From Sanlúcar de Barrameda to Zahara de los Atunes through ancient cities and desert beaches following the route of the best tuna in the world
April to June
The coastline from Sanlúcar de Barrameda to Tarifa is one of most striking and unknown in Spain. Landscapes are wild, almost deserted, its towns and cities old, worn out and decadently beautiful. The Phoenicians founded Cádiz more than 3000 years ago; the Romans made it a key port of the empire. Through here, Moorish troops conquered Hispania, and introduced new products such as rice, and new techniques such as the fritura (deep frying) that have shaped Spanish cuisine.
Sanlúcar de Barrameda saw the Columbus, Magallanes and Elcano vessels depart to conquer new worlds and return with ingredients that define today’s global cuisine. Sanlúcar de Barrameda´s streets smell like sea, algae and shellfish. The bars are filled with locals drinking manzanilla wine (a very special kind of sherry that is only produced in Sanlúcar) and eating the cherished langostinos de Sanlúcar -prawns of a unique texture and flavour-; traditional tortillitas de camarón – Andalucian shrimp pancakes, the best in Spain – and almadraba tuna, the best in the world, extremely difficult to find anywhere else.
The almadraba has been, and continues to be, an age-old man vs. fish struggle for survival, a sustainable fishing technique that has been practiced since the Phoenician times and is maintained exactly the same today, thousands of years later. Tuna devotees worldwide, flock to these shores for the red, marbled meat of this unique wild Bluefin tuna.
But not everything swims in these lands; this is also cattle territory. This is the region of the Retinta breed, one of the best and most appreciated in Spain; the finest sherry wines of Jerez and manzanillas of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. This is the birthplace of Camarón, the king of flamenco, a landscape of hidden villages of incomparable beauty and mystery, like Vejer; of asadores (family-run grill restaurants) on deserted beaches; of Roman ruins… A coast full of history and a cuisine that is, quite literally, a melting pot of Roman, Arab and New World influences.
Travel from village to village,
tavern to tavern, following the sun and
the waves, with strategic pit stops to
eat obscene quantities of seafood
Early morning strolls through the fish markets of Barbate or Sanlúcar de Barrameda, watch the fish auctions, speak with fishermen, learn about the produce and listen to their sea stories while warming up with a fish soup or stew at the market bar.
Irrigate your soul with finos from
Puerto de Santa María and manzanillas from Sanlúcar,
touring its centennial wineries, indulging in
wine tastings with the owners and testing
Indulge in one of the most special, daring and intense restaurants in Spain, Aponiente, a Michelin-starred restaurant dedicated to the sea and the Mediterranean fishermen who risk their lives to bring us the best produce. An ode to tradition and innovation.
Swap the sea for the mountains in Vejer, without a doubt one of the most beautiful villages in the whole of Spain, eat some incredibly sexy huevos rotos con jamón in a traditional town tavern and stroll through its cobbled streets, resisting the urge to stay there forever
When in almadraba season, join the crew in one of the few privileged boats that will take you to experience, a levantá, when all the fishermen work together lifting up the net that contains hundreds of tunas, the same way the Phoenicians did 3000 years ago.
Explore Doñana Park on horseback, a natural reserve and World Heritage Site with unique biodiversity in Europe. There are even those who claim that the lost city of Atlantis was located here.
Finish the day at a relaxed beach bar in Caños de Meca, indulging in the digestif par excellence in Spain:a perfect gin-tonic while watching the sunset by the sea. What else could you ask for?
|Langostinos de Sanlúcar:|
local prawns, bigger and sweeter
|Tortillitas de camarón:|
traditional shrimp omelette
|Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda:|
variety of fino sherry
|Vinos de Jerez: |
|Almadraba bluefin tuna|
filleted salt-cured tuna, a delicacy
|Manteca colorá: |
lard cooked with spices and pork
one of the three pure breeds of cattle native to Spain