Jerez gets few tourists wandering its wonderful pedestrian streets compared to its Andalucian neighbours of Seville, Granada and Cordoba. When they do come they’re either on a day trip to sip sherry at the bodegas and watch the pretty horses prance at the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre, or they’re flamenco fans here for the Festival de Jerez or to learn how to play guitar, clap or dance. Here’s our favourite Jerez souvenirs.
As a result, the markets very much cater for locals doing their grocery shopping (a good thing) and I can count the souvenir shops on one hand (an ever better thing) – which means I’m looking for souvenirs of our stay in places like our local supermarket and specialty shops. This also means that my mementoes from Jerez are not going to last long of course, but if they’re really good, the taste will linger forever, right?
The first things that come to mind when one thinks of Jerez, aside from flamenco (stay tuned), and horses (expensive and too big to pack in a suitcase), is sherry, so let’s start with sherry…
Jerez Supermarket Souvenirs — SHERRY
Sherry is an acquired taste, and whether you end up loving it or not there’s no denying it’s superbly matched with many Spanish dishes. Locals can be seen drinking the stuff here in cafes, restaurants and bars, from morning until late. For visitors to Jerez, one of the must-do things is bodega-hopping and it’s not just a thing for foreign tourists to do, you’ll see busloads of Spanish spilling out of coaches into bodegas and locals calling into their favourites to catch up with their friends over a bottle or two. The most famous sherry is Tio Pepe, produced by Gonzalez Byass, but there are many other excellent bodegas in the centre of Jerez, including Bodegas El Maestro Sierra, Bodegas Lustau, Sandeman, Bodegas Harveys, and Bodegas Terry. While you can buy bottles in the supermarket, you’ll get to try before you buy when you visit the bodegas and there will be reserves and other bottles you won’t find elsewhere. Jerez is also famous for its Vinagre de Jerez (vinegar), derived from sherry, which has undergone aging in American oak for six months, and is sublime with olive oil and some crusty bread. Get a bottle of that, too.
Jerez Supermarket Souvenirs —HORNO LA GAÑANÍA
Order drinks and a few plates of tapas in a bar in Madrid and many other cities in Spain and the waiter will probably bring you a complimentary dish of zesty green olives, perhaps even a dish of manchego cheese swimming in olive oil, and most probably a little mountain of Horno La Gañanía. Little do most people realise but these highly addictive, crunchy, mini breadsticks are a Jerez export. Most of them are plain, but we love the ones made with extra virgin oil as they aren’t as dry as some of the others. They’re perfectly paired with a plate of cheeses and cold cuts (Chorizo, Jamon Iberico etc), as they contrast well with the rich fatty flavours. Our favourites are produced by Franjuba, a mill-cum-bakery established here in Jerez in 1948 in the neighbourhood of Santiago which is still ran by the grandson of the original owner. You don’t get more local than that.
Jerez Supermarket Souvenirs —CORTADILLO DE CIDRA
These delectable little handmade ‘Angel Hair Pastries’ consist of a small square of pie-like pastry, with a thin layer of crust on top dusted with fine powdered sugar, and filled with a layer of delicious jam of sweet pumpkin, or ‘angel hair’ as it’s called here. The pastries are every-so-lightly infused with cinnamon and lemon so they have a faint North African flavour. The brand we liked is made not far from Jerez, in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, another town in Cadiz province – look for the packaging with ‘Doñana Francisco Aragon Briales’ in handsome blue and white lettering. Price: a whopping one euro twenty seven! Individually wrapped in greaseproof paper then sealed in plastic they should travel well – if you let them, that is! They’re very moorish moreish.
Jerez Supermarket Souvenirs —TORTES DE ACEITE
Found all over Andalucia, the most famous creator of these handmade crispy ‘olive oil cakes’ is Inés Rosales from Seville who apparently developed them from a Moorish recipe in 1910, hence the North African flavour. The main ingredient is extra virgin olive oil, and the large round crisps – shaped like a flat Indian papadum – have both a sweet and salty flavour. Lick the surface and you’ll taste both grains of salt and sugar on your tongue. The predominant flavour, however, is anise – and there are whole anise seeds throughout the crisp. Each bite I take of these things brings back memories of anise bread I’ve tasted and loved in Morocco and Paraguay – don’t you love it how food does that? Like the Cortadillo de Cidra, the tortes de aceite come individually wrapped in grease-proof paper with gorgeous retro lettering on them. They’re also sealed in plastic, so are handy for taking home, although they are delicate and crush easily, so maybe we better not take them too far! Cost? One euro thirty cents for a pack six!