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SEVILLA AND CADIZ PROVINCE Carabiñeros, cuttlefish eggs and the temple of red tuna

SEVILLA AND CADIZ PROVINCE Carabiñeros, cuttlefish eggs and the temple of red tuna

Mar 20th, 2019, 11:14 AM
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SEVILLA AND CADIZ PROVINCE Carabiñeros, cuttlefish eggs and the temple of red tuna

This past February I took one of my rare solo visits to Europe, embarking on a two weeks foray to Sevilla (8 nights) and Cadiz (4 nights). My main focus, not surprisingly, was on food, and the treasure that I unearthed went way beyond my high expectations. Sevilla is unquestionably one of the greatest food cities of southern Europe, at prices that make many foreigners smile. And coastal towns to the east of Cadiz, where I only dipped into for one afternoon, hold such culinary glories that it is surprising that these are relatively unknown to many visitors from abroad. Suffice to say that I am already considering a return to the area at the same time next year, with the addition of a rental car which would have served me well along the coast.

So here is my report. As usual, I may post it in fits and starts, as I am occupied with planning an upcoming trip, so please bear with me and if you are headed to these areas and have questions before I get a chance to cover the relevant sections, please ask and I will do my best to respond.

The very first section, which follows here, was written while I was in Sevilla; I will post the rest from home..

Today is the first night of my just-short-of two week visit in these two Andalusian cities..a week in Sevilla (where I’ve been several times before) and 5 nights in Cadiz, which will be new to me. (NOTE: I extended my stay in Sevilla for one night and so had only 4 nights in Cadiz)

I’m now comfortably ensconced in my (small) room at Hotel Mercer, a 2-year-old 12-room luxury hotel in a former private mansion, chosen both for its exceptional reviews and for its stellar location in the Arenal neighborhood. I’ve stayed several times previously in Santa Cruz, the architecturally gorgeous former Jewish quarter, which has now become far too touristy for my taste and, once more recently, in a lovely apartment close to the Puerta de Jerez. The latter was a sublime place but this time I chose to lodge in a hotel since I was alone and wanted the services of a concierge and on-site breakfasts. (Note: Service, and breakfasts, at The Mercer were sublime)


I will write more about the hotel further into my stay. I had the least expensive room category and so my room was pretty small but with a large bathroom complete with Japanese toilet/bidet.

The room was as quiet as they come, but I had a view only of an atrium softened by a vertical garden. The bed was heavenly, as were the sheets, towels, and every other element, down to the Molton Brown toiletries.

I departed from JFK with a connection in MAD. Carmel Car Service in NYC charged $52 for the trip over the 59th Street Bridge, a route chosen by me to avoid the high tolls of other river crossings. I would use this car service again; giving them the e-mail of a friend gets you $3 off the fixed airport fare. The driver arrived early; he was pleasant and knew the various detours to avoid the traffic which was pretty heavy from midtown, even on a mid-day Saturday in February.

The Iberia flight was good, save the food which reaches depths lower and lower each time I fly with them. Same choices as I had last year, and the year before that. Same (low) level of product and preparation. Since I could not bear more than a bite of the unappealing chicken, I contented myself with two sandwiches of a Brie-like cheese on decent rolls. This was in business class, by the way.

My seat was comfortable to the maximum, as was the service, and the entertainment: I watched few films ( BOY ERASED ;CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? ;BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY) and even better, a made-for-tv program about Chef/Owner Bittor Arguinzoniz and his legendary temple of the grill, Asador Etxebarri. I’d love to watch this film again if I can find it; the title, I think, is FIRE AND ICE. Please try to see this film if you have been or, even more imperative, if you have a desire or a plan to visit, Etxebarri. We were fortunate enough to have lunch there two years ago and I hope to return at least once in my lifetime. It is NOT, however, a restaurant for everyone, as the documentary makes clear.

We arrived an hour early at Barajas airport, so I had 7 hours in front of me before my connection to Sevilla. There was an earlier flight but I was anxious about the time to get through immigration (this took about 30 minutes, at 5am) and heave my stuff to the gate via a long walk and a train ride. This is one great airport but it is very spread out, and connections originating from the US and other places usually, if to always, often take 30 minutes or more. Happily, there are free luggage carts, if you can find them.

After a nice nap in the lounge, I boarded the Sevilla-bound flight, which arrived in the sunny southern city about 1pm. If you have checked luggage, be aware that baggage originating from non-EU countries arrives on a carrousel apart from that originating in the EU. You must go through security and a luggage x-ray before leaving the terminal.

Despite the fact that this Sunday was the annual Marathon, the taxi ride to the hotel was smooth; there was no taxi queue at the airport and the ride cost just under 25 euro, to my hotel on a blissfully quiet street in the Arenal, ann absolutely sublime location for both major sights and the restaurants I had targeted and, in most cases, had booked ahead of my arrival.


Since my arrival was on a Sunday, when few of my target restaurants would be open for dinner, I had booked my first meal in Sevilla at ANTIGUA ABACERÍA DE SAN LORENZO, a pleasant and easy 20-minute walk from my hotel. This well-regarded rustic eatery is open non-stop every day save Tuesday and Wednesday, so I booked for 6pm, am almost unheard-of meal time in Spain. I owe this choice, and so many others, to the Inimitable Maribel, who posts here when she is not busy arranging private and small-group tours of the Iberian Peninsula (plus the Pays Basque) through her agency, Iberian Traveler.

Apart from a few tables lingering after lunch, the place was pretty empty upon my arrival and I was given a prime table in the bar area, which allowed me to watch the owner, Don Ramon, and his staff prep some of the dishes and go about the business of running the restaurant. I felt as if I were eating in the home of a relative in the restaurant business. Wonderful. The building dates from the 17th Century and has been a restaurant under the current name since the mid-90s. The premises occupy two floors consisting of a string of small rooms with bare wooden tables and chairs, cabinets housing various jarred and tinned products for sale, and the ubiquitous jamónes hanging from the ceilings. Cluttered and cozy are two apt adjectives. Service was excellent, thanks to MariCarmen who is NOT the MariCarmen is not the Co-Owner and wife of Don Ramón, also named MariCarmen.

The menu is in Spanish, and is quite extensive. I am not sure that anyone on staff speaks English. I did not follow my own advice, which is to always give preference to the daily specials. So I ordered two dishes from the orally recited list of specials and one from the printed menu. Of course, two out of the three dishes were stellar and the one that was not memorable, but by no means unappealing, was the one from the printed menu.

I began with a glass of Manzanilla. The first dish to arrive proved that brown food in a dark brown pan is not always a bad thing! This was the special of Judiones (large, meaty beans from La Granja, near Segovia, which are prized throughout Spain) stewed with bits of pulled pork. Accompanied by the excellent bread that I imagine was baked in a wood-fired oven, this was probably the best bean dish I’ve ever tasted. Prime ingredients, simply and slowly cooked, this is a dish I could eat over and over again. I will buy a half kilo of the beans this week but cannot fathom how my own rendition could come even close to the one I just sampled. Essential!

Second was Pringa, THE sandwich of Sevilla, a mix of various pork bits from blood sausage to the stewed and pulled meat of Andalusian hogs. The bread, warmed and lightly toasted, was again superb and since this was my very first pringa, I now understand the universal love among locals and tourists-in-the-know for this superb sandwich. This proved to be the best prong of my Seville sojourn, mister and richer than the famed prong of Bodeguita Antonio Romero on Calle Harinas, which I was to try two nights later.

Third and last was a dish chosen from the printed menu. By this time I was pretty full, and almost falling down tired. Artichoke hearts cooked in wine with bits of ham and onion (Corazones de alcachofa a la montillana) were good enough if not memorable. The artichokes came from a glass jar which, although it might be frowned upon back home in the US, is part of an exalted tradition of serving fish or vegetables canned or jarred at peak quality. (That’s why we shake our heads at the clueless “reviewers” on TripAdvisor who complain that their tuna or asparagus came from “a can.”) That can of impeccable tuna belly (Ventresca) can cost upward of 15 euro in fine local shops; this is not Starkist Lite! But the next day,I was to savor fresh artichoke hearts for lunch at Azotea and these were clearly superior, in my opinion.
Having said all that, the artichoke dish was good enough but might have been better with fresh artichokes. My fault for not sticking to the specials recited by MariCarmen.
Two out of three, with two superb and one very good? In my book this adds up to an excellent dinner. With the sherry and a glass of off-dry El Marido de Mi Amiga (the husband off my friend) white from Rioja, my dinner came to just over 18 euro. Charming and welcoming, and I cannot get those Judiones out of my mind!!

Antigua Abaceria de San Lorenzo

I woke late the following morning, which would be my first full day in the city. Hotel Mercer serves breakfast until 11:30, well suited to the guest profile, which seemed to be composed entirely of pleasure travelers, the majority of which, if the group in the breakfast room was any indicator, were English speaking.

Breakfast is partly buffet, but most dishes from the large menu are a la carte. My plan has breakfast included, fortunately. Four types of excellent house-made bread, from spelt and brioche to German rye; croissants; eggs of every persuasion; on and on. I requested mango on my fruit plate and was told that the chef would make sure they had mango on hand for tomorrow’s breakfast. (True to his word, the next day and every subsequent day I was presented with beautifully arrayed petals of peeled mango that covered my plate; and this was not to mention the fresh orange juice which is one of the great joys of Sevilla, and the rest of the region as well. I can’t help comparing the Mercer to the JK Place Roma, another top-ranked small hotel where we spent a week last fall.

Trouble is, even though I passed on the egg dishes, the combination of chorizo and Manchego mantecada (Manchego cheese that has been infused with lard, new to me and absolutely delicious) plus a few snips of three of the four house-baked breads, with butter and conserva of forest fruits, were enough to sate me for hours. And that’s not to mention the orange juice, Cava Rosé and coffee. Speaking of oranges, the trees here are heavy with the fruit in late February and add to the intoxicating ambiance of this city.

After a brief walk along Calle Sierpes, the main shopping street in the Centro, I made my way to the street whose name I can never forget, Calle Jesus de Gran Poder, and turned the corner onto c/Conde de Barajas to find the new-since-my-last visit flagship of Azotea, which had been my favorite Sevillano restaurant 6 years ago.

LA AZOTEA, Calle Conde de Barajas

Happily, although the location has moved a few meters to the west, much remains the same at La Azotea. Although they still do not take reservations for dinner, they do allow lunch bookings and I had one on this Monday for the civilized hour of 3:00. The restaurant was jam-packed when I arrived on a Monday in February.

I was happy to meet up again with Owner Juan Gomez, who had been so lovely at several dinners we had enjoyed last time. Six years later, the charm remains! Not only that, after I placed my order for beef filet and a media ración of artichoke hearts with Idiazabal , I inquired if the tiny clams known as coquinas (or, in some locales, as chiflas) would be on the menu this week. Juan told me they would probably have these tomorrow. But shortly after I placed my order, he returned to tell me that the chef had the clams in the kitchen and I could change my order to include them, a courtesy which I took advantage of.

My lunch was superb. This is THE perfect neighborhood restaurant, as well as a dining destination. The clams, tinier as a pinky nail, were interspersed with the smallest artichoke hearts I’d ever seen, perhaps the size of my thumbnail. Sautéed in olive oil studded with sliced garlic, this dish was so good and the clams so tiny that I soon gave up the niceties of cutlery and proceeded to eat them with my hands. That is why I always carry a cloth napkin in my purse! It was well used this afternoon.

As soon as I finished the media ración, or half portion, of clams, I booked a table for lunch tomorrow. My main course, the hearts of slightly larger artichokes set on a bed of Idiazabal (A DOP Basque cheese) scattered with some tiny baby vegetable sprouts, needed a smatter of salt to elevate it into the category of scrumptious. I adore this restaurant! There are now three Azoteas in the city, plus the tapas bar across the street from this Conde de Barajas flagship, as well as an event space.

With two glasses of white wine from Rioja, the name of which I’ve forgotten), my tab came to 38 euro.


A stop at the basement supermarket of El Corte Inglés, where prices are far more appealing and the selection vastly larger and more accessible than at the store’s 5th floor Club de Gourmets; yielded a few tins of Navarran asparagus (make sure that the asparagus you select are not from China or from Peru, as too many were on today’s foray) and a bottle of the house-branded Pedro Jimenez vinegar. The past few years have brought with them many conservas from outside Spain including those asparagus, as well as all manner of seafood from Thailand and Chile. So look carefully at the label for the country of origin if you want top quality.

Helados Raya stood in my path as I made my way to the hotel, so I did pause for a 2-euro cone filled with very good Dulce de Leche ice cream, one among many tempting flavors which included Sacher torte and crema de lemon, to name but two of the many that seemed to be calling my name.

Back at the hotel before 7pm, I can’t help contemplating how I am going to fit in all the eateries on my list, with only 6 days to go! What a marvelous and architecturally glorious city, and how kind and welcoming are its people. I feel very fortunate!

Tuesday morning I did some wandering along the Avenida Constitución (no one had mentioned to me that Jesus Christ was in town but there he was,, having set down his heavy wooden cross to take a smoke break, right across from the Cathedral! I tucked into Barrio Santa Cruz for a minute and then walked over to the Alameda and back to Calle Jesus de Gran Poder for my second lunch at Azotea.

AZOTEA, second lunch in two days

This time I treated myself to a large Carabiñero (red shrimp) which was split open and grilled on the plancha; after serving, the waiter poured a touch of sherry into the head cavity and instructed me to mix it with the remaining shrimp juices after finishing the meat. This was glorious! At 18 per piece, it was a splurge but I think a trio of these beauties would make a decadent lunch. (LIke at most restaurants, most of the fish and seafood is priced by weight, so be sure to inquire about the estimated price of an itemm before you place your order)

Next was a special of choice, a cuttlefish, grilled, sliced across the body and served with the tentacles as an off-menu pairing with meaty sautéed artichoke hearts. A perfect lunch at a price of less than 35 euro with glasses of wine. Service was most welcoming, and very informative. Thank you, Kind Host Elena, for schooling me in the difference between hue (as in huevos de choco) and hueva (as in huevas de atún)!


Happily, dinner that night was later than usual; I met a friend from Paris about 10pm at Bodeguita Romero on Calle Harinas just a block from Hotel Mercer. The place was packed when I arrived at 9:30 so I gave my name to the waiter and by the time I returned just before 10, a high table has opened up outdoors. The weather here, in late February, is perfect. Locals might don their winter gear but for me, a light puffy vest over a long-sleeved cotton shirt is all I need at night, and during the day the vest stays in the hotel room.

It’s great to have a dining partner for tapas, so you can try more dishes! We each had one pringa, a signature dish of the restaurant, and of the city. Excellent, if different than the one served by Don Ramón at Abaceria de San Lorenzo. The latter had some of the sauce mixed with the pork, while the sandwich at Romero was pure pulled pork and blood sausage with each ingredient being distinct. I liked the Abaceria's slightly better but I’d certainly recommend sampling at least one, if not both, during a stay. This is a great item to keep in mind when faced with an unfamiliar menu at a bar. Tasty and small enough to whet the appetite for more deliciousness to come!!

After one pringa each, we shared a few tapas: Mojama (air cured tuna,) a quartet of thin slices of the “ham of the sea” that have been briefly soaked in olive oil before serving; batons of fried eggplant in a honeyed sauce, an Andalusian classic; and tortillas de camarones, classic dish of southern Andalucía, but the version here was greasier than I would have liked and could not hold the wick of a candle to the version at El FARO in Cadiz.


I walked back to the hotel alone about 11:30 and was struck by the fact that I felt not only totally safe, but totally comfortable to be a female walking alone on dark and unknown streets. It’s difficult to walk purposely because every other building merits a long look at a different architectural detail, be it an iron grill or a graceful door knocker in the shape of a female hand.

Wednesday, like most days, found me waking up about 9:30am, finishing breakfast about 11, and leaving the hotel not much before noon. I’m not sure if this is due to jet lag, the comfortable bed, the window shutters which do their job magnificently, or a combination of the three. From what I observe during my walks, I’m not alone in getting a late start. At 11:30 the outdoor cafes are filled with lingerers and their coffee and pan.

Breakfasts at the hotel are lavish but I’ve been trying to confine my appetite to things that I would not have access to at home, or at least not at the level of quality. So I’ve been bypassing the multiple options for eggs in favor of cheese and various jamones. Today I learned the difference between the pata negra ham from the upper part of the leg, the caña, or the maza, the meat that comes from close to the foot that is more tender and has less marbling than the others. I hope I got this right; for more description, see:


After breakfast and some general walking around, I found my way to Bar Eslava for a small lunch. I remembered some great dishes from my visit 6 years ago and happily, Eslava is still going strong. They now keep their kitchen open throughout the day, which is a big bonus for us foreigners with our strange, by Spanish standards, eating times.
The bar was packed when I arrived but I was able to snag one of the few outdoor high-top tables. Even in February, the sun was so strong as to make it just shy of uncomfortably hot near mid-day.

I ordered two tapas which have won domestic and international awards in competition:

1. Yema Sobre Bizcocho de Boletus, a "biscuit" topped by a souffle of mushrooms and a runny yolk, this deserves all of its accolades over the years. (3.10euro)

2. Costilla de Cerdo con Miel de Romero al Horno, tiny pork ribs lavishly glazed with rosemary honey (3.20euro)


Both were sublime, the ribs as good as I remembered from my last visit; the egg new to me this time. I could have gone on ordering, as there are so many delicious options at the bar here. (Note that there is a more upscale restaurant just next door where seating is by advance booking only; my sister ate here the previous week and thought it was good, but Eslava's real fame is in the bar section, perfect for a solo diner like me. ) I would have returned here had I had the time, and the capacity. Beware that it gets packed at peak hours so take advantage of their all-day open kitchen and go at opening times or just after that. The place is tourist friendly and some waiters, if not all, speak English. With a glass of white wine, my check was under 9 euro.

Bar de tapas en Sevilla | Espacio Eslava · Sevilla

I spent the rest of the day wandering, as usual, returning to my hotel only in time for the briefest of rests before my much-anticipated early dinner at Cañabota, just a few blocks from Calle Sierpes and about 12 minutes walking from my hotel,, more or less.

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Mar 20th, 2019 at 11:17 AM.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 20th, 2019, 02:37 PM
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Thanks for writing. Makes me long for a return visit to Sevilla.
Marija is online now  
Mar 20th, 2019, 03:21 PM
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This is the report that should show up. There are two other posts with the same heading and no content. But Ii do not see this thread when I look up "Spain" in the Europe board!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 20th, 2019, 03:30 PM
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BECAUSE you didn't tag it for Spain. It looks like you didn't look for it under your profile, but just clicked on Spain -- so it would not display.

Easy enough to fix. Click the triangle and ask the moderators to deleted the two 'wrong' threads and to tag this one for Spain.
janisj is offline  
Mar 20th, 2019, 07:35 PM
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Judiones! One of my favorites, and while I will be in Sevilla soon for a week, I will not be in San Ildefonso, so this is good news for me.

I am following your report, trying not to drool - but anticipating some great meals. One thing though - we will be in Seville from Monday to Monday of semana santa, and I am wondering if we will be able to even find tables at these restaurants. Do most (or any) of them take reservations? Will we find it easier to get a table if we decide to eat earlier than say, 8 or 9 p.m? Any tips for best results?

Looking forward to reading more - thanks!
scdreamer is offline  
Mar 20th, 2019, 09:10 PM
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So excited for this report. We’re off to Sevilla in May for 4 nights (after 2 nights in Granada). We actually prefer more casual bars so I like the sound of some of your places already. I’ve got a room reserved at the Hotel Casa Del Poeta, Don Carlos Alonso Chaparro, 3, Casco Antigua. Hopefully a decent location? Looking forward to the rest of the report!
macdogmom is offline  
Mar 21st, 2019, 05:35 AM
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Glad you all (except Janis) are enjoying!

Matter of fact, I was very careful to tag this for Spain, and tag it as a trip report. All good now...back soon with more..

MacDog: How I remember you from so long ago! The hotel looks to me as if it is right in the thick of things, on the edge of Santa Cruz/Barrio Judio. So it is very, very convenient to major sites, and within walking distance of just about all restaurants in the city proper.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 21st, 2019, 06:23 AM
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SC: Most of the restaurants I visited do take reservations and it is not too early to make them if you are going next month. Most places open at 8:30 or even 9 but if you book at the opening time you have more chance of getting in. Cañabota, which I will write about soon, opens at 7;30pm. Of the places I ate, that was the toughest reservation to book.

Also keep in mind that Abaceria San Lorenzo takes reservations and is open all day. Eslava is as well, although they do not take bookings in their bar area.

Most restaurants are closed on Sunday nights, so for your last day you could perhaps have a huge late Sunday lunch.

I hope that helps!! There are so many great places, and so many I did not have the stomach space to try!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 21st, 2019, 08:04 AM
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"SC: Most of the restaurants I visited do take reservations and it is not too early to make them if you are going next month. Most places open at 8:30 or even 9 but if you book at the opening time you have more chance of getting in."

Just looked at a travel blog website regarding semana santa in Sevilla, and I see that many restaurants actually close for that week! Wow - we'll have to wing it while we're there, I guess. I can't imagine we will starve - lol. Our apartment is in Santa Cruz - so we will certainly be impacted by the celebrations - which, of course, was the point of being in Sevilla for that week. Should be interesting ...
scdreamer is offline  
Mar 21st, 2019, 10:13 AM
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Before I continue eating (the next meal will be at Cañabota), I will comment that, except for a few hours at the Plaza de España, one of my favorite places in the city with its semi-circular parade of tiled scenes from the various provinces (where for the first time in Spain, I noticed many groups of tourists from China who had alighted from tour buses parked nearby), I did not visit any of the guidebook sights. I'd been to Seville numerous times before and found my joy in wandering the streets, peeking into the flowering courtyards, and craning my neck to admire the vast panoply of architectural styles above the ground floors. All this in weather that anyone would deem "perfect!" It rained one day; the rest were clear and mild. Most days found me out and about in long-sleeved cotton tops and jeans. In the evenings I would add a light, padded vest over the top. I never wore wool, and only once, on a windy day in Cadiz, did I even need the cotton "safari" type jacket that I had thought might not keep me warm enough. I might have been unusually lucky, but these two weeks proved to me that late February/early March is about as perfect as they come for visiting southern Spain. (There were rather strong winds along the Costa de Luz, to the southeast of Cadiz, but from what I gather, these are common throughout the year and it's not for no reason that nearby Tarifa is a wind-surfing capital of Europe!)

So, apart from aimless wandering, which included checking out scores of menus and prowling numerous markets and food shops, what did I do?

I had planned to cut my hair in Sevilla, so when I admired a great haircut on a staff member at Azotea, she gave me two names: One a nearby barber who cuts women's hair (the shop is Las Navajas, near the corner of Conde de Barajas, near the Alameda Hercules) and two, a guy with a salon near Las Setas. I called the latter and made an appointment, and was really happy with the results. On the off-chance that someone here needs a haircut, here is the link. The price was reasonable, less than I pay in the US.

Auro Murciano at VALIENTE PLAN:


I did some shopping at the usual suspects including Zara, and both the supermarket in the basement and the Club de Gourmets at Corte Ingles. Corte Ingles also has a home-goods store near the Sevilla flagship and now I wished that I had taken home a few of the terra cotta cazuelas that sell for very low prices. On an earlier trip I had found a great independent kitchenware store but forgot to look for it this time...good excuse to go back!

I was tempted by the espadrilles in cheery colors, both solids and stripes, flat and platformed, plain and laced up the calf, made in La Rioja and sold at the eponymous shop at Sierpes, 66. (And also through Zappos!)


And anyone who has been to Sevilla, or even to Murray's Cheese in Manhattan's West Village, is probably familiar with the olive oil tortes that have been one of the signature food items of the city since fabrication began in 1910. These now come not only in the original olive oil version, but in flavors including orange blossom and cinnamon. (I remain faithful to the original but also love the orange). I no longer bring a dozen packets home with me not only because they are now available in the US (Murray's Cheese in the West Village, New York sells a few flavors) but because the packets are fragile and often arrived cracked from their time in the suitcase. Besides the tortas, the new shop near the Cathedral sells a variety of cheeses, wine, and conserves. I could not resist a confiture of "Gin and Tonic," which sounds unusual, if not entirely enticing.


I found an interesting small shop showcasing the jewelry of a Brazilian female designer whose name I neglected to note.

JOHARI CONTEMPORANEO is tucked into a tiny space on Calle Franco #29, and has baubles made from aluminum, wood, rubber, and other unusual materials. I bought a black rubber collar like the one in the photo on the site:

Johari | Diseño contemporaneo
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 21st, 2019, 11:46 AM
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Under the helm of (very handsome) JuanLu Fernandez and his team, CAÑABOTA has garnered much critical acclaim and was awarded the 2018 GURMÉ title of restaurant with the “Best Creative Cuisine” in the city. (ABACERIA DE SAN LORENZO took the prize for “Best Traditional Cuisine.”

This was the restaurant I was most looking forward to visiting during my stay in the city. It’s a small, bright, streamlined space whose iced display of delicacies from the sea leave no doubt as to the focus of the kitchen. (There is meat on the menu,however)

I booked a few weeks ahead; the restaurant seems to have two dinner services: One at opening time, 7:30, and a second around 9pm or so. Most seating is along the counter, and there a few high-top tables (these are called “taburetes” on the reservation site) They plan to open a bar almost adjacent to the existing space but that was not open when I was there.

There is no doubt that the quality of the products used by this kitchen is impeccable. Offerings change daily depending on market availability. Once I saw the array on offer that night, I wanted to order almost everything, so had to calm myself down a bit and settle on a few dishes.

There were three small amuse—a cauliflower and lentil soup made with cream from shrimp heads; a fish-stuffed, grilled pimiento de Padrón; and an alistado from the Bay of Cadíz (I forget the details of this last bit; I think it was a tiny shrimp).

The practice, common in Spain and elsewhere, or pricing seafood (and meat) by weight means that one can sample small amount of many different delicacies, as long as the kitchen is willing. At Cañabota they were justifiably proud of their offerings and the attentive waiter encouraged me to try as much as I could handle and I was happy to oblige!

I began with a single sea urchin, so easy to devour and so welcome as we rarely see these on the menu back home. (13 euro)

A sampling of berberechos, the prized, ridged clams from Galicia came next. (2.80)

Razor clams followed (2.10; both these and the berberechos were priced at 70 euro per kilo)

Cigalas, a variety of langoustine and a favorite of mine, arrived next, priced at 150 per kilo, my order cost 21.75 euro.

Finally, the waiter had recommended the filet of turbot but my portion was served on the bone. (13 euro) This was my least favorite dish, as it was very plain with no accompanying sauce, nor any char from the grill.

(He forgot my sopa de galeras (mantis shrimp, from Galicia) and once remembered, it was too late in the meal for me, and I unfortunately decided to forego what might have been a spectacular dish.)

On paper this sounds like a sumptuous feast and I have not one complaint with the quality of the fare (except the fish, which seemed boring) or the service. But Chef Fernandez believes in letting his ingredients sing, adding only the barest touch of heat or spice. I thought of the “lightly touched” category that used to form part of the menu at Le Bernardin in New York. So it came down to my personal preference, which is for seafood grilled on the plancha or fire that gains a bit of char, or sautéed with olive oil and perhaps garlic in the pan. I think Cañabota had an almost Japanese sensibility in its purity.

I also think that I ought to go once more and concentrate on dishes that were not as simple as those that I chose.

So all in all, I was thrilled to have visited what many say is among the best seafood restaurants in the South right now (at least I think I read that someplace!) but I preferred the seafood spectacle I had, for example, at Antonio in Zahara, or even the seafood dishes I had at Azotea.

Next time I might choose dishes that had been manipulated more by the kitchen.

Do not take my word for it. If you like fish and shellfish, go, making sure to book ahead.

With a glass of local white wine and a white from Ribiera del Duero (Viña Sastre), my bill totaled 61 euro, a most reasonable price this quality of material.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 21st, 2019, 04:50 PM
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Yes, I’ve been around for awhile and use the same name on chowhound (my dearly departed dog of many years ago). This is great because I’ve been checking on CH and so glad I checked in here. Glad to hear the hotel is good location. Hopefully not too touristy. I loved the central courtyard. I’ve got a bunch of notes for places in SEVILLA from past threads and Maribel suggestions (she mentioned using Azahar’s suggestions also). We were in Getaria last May and had some wonderful meals, looking forward to SEVILLA and Granada. Thanks so much for your trip reports and especially food suggestions. They are the best.
macdogmom is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2019, 01:28 PM
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AZOTEA, again:

The next day, Thursday, I did my usual walking around (most days I clocked at least 6 miles and on my most active day, almost 9 miles). I had my hair cut, as I mentioned above. At night, I returned to AZOTEA and had one of the most perfect dinners of the two-week-long trip:


After a single very large red Carabiñero prawn whose head the lovely waiter, Miki, filled with sherry, I dug in to a “presa de Angus, ” perfectly dusted with flake salt, served sliced to show the reddish interior, (so much better looking than a big slab of uncut beef on a plate, this seemed to be the norm for presentation at most restaurants I visited) and accompanied by a quintet of grilled artichoke hearts. Prime ingredients, prepared with minimal tweaking. But somehow, this dinner was a lot more tasty than the one I had at Cañabota the night before. I really liked this restaurant! With one glass of wine, the bill came to 43.50 euro. I am not a big steak eater back home but I kept craving steak on this trip, it was that good!

I wish I could enjoy a meal of equal quality for the same price back home! Excellent on all fronts!

For dessert, I stopped at one of the city’s several outposts of the Tuscan gelato chain, Amorino. A “copa normal” was priced at a whopping 4.70euro. Very good but not spectacular, especially for that price.

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Mar 23rd, 2019 at 01:34 PM.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2019, 08:07 PM
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Really enjoying your trip report. The food sounds delish.
Paqngo is online now  
Mar 24th, 2019, 02:50 AM
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Hi eks!!! Isn't Sevilla spectacular? Loving your report as I sip my coffee in dreamy Valencia.
marigross is offline  
Mar 24th, 2019, 04:32 AM
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Thanks, all!

Valencia! Oh, I hope you will write a report about your trip; yours are always so terrific!!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 24th, 2019, 04:46 PM
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Your meal at Azotea sounds perfect. Can’t wait to order it all in May!
macdogmom is offline  
Mar 25th, 2019, 02:40 AM
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Originally Posted by ekscrunchy View Post
Thanks, all!

Valencia! Oh, I hope you will write a report about your trip; yours are always so terrific!!
We came to Valencia for the Fodor's/Fauxdor's GTG, which BTW was GREAT, and we will be staying put for another month. I rented an apartment next to the Ruzafa market (just as good or even better/more ethnic options than the Central Market) and we just want to make believe we live here for the duration. It's our 4th time in the city so we will not doing not much touristic stuff to report about just tons of home cooking, lol.
marigross is offline  
Mar 27th, 2019, 11:29 AM
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Mari: I just watched a HOUSE HUNTERS INTERNATIONAL new episode in which the home shopper looked at 3 properties in the city and settled on a large place in Ruzafa. He is an artist from the Us with roots in Spain and agreed to take on the major renovations necessary. The price was really reasonable as compared to other Spanish cities, I think.

Here is another installment:


There were three issues that I was aware of that cut down on the culinary exploration I was able to do that week in Sevilla. Traveling solo, of course, cut down on the number of dishes I was able to sample. The bountiful breakfast at the Hotel Mercer kept me pretty full for much of the day and there were days when I almost had to force myself to eat before evening. (So there’s a good reason not to strive for a breakfast-included hotel! The breakfast at the Mercer was included with my room and I lacked the self control to deny myself. As I mentioned, I did use the first meal of the day to sample various cheeses and hams. Only on one day did I indulge myself with one of their tempting egg dishes; most of the time my breakfast consisted of a plate of sliced mango, a few cuts of aged cow cheese, and slices of chorizo and of jamon Ibérico. Of the latter, the excellent server, Fernando from Jerez, took the time to cut the jamon from several points in the leg and instruct me on the differences between them. We had many informative conversations over the breakfast table, so perhaps it is understandable that I often did not leave the hotel much before 11am.

Since I am confining this to food talk, I will continue with my sparse lunch on the Friday. I had wanted very much to have dinner at PETIT COMITE, which has been talked about in glowing terms by many reviewers. But in the end, due to my love for AZOTEA, which is the third reason that my culinary curiosity was a bit dimmed, I had no room to fit in a dinner there. So I did the next-best thing and walked over to PETIT COMITE'S almost-adjacent bar, PETIT CORNER.

While PETIT COMITE was a fairly difficult table to secure, PETIT CORNER was empty save for one dawdling couple on the Friday afternoon that I stopped by, on my way to yet another amble through the Plaza de España. I had the vague idea of renting a little boat and paddling my way into Instagram fame in the background of the many selfie-stick-wielding foreign tourists that clambered over the space each time I visited. But this was not to be.

PETIT CORNER is a spiffy little space, whose menu elevates it to more than just a spillover for its more famous parent, where there is no bar.

On that afternoon, accompanied only by a glass of Dr. Loosen Riesling (served when I asked for a semi-dulce companion to my two food choices; low alcohol German wine popular in the US), my duo of menu choices were fairly conservative:

OSTRAS CODIUM. A pair of flat oysters in a ouzo marinade, topped with a dollop of caviar, 7 euro for two

CROQUETAS DE MATÁN. The proprietary name for a trio of detour-worth croquetas of prong in which the morcilla chunks were happily evident, 5 euro.

Total: 15 euro. I liked the bar, server was friendly, and I’d return to sample more dishes. Do not believe they have a website.

After my snack, I walked the short distance to the Hotel Alfonso XIII, one of Spain’s most legendary hostelries, now under the Marriott umbrella. Lovely architecture, lovely gardens.

A bit far from the places I like to eat but worth keeping in mind if you would like a pool and have the euros necessary for the rooms, which vary quite a bit depending on category, as you might expect for an older, historic charmer.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Mar 28th, 2019, 07:12 AM
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I watched that episode of house hunters international also. Would love to see the finished apartment. The prices were amazingly cheap. Would Petit Corner be a good dinner place? We like more casual bar like eating experiences these days and it also sounds easier to get into. Is it French food with Spanish twist?
macdogmom is offline  

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