Seville, in August

Seville bullring and bullfighter statue

In the last week of August, I went to Seville. I love Seville and I’ve been more times than I can count, with various friends and family and different times in the year.

This time, I did a flamenco dance course with the inimitable Pastora Galvan, whose hip swivels, shoulder shrugs and backward bends left me both frustrated and inspired by the end of the week, not to mention the lighting footwork and razor-sharp finger snaps.

I didn’t take my camera because I spent 3+ hours every morning in the school, and then there was the necessary eating, showering and cooling down afterward. The afternoons were stupendously hot – on two days it was above 40ºC – and the sun was intense. I stayed indoors, flat out on the bed with the air-conditioning on full blast. So, no pictures, apart from the few that I’ve taken on my phone.

The Slow Pace girls gave me a list of eating recommendations – thanks ! I wish I could have got to all of them, especially Abades Triana which they wrote about on their blog. The heat got the better of us. Next time. It was difficult to narrow down, but I’m going to put my Top 5 eating/drinking/flamenco tips from this trip.

1. Ena, the terrace bar at the Alfonso XIII hotel. Calle San Fernando, 2. The Alfonso XIII is a beautiful old world hotel built in the mudejar style. I didn’t stay here – I wish ! – but we had sunset cocktails on the terrace bar, sitting on comfy cushions against the lush setting of the gardens.

2. El Rinconcillo. Calle Gerona, 40. A really lovely traditional bar and restaurant with hanging hams, a long wooden bar, and beautiful tiled walls. We had Sunday lunch in the salon. My favourite dish is the espinacas con garbanzos or spinach with chickpeas. Theirs is Sevillian style, fused with plenty of cumin.

3. Casa Morales. Calle Garcia de Vinuesa, 11. A traditional tapas bar, just south of the Cathedral, where you sit among large terracotta earthenware jars. It’s small and gets crowded quickly at lunchtime. The menu is on the blackboard, and the wait staff will tell you the day’s special. On the day we went, it was arroz con carrillada, or rice with Iberian pork cheeks. Delicious !

4. Victoria Eugenia. Calle Cuna, 2. A restaurant that seems to specialise in cod dishes, because that’s what made up much of the menu. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve eaten here even though I saw later that the tripadvisor reviews were mixed. This time it was cod croquetas and artichoke hearts with cured ham. So good ! It’s a couple of doors down from the Casa de la Memoria – below – which is handy after watching a flamenco show.

5. Casa de la Memoria. Calle Cuna, 6. There are plenty of flamenco shows in town, but Casa de la Memoria is my favourite because they have good artists, so you’ll always get a good show even if you don’t know who they are. This is where I first saw Pastora Galvan years ago. It’s a lovely intimate venue and there are two showings a night at 19.30h and 21.00h. Also, they don’t make you buy a food and drink package, which I think is a bonus.

~ Spotted Cow

Spanish finger food

Aunty

Tita Felisa

Esparragosa de Lares, Spain

Today I’m going to tell you about Tita. Or Aunty. Our daily holiday schedule in the village revolved around going to lunch at hers. In Spain, mealtimes are late and lunchtime is somewhere between 2pm and 4pm.

Aunty is the family matriarch and D’s father’s sister. She is a sprightly woman in her 80s, with a good bite to her tongue. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of her because you’ll get a telling off the likes of which you haven’t heard since you were ten.

Everyday she cooked for us in her tiny kitchen that just fits her stove and a small counter top. She has a bigger, modern kitchen but she doesn’t cook in there. In fact, her oven is crammed full of bags of potato chips. I was tickled. But out of the cupboard-sized kitchen came the magic of tortilla, ajo blanco, milanesa (breaded chicken), potatoes in tomato, fried chorizo, lentils, meatballs. Hearty village favourites, served with love and a big loaf of country bread.

Tita herself eats sparingly. But the moment you finish the last scrap on your plate, she’s up on her feet, gesturing to seconds and asking if you want anything else. She reels off the contents of her fridge – beer, wine, melon, cheese, yoghurt, yesterday’s leftovers. When we really cannot eat anymore, she tells us what she is going to cook the next day. And then points again to seconds !

During the village fair, the cooking amounts were larger. Her away children came back. Her “English” brother returned. One evening, at half past midnight, we dropped by and there were all manner of immediate & extended family and friends wandering in and out of her house, catching up with each other. From her chair, Tita was chatting and gesturing to food and drink. It made me think of my grandmother’s house when she was alive.

Enjoy the pictures. I don’t have many of the food because I was too busy eating.

~ Spotted Cow

Milanesa and chorizoTiny kitchenDining table