The eating in Jerez and Sanlucar was pretty great. It's all about tapas, small dishes that you order too many of and share with friends. Generally, you go to lunch at about 3:30 and eat a lot of tapas. You finish at something like 5:30. You take break, and then go to dinner at something like 9.
Olives are amazing. Often so lackluster here in the states, olives were truly delicious in Jerez. Stuffed with anchovies and garlic, marinated in a brine that includes the juice of the bitter Seville orange, they are really memorable, and I crave them now.
Then there are the deceptively simple potato tapas. I liked them best with olive oil, Sherry vinegar, and topped with cured fish. Perhaps this dish is the roast chicken of Jerez - easy to make and ubiquitous, but actually very difficult to make perfectly. Judge a chef by the simplest of dishes...
And there is Jamon. No self-respecting establishment would use a slicer to serve Jamon. You can see the striations from the knife on each slice. The fat glistens and is clean and richly flavorful, each bite fragrant and nutty. This is difficult to replicate here in NYC. Many tapas bars display their Jamon right over the bar for all to drool over.
Seafood is fresh and delicious, and typically quite simply (and expertly) fried. Anchovies, sardines, red mullet, tuna. This stuff is actually good for you. Mojama is cured tuna, a special cut. It is creamy in texture and rich in tuna flavor. The Jamon of the sea, if you will. Langoustines and gambas (shrimp) are everywhere. The freshest ones are dropped in salted boiling water for a few moments, just until they are barely cooked, and then put on a plate. That's it.
Here are some pics, and I hope they inspire you to eat something great for lunch or dinner today:
La Moderna, Jerez:
Taberna der Guerito, Sanlucar:
Casa de Balbino, Sanlucar:
Bar Juanito, Jerez:
Las Terraces, in Seville: