As a (final) post-dissertation reward, boyf and I took off to Andalucia for 5 days of roaming the streets of Seville, Cadiz and Jerez in search of excellent, authentic tapa, sherry and warm autumnal sunshine. The only time I'd been to Spain was a trip to Barcelona with my mum in 2000 - a lifetime ago. Most of my 'grown up' travelling has been to the Eastern Europe (inter-railing for 6 weeks in 2004), Eastern Med (Bosnia, Croatia x2, Montenegro, Turkey, Greece) and Portugal, land of my forefathers. But some delicious meals at Moro and other tapas bars, reading the Moro cookbooks and hearing friends' tales of amazing times in different parts of Spain got me tantalised.
We went to an amazing array of tapas bars in our 5 short days there, so these are just some of the greatest hits from Seville - Cadiz and Jerez to come.
Salmorejo is the gazpacho of the south - it's thicker and smoother than the traditional gazpacho. It's topped with jamon and egg and lots of olive oil. We had quite a few of these over our stay - we loved the fresh taste of the raw tomatoes and then fruity acidity of the top notch olive oil. This was my favourite one - at bright and cheery Duo Tapas bar just off Alameda de Hercules:
One of the most fun things about kind of understanding Spanish is that you kind of know what you're going to get but the actual form and presentation is a total surprise. Or so it was when I ordered Tostada Bacalao, which I imagined would be toast with salt cod. What arrived was a lot fancier - thin crisps and subtle salt cod, fried together and modelled, with egg, as a patty topped with alfalfa sprouts. It was from Kiosko Los Leones, in the middle of Alameda de Hercules, which was great for people watching with a glass of Cava.
My favourite tapas bar was hands down El Rinconcillo, apparently Seville's oldest tapas bar. We rolled in after getting a bit lost in the winding alleys (it's very easy to lose your sense of direction), and it was still lively with locals at 11pm on a Monday evening. I ordered Espinacas con Garbanzos (spinach and chickpeas) and Bacalao con Tomates, which was salt cod served with a sauce of slow cooked tomatoes and peppers with lots of olive oil.
The bar itself was stunning - you could just feel the history and imagine it not being hugely different 300 years ago...
Another favourite in Seville was Meson del Pulpo, a galician restaurant in the centre of town. We had one of our most luxuriant lunches there - gobbling up a racion of Pimientos de Padrón, salty fried mini green peppers, a tapa of pork steak in an almond and sherry sauce (LUSH!) and a silky Galician octopus served with a confit potato. That one was totes simple, but so fresh and tasty.
And finally for Seville, an old favourite - Gambas Al Ajillo. This one reminds me of childhood holidays in the Algarve - spitting hot olive oil, sweet, sweet garlic sauce and perfectly fresh Atlantic prawns. We ate this one in an atmospheric little plaza in Triana, the old gypsy barrio. A band entertained us with shanties while I sipped a cool Manzanilla. I used bread to soak up every last spot of the garlicky, prawny olive oil.
Afterwards we caught an authentic flamenco performance at Casa de Anselma, one of the best places for low-key, passionate and gritty flamenco - which doesn't even open til midnight. It was the perfect way to an end our enchanting stay in Seville. Next stop: Cadiz!