If, like us, you’re preoccupied with food on holidays, obsessively checking blogs and guides before you go anywhere, Seville is a perfect city break and this is the perfect edit of what not to miss.
Jamon Jamon: The quest to find the finest jamón Ibérico de Bellota, or acorn-fed ham, could easily turn into obsession. Whether sampled on a slice of bread as a tapa or stuck to a plate as a ‘racione’ (ration), the translucent slices are always best accompanied by a glass of vino tinto or local Fino (sherry).
Langoustine: The ‘style over substance’ which seemed to characterise much of Celtic Tiger cuisine has little place in Seville where locals are serious about their food- valuing quality produce over passing trends and over-complicated dishes. La Trastienda near Plaza Alfalfa, famous for its seafood, does a few things but does them staggeringly well. It’s a pleasure to watch the concentration and dedication on the chef’s face as he peers over your langoustine being gently grilled. No lemon, salt or butter is needed here- they would only stifle the flavours of the rich warm flesh. Washed down with a bottle or cana (small glass) of local Cruzcampo beer, this is heaven.
Potato salad and prawns: With every last member of the heaving lunch time crowd at Bodeguita Casablanca (Adolfo Rodriguez Jurado 12) tucking into the same dish- there is no questioning the speciality of the house. A plate of crushed potato salad in thick nutty olive oil will have you saying olé. The combination of it with grilled prawns from nearby Huelva province washed down with a glass of cava (not a regional drink but what the heck) is simply moreish (not Moorish).
Ice cream: The cobbled streets of Seville in Spring are heavy with the scent of orange blossom, as the delicate flowers and dimpled oranges fall beneath the iconic trees lining the streets. The perfumed essence of the blossom is magically imbued in the ice cream at Heladeria Fiorentina (Calle Zaragoza 16, heladerialafiorentina.com). Other flavours like pine nut, rosemary and olive oil provide the perfect excuse for those who proclaim to prefer savoury to sweet. The rule that you can have two ice-creams a day while on holidays will come very much in handy.
Cocktails: The rich turquoise lacquered walls and deco accents make the American Bar in the five star Hotel Alfonso XIII a lush spot for a cocktail before starting your tapas crawl. Live jazz on Thursdays adds to the Gatsby effect.
PS For something to feed the other senses, try Chinese artist and activist Ai WeiWei’s first ever museum exhibition in Spain, ‘Resistance and Tradition’, (nailing the show was quite a boon for the city). Running until June 23rd 2013 (El Centro Andaluz de Arte Conteporáneo, www.caac.es)
Joni Clarke lives for her next meal..and her next holiday.