Friday, March 24, 2006

Spain Been Very Very Good To Me

It's been a busy past few days. On Wednesday we took a drive to Sherry country and visited the Domecq and Tio Pepe Bodegas. Of the two, the Tio Pepe was far more well done, and we ended up buying far more Sherry than we had intended.

Both Bodegas are in Jerez (pronounced "Herez") de la Frontera, which until that fateful day in 1492 was occupied by the Moors. I mention this because of a little fact about the name of the town and the drink that we call sherry. It seems that Jerez is not a Spanish name, but instead a name that is very similar to the name the Moors used for sherry which I can't exactly remember now. None-the-less, sherry has been produced for centuries in this area, and the Moors were no exception. I must confess to a little delight when our tour guide mentioned this fact and included the words, "despite the Muslim prohibition against alcohol" which elicited more than a few snickers from our international group.

At any rate, after the tour we stopped and had some tapas in the Tio Pepe tasting room and enjoyed a couple glasses of sherry. A couple things that I learned.

1. Sherry comes in four main types; Fino, Amantillado, Olo Rosso, and Pedro Jimenez
2. The first three are made from the Palomino grape, while the last is made from the Pedro Jimenez grape.
3. They get sweeter as you move from Fino to Pedro
4. This is the shocker - Harvey's Bristol Cream is actually pretty decent despite the '70's throw your room keys in a hat party image.

On a completely different change of pace, yesterday we went to the Alambra in Granada. This is an old Muslim Fort, town really, built during the Moorish occupation. The place is amazing - the sultan's palace in particular - and is all the more impressive given it's distinct architectural differences with the more typical European palaces that we've all become much more familiar with. As I was walking through the place I was struck with how the Muslim culture has stagnated over the recent centuries; incredibly sad really. One wonders what went wrong, and if they'll ever get back on track.

Today is a slower day. I think we'll hang nearby and then tomorrow head to Seville. On Sunday we have an 11 hour drive to Barcelona.

Buenos Dias Amigos!

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