JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA
You'll need the tools for survival
And the medicine for the blues
I still had a bit of a dicky stomach by the time I reached Jerez but Spain´s wonder farmacias came to the rescue again. And if there isn´t a blog about OTC remedies in countries other than UK then there should be. After a bit more miming and looking generally fed up (who said play-acting) the lovely ladies of La Farmacia Porvera ("Para nosotros su salud no tiene horarios") came up with the goods. Some suitably serious and medical sounding stuff called Fortasec and Motilium. The latter having the appearance and consistency of well...have a guess. Sorry I have no idea if the taste is similar.
After doubling the dose, just to be on the safe side and washing it all down with something called Fanta Naranja (8% zumo), I set of in search of Jerez. First impressions were of a town that had gone tourist not least I suppose because it´s now got low cost flights and fast-ish rail links to it. Also, as the sherry industry declines (and declines) the tourist side takes up a greater role in the economy. Still apart from dual language menus it doesn´t seem to have had a great effect. Yet.
Why the decline in the sherry industry is happening is an interesting question - I´ve tried my best to keep it going I really have. There are numerous events in the UK to try and push the product but it´s not having much of an effect. I talked to some people from the Netherlands (supposedly one of the biggest importers) on the Gonzalez-Byass and the Domecq Bodegas tousr and some had never hear of GB or Tio Pepe, one its biggest brands, and said it was still a drink for old people back home.
In the UK the Working classes will view you with suspicion if you say you like a drop of sherry, the Upper classes would probably say that Xavier was a Wykehamist whereas the Middle classes will drink it but will fetishise and patronise, it and other things Spanish (see the Observer or Sunday Times for articles by the Clarks, Harts et al) in a way that completely alienates. Really these people have no clue.
Another problem with sherry is that while relatively cheap to buy for home consumption in a bar or restaurant the mark-up is surreal. I had a glass of Tio Pepe this lunchtime and it cost me around the 1 euro mark in a tourist zone. The equivalent in London probably goes for about 7 euros. As a bottle retails in UK for about the same we´re taking about a 600% markup. And they wonder why nobody´s buying it. Du-uh.
In Spain I´ve noticed in the summer at least people tend stick to beer and tinto de verano or increasingly cerveza "sin" which is a bit like an ex-meat eater trying to get a fix from a Linda McCartney Veggie Sausage i.e. completely pointless.
Anyway, the healing properties of the Sherry are well documented and I can recommend both the Gonzalez-Byass and Domecq tours. The former is supposed to be more Disneyfied but I was disappointed that we never got an exploding mineshaft on our mini-train trip. The latter tour is obviously for the more hardcore as we got a quick whizz around the bodega and then a whole bottle of Fino, Cream Sherry and Fundador between eight to have a crack at.
From a culinary, or more accurately, tapas point of view Jerez took a bit of cracking to find the best spots. At first the places I tried on spec weren´t that great but then I noticed they had a little tapas and sherry promotion going on and going to some of the participating bars proved fruitful although shame on Bar Barbianna I whose entry was Ensaladilla Rusa and Callos. Guys - you´re really not trying.
Anyway, all solid enough but a mite underwhelming compared to some other towns. They have a winner, though with one of the bet churrerias I´ve come across, just outside the small but perfectly formed market. Oh and the beers are pretty good here as well, on a par with Sevilla at least.
A very pleasant way to finish off my Andalucian visit.