Every year in April there is a big celebration in Seville, it is called the Feria de Sevilla which takes place 2 weeks after Holy Week or Semana Santa. To the Sevillanos the feria is sacred, it is a time where the city stops for over a week, once you enter the fairgrounds you forget your worries and enjoy being with friends and family creating memories you will never forget.
It officially begins at midnight that Monday and finishes the following Sunday with spectacular fireworks at the Guadalquivir river.
The people of Seville love a good party so they set up up to 1,000 tents across the Park of Maria Luisa in the Barrio de los Remedios. These tents or 'casetas' are by invitiation only is who you know that gets you in. Right next to the fair grounds in Calle del Infierno (Inferno Street) they set up a an area with horses, attractions and circus shows.
On day 1 it is know as the "Noche del Pescaito" or Fish night, a variety of fish is served usually fried, from boquerones (anchovy), calamari, salmorete (red mullet). Then there is a variety of sides from cured hams like chorizo, serrano and iberico hams and cheeses. The drink of choice is a fine Sherry wine called Manzanilla that is local to Andalucia, they also drink rebujito which is Sherry wine with soda and lots of ice. After dinner everyone heads to the 'Portada' a beautiful structure at the entrance, where the major of Sevilla officially lights up thousands of lights at midnight. Then everyone dances sevillanas a folk dance to Seville that all the locals know. After dancing and drinking some more, everyone will head to the churro stands and party some more.
On day 2 you will find horse parades through the fairgrounds and beautiful women dressed in the most colorful and flamboyant dresses you have ever seen. The men wear a suit called 'traje corto' tradicional gypsy suits looking very handsome in horseback.
The rest of the week is filled with bull fighting, horse show demonstrations, and amazing food from Caldo de Puchero a stew of chicken, beef, and pork with lots of vegetables, caldereta (beef stew), garbanzos con bacalao to salmorejo soup.
if you are ever in Seville at this time of the year know that this is a celebration of the locals and most of the 'casetas' are private but there are a few public casetas where there is some serious partying going on there. More and more they Sevillanos are being more welcoming to anyone with a curios spirit that wants to learn about their culture and the way they live.
Over the years of being a Chef I have discovered all these great tips that is what makes your meals tastes well, more cheffy!
Tip 1: Great Veggies every time
When you boil your veggies add oil and salt to your water (olive oil or canola oil). Cook them only for 5-6 min. While they are hot, season them with olive oil, salt and lemon juice if you season them while they are hot they will absorb the flavor better and have a buttery texture.
Tip 2: No more tears with Onions
If you cry while cutting onions, add vinegar to your board before you cut them. The vinegar cancels out the sulfur that makes you teary. Keep a squirt bottle near by with distilled vinager, it will do the trick
Tip 3: Get your Knifes Professionally Sharpened
A sharp knife is a safer knife...because a sharp blade requires less exertion allowing you to have better control and precision. Just keep your fingers curled and keep an eye on your hand.
Tip 4: Pickling
To pickle anything you always need an acid (vinegar), salt and sugar the rest are aromatics and seasonings. Pickled veggies are great addition to your dishes they add that bite that completes the dish.
Tip 5: Buy Whole Spices
Buy whole spices and grind them yourself, weather it is with the old fashioned mortar and pestle or an electric grinder. Ground spices go dull quicker and most of their essential oils are lost in the processing and packaging. They are usually irradiated if not organic, and the organic ones have a higher risk of being contaminated. So if you buy them ground and organic make sure you cook them heat will kill any potential pathogens.
Tip 6: Everyday Spices to buy
Best spices to have in hand for everyday cooking. : Black Peppercorns, tellicherry peppercorns, cumin seeds, smoked paprika always comes ground, coriander seeds, bay leaves, granulated garlic, herbs de provence and turmeric.
Tip 7: Toast your spices
Toast them in a dry pan at medium heat and watch them like a hawk they burn quick. The minute your smell them they are done.
Tip 8: How to cook the perfect Steak
Bring the steak to room temperature for 30-45 minand cover with plastic wrap. If a steak has cold spots it will not cook evenly and you won't achieve a good caramelization
Toast Tellicherry peppercorns for about 1-2 min on a dry pan
While hot grind them in a mortar and pestle with a coarse sea salt. The heat of the peppercorns and the salt will help the peppercorns to release maximum flavor.
Get your grill or pan hot! A good steak likes high heat for a short time to achieve a great crust, add the salt and pepper seasoning.
Cook longer on the first side about 7 min depending on how big your steak is and the second side for a couple of minutes less.
Let it rest, add a splash of vinegar cut it and enjoy!
Tip 9: Acid is the spice of Life
Keep a spray bottle with your favorite vinegar like white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar and add a splash of acid as a finishing touch.
Tip 10: Brine your Birds
If you are roasting a whole chicken or turkey, brining and a convection oven are your best allies. A still oven also works but it won't cook as evenly.
Brines always have water, salt, sugar an acid like apple cider vinegar and aromatics like bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, whole peppercorns, etc.
Tip 11: Salt is the core of your cooking
Salt brings out flavor so season every stage of your cooking this layers flavors and your flavors will be more complex. Remember to taste, taste as you go.
Tip 12: When Roasting Oil, Salt, Roast
When Roasting get a big mixing bowl and add your oil first, then the salt and pepper or other seasoning like Herbs de Provence and toss well. It will all be evenly seasoned
Tip 13: Air Dry your Chickens
Rinse and dry it pat and salt generously. (if you brined it rinse it and go very light on the salt). Let it stand in your fridge uncovered for 2-4 hours. This bone dry skin will crisp up nicely in the oven.
Tip 14: Use your Sheet Pans to Cook
They now sell a bigger size aluminum foil that fits them this avoids potential leakage to your pans. Use them to roast veggies, cook salmon, broil chicken legs or thighs. Clean up is awesome just rip out the foil and done!
Tip 15: Do not Heat Tortillas in the Microwave
Place them directly in the gas burner for 30 seconds or less on each side. Then cover with a damp cloth.
Tip 16: Best trick to Peel Garlic
Put the garlic cloves in the microwave for 10 seconds and the skins will pop right off!