PRESS SECTION - Sunday Express Travel - April 2012
Delectable Taste of old Seville
Bull’s tail lasagne has never been on my culinary wish list but I am pleased to advise it’s delicious, with a rich gamey flavour that complements the creamy fresh pasta.
The Lasagne Tapas is just one of many unusual dishes on the menu at the serene Moorish-style courtyard of the Pando Cuna restaurant, in the heart of Seville.
My friend Shiri and I are in the “City of 3,000 Tapas bars” where it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the lengthy, incomprehensible menus.
Which is why we’ve enlisted the help of a local, Miguel, to take us to some of his favourite haunts and extend our knowledge beyond calamari and patatas bravas.
We tuck into some fat, fresh anchovies bought by the chef from the fish market that morning and cooked with garlic and olive oil, Andalucia oval-shaped bread sticks called Picos.
Luckily we are pacing ourselves on our six-bar tour so depart to our next stop, El Patio San Eloy, whose courtyard backs on to the ancient walls of Real Alcazar, a 14th-centrury Moorish palace with exquisite Mudejar mosaic-tiled patios and halls. The previous day we had wandered around the palace’s vast, lush gardens.
We sit at the bar drinking beer drawn from steel caskets suspended from the ceiling alongside legs of acorn-fed Iberico ham. We admire the Tarta Vegetal, a huge layered sandwich covered with mayonnaise “icing” and a colourful array of vegetables before tucking in. The Tapas keep on coming. Toast topped with tiny cubes of piquant Iberico ham in a sweet wine sauce and a huge plate of succulent prawns.
Many Tapas bars specialise in one particular dish and this one is no exception, offering a vast array of Montaditos, baguettes filled with chorizo, pork fillet cooked with whisky and a delicious Sevillan rustic stew called Pringa.
On our way to our next Tapas bar near one of the main shopping streets, Calle Sierpes, we can’t resist nipping into the famous 19th-century patisserie La Campana. Beneath the splendid white plaster and gilt ceiling we ogle a tempting array of sugary concoctions.
After six Tapas bars in three hours and our appetite suitably sated, we bid farewell to Miguel and walk over to the west bank of the Guadalquivir river to the pottery district of Triana with its cobbled street and shops selling ceramics. From here, there are great views of the cathedral and the Moorish defence tower the Torre del Oro.
In need of a siesta we retire to our hotel, Casa Numero 7, an elegant townhouse on the edge of the Santa Cruz district. It has just six rooms with marble-lined bathrooms, antiques and a white-gloved butler. We sink into velvet sofas in the elegant drawing room with its marble fireplace, and honesty bar offering a huge variety of Sherries.
That evening, equipped with our new-found culinary knowledge, we can’t wait to try 17th-century El Rinconcillo, Seville’s oldest Tapas bar. A dazzling array of spirits lines the ornate shelves of one room where have is being sliced on the cool marble counter. Next door the main bar is just atmospheric with wood panelling, mosaic tiles and barrels being used as tables.
Felling greedy and showing off a bit, we order a long list of dishes with our new-found knowledge: pig’s cheeks (beautifully tender and flavoursome), a tortilla, a deliciously salty hard ewe’s cheese and house specialty, spinach with chickpeas.
The barman keeps a tally of our bill in chalk on the wood counter. Four beers and eight Tapas later, we have spent a mere £14.
As we return to our hotel we hear lamentful Flamenco music coming from the tiny Plaza de San Leandro. People are sitting at candlelit tables under the orange trees listening to the deft guitarist accompany the raspy female singer while the locals clap rhythmically to the music. They give the occasional shout of encouragement as her sorry tale reaches its crescendo.
Sadly out gourmet break is at an end too.
Copyright: Sunday Express