How Britain Got the Taste for Tapas Reply

British tapas trend

From paella to patatas bravas, millions are tucking into their favourite holiday food at home–The weather may not be at its best in Britain at the moment, but that’s even more reason to bring our sunshine holidays home with us — in the form of Spanish food. Supermarket tapas ranges have become ever more popular, with many retailers seeing sales rises of up to 40 per cent year on year.  According to retail analysts Mintel, 74 per cent of us say it is worth going to Spain specifically for the food and the wine — so perhaps it is unsurprising that we now want to enjoy it at home, too.

Tesco report that this year we have bought 30 per cent more tapas foods than last year, and as a direct result of the popularity of Spanish tapas, they have introduced a new range of similar products from Italy, Greece, Morroco and the Middle East, called the Al Fresco range. At M&S, their Spanish tapas meat selection sales are up 50 per cent, with a 30 per cent  rise across their tapas and Spanish food range. M&S Spanish food buyer Charlotte Craddock says: ‘We’ve seen a huge rise in the popularity of Spanish foods recently, and our customers love chorizo. In fact, the most popular line in our continental cured meats range is the chorizo ring, which is great for adding to paellas and stew.”


Student Spins Double Life Among Spanish Elite Reply

Pequeño Nicolas

Spanish imposter NIcolas Gomez Iglesias greets the King of Spain.

Raphael Minder writes for the NY–MADRID — How is it that a baby-faced, 20-year-old university student skates his way into the coronation celebration of the new king, passes himself off as a government adviser to reportedly broker a lucrative business deal, and avoids traffic jams by flashing a fake police light? That is the question members of Spain’s security services are asking themselves after the student, Francisco Nicolás Gómez Iglesias, was arrested last week and quickly gained prominence as the country’s most notorious gate-crasher.

The answer, disturbingly enough, is that he did it by falsifying police and secret service documents and pretending to hold several government and other official posts, Spain’s national police say. The judge in charge of the case, Mercedes Pérez Barrios, was as incredulous as many other Spaniards at the extent of Mr. Gómez Iglesias’s double life. In her report, she wrote that she could “not understand how a young person of 20, using only his word and apparently under his own identity, could have access to conferences, places and events without his behavior alarming anybody.”


Spanish Authorities Arrest 51 Politicians in Anti-Corruption Sweep Reply

Anti-corruption protesters Madrid

A day after PM Mariano Rajoy played down scale of corruption in Spain, members of his party were among those arrested

Ashifa Kassam in Madrid writes for The–Dozens of public officials, bureaucrats and business leaders have been arrested across Spain as part of a wide-ranging corruption investigation, just a day after the prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, downplayed the scale of graft in the country. Speaking on Sunday, Rajoy sought to depict the issue as a case of a few bad apples and one that must not define Spain. Noting that the justice system was doing its job, he said, “a few small incidents isn’t the same thing as 46 million people nor all of Spain”. Less than 24 hours later, 51 people – including top members of Rajoy’s ruling People’s party (PP) – were arrested as part of an investigation into “a network of corruption” that involved contracts worth roughly €250m (£197m), the country’s anti-corruption prosecutor’s office said on Monday.


Why Madrid’s Poor Fear Goldman Sachs and Blackstone Reply

Raquel Mejias

Raquel Mejias, 39, who is HIV positive and has one lung, waits before learning that her eviction was suspended in Madrid, in this October 2, 2014.–Last year Madrid’s city and regional governments sold almost 5,000 rent-controlled flats to private equity investors including Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. At the time, the tenants were told their rental conditions would remain the same.

But as old contracts expire, dozens of people have received demands for higher rent, been told their rents will increase dramatically, been threatened with eviction or moved out to escape the insecurity. Thousands of Spain’s poor now depend for their homes on the generosity of private equity.

Jamila Bouzelmat is one of them. The mother of six lives in a four-bedroom flat on the outskirts of the Spanish capital that was bought jointly by Goldman and a Spanish firm.


What’s on in Spain: November 2014 Reply

Madrid en Danza

November in Spain is bursting at the seams for lovers of art, culture, food and sport. Find out what’s on as The Local showcases the best the country has to offer in the month before Christmas.


Primavera Club 2014, October 31st–November 2nd, Barcelona: Big names in club music come together to crank out tunes that will keep you dancing all night (and all day as well if you want). Best of all, a ticket to the whole event will only set you back €25 ($32).

Madrid en Danza, November 6th–November 30th: Dance companies from 23 countries descend on the Spanish capital to offer styles from ballet to urban to flamenco and everything else in between. Not to be missed.

Cartegena Jazz Festival, November 1st–November 22nd: Beautiful Cartagena is in November hosting big names including Macy Gray, Branford Marsalis and Cat Power.


El Greco: A modern Artist in the 16th Century Reply

El Greco Spain

This year is the 400th anniversary of El Greco’s death but his works can feel shockingly modern. Jason Farago examines how his works influenced Manet, Cézanne, Picasso and Pollock.–Few artists stick out from the standard tale of western painting more pointedly than El Greco, the great outlier of the late 16th Century. Deeply religious, passionately single-minded, he merged the art traditions of three different countries and found his own unsettling painterly language, one that took a very long time to find its most receptive audience.

Flip through the pages of a textbook or wander through the permanent collection of a major museum and you can sometimes fool yourself that art history is a clear and predictable progression, one style and one century inevitably giving way to the next. But art history, we know, isn’t nearly so simple, and El Greco, like few other painters, gives the great delight of seeing that story disrupted and contradicted.


Bye Bye España Reply

Foreigners leaving Spain

Unemployment, taxes and old age are forcing thousands of Europeans to sell up and leave Spain

Ana Carbajosa writes for El Pais in English–In the sunny cafés of Calpe, a seaside town in Alicante province, there is one prevailing topic of concern among the white-haired, suntanned British retirees: the Spanish Tax Agency. The mistrust triggered by the new obligation to declare assets located abroad is just one of the reasons pushing hundreds of thousands of elderly Europeans to drop off the official statistics, and in many cases, bid Spain farewell forever.

The lack of opportunities for young people, the cost of living and statistical engineering on the municipal rolls all go some way toward explaining a population drop that is causing lost sleep for many coastal town authorities. A few Europeans are still being attracted by low house prices, but they are swimming against the tide of expats who are packing up their things and going home.


Granada Gang Accused of €3.5 Million Ticket Scam at Alhambra Reply

Alhambra tourists Granada

Did the Alhambra seem unduly crowded last time you were there? After 10 years of investigation public prosecutors want the 45 defendants to pay Granada tourist site €6.6m

Valme Cortés writes for El Pais in English: Public prosecutors say that between 2002 and 2005, a 45-strong network of tour guides, hoteliers, travel agents, and monument employees made around €3.5 million from selling tickets to the Alhambra palace in Granada.

The alleged scam involved hoteliers and travel agents taking the money for entry tickets from groups of tourists, and then cutting a deal with staff at the Moorish complex, one of Spain’s most-visited historical sites, who would let them in, either without tickets or using forgeries.


Senior Home Swaps? Social Network Seeks to Help Seniors Travel Reply

senior residential swaps

CTV–Conventional wisdom would hold that a move into a retirement home means that a pensioner’s days of adventure are over. But a new social network in Slovenia wants to change that and make globetrotting easier for older folk with wanderlust who want — or need — the services of a specialized residence for seniors. “Once the opportunity arose, I quickly decided I wanted to go to Spain,” said Jozica Kucera, a 77-year-old widow from Slovenia. In late July, she swapped her room in a retirement home in the northern city of Topolsica to spend a week at a similar facility in Mataro, a Mediterranean beach town near Barcelona.

She speaks no Spanish, though has German and some English “but we’ll find a way,” Kucera told AFP before leaving. “I’m not afraid at all. I wonder how elderly people live there.” Travelling in the opposite direction was Miquel Ribas, an 82-year-old Spaniard who stayed in Kucera’s room while she occupied his.


Spanish Filmmaker David Trueba’s Oscar Race Begins Reply

Vivir Facil cast

La–Los Angeles, Oct 17 (EFE).- The movie “Vivir es facil con los ojos cerrados” (Living is Easy with Eyes Closed, 2013) opened the 20th edition of the Recent Spanish Cinema festival in Los Angeles, a showcase of Spanish film and which marked the start of the Oscar race for the film by director David Trueba. It is among the 83 contenders for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards contest which officially kicked off Monday with winners announced on February 22 next year.

“It is always a mess. It’s better to be inside than outside, its like the World Cup final, its better to play it than watch it on TV,” Trueba told Efe Thursday on the red carpet outside Hollywood’s iconic Egyptian Theater just 500 meters (500 yards) from the Dolby theater where the golden statuettes are presented every year.