- Martha Gehan
My sister is preparing to pack up and go live in
Seville for 9-10 months whilst studying Spanish
language and culture at the University. Any
recommendations re: markets, regional specialties and
what else is worth scoping out in Andalusia would be
greatly appreciated. I of course am feverishly
plotting how many visits I can squeeze in.
I spent my junior year of college in Seville and loved
it. That was more than three years ago, so I can't
guarantee that my information is up to date, but
here's what I remember best.
First, Seville is emphatically not a restaurant town.
What restaurants there are tend to be expensive and
terribly boring. So tapas it is.
My favorite neighborhood for tapas is the Arenal - the
area in back of the bull ring. I recommend Sanchez
Romero Carvajal's Sevilla Jabugo for rich,velvety
cocido (garbanzo/pork/chorizo stew). Also, a little
Extremaduran place neat the end of c.Zaragoza had some
great food, if you can find it. The only decent tapas
in Santa Cruz were at Bar Giralda, about a block from
Sevillanos are master fryers, and the mixed seafood
platter anywhere is usually excellent. The kiosco de
los Flores, which occupies a riverside patio, does a
nice job, though you pay for the ambiance. It's a
good place to bring visiting sisters. Try the cazon
en adobo, a white fish marinated in lemon and/or
vinegar and sometimes oregano before frying. And a
little place in a far corner of Triana called Casa
Ruperto de los Cordonices srves whole marinated fried
quails as its signiture dish.
Other tapas you might try include solomillo al whisky
(pork medallions in whisky sauce), croquetas de
bacalao (salt cod fritters), espinacas con garbanzos
(spinach & garbanzos in a paprika based sauce), and
empanada gallega (galician tuna-tomato pie). Snails
are served in a spicy broth and should be tried, but
it's important to find a reputable place so they're
not served sandy. And be sure to order caracoles and
not cabrillas, which are the horrible, slimy, sluglike
I do have one wonderful budget dining secret which I
hope is still valid. On calle Zaragoza there is a
rstaurant/hotel/cooking school, which I believe is
called La Taberna del Albaradero. The school offers a
pre-fixe lunch menu, changed daily, for 1400 or 1600
pesetas. They serve excellent Spanish fare, and the
dining room is beautiful. The week's menu is posted
outside, so you can decide beforehand which day you
want to go.
Markets? - Dona Gordal Aceitunas on c. San Jacinto
sells excellent olives by the kilo. I did my grocery
shopping at the Triana Market, and there's a smaller
market off the Plaza de la Encarnacion. Neither is
especially lovely - For a beautiful market, check out
the Boqueria in Barcelona.
As for the rest of Andalucia... I'd say Cordoba is
obligatory. It's packed with tourists, but the mosque
is worth braving the hordes. Go early, and when it
begins to fill up, retreat to El Churrasco for lunch
and order the Salmorejo Cordobes, a pale local
gazpacho made thick with hard cooked egg. It was one
of the most exciting things I've ever eaten.
Also, I loved Cadiz, though I freely admit that
there's nothing to do there other than to soak up the
atmosphere and eat the world's best fried seafood
which is sold from a little storefront on a plaza near
the cathedral. If that sounds dull, go in costume and
with a bottles of liqor or two on Carnaval (Mardi Gras)
night. You can participate in one of Spain's great
public fiestas, and the seafood place serves until the
wee hours, too.
I also recommend Extremadura, Spain's relatively
undiscovered western region. I've heard the land
described as bleak, but I found the springtime poppy
fields and the cork forests entrancing. The old towns
are remarkably preserved. The ancient stone palaces
of Caceres and Trujillo seem to have been built
decades, rather than centuries ago. The food is heavy
but delicious. Lamb, pork products and the dark, sweet
local paprika are typical. Migas extremenas,
breadcrumbs fried in olive oil with garlic, chorizo
and paprika, is one of my favorite Spanish dishes. The
Parador in Merida and Pizarro on the main plaza in
Trujillo are good places to try the local cuisine.
I hope some of this is helpful. Please e-mail if you
have any questions. Your sister is about to have a
re: Kathryn Callaghan
We were in Seville in 1986, and found Penelope Casas's
cookbooks, both the general one and the one devoted to
tapas, had lots of great suggestions for both places
and specialities in Seville -- definitely more of a
noshing that a restaurant town.
What stands out in my mind about Cordoba is an ice
cream parlour with wonderful homemade stuff, comparable
to the artisanal gelaterie in Italy. My favorite was
the blue cheese and walnut ice cream.
re: Kathryn Callaghan
Great message, thanks for posting, Kathryn (but please DON'T email questions, everybody--post 'em here, so we can all read along, ok?). I particularly agree about avoiding restaurants and just doing tapas. When I'm there, my entire day's one long tapas walk. I slow down, take everything nice and easy, and nibble and imbibe and wander my way until late night...when it's time to stop the nibbling part and commence the SERIOUS drinking and partying (not as much as in Madrid, but still a serious late party culture).
The slowing down part is necessary for survival. The temperature isn't sooo extreme most of the time (I played an outdoor gig there once for a week in August--in a tuxedo! Now THAT was extreme!), and it's not so southern in latitude, but the sun has a certain African power that must be taken seriously. Its best for prospective visitors to think Caribbean vacation, rather than manic see-the-sights European scavenger hunt (one should see the cathedral and the medieval Barrio Judeo, however).
Migas have also made their way into Mexico and Columbia, though in slightly different form. They are the poorest of the poor people's food (the chorizo was traditionally reserved for particularly flush days...and even then, a mere few morsels). There was a Columbian restaurant in Astoria that made good ones, haven't seen any others in the NYC area since. Anyway, as you know, they're not made in Seville (just for those reading along).
I'm amazed, though, that you made it through your whole message without once mentioning tortilla espanola, the glorious puffy omelet of fried potatoes served by the slice as ubiquitously there as pizza here. I'm a bit of a tortilla scholar, and I think the Seville style is one of the best in Spain.
Oh, and Martha: don't you or your sister miss the Alhambra, well worth the trip to Granada from Seville (the restaurants are better, there, too). I usually hate such touristy destinations, but the Alhambra is something special. Go midmorning on a weekday to somewhat beat the crowds.
Hasta pronto, tia, pues gracias por tu mensaje, ?vale?
re: Kathryn Callaghan
Thank you, Kathryn! (and Jim and Allan). I've
downloaded your post for my sister and I will be sure
to refer to it before my (first) trip to Seville in
October. I, too, think the Boqueria is an awesome
market. I spent five days in Barcelona in a frenzy of
frustration because I couldn't cook what was on offer
in the Boqueria (and my hotel was just blocks away). I
consoled myself with mass quantities of delicious
crustaceans and espinacas catalan (spinach with