Conil, Barbate, and Zahara have programmed a series of food and wine events featuring bluefin tuna caught by trap fisheries as the main course.
Each year, May is a special month on the province of Cadiz’s Atlantic Coast. It is when the first bluefin tuna reach the coast on their way to the Mediterranean to spawn. It is the moment when their flesh is at its tastiest. A true delicacy which has been caught in the same manner for the last 2,000 years: trap fishing.
Tuna fishing is the mainstay of the local economy of Zahara de los Atunes, Barbate, and Conil de la Frontera, and they all organize festivals and events to celebrate the return of the wild tuna. It is such an important event, in fact, that 50 of Spain’s top chefs, including Ferran Adria, Arzak, Angel Leon, and Daniel Garcia, have made a point of visiting the area over the years to savour this delicacy.
Until well into the summer, the bars and restaurants compete to offer the most exquisite dishes both traditional and cutting-edge. All the area’s villages organize events, such as show cooking, passacaglias, conferences, screening of documentaries, and even fun fairs, so as to celebrate this tradition that was started on the Atlantic Coast of Cadiz by the Phoenicians and which has remained largely unchanged until the present day.
Barbate, Conil, Zahara de los Atunes and, for the first time, Tarifa have designed an agenda of activities to celebrate the arrival of the bluefin tuna and attract visitors with the promise of exquisite wild tuna titbits.
The tuna of Zahara
The 5th Tuna Festival, which is scheduled to be held from 14-19 May, is an initiative of the Zahara de los Atunes Trade Association (ACOZA), whose aim is to promote the cuisine of Zahara through this fish that gives its name to the village. Around 40 companies are participating in this initiative, the majority being restaurants, although there are also hotels, hostals, bars, and even a pizza restaurant. Tapas cost €3.5, including a drink.
Conil’s tapa festival celebrates its 17th anniversary
The Conil Tuna Festival, now running into its 17th edition, is programmed to start on 10 May, coinciding with the 5th Tuna Tapa Festival, which will take place in Santa Catalina Square. Many of the restaurants participating in the festival will be offering a variety of wild tuna tapas for the symbolic price of €1.50, plus €1 for drinks. This event will mark the beginning of the festival, which will last until 10 June.
Furthermore, during the first weekend of May (10th-12th), it will also be possible to savour the tapas in the bars located in the vicinity of the square for the same price.
On 7 May, several days before the start of the festival, the traditional cooking competition will be held, starting at 12am, with prizes in two categories: Traditional Cuisine and Innovative Cuisine.
May: Bluefin Tuna Month on the coast of Cadiz (photo courtesy of Cadiz Provincial Tourism Board)