Seville gave a parade to welcome us!
Everyone told us we would love Seville, and even in the cold wind with a slight rain, it is marvelous. After the parade we wandered about in the old part of town to find ourselves in a local tapas place that would only serve us at 20.00. tasQuero, in the Alfalfa part of town was a serious treat for the taste buds and for the soul. We wandered in and started with a glass of sherry, a particular speciality in Andalucia.
Traipsing about town on the "Day of the Children", in a moment of blue sky, Claudio was determined to find one of those old places that balances between dingy and splendid old fashioned glory. In a patch of sunshine by some amazing trees, I insisted that we sit and this is how we found Las Columnas Tapas. Spanish families all around us, we watched what they were eating and Claudio got the pork with roquefort and I had the pork in whisky sauce. Bot are served over french fries and mine was complete with three giant cloves of roasted garlic. As a side we got the Spanish potato omlette thing. All rounded off with two glasses of house white. To say we had a feast for 14 Euros would be correct. Simple, honest, delicious food in a lively patch of sunshine overlooking the columns of Hercules.
To top off I had a cafe bonbon. This was discovered yesterday at the train station in Malaga, there it was a tasty glass of coffee with a fat finger of condensed milk on the bottom. At Las Columnas it was a glass of yummy coffee with the condensed milk on the side in a squeeze bottle, yes like ketchup, served on the side so that I could have as much as I wanted. Gobsmacked, I put in the same finger and enjoyed the decadent combination. After I finished, I dared to look at the ingredients of this dairy treat - milk and sugar. No artificial ingredients, no preservatives, just milk and sugar. An extra bonus for the Nutritional Therapist in me, not exactly healthy and not awful either.
While it rained nearly the entire time we were there, the streets and sites of Seville seduced us. Alfalfa was a neighbourhood we enjoyed in particular, with TasQuero where we returned twice and were equally delighted both time withe the delicious tapas, smooth fino (La Ina) and ease drinking wine as a very fair price.
Another place we were surprised to enjoy innovative tapas was Ovejas Negras. This place seems to have two points of reference, the early eater (20.00) who is generally a tourist, and the "regular eater" from 21.00 who is generally a Spaniard. This hip place had an innovative menu and lovely wine. The pate was a must eat and the Russian salad (standard on every tapas menu) was particularly good, I think its magic ingredient was tuna. Whatever it was, it was worth eating even for me who never touches this wrongly named dish. Pictured below. This place was lively and full of good cheer.
Still enjoying the evening, we left this place to enter a few steps later a small cafe just 100 meters away with barrels dominating its left wall and legs of pig the right. Maestro Marcelino was a fun place to end the evening. The owner was there, a delight to speak and laugh with, knowledgable and generous, working with him a lovely man whose sincerity made us blush, and a young Chinese woman living in London another customer, we made a party and left with a bottle of wine and a jar of locally made marmalade (from all those turunc trees populating Seville) which I am enjoying daily at home in Lugano with some cheese we bought at another place on our culinary tour.
Pouring with rain, we set out to find what we were told is the oldest bar in Spain, Rinconcillo, to have dinner. A bit of a walk from our amazing flat overlooking the Archivo di Indias (well worth the 2 minutes it takes to check out, the video at the beginning is very cool),by the time we got there and gazed in the window to realize that everyone was standing and that it was packed, a tremor of "touristy"overtook us both. Peering into the dark just across the square we saw what looked like it could be a good, low key alternative, Los Claveles. We peered in, looked like a lot of locals, warm, and inviting with a free table tucked in the corner seeming to be waiting for us. We hopped in and ordered a glass of sherry while we perused the menu. What came was actually white wine and it was good so we drank on and ordered. The beans topped with a quails egg was delightful, the duck toasts were tasty and the red wine was good too. I would avoid the tail dish and the ham wrapped in ham and fried. Here they were greasy and we had had them at other places where they were actually delicious.
Overall we enjoyed this place which offered us warmth and refuge and I was still keen to see the other place when we left, so we went in for a nightcap. FABULOUS! Jumping with Spanish people, the random tourist dotted about, including a French man who is a chef in Monaco. We enjoyed this place and returned a couple of days later after visiting the Palace of the Duchess of Seville (Alba) (well worth a visit, what a character, she brought June Haimoff to both of our minds). This time we had a few more dishes, including cheese flan and a plate of various sausage which Bearli nearly fell into.
Claudio, per usual, made wonderful friends with the professionals behind the bar. These guys knew there stuff and we took their chalk in hand to express our gratitude and delight.
Amid all this eating we did take in the sights, which Seville is more than full of. Cleary, for us what we eat and drink is as much a part of the cultural experience of a place as possible. The rain did a bit to dampen both, and we still managed to enjoy both enough to make Seville a place we will return to in fairer weather, say May or October.