Celebratory supper and a spot of people watching
Last night we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with tapas at a Jerez landmark. El Gallo Azul (the blue cockerel) is probably the most photographed building in Jerez. Built in the late 1920s by the Domecq sherry and brandy-making family as a gift to the city, it sits at the intersection of the busiest shopping streets in the heart of the city. Here is the place to watch the world go by!
The bar has been spruced up since we last visited a year ago. New owners have given the place a bit of polish and – much to our initial dismay – a new menu. But ever the adventurers, we weren’t perturbed for long. The menu offered an update on what El Gallo Azul is already good at: modern takes on local specialities, with a few old favourites thrown in for good measure.
First was a half bottle of icy La Ina fino. I never tire of its clean fresh taste in this climate, and I almost didn’t try anything else. Almost but not quite 🙂
After a plate of fantastic tiny croquetas de jamón and a mini hamburger, came a tapa of Carillada de cerdo. This rich pork cheek stew is probably not the ideal snack when temperatures are in the high 70s, but who cares – it tastes too good to miss! Rich, deep flavours of Oloroso, pork and a little cumin were great but there was something missing. Time for a glass of something more robust! A glass of Río Viejo Oloroso arrived and suddenly the flavours were dancing! The spices and meat came spectacularly to life, and that carillada didn’t last long once the Oloroso was on the scene!
We didn’t need any more food by then (or sherry for that matter!) but we were celebrating…. A little dessert seemed to be in order! Tocino de cielo is quite tricky to describe, but it translates as ‘heavenly morsels’ and that just about covers it. It’s a custard made from egg yolks and sugar syrup, and I confess I blanched when I read a recipe for it; there’s no escaping how calorific it is when you see what’s in it! Thank goodness it comes in small portions.
The only thing to match with such tooth-aching sweetness is an equally sweet wine, so a glass of Viña 25 Pedro Ximenez it was. The honey flavours of the dessert and the treacliness of the wine were a great end to the meal, and just about finished me off too!
So a few things had changed since our last visit to El Gallo Azul, but the new menu was pretty good. I shall mourn the loss of the albóndigas de secreto ibérico en salsa de setas con oloroso (possibly the world’s most delicious meatballs) but the new carillada and croquetas will make up for it. What hadn’t changed, thankfully, was the staff. Andres and Gabi have looked after us year after year, and do so with a smile even when they’re moving so fast I could believe they’re wearing hidden roller skates.