Wednesday, 2 August 2017

2017 Spanish Food Adventure - Day 8

Exploring Seville and searching for Flamenco.

We were up reasonably early and went in search of some breakfast in the Macarena district. Alameda de Hercules is a lively neighbourhood with many bars and restaurants. Built in 1547 it was originally a promenaded public garden, named after the eight rows of white poplar trees that fill its central part. We dithered over where to eat but eventually took a seat here at Al Solito Posto.

At €9 the brunch sounded like quite good value for money.

The coffee here was excellent, I sipped it in anticipation waiting for my cooked breakfast to arrive.

I don't really know where to begin! I'm not going to even begin comparing this to a Full English breakfast as I was at an Italian restaurant in Spain looking at what was described as brunch. The items on the plate tasted ok but the pretentious presentation was nothing short of ridiculous. Most of the items ended up between the toast turning it into a brunch toastie, 5 minutes later and it was all gone.

The fruit salad arrived next but there was no sign of the orange juice, surely this wasn't the orange juice as well?

With a request for the bill we also questioned the whereabouts of the orange juice. The waitress was convinced I'd already been given it but agreed to bring me a glass, freshly squeezed it was probably the highlight of this brunch.

Fuelled by my brunch toastie we went in search of Basilica de la Macarena, a Catholic church famous for housing a jewel encrusted wooden statue of The Virgin of Hope.

A magnificent statue adorned with a golden crown, lavish vestments and five diamond and emerald brooches donated by famous 20th-century matador Joselito El Gallo, stands in splendour behind the main altarpiece.

I don't know the story behind these giant heart shaped pastries, I just knew I had to try one though and they cost just €1.

The chocolate and citrus icing coated a dry and crumbly biscuit like base. I thoroughly enjoyed it but my wife wasn't overly impressed. If you try one be sure to have a drink ready for afterwards as they really dry out your mouth.

Back in Santa Cruz it was almost time to explore Seville Cathedral, we could see people up in the tower which is exactly where we wanted to go.

This restaurant close to the Cathedral was offering a mixed plate of tapas and a glass of sangria for a set price. Having eaten so well yesterday we weren't about to fall into such a tourist food trap.

The plaza in front of the Cathedral is really beautiful.

It's in this plaza where you may well get asked if you'd like a ride on one of the many horse drawn carriages. We declined the offer as the horses looked so hot and bothered and we prefer to explore on foot anyway.

In the midday sun we queued to get inside Seville Cathedral, the heat was almost unbearable but luckily the queue moved quite quickly so we were soon out of the sun. It costs €9.50 for a general admission ticket, this also gives you access to the tower.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral is the largest Gothic Church in the world and will certainly impress anyone who enters it's doors. The tall columns and natural light flooding in through its stained glass windows will leave you mesmerised, the sheer scale of this building is really difficult to get across in a photo. It was registered with UNESCO in 1987 as a World Heritage Site.

This huge organ in the centre extends high up towards the ceiling.

As you can see the Cathedral is really breathtaking and somewhere you simply must experience for yourself if you visit Seville.

Next we climbed 105 metres up to the bell tower known as Giralda. It was quite busy up here and the climb is quite exhausting, it's well worth it though.

The views across Seville are superb and you can view the city from every direction.

After visiting the Cathedral we stopped for a much needed beer.

We also ordered some patatas bravas, fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce. I'm quite surprised that it had taken us a week of being in Spain to get around to ordering this popular Spanish tapas. 

Close to Seville Cathedral is the Alcázar, it's the Royal Palace of Seville and it's regarded as the most beautiful palace in Spain. I forget the exact admission price but it was certainly under €10 and well worth it.

As well as visiting parts of the palace you get to explore the many courtyards and gardens.

Beautiful tiles cover entire corridors connecting the palace to the gardens.

Water fell into the pond from a pipe high above.

The pond was filled with Koi Carp and the duck had learnt to live in harmony with them.

The temperature was well above 40°c but there were plenty of trees to protect us from the sun whilst we admired these beautiful gardens.

After leaving the Alcazar we went in search of some liquid refreshment. Most bars in Seville have pipes spraying a very fine mist of water to cool down customers.

We sat under the fine mist in a bar close to our hotel and enjoyed some Sangria.

Feeling a bit peckish we ordered something to eat as well. Aubergine in a light batter with feta cheese and maple syrup, not a combination I'd have considered before but one that worked so well. After this at around 2.30pm we went back to the hotel to escape the heat for a few hours.

As 6pm approached we decided to venture back outside again but the temperature wasn't looking like it was going to cool down anytime soon.

This evening we crossed the Guadalquivir River to visit the Triana district. Famous for having it's own strong identity - it's known in Seville as "The independent republic of Triana"

We got completely lost on the other side of the river and ended up in the wrong area. We didn't fancy retracing our steps in the heat so decided to head back to more familiar territory.

Just before crossing over the bridge back into the El Arenal district I stopped to admire this building, the first piece of Brutalist architecture I'd seen in Seville.

My wife described the heat in Seville as "like being in a sauna with a hair dryer being blown in your face". I totally agree with this, even well into the evening whilst walking along shady alleyways the heat seemed really intense. It was hotter than average for July but in hindsight Seville is probably far more comfortable to visit in Spring or Autumn.

We were travelling on a budget spending just €33 per night at our hotel. If you want to splash out though you could always stay here at the Hotel Alfonso Xlll. You can stay here from €299 per night, if you just want a moment of luxury though they do have a public bar. We didn't stop here for a drink though as I didn't realise this until leaving Seville.

We did however stop at a bar not too far from Hotel Alfonso XIII, it was time for a drink and a bite to eat.

The temperature was still incredibly high so we cooled down with some sangria.

We ordered Tomates de la Casa, fresh tomatoes and onions drizzled in olive oil. The tomatoes and onions in Spain have so much flavour, this was really delicious.

Whilst settling the bill at the bar I spotted some dry cured Serrano ham hanging up nearby. I was determined to try some before leaving Seville.

As we'd enjoyed our tapas at La Bartola so much last night we couldn't resist returning for more. Once again we ordered some sangria whilst perusing the menu.

We ordered a selection of tapas and first to arrive was courgettes on a bed of cous cous topped with cheese (€3.50). 

My wife enjoyed a selection of stir fried vegetables (€3.50).

The Iberian pork fillet I'd ordered last night was so tender and delicious I could have so easily ordered it again. I decided to try something different tonight though and ordered the Iberian pork cheek with parmentier sauce (€3.50). Once again the meat was incredibly tender and sauce accompanying it was rich and delicious.

I fancied something sweet so ordered lemon cream with gin and tonic jelly. The gin flavoured jelly worked perfectly with the lemon cream and as I reached the bottom I discovered a hidden biscuit base.

The zucchini flowers with ricotta (€4) were beautifully presented and tasted sublime. I'd tried zucchini flowers in a light batter many years ago in Northern Italy and remembered enjoying them back then.

The person that had recommended La Bartola tapas bar had also recommended that we visit a nearby flamenco bar called Carboneria. 

Caroneria is not very easy to find though as the address is Calle Levíes 18, trust me though you won't find it there. The entrance to Carboneria can only be accessed from another very narrow street nearby called Cespedes. I can imagine many people never finding it which is a great shame as it's definitely somewhere you'll want to visit in Seville.

The bar in Carboneria has a good selection of reasonably priced drinks.

Their mojitos are excellent and cost just €5, here it's served using dark rum and they're very generous when pouring it out.

The basic wooden benches and tables soon filled up with customers eagerly waiting for the evening's entertainment. It looked like this place hadn't changed in years, it had heaps of character and a really nice friendly atmosphere.

Some flamenco artwork displayed on the wall was for sale.

Around 10pm some castanets could be heard in the distance and the room fell silent. Two men sat down and one started singing, we couldn't understand the lyrics but the song sounded incredibly emotional. The song was accompanied by palmas, this is a style of hand clapping used in Flamenco to help punctuate and accentuate the song. 

The lady in the red dress performed some Flamenco and later played her castanets. It was difficult to take a decent photo in here but it didn't matter as it was a moment I wanted to enjoy with my own eyes. I'm so glad we came to Carboneria, we both enjoyed the experience far more than we'd first thought we would. If you visit Seville be sure to check this place out, it's well worth it!

After leaving Carboneria we made our way through the streets of Santa Cruz back towards our hotel.

Because it gets so hot here many of the narrow streets are covered to create much needed shade. Even at midnight it was still over 30°c, we were looking forward to getting back to our air conditioned room.

The Metropol Parasol is beautifully lit up at nighttime.

Click here for
Day 9 - Seville by bike and the abandoned site of Expo 92.

1 comment:

  1. Try to find Gambas Pil Pil. Simple prawns in oil and chilli. Served hot with Crusty Bread. Lovely.