
General Admission: 8 euros
Free Admission Tuesday 14.00 – 18.00

Velá de Triana

The Velá de Triana, or Velá de Santiago y Santa Ana to give it its full and correct title, is a traditional market fair that dates back to the 13th century, and is Triana’s largest annual street party. It’s held in late July, (this year July 20-July 26) and draws large crowds from all over the city.

There’s a stage for concerts in the Plaza del Altozano, local associations and hermandades set up booths and stalls along Calle Betis, and there is a small funfair for children towards the San Telmo Bridge, There are lots of activities during the week, including concerts, rowing and fishing competitions, an exhibition of old photographs in the Castillo San Jorge, and the Cucaña (which I finally saw for the first time this year), where the contestants (mostly young men, but some women, too) get a chance to show off by snatching a flag from the end of a greasy pole projecting over the river.

It’s a great way to spend a summer evening or two, strolling beside the booths, drinking beer or a sherry, and sampling the pescaito frito (fried fish) and green hazelnuts. The alumbrado, the switching on of the lights on Triana Bridge, took place at midnight on the Friday, and this year the festival ends with a flamenco performance in the Plaza del Altozano at 10.30 on Thursday evening. Maybe see you there?

Seville Concierge Goes To The Movies

Seville’s grand and exotic architectural masterpieces have led to it being chosen as the location for a number of famous films. Here we see Anakin and Padme in the grounds of the palace on the planet of Naboo (Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones) This visually stunning film set is actually the colonnade of the Plaza España, built for the 1929 Spanish-American Exhibition.

The Plaza was also featured as British HQ in the Cairo Hotel in David Lean’s film of Lawrence of Arabia (starring Peter O’Toole), and more recently as the Palace of Wadiya in Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator.

Another favourite location of film makers is the wonderfully photogenic Casa de Pilatos, which also shows up in Lawrence of Arabia and was used in Mission Impossible II and in another Tom Cruise movie, Knight & Day.

La Monumental

remaining gate of La Monumental

Halfway up Avenida Eduardo Dato, on the corner of Calle Diego Angulo Iñiguez opposite the Buhaira Palace Gardens, stands a short section of apparently functionless wall with a bricked up doorway to a small vacant lot. There’s no plaque, no sign, nothing to say that this is all that remains of the Plaza de Toros Monumental de Sevilla, the city’s ill-fated second bullring, first opened to the public in 1918, closed in 1921, and finally demolished in 1930. The driving force behind its construction was the famous bullfighter José Gómez Ortega ‘Gallito’, also known as Joselito, whose death in the ring on May 16, 1920, was a contributory factor in its closing. In 1915, when construction started, this was a ‘greenfield’ site a short way outside the city. Demolition made way for the new suburbs that now spread out to Nervion and beyond. I knew of the existence of the Monumental before I discovered this, but even such a small piece of its actual physical presence makes it much more real.

The architects were José Espiau y Muñoz and Francisco Urcola Lazcanotegui, whose other works include the Hotel Alfonso XIII, and the Adriática at the end of Avenida Constitución.

La Monumental tapas bar is located on the old site and is filled with bullfighting memorabilia including framed contemporary newsclippings about Seville’s forgotten bullring.

A Day Trip to Cádiz

A totally different way to beat the heat in Seville is to follow the Sevillanos and get outta town! One of my favourite summer day trips is to Cádiz on the Atlantic coast, one of the most picturesque cities in Spain, with a history that stretches back around three thousand years. Not only that, but if there’s any summer breeze going, Cádiz, on a headland surrounded on three sides by water, is the place to take advantage of it.

Although it has plenty of that quintessential Spanishness, Cádiz has a completely different feel to it than Seville. The streets are generally straighter and longer, and generally pedestrianized, and there are a number of “grand plazas” that give the city an air of nineteenth-century civic pride. My favourites are the contrasting pair of Plaza Mina, full of trees and ornamentation, and the wide open marble-paved Plaza San Antonio.

But that’s for later. My first stop after arriving is usually the Cathedral Plaza and my favourite pastry shop for some elevenses with a view. This is the oldest part of town, and apart from visiting the Cathedral, its worth going through the Arco de la Rosa and taking a stroll through the Barrio El Pópulo to the Roman amphitheatre, which was rediscovered entirely by accident in 1980.

The next stop has to be the central market, only recently returned to the renovated market hall, for a browse around the displays of fresh fish and fruit and veg so typical of Spanish markets. The area around it is always full of life, too, with little stalls selling flowers, jewellery. and all-sorts.

For me, the best way to see most of the city is simply to walk around its edge, taking whatever detours I need to see things that I want to. There’s plenty of those but there are a few that I always want to go back to no matter how many times I visit. Foremost of these is the brooding mass of San Sebastian castle, and the causeway that leads to it, although unfortunately, the castle itself is not open to the public. The best view is from another favourite place, La Caleta Beach, where you can check out the Balneario de la Palma, a “Victorian-style” beach spa, and have lunch at the beachfront restaurant there, watching the sun sparkling on the water and the little fishing boats bobbing on the waves.

Further on are the fortifications of Santa Catalina Castle, built to protect the city in the 17th century. The little turrets that you see dotted around the seafront are called baluartes, and are a distinctive feature of the city. Also here is the Parc Genovés, a botanical garden with many species brought over from the Americas. This is a fascinating place, with an artificial cataract and the strange topiary of the trees on the main path.

Now’s the time to visit those plazas, before ending the afternoon with a drink and a bit of people watching in the Plaza San Juan de Dios, opposite the old town hall. It’s a short walk to the train station from there and during the pleasant ride home I look forward to arriving back in Seville just in time to meet friends for an evening tapeo.

Beating the Heat in Seville

Having started the Seville Concierge blog on June 21st, the longest day of the year, it seems appropriate to start things off with a post about The Heat in Seville. The three months from mid-June to mid-September really do get hot (100ºF is common) and you do need to adapt your behaviour to deal with it. The standard advice you already know – drink lots of water, put on sun block, wear loose clothes and stay in the shade – but you’ll also want some things to do that keep you out of the midday sun.

Museums, galleries and palaces. Depending on your interests Casa Pilatos has shady gardens and Casa Lebrija a typical cool Sevillano patio. The Museum of Fine Arts, which has a world class collection of classical paintings, should keep you occupied for a couple of hours, and has a beautiful plaza with big trees and those ceramic tiled benches that stay cool even when it’s hot. The Museums of Archaeology and Popular Culture are another good bet, and you can walk back to the centre of town through the green oasis of Maria Luisa Park as it starts to cool down in the evening.

Cold beer. Cruzcampo’s Glacial beer is served at -2ºC and will slake your thirst like nothing else.

Ice-cream. There are lots ice-cream parlours with dozens of different flavours to choose from. Head to Ben and Jerry’s in the Campana, or for Seville’s own specialists, Rayas, in either Reyes Catolicos or Almirante Apodaca.

Go to a movie. The Avenida 5 Cines in Marques de Paradas shows films in English – and also in air-conditioned comfort.

Go shopping. This needn’t be as strenuous as it sounds. All the shops are air-conditioned, and department stores like el Corte Inglés are big enough that you can spend an hour or so browsing without feeling under any pressure to buy anything.

If shopping’s not your thing you may prefer to settle down in an air-conditioned bar with a glass of one of Seville’s summer coolers, tinto de verano (red wine of summer) and gazpacho soup. Tinto de verano is a mixture of red wine and fizzy lemonade served over ice, with a slice of lemon. It’s what the locals drink; sangría is for tourists only. Gazpacho is a cold refreshing tomato and cucumber soup, usually served with ice in a tall glass.

Once evening hits make it over to one of Seville’s rooftop bars, and upgrade to a cocktail. The EME hotel and the Doña Maria are the most obvious, but show you know what’s what by going to the Hotel Inglaterra in the Plaza Nueva, or my personal favourite, the Fontecruz in Calle Abades, which has the coolest ambience as well as the best views. Cheers!