Thursday, June 07, 2018

MENU's Iberian Exploit 8. Seville

Ole! Time to cross the border into sunny Spain. Well, not actually because, once again, it was raining. The border country is so beautiful on both sides, grassy meadows under cork oaks or olive trees, with sheep or those famous black pigs which produce that wonderful Iberico ham, cropping the green grass beneath the trees. And then the castles ...
There can be few countries which have as many castles as Spain. driving between the major centres, it seems that every little town has a hill topped by a castle
We arrived in Seville in time to see the last night of their famous annual Feria (festival) and took the Metro from our suburban AirBnB to the showgrounds
All the girls and women of the town seem to have dressed in traditional Flamenco dresses. They were everywhere
The Festival ground in Seville is huge and this wonderfully illuminated Moorish gateway towered over the entrance. The showgrounds are enormous

Clubs, associations and businesses have these pavilions in which they entertain their guests. It is a bit like the Community Chest Carnival in Cape Town, but on a very much grander scale - and much cleaner
Even though light rain was falling, the broad, brightly lit avenues were full of people
enjoying the atmosphere
We stopped to take photographs of the dancing at this large pavilion, which turned out to be the home of a flamenco club. Some of the men and boys were pretty good too
A very kind gentleman saw us watching and then invited us in! We were delighted
We found seats, took lots of photographs and enjoyed the dancing
The floor was a whirl of colour, swirling flounces and pretty ladies, with a few boys joining in; very few men
On a wet, humid, muggy evening, the same kind gentleman brought us a gift of a refreshing jug of a sangria made with manzanilla and Sprite. We never got his name because he could speak no English and we little Spanish. 
Not what we would normally order, but light and refreshing
He brought his beautiful daughter over to meet us, she spoke very good English and she explained about the pavillion and that her father was on the committee
Next we headed for a local Churrosteria and enjoyed some churros with the accompanying dip of thick dark hot chocolate. Just to warm us up! Not at all the crisp almost biscuit texture we have had before, these are long tubes of fritter batter, soft inside and crisp outside. Very satisfying and one of these and a coffee cost only 6 Euros
Not a damp squib! The Seville Feria ended with a fireworks display; lots of very loud bangs and not at all affected by the light rain which was falling
Sunday lunching on a Seville pavement the next day. We went back the following day. We saw families eating there and not many tourists, so we knew the price & quality should be good. It was
The Torre del Oro (Gold Tower) was built in the 13th century during the Almohad dynasty as a military watchtower in the city walls, and was meant to control traffic on the Guadalquivir River and to defend the port of Seville from potential attack
Horse-drawn carriages are a popular tourist feature in Seville as well as in Cordoba and Granada. A pleasant reminder of earlier times, but we'd rather drive a car - although the narrow streets of old Spanish cities can be a challenge
A Moorish arch in a street near to the Alcazar. Many buildings are painted with this shade of yellow and white
One of the best tourist guides we were to meet. She was so helpful and informative
Our landlord had recommended a reasonable place for lunch so we went in search of it (this is not it). They produced a menu in English with high prices on it. The previous customers (locals) had  left their bill, they had 6 items on it for €13.  One dish was going to cost us that. Our two beers were €5. So we left without eating. Its a scam, hit the tourists hard for food. Luckily not everywhere is as avaricious
So many places to choose from
The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede). After its completion in the early 16th century, Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years. It is the third-largest church in the world as well as the largest Gothic church. The total area occupied by the building is 23,500 square meter
Everywhere one walks in a city in southern Spain, the air is perfumed with the scent of orange blossom. The streets and parks are lined with orange trees. The oranges are sour, somewhat bitter - Seville oranges - and no one seems to eat them, but they would make amazing marmalade
Down an ancient side alley towards the Alcazar
Lots of quiet squares around the cathedral
And the carriage horses carrying on a conversation over lunch
Arriving back at our station. We were quite far out of town at the end of the line but had a really lovely AirBnB with friendly owners and orange trees in blossom outside our window
The driver just walks down to the other end when its time to go.
Back having lunch at the good restaurant we had spotted the day before
Menu on a chalk board and a Menu del Dia
Clean and friendly inside
Choices! We used our phones to translate the dishes we didn't understand, but many are self explanatory if you read menu Spanish. And very reasonable You get two choices of dish each, a drink and a dessert or coffee for €12.90, €25.80 = R390 for a main meal for two. Extraordinary value.
And the special of the day
This was the best dish. Carrillada: Beef cheeks, so tender and flavoursome, cooked in a rich Pedro Ximenez (sherry) sauce on top of chips, and topped with crisp onions
Lovely deep fried squid with peppers, onions and courgettes
Pork fillet "Teriyaki" topped with almonds, a rich sauce and yes, more chips
Croquettes and chips, a bit greasy, not a good choice, perhaps. We should have tried the Paella
The bill. At the restaurant we rejected the previous day, the cheapest dish had been €13.
The 13th Century Abd-el_Aziz portico in Seville. 800 years old and still classical elegance and simplicity
Getting into historic sites in Spain can be a challenge. This was the queue at the Alcazar in Seville. We tried, unsuccessfully, to book online but ended up queuing in the very welcome sun for an hour. With pensioner discount, only paid €3 each, so it was worth it
The Moorish palaces like the Alcazar in Seville have many arched doorways, often highly decorated
It is steeped in history and atmosphere
Many of the arches frame picturesque views of the city or the gardens 
This arch took us into the beautiful peaceful gardens, with many pools and fountains and everywhere the tinkling sound of water
The smell of the orange trees in blossom and the mock orange flowers was heady and glorious, we will always associate Seville with them
 The gardens at the Alcazar are laid out in geometric designs in the Moorish style and tradition
Vaulted ceilings and superb tiles, many in yellow, the most expensive colour in those days
Elegant horse-drawn carriages and a fountain in the centre of the city
After a long day's walking round Seville and the Alcazar, there is no better restorative medicine than a gin and tonic and a cold beer
and we did manage to walk across the park as far as the famous Plaza de España. It's a really lovely city to spend time in. And not many hills ...
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