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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 11:27 AM
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I've neglected this for too long, so before all details fades from my memory, here is a brief report focusing on food--markets, food stores, restaurants, and bars--with a few other details thrown in, based on my most recent visit to Spain, a couple of months ago. I'll try to complete it soon, rather than drag out the process as is my usual style. I'd like nothing more than to discuss details and answer questions about what I ate and where I ate it, so please feel free to ask away!

I should mention that I planned this trip with a close friend, the same friend who had accompanied me on a Valencia and Barcelona jaunt about a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, this friend was forced to cancel for medical reasons a few weeks prior to departure. Neither of us had purchased travel insurance. So I am very pleased to report that Iberia deserves a rousing commendation for refunding the entire cost of her round trip economy ticket based on her telephone cancellation.

Rather than travel alone, I asked my usual travel partner to step up to the plate and, due to the sad and sudden demise of the 2012 New York Yankees, he was more than willing to travel during World Series season.

We divided the two-week-plus trip into four segments, staying in three apartments—in Madrid, Sevilla, Gaucin (tiny village in the Serrania de Ronda)—and one hotel, in Malaga. While we had made previous visits to Madrid and SEvilla, it would be our first time in both Gaucin and Malaga.

We flew direct from JFK to Madrid, and home from Malaga, via Madrid, on Iberia. I have almost always enjoyed good service from this airline in economy class and this trip was no exception. The food and wine served on board, however, are fairly dire.

We took the yellow Airport Express bus from the stoop outside the terminal, to Atocha station, and from there, a taxi to our apartment.

Our home for the first four nights was a 3-bedroom apartment in the Retiro district of the capital, the sector east of the glorious Parque del Buen Retiro. Both here and in Sevilla, we rented from Spain Select, and would recommend this agency to other travelers. The booking process was streamlined, most credit cards (not Amex) are accepted at no extra fee, and (minor) problems with the Madrid apartment were immediately addressed. We were allowed to check in early, which was much appreciated, as we landed in Madrid about 9am after the overnight flight from NYC.


The Anunciacion apartment is housed in a non-descript but well-cared for building facing the tiny Anunciacion park and just across the bustling Avenida Menendez Pelayo from Retiro Park. It is located on the first floor and there is a small elevator. Furnishings are of the IKEA-ilk (many were, in fact, purchased at IKEA) and were comfortable, even though a few were slightly worn. Minor problems such as many missing light bulbs, were addressed immediately, as I noted. The apartment was spick-and-span clean. The kitchen was very we-equipped.

One disappointment was the lack of information about the immediate area: Where is the nearest supermarket? Which bus will get us to Plaza Mayor? etc. There was a folder with some generic information about the city, but more details about the neighborhood would have been helpful. Even the agent who checked us in was clueless when I asked about a supermarket; happily, a member of the cleaning crew (they were still cleaning when we arrived, due to our early check-in) was able to direct me to the glorious Mercadona, just a 5-minute walk from the apartment.

Other than those minor details, Anunciacion proved to be a good base for us on our return visit to Madrid. It was certainly economical; three bedrooms; two bathrooms cost a total of 160e per night. I had envisioned walking through Retiro Park on our daily sightseeing rounds, but we had pretty dismal weather and ended up taking taxis on a couple of occasions.

We arrived on a Sunday when many restaurants are closed. This presented no problem, as one of the city’s better seafood restaurants was just a few minutes’ walk from the apartment and I had booked a table (using El Tenedor reservation engine) for a late lunch at Casa Rafa prior to arrival. We had done the same on our last trip to the city in 2011. (Those seeking evidence of the current fiscal crisis need look no further than the white-linen-swathed dining room at Rafa; both the dining room and the tapas bar had been jam packed on our last visit, also for Sunday lunch; this time there were empty places at the bar and many free tables in the dining room.


There are few surprises at this five-decades-old seafood temple. One travels here to feast on classic preparations from a menu focused on seafood but also with with meat dishes. Our meal was very good; service is correct.

I began with garlicky, medium-sized clams; the portion was far too large for me to finish, but finish I did. (21e.)

I expected to be wowed by my main course of wild turbot (1/2 order, 21e); it was very good. (Turbot is not usual on American seafood menus, and the little that is offered is usually farmed)

My partner, on the other hand, was enraptured by the rendition of that Madrileño classic Rabo de Toro, a rich, long-simmered braise based on bull’s tail (22e; also a very large portion)

We drank Albariño, beer, and water; the bill totalled 91euro.

After the meal, we were plied with several outstanding and complimentary after-dinner concoctions including the legendary and fiery Galician Orujo, made from pomace and lies left over from wine production. My favorite, however, was the the Basque Pacharán de Navarra, made from macerating sloe berries in anise liqueur. (Regrettably, I neglected to bring home a bottle but have this on my list for next time).

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Old Jan 17th, 2013, 11:40 AM
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Looking forward to this!
(Like you,I have had nothing but good experiences with Iberia.)
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Old Jan 18th, 2013, 04:52 AM
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Curious what you have to write about the food in Malaga. We visited only one restaurant that I knew had gotten good reviews (the one owned by the Dutch lady). Other than that it was whichever place looked good at the time and could accommodate our large group. It was pretty dicey, hit and miss with the food there, I thought.

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Old Jan 18th, 2013, 06:34 AM
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Atr you referring to the city of Malaga (versus the province)? I found the food, both tapas and restaurants, in Malaga city to be excellent. Perhaps the large group limited your flexibility. Malaga has a strong food culture!
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Old Jan 18th, 2013, 06:51 AM
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We spent three nights in Malaga (had planned to spend only two but departed Gaucin a day early). They certainly do have a strong food culture, with an emphasis on fish and seafood. Unfortunately, local fish are not as abundant as they once were, and prices for what remains are high. But the bars and restaurants of the Centro were certainly very fertile food territory, especially if one focuses on shellfish.

I thought that Sevilla was the superior city in terms of creative modern restaurants.

Of course I had only three days, as I mentioned, and those included a Sunday and Monday, so some places were closed. I also saw far more evidence of the current fiscal crisis in Malaga and the nearby coast than I did in Seville and this undoubtedly impacted the restaurant scene. I certainly hope to return to sample more of the local seafood at the many bars in the Centro. We could hardly dip a toe into the waters, so to speak, with our limited time.

I do think that one needs to research in advance, as there looked to be loads of places catering to the many cruise tourists which may or may not have been offering prime ingredients and great execution. (Saw a lot of signboards offering bargain-priced paella, for example; I suppose that many visitors think that this is a local specialty)

I did not find a lot of information in English about eating in Malaga, though. I hope I can offer a few ideas when I get to that section of this report. One of the places we liked, strangely enough, was run by Argentines who had immigrated to Spain to escape their country's financial woes!
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Old Jan 18th, 2013, 07:14 AM
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And now for dinner at LUA, a restaurant that would provide us with our best dining experience on this visit to the Spanish capital. (Sadly, I had to cancel our long-anticipated dinner at El Club Allard on the following night)


After a walk of about 5 minutes from the apartment, we took the Metro from the Ibiza station to Nuñez de Balboa. Because we had walked almost everywhere on previous visits, we were not familiar with the Madrid Metro and were astonished by how deep into the ground some of the stations were ensconced. There is often a VERY long walk from the street entrance to the actual platform!!

A walk of about 20 minutes brought us to the restaurant, announced by a discreet sign on a main street in the Chamberí district. LUA has only about 8 tables, well spaced in a sleek contemporary dining room accented by distressed wooden beams and pillars, and offers a choice of two set menus each evening, at 49e and 78e. Allergies and tastes are accommodated to a certain extent; my dining partner prefers to avoid shellfish and so the prawns were, accordingly, left out of his prawn risotto.

We began the meal (we chose the least expensive menu, the 49e Menu Lua) with a few amuse that stuck a toe into the molecular realm: A garlic cream served in a glass and labeled a “false caña;” a “false” olive (reminiscent of the iconic El Bulli tidbit now offered at Barcelona’s Tickets, but not as delectable here); a “false tomato” with piquant mojo.

The “Wows!” began with the first course, Foie of duck dominated a complicated sounding concoction that incorporated SanSimon, a Galician cow’s milk cheese, mango salsa, strawberry cream, and peanuts. It may sound overblown but this one of the best foie dishes I’ve ever sampled—right up there with Jean Georges (NYC) brûlléed foie showstopper.

The foie was followed by a lovely, creamy celery risotto embedded with miniscule prawns and wakame strips, and crowned by two large prawns garbed in a light tempura shell.

Caldeirada of hake, a meaty filet set atop a bed of violet potatoes in a pimento-spiked Portuguese-inspired sauce arrived next and was, like all that preceeded it, delicious.

The finale: Confit of cochinillo, suckling pig surrounded by a luscious sauce featuring dried apricots, plums and raisins. My notes on this:

Dessert that night was, we both agreed, destined for the dessert pantheon.
Outstanding is an understatement for the “Ensalada de Pan y Chocolate con Frutas de Bosque,” salad of bread and chocolate with forest berries.
Alone, worth the trip!

With water and a single glass of wine, the total of 111 e proved to be one of
The best dining values in recent memory.

Reservations by phone, or through www.El Tenedor.es.

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Old Jan 18th, 2013, 07:24 AM
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Cathy- I am referring to the city. There were plenty of choices in terms of tapas bars and other restaurants. I was with my family and 7 of 9 got people got a good dose the stomach flu and were down and out otherwise we would have ventured to the outlying parts. I guess what I remembered in the way of tapas is meat and fried fish and seafood or alot of things fried. After a while one was craving some fruit and veggies which were scarce on the menus.

I am usually not in the area of 'that must eat at restaurant' at any given time and because of our circumstances it was hard to plan better. Next time....
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 09:28 AM
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I was laid low, probably due to overindulgence in the array of liqueurs presented to us by the kind folks at Casa Rafa, and with much distress, was forced to cancel our long-anticipated dinner at El Club Allard on the third night in Madrid.

Thankfully, the apartment was located a quick walk from Mercadona, a vast and well-priced modern supermarket (excellent prices on the ventresca tuna, far lower than at Corte Ingles),and I made do that night with tea and a goodly helping of jelly-lathered Tucs crackers, a modern rendition of the Ritz crackers of years past.

I had recovered sufficiently the following day to spend a few hours touring the Royal Palace and picking up a few pairs of well-priced espadrilles at the venerable Casa Hernanz, near the Plaza Mayor. Closer to our home base, we spent a couple of tranquil hours meandering through the Cecilio Rodriguez Gardens with their posturing peacocks, located within Retiro park and close to its eastern edge.




We had enjoyed an excellent dinner on our last visit to Madrid and looked forward to a return visit to this popular restaurant, now located in expanded premises, occupying a two-story space a short distance from the original location, on Calle Doctor Castello, just east of Retiro park.


Just a week or so before our departure, the restaurant had been featured in a NYTimes article on “where the chefs go for the real thing” in Madrid, and I feared that reservations might be difficult to come by.

Reservation duly booked a week or so in advance of arrival, we made our way through the jam-packed and very lively downstairs bar area and were ushered to a table in the narrow , low-ceilinged upstairs dining room which was all but filled by the time we arrived just after the 9pm opening time. Our fellow diners appeared to be mostly locals, although we were seated next to another American couple who had been intrigues by the restaurant’s description in the NYTimes article and booked accordingly.

The menu is interesting and fairly extensive; classic dishes from various regions in Spain range from Fabes con almejas and pisto Manchego to salmorejo and kokotxas al pil pil, but many interesting dishes bear the stamp of the chef; I suppose the cuisine is best decribed as “cocina del autor,” or chef-driven. Emphasis appears to be on prime-quality ingredients, as we learned during our dinner here last year when I had what were probably the best razor clams of my life, and excellent suckling lamp chops.

First to arrive was the signature complimentary appetizer of conserved mussels, served with crackly potato chips and accompanied by excellent olive and whole grain breads, and ciabatta.

We elected to share a first course, which proved to be a good idea. The heaping mountain of tempura de verduras (15e), vegetable tempura, mounded on a handsome slate platter and sticky with a soy reduction was simply delicious and more than enough for a starter for two.

My suckling lamb chops, chuletas de lechal (24e) were as divine as expected, and were accompanied by fried potatoes and a piquant mojo picon typical of the Canary Islands. Just terrific!

My partner was equally enthusiastic about his porcini risotto (18e; this was mushroom season, after all), which he pronounced “outstanding!” I agreed; it would be among the best of several versions of this dish we enjoyed over the following two weeks.

With glasses of Ermita Veracruz verdejo (2.50 each) and water, the bill totalled 65e. Recommended!

C/Doctor Castello, #30. Closed Sunday.

No online booking; reservations accepted by phone from 11am to 1pm and from 6pm to 8pm, Madrid time.

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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 11:29 AM
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After spending four nights in Madrid, we headed south. About 8 weeks before our intended departure, I had purchased discount tickets on the RENFE website. Or, rather, I attempted to buy said tickets, but after having no success after repeated attempts, I turned the task over to my friend and prospective travel partner, who accomplished the task on the first try, using her US-based credit card. (I had tried several credit cards, in vain). Perhaps someone, someday, can figure out the vagaries of the Spanish railways site. Until then, it will remain an endlessly frustrating mystery. My friend was forced to cancel her trip to Spain, but since there is no name on the train tickets, we were able to transfer them to my actual travel partner.

We paid 33.30e each for the 2.5 hour-long Madrid to Sevilla train journey, in tourist Class, arriving at Sevilla’s Santa Justa station at 2:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday in late October. Upon arrival, I phoned the Spain Select agent, as instructed, and we hopped into a taxi for the quick ride to the Casa de la Moneda, on Calle Habana. We were met by the charming owner of the apartment, and his lovely daughter.

The Casa de la Moneda, a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom duplex space carved with great skill out of a 16th-Century structure that once housed the Royal mint, proved to be the apartment rental of my dreams.

I cannot say enough about this place: The décor was handsome and tasteful; the kitchen stocked with every conceivable amenity; the beds comfortable (not many rental apartments boast beds dressed with hand-embroidered linen sheets!); the upstairs master bathroom was complete with a piped-in sound system and scented candles along the ledges of the Jacuzzi tub .

Despite the location in the center of the historic district just steps from the busy Avenida de la Constitucion, we never heard a whisper of street noise.

There was a flat-screen tv and sound system, plenty of books on the shelves on subjects ranging from opera to la corrida to birdlife of the Coto Doñana reserve, with many travel guides in English. Outdoor terraces run the length of both floors.

There is no elevator and reaching the apartment requires navigating a staircase and several other steps traversing the interior courtyard separating the property from the small street. In short, this place was a great value and a marvelous base in this glorious city. The photos on the website are accurate, but the apartment looks even better in person.


Even though we had spent 6 days in Sevilla about 9 years ago, we were overwhelmed and astonished by the city’s beauty and charm. Inch for inch, this has to be one of the richest urban architectural troves in the world. We spent our days meandering through the streets, many of which had banished automotive traffic since our last visit, so the core of the city is now mostly pedestrianized. And, of course, we ate. And ate!
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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 12:14 PM
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Barcelona and San Sebastian garner most of the attention, but Sevilla is a fantastic eating city! Since my last visit to Sevilla in 2003, a sprinkling of "gastro-tascas" have cropped up on the edges of the Centro. Together with the better known traditional bars, these provide some of the best food value I've found anywhere in Spain in recent years.

This is the first time in recent memory that I have arrived in a new city with no restaurant reservations. (I did make one advance booking after arrival; more on that later) In 6 days in the city, we concentrated on tapas bars, most of which do not take reservations.

Most restaurants offer the majority of their dishes in several sizes, with tapas being the smallest and raciones being the largest. Many restaurants that will take advance bookings stipulate that diners at reserved tables order dishes in the larger sizes. By arriving shortly after opening time, usually either 8:30 or 9pm, we were always able to snag two counter seats, or a table. Be aware that many restaurants have variable opening times, so it is best to inquire in advance by phone.

Here are the places we ate, and notes on some of the dishes we sampled:


Owner Juan Gomez speaks fluent English and offers a warm welcome to diners at the main location, on Calle Jesús de Gran Poder, which we visited twice during our 6-night stay. During our first light dinner at the restaurant, we sat at one of the ten or so small tables, and thus were restricted to the larger serving sizes.

Chipirones, Tierra y Mar. These were small squid, bathed in a sauce of their own ink and topped with bits of jamon Iberico. Simple. So impressive that I ordered them again at a subsequent lunch at the branch restaurant on calle Zaragoza. (10e; half ración)

Croquetas de Morcilla con Mermalada de Tomate. Delicious croquettes (a version of which appear on every menu in the city and beyond) made with blood sausage and potato and served with a sweet tomato marmelade scented with thyme. (6.5e)

Costillas Ibéricas. These ribs were a special of the day. (9e for a half racion)

Ensaladilla de la Casa. Many diners here gauge a chef's talents by his or her ensaladilla, a potato and mayonnaise-based cold salad. This one was thick with smoked trout, smoked tuna, smoked salmon, and shrimp and spiked with black peppercorns and capers. The sum was far, far greater than the individual parts and a far cry from the insipid "Russian salads" found at mediocre bars throughout Spain. A gift of the house, I would consider this an essential dish.

Coulant de chocolate, a molten chocolate confection scented with orange blossom water and served with terrific house-made vanilla ice cream. (5.50e) Desserts are a strong point here.

Total for this light meal, with two glasses of Castilla de Maetierra "Guerilla" from Rioja, and water: 36.75e. Outstanding value.

We returned a few nights later for a few tapas at the bar; on that night, a large basket of porcini just brought in from the countryside had pride of place on the counter.
 The rainy weather that we encountered had one benefit: The season was shaping up as a superior one for mushrooms.

Cremoso, a mousse-like preparation, of duck foie, with Pedro Jiménez jelly and shitake mushrooms. 5e for a tapa.

Croquettas de Morcilla, served this time with pineapple marmelade and again outstanding. 3.50 for a tapa.

On yet another day, we sampled the second of the 3 Azotea's, on calle Zaragoza, a bit closer to the tourist center of Sevilla. Lunch here draws a large business crowd and we had to wait some time before being seated at a table (the counter was full). Our lunch was a reprise of the chipirones, and yet another version of croquetas; because we were seated at a table, we were confined to portions larger than tapas size.



Just north of Plaza Nueva, this sleek and shiny space encompasses a long counter and a small dining room in the rear. I sampled two liquid tapas: A version of the Andaluz classic gazpacho, made with cherries instead of tomatoes, and enriched by a dollop of mascarpone. (4.50e) Not as sweet as it sounds, this was very good, but my second dish was wonderful:

Capuccino de mejillon, or capuccino of mussels, (5.50e) which was a creamed shellfish soup dense with briny mussels and topped with creamy coconut foam. The combination may sound offputting but the actuality was anything but. Outstanding.

Zelai opens for lunch at 1pm; for dinner at 9pm.



Owned by a brother of well-known Restauranteur Enrique Becerra, this cozy restaurant on the edge of the center turns out well-executed versions of traditional favorites, along with a few more modern dishes.

Their version of salmorejo on that day was made with squash and eggplant and topped with a quail egg and bits of jamon. It was delicious, and the toast of fresh duck foie, served with raspberry marmelade, was excellent as well. Portions are generous.

Very friendly staff including at least one (Portuguese) server fluent in English. They get a lot of reviews on TripAdvisor, perhaps because with the bill comes a card requesting that you do the same.



We had enjoyed their signature lamb with honey at a sit-down dinner on a previous visit, a number of years ago, but this time we concentrated on tapas at the bar. One of the city's most well-known temples of Andaluz cuisine, they open in the evening earlier than most; when we took a break from the Hurricane sandy coverage on tv and wandered in about 7:30 there were already a few tourists, and locals, seated at the small bar in the front room.

Unfortunately for us their signature lamb in a honeyed sauce is not available as a tapa, but we did enjoy excellent lamb meatballs with mint, Albondigas de Cordero con Hierbabuena; two generous lamb meatballs are a bargain at 3.30 e, along with an outstandingly delicious saute of mixed mushrooms and small shrimp topped with a tiny quail egg (from the specials menu; (3.50e)) and Bomboncillo de Pollo, nuggets of golden chicken with a sweet and piquant mostarda (3.20e)

Warm and welcoming place, popular with locals and well as visitors. I do not believe that the (long) tapas menu is translated; there are many daily specials on a separate menu, also not translated, as far as I recall.

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Old Jan 19th, 2013, 12:23 PM
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Good going on the apartments in both Madrid and Sevilla! Both are fantastic.
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Old Jan 20th, 2013, 07:28 AM
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Yes, I was lucky with the apartments. I thought that I could never top the one I rented in 2011 in Barcelona, but the Casa de la Moneda was even lovelier. I would not want to stay anywhere else in Sevilla now. And if two people, or two couples share, it is almost a bargain!
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Old Jan 21st, 2013, 07:21 AM
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As the name implies, this is an Argentine-owned restaurant situated in prime tourist territory in the Barrio Santa Cruz at the edge of the Murillo Gardens. The other places on our list were closed on Sunday, so we walked by the day before and booked a table for lunch.

This turned out to be the least favorite of our dining experiences in the city. Nothing was bad, in fact, both dishes that we sampled were very good if lacking somewhat in imagination. But this was the only place that neglected to offer a warm welcome and attentive service. Perhaps this is a result of their high ranking on TripAdvisor, or perhaps we just had bad luck.

They were out of two dishes that sounded most interesting--pastilla, a version of the Moroccan b'steeya, made with chicken, and a sauté of mixed mushrooms.

Seated at one of the tables in the small dining room under a ceiling scribbled with poetic musings (they also have a pleasant sidewalk terrace overlooking the park) we chose:

"Tarte" (actually a terra cotta ramekin) of Castuera cheese with caramelized onion. This may have been “only” melted cheese and onion, but anyone familiar with the Extremaduran sheeps’ milk cheese, Torta de la Serena, which ranks second only to its sibling, Torta del Casar, in my personal "best" list of Spanish cheeses, will know that this is not just any cheese. Delicious.

Toast of Grilled Foie Gras with compote of apple. Yet another foie gras preparation, this one was very good.

Deterred a bit by the cool and perfunctory service, we opted to leave after only two dishes.

Together with bottled water and a glass of mosto, the bill totalled 11euro. Open every day, including Sunday.



This is a tiny bar, with adjacent restaurant, fronting a plaza in the Barrio San Lorenzo, an area dotted with interesting-looking restaurants and bars, including Azotea, mentioned above, which is but a couple of blocks distant.

The mood is low key and the food--dishes are written on a blackboard -- is creative and very good. I would have returned here if we had had the time.

Prices given are for tapas-sized portions:

Costillas a la Miel, or pork ribs with honey. Outstanding, sticky goodness in a traditional preparation. (2.50e)

Charlota de Calabacín. A layered squash terrine-type dish, this was far better than this tepid description. (2.50e)

Solomillo de Pato. Slices of roast duck tendrloin, layered over Pan de Queso and served with a grape conserve. (2.30e)

Finally, the highlight of the evening, "Farm Egg over a Porcini Biscuit" Luscious; chosen as the winning tapa in the 2010 Sevilla en Boca de Todos competition. (2.50e)

Opens at 7:30pm, but many dishes (including the egg) will not be available until the head chef arrives around 8pm.


Tapas menu:http://www.espacioeslava.com/assets/...arta_tapas.pdf
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 11:17 AM
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EK, I have been waitng for your review so thanks. As always, love reading your food based reviews. We will be in Spain this May for 8 days to celebrate DH's 50th. We arrive in Madrid early morning and will take the train to Sevilla for a 3 ish arrival. We will be in Sevilla from Fri - Monday morning. We then head to Madrid for 4 nights (Monday-Fri departure.)
Figure we will do tapas mostly in Seville. Did you prefer tapas or did you enjoy your sit down dinners? It seems you did both. Pura Tasca, from a previous review of yours, seemed perfect for a sit down dinner. We will be there on a Sunday and had targeted Vineria San Telmo but am now rethinking. Any other Sunday recommendations? I can eat a limited amount of fried foods so am thinking the more modern tapas to be more to my liking. DH has never met a fried item he has not enjoyed so am willing to meet in middle!
He is most excited about El Brillante in Madrid!!
Madrid will be more sit down dinners. Club Allard will be his b'day dinner. Lua looks great also. We are renting an apt. near Calle Brava so will enjoy a tapas crawl one evening. He is not a big paella fan so that is not a focus but I think he'd love the suckling pig and Laredo looks good for that (and I love lamb!). We enjoy good food in a comfortable but not formal setting. We do not plan on bringing a jacket for him.
I remember lunch being the main meal when I was studying in Madrid many years ago. However, if we are eating at Club Allard adn Lua, how should we handle lunches? I cannot eat 2 big meals a day anymore.
Thanks for all your help! I remember our correspondence for Paris trips and look forward to your help here.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for the great report. I will be bookmarking casa de la moneda for my next trip, hope I can afford it!
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 09:27 AM
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Well said Egbert - great report, puts my feeble rushed attempts to shame. Ekscrunchy, I would be interested in how you arrived at your choice of restaurants; they seem very well researched beforehand? How did you do this - books, local knowledge?
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 09:27 AM
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Well said Egbert - great report, puts my feeble rushed attempts to shame. Ekscrunchy, I would be interested in how you arrived at your choice of restaurants; they seem very well researched beforehand? How did you do this - books, local knowledge?
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 12:14 PM
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Thanks for the compliments!

Stevelon: I do a lot of research before I leave home. I look at online sites (My Spanish is good, so I have an edge with that), and read food blogs. Then when I reach a city, I sometimes ask the restaurant staff if they can recommend any other places in the city.

Maribelsguides are very helpful for Sevilla and elsewhere in Spain. I am a big fan of www.chowhound.com.

And I have a lot of Spanish cookbooks and some of these discuss restaurants. For example, a good one is Anya Von Bremen's The New Spanish Table.


Penelope Casas' Discovering Spain has good information on eating throughout the country, even if some of the restaurant info is dated, it is a wonderful resource for learning about the specialties of each region.


This book also gave me a few ideas; it is in Spanish, though:

ekscrunchy is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2013, 12:33 PM
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thanks eks,
we are going to Seville in Oct. and will gladly follow your recommendations.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 01:27 PM
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You're very welcome, Danon!!

Here is a bit more, on eating in Sevilla:


Located in a residential section of Triana, about a 30-minute walk from our apartment on Calle Habana and about a 12-minute walk from the Triana market, this miniscule '70s "gastro tasca" was the setting for two dinners that provided us with some of the best eating of our two-week-plus vacation.

I had phoned ahead to book a table for our first dinner here. The restaurant takes bookings only for its 30e 11-course tasting menu, which must be shared by all diners at the table.

Fearing weekend crowds, we signed on and duly presented ourselves shortly before 8:30pm on a Saturday night in late October and were greeted effusively by one of the owners, Cayetano Gomez. Along with our server, Eva, they were extraordinarily welcoming and eager to share descriptions of the parade of dishes that began to arrive at our table:

Jar of Cantabrian anchovies preserved in olive oil and accompanied by tomato jam

Platter of dried and cured meat and fish: Mojama de Atun, air-dried tuna from the Andaluz tuna capital of Barbate; Guijuelo Salchichon Iberico; and the highlight: Morcon Caravajal 5Jotas Cabeza de Lomo. Made from the muscle that connects the head of the pig to the shoulders, these pimenton-spiked slices were some of the most delectable salumi I've ever tasted.

Foie Gras de Pato, duck foie gras served with a hillock of apple compote and accompanied by a tower of brown bread slices. My notes for this dish read simply: "Wow!"

Salmon "Burrito," really more of a futuristic egg roll with soy reduction, mango jelly and curry mayonnaise. Another "Wow!" in my notes. (Although this dish is usually made with raw salmon, my partner had responded to the query about allergies, likes, and dislikes with a request for no raw fish)

Confitado de Bacalao Pil Pil, a mound of chunked bacalao with squash, onion, and egg topped with crumbled Marcona almonds. Outstanding.

Arroz Meloso con Setas y Cordoniz. The "wows" continued with this ethereal mushroom-rich risotto studded with tender cubes of braised partridge. After one taste, we decided there and then that we had to return for a second dinner.

Unfortunately, although we struggled valiantly, we were totally sated by this time and could not eat one more morsel. The kind Eva took pity on us and informed us that we could call a halt to the parade of food and simply pay for what we had consumed. Regretfully, we agreed, vowing to return the following week.

With 1 glass of Dr. Loosen Riesling, a favorite of mine, and 1 caña, the bill was a most reasonable 37.60euro.

PuraTasca is open from Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1pm to 4:30pm and from 8:30pm to midnight.


We returned to PuraTasca on the following Tuesday night, sans reservation this time.

By arriving at the opening time of 8:30, we were able to snag one of the few tables of regular height (there are a couple of other bar-height tables, and a few seats along the counter).

Having been told by Juan Gomez at Azotea that many Sevillanos judge a restaurant by the quality of their ensaladilla, we opted to try the dish at PuraTasca and were not disappointed. Although it did not reach the heights of the smoky, textured delight served at Azotea, this version was thick with "Iberico del Mar," or red tuna caught in the straits near Zahara de los Atunes and Barbate by the controversial almadraba net method. It was served with a mild sauce of green olives. (4.40e)

Piruletos de Chorizo (3e) are bite-sized bits of chorizo tempura alternating with strawberries on a stick, forming a "lollipop." A novelty, but tasty.

Niscoras, a coveted seasonal mushroom, were offered that evening (8.60e) and because I had never tried them, and because they seemed to arrive at every other table, I followed suit. These meaty beauties were beautifully prepared with olive oil, garlic and parsley but I could not jump on the bandwagon, as I found the mushroom flavor to be elusive.

There was plenty of flavor in the Arroz Meloso con Setas Y Cordoniz, the mushroom and partridge risotto that had been a highlight on the previous visit and was one on this night as well. A marvelous, creamy, scrumptious dish enhanced by copious lashings of Parmigiano and truffle oil. (5.50e)

Desserts are prepared for the restaurant in advance by Manu Jara, a former pastry chef at Madrid's Zalacain who now helms MasQue Postres, near Sevilla. They are served in either glasses or sardine-type cans, which are clustered together on a wooden tray and brought to the table for diners to make their choice. We chose one tiramisu (3.10) and one crema catalana (4.60); neither was outstanding but not a morsel remained in either vessel.



I wanted to try one of the city's famous freiduras, specializing in fried fish and seafood, and this one is close to the Barrio Santa Cruz' Casa de la Memoria, where we attended a rousing flamenco performance (Pastora Galván and Antonio Molino drew much applause) so we stopped in for a snack.

Be sure to order one of of the items just out from the fryers in the rear, not one that has been sitting under the heat lamps. Fish and a few non-fish items are sold by weight; 2.60e brought me a hefty paper cone of anchovies, which were well fried and not greasy, yet far inferior to the Cantabrian anchovies we had enjoyed at PuraTasca.

A place to sample once, and a good address to keep in mind for those on a tight budget. Mostly take out although there are a few outdoor tables.

We fully enjoyed the flamenco show at La Casa de la Memoria. I walked to the box office the previous evening and purchased tickets. I would recommend arriving at least a half hour before show time because theatre-goers form a queue and you should try to snag seats in the first ring of the three forming a U around the stage, if possible.

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