Sunday, July 12, 2015

Seville Favorites ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Published on Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, July 9, 2015

The more I travel, the more I realize I am truly an old soul who loves old music and old towns. I spent one month touring Spain, hitting the Andalusian region, the Basque Country, cities both big and small. And yes, I ate my way shamelessly around in each of them, averaging three to four meals a day, sneaking in little snacks here and there.

The number one question people ask, aside from “what was the best meal of the trip?” is “what is your favorite destination in Spain?” It is Seville, the most charming and laidback of them all.

Me in front of the Alcazar of Seville

This southern city in Spain is not necessarily my first choice for unparalleled gastronomic experience—that spot is reserved for San Sebastian—but I had unforgettable meals in its old towns that boast of beautiful architecture, narrow cobblestoned alleyways, horse-drawn carriages, and sweet-smelling oranges. I love Seville and its food with all my heart.

After dropping my bags off at the hotel following a long-haul flight from Manila and a train ride from Madrid (with a quick stop at San Ginés for some churros con chocolate), I literally ran to conTenedor to make it to my 4 p.m. lunch reservation.

Pots and pans hanging from the ceiling at conTenedor

A friendly server led me through the bright, colorful, quirky restaurant and seated me at a table with Tiffany blue paint. Ordering was a breeze as I already knew what I wanted. I pointed to two items on the handwritten chalkboard. It was my first time in Spain, but I understood clearly what I needed to survive. At that moment, it was tartar de salmon con mango, aguacate y ajoblanco de anacardos, and arroz negro crujiente de calamar y alioli.

Salmon Mango Tartare

The salmon mango tartare was incredibly fresh and sat on an irresistible almond and garlic cream, topped with crisp, peppery arugula. I finished this in no time and used the bread to mop up every last drop of the ajoblanco. The flavorful squid ink rice had crispy bits of grains in it, crowned with tender calamari strips. 

Arroz Negra 

My poor stomach was ready to explode after that, but I saw the magic word when my server handed me the dessert menu—tiramisu. The sweet mascarpone was as heavenly as it looked. I had absolutely no regrets polishing off the whole plate. It was a perfect first meal that kept me full and satisfied throughout the most intense and passionate flamenco performance I enjoyed that evening.

The next day, after a whole morning of sightseeing around the magnificent, every-corner-is-picture-perfect Royal Alcazar, I was ready for a big lunch at La Azotea. Starved to death by the time the restaurant opened at 1:15 p.m., I exercised great control not to order the entire menu. I started with homemade foie gras served with soy crunchies and orange jam that Seville was famous for. Then, octopus on potato puree, followed by probably the most delicious potato salad I have ever had, speckled with smoked fish and capers. 

Homemade foie gras with orange jam at La Azotea


I would skip the cheese and prawn triangles next time so I could have two servings of the amazingly tender Iberico pork cheek, cooked in red wine and topped with goat cheese gratin. Or three.

Potato salad, Iberico pork cheek, cheese and prawn triangles

Light dinner was jamon bellota, sausage cooked in white wine, baby squid in its own ink, albondigas, and queso Viejo de Zamora at Casa Morales. I wanted to try more tapas except it was standing room only and my feet were killing me after touring the biggest gothic cathedral in the world and crossing over to see the other side of the Guadalquivir River. I slept very soundly after two glasses of Ribera del Duero.

Casa Morales

Tapas dinner of sausage cooked in white wine, jamon bellota, 
baby squid in squid ink, and a glass of local wine

Lunch the following day was at the popular Eslava, which, save for the expertly grilled razor clams, proved to be rather underwhelming. Still, I was glad I went because it was there that I met the friendly local who tipped me about La Brunilda. I canceled my original booking for dinner and proceeded to have what turned out to be my best meal in Seville. 

La Brunilda

The portions at this tapas restaurant were generous, so generous I thought I would not be able to finish the mountain of tuna tataki on my plate, but I did, effortlessly, down to the last grain of couscous. I even ordered another heaping plate of beef tenderloin because the waiter promised it was not to be missed. He was right. Had I known about this gem at the start of my trip, I would have gone back, again and again, to try every dish on the menu. 

Tuna tataki

Beef tenderloin and roasted potatoes

As it was, it was my last night and I capped dinner off with a slice of sweet, moist carrot cake. La Brunilda will certainly be my first stop next time I visit my favorite Spanish city.

conTenedor is located at Calle San Luis, 50, Seville, Spain. Tel: +34 954916333.

La Azotea is at Calle Mateos Gago, 8, Seville, Spain. Tel:+34 954215878.

Casa Morales is at Calle Garcia de Vinuesa, 11, Seville, Spain, Tel: +34 954221242.

La Brunilda is at Calle Galera, 5, Seville, Spain. Tel: +34 954220481.

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