Spain vacation – Part 4 – Cadiz and Jerez

11/11

This morning we got an early start for the 5 hour trip from Salamanca to Cadiz, which went rather quickly despite some rain along the way.  The scenery in the Extremadura was quite pretty, very green with lots of mountains, but then we were traveling along the far western edge of Extremadura.  After successfully navigating us into the old city of Cadiz, I found myself facing a one-way street and tried to turn around to try another approach.  I quickly found the local constabulary in hot pursuit, evidently because I had inadvertently made an illegal left turn.  With Michelin in hand, I explained to the officer that I was trying to find our hotel.  To my relief, he graciously undertook to lead us to the hotel with a police escort.  Unfortunately, they left us in a pedestrian zone and there was no place to stop and unload our luggage. I finally found a place to pull over and walked a few blocks to the hotel, where I found out the parking I had reserved was just around the corner, and we had actually passed it but were unaware that it was the hotel’s parking as it was not marked as such. So after a roundabout drive through many one-way streets, we finally parked and walked to the hotel, Las Cortes de Cadiz. This is a very gracious place where the rooms have names rather than numbers.  This comes with a price, as it is by far the most expensive hotel we are staying in on this trip, at 70 euros a day.  Cadiz is expensive (the parking is 20 euros a day!).

Website: http://www.hotellascortes.com/en/

Calle San Francisco with hotel Las Cortes de Cadiz on left

Calle San Francisco with hotel Las Cortes de Cadiz on left

We settled in to our room and, after changing clothes for the warmer weather, we set out to have lunch at Balandro, a lively and popular restaurant and tapas bar facing the sea, which was highly recommended on Tripadvisor.  We opted to have  tapas at the large horseshoe bar, and had tripe stew with cumin and chickpeas, fried anchovies with fried piquillo peppers, fried mixed seafood with the same peppers, and braised pork cheeks with gnocchi in a delicious sauce.  With bread and a bottle of Rosado wine from the region, this great meal came to less than 40 euros.

Website: http://www.restaurantebalandro.com/index2.asp

After lunch, we did our usual stroll around the town, exploring the plazas, historic district and cathedral.

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The Cathedral of Cadiz was started in the 1760s to replace an older one, which remains.  Unfortunately, Cadiz’s fortunes went into decline with the loss of the Spanish overseas possessions in the Americas and the unpleasantness of the Napoleonic wars.  Trafalgar is just to the south.  It was finished in the late 19th Century and lacks the lavish ornamentation encountered in so many Spanish cathedrals from earlier eras.  It is also currently hung with netting to catch the disintegrating stone and plaster work from its vaults.  The shallow dome in the crypt, pictured above, has a wonderful echo effect on one’s footsteps.  There were many small plazas with gardens and palm trees, and the city workers were already busy hanging the Christmas decorations along the main shopping streets. We priced the sherry in the local supermarket in anticipation of our trip to Jerez tomorrow.

Dinner was at El Faro, a long-established traditional restaurant. Unfortunately, it was not the best example of its type.  None of the food was bad, but nothing was exciting either. The seafood soup was excellent, but the albondigas of seafood were not albondigas (meatballs) but actually croquetas, potato with a hint of seafood in it. The very good sauce with tiny clams redeemed it somewhat, but it was not what I was expecting.  The presa Iberica was good but a bit overcooked, as was the duck breast. A pavlova with berries was a decent dessert. Bread was the typical Spanish kind, i.e. awful.  The better places we have dined at had good artisanal breads. We had a good bottle of a local wine that was a blend of many grapes and was quite good, for under 20 euros. With water the bill came to just under 100 euros, not bad for the price but I really would not recommend this place.

Website: http://www.elfarodecadiz.com/

11/12

Off to Jerez de la Frontera for a tour of the Lustau winery, with a sherry tasting.

We had some time before the winery tour, so paid a visit to the cathedral.

Jerez Cathedral interior

Jerez Cathedral interior

We are big fans of sherry, so this was fascinating for us, and Lustau is one of the top producers.  The tour was very thorough and interesting, with a wonderful guide explaining how each type of sherry is made. We then tasted six sherries, several Finos, an Amontillado, a cream and two Pedro Ximenes, and also a Moscatel.  We bought two bottles of Pedro Ximenes at a great discount.

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Website: http://www.lustau.es/en/

After the winery, we headed to lunch at Reinodeleon, a gastronomic tapas bar and restaurant.  We had some wonderful tapas, which included a potato salad with thin sliced octopus, millefeuille of foie gras with Pedro Ximenes gelee and 2 fruit sauces, bruschetta with chicken, cheese, bacon and barbeque sauce, and oxtail stew in a pastry shell. We drank a local wine, Roble 2011, a blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Merlot. It was excellent and cost less than 10 euros. A superb lunch for 40 euros including coffee.

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Website: http://reinodeleongastrobar.com/

Before heading back to Cadiz, we strolled around some more and toured the Church of San Miguel.

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Back in Cadiz, we had dinner at Sopranis, which is highly recommended by both Michelin and Tripadvisor.  It did not disappoint.  The food was superb and a tremendous bargain. We each had two appetizers, crab ravioli wrapped in lettuce, in a soy-based broth, duck ravioli, raw langoustines, and an egg with mushrooms and black truffles.  Main courses were pigeon and beef tenderloin. For dessert we shared a cheesecake.  With water and a bottle of a local red, the bill was 100 euros. A great dinner and a great bargain.

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