Christmas in Seville, a new experience for us as although we have spent Xmas in Spain before and know Seville reasonably well we have not been there during the festive period and had no idea what to expect.
Settling into our apartment in the Arenal area the first thing to do was shopping for provisions and we knew that bars and restaurants would be shut Christmas Eve and were not sure how much would be open on Christmas day, as it happened lots of places were open. Having shopped locally for essentials such as bread, jamon and cheese the next thing was wine and we found the ideal place nearby.
Flores, C/San Pablo 24 is a very upmarket food and wine shop and also a bar and restaurant. It is not cheap but the quality is top notch whether you are looking for a bottle of wine or some jamon or just want to sit outside with a glass of their excellent wines. The staff are very knowledgeable, be warned if they say as they pour you a glass of wine that it should be left for ten minutes before you can really enjoy it, then leave it for ten minutes !
We had booked a late lunch for Xmas Eve and after a lot of research chose Restaurant Becerrita, C/Recaredo 9, Puerto Carmona, www.becerrita.com this is top class dining in Seville, an upmarket place as you expect in Seville with a number of small dining areas, the food was extremely good and the service is excellent. This is one for a treat. The meats dishes both pork and lamb were perfectly cooked, the portions are large so do not be tempted by a tapas on route. There is an excellent wine list as one would hope.
Seville as with most places in Andalucia and in the rest of Spain seems to be going through a Gin & Tonic frenzy and they are so well done in Seville in huge balloon glasses with plenty of ice, and also plenty of gin this was evident on Xmas eve.
Heading home we discovered an old haunt Casa Matias, C/Arfe 11, this was visited by Rick Stein during his Spain series for the BBC, but we knew it from old as we stayed opposite during the flamenco bienalle one year. The place is minute, tiny, miniscule but then it was packed till the early hours with regular flamenco performers and other musicians and singers who were in town, The atmosphere was electric and the staff and owner welcomed us in. A few years later and it is still packed for the music although it seems to be more early evening, the crowd (locals) have gone a bit more upmarket and visitors are still welcomed by the owner and it was packed until shutting at 8.30 pm.
Another reason to come to Seville was to seek out knew places for tapas and we certainly managed that, three new finds are detailed below plus one old favourite.
If you are lucky enough to visit Seville then seek these places out.
La Brunilda, C/Galera 5, Arenal, www.facebook.com/LaBrunilda has reputedly been opened by someone who was involved with Bar Zelai, which had a great reputation. I had heard that there were queues as soon as it opened therefore we got there just on 8.30 and managed to get seats at the bar. By 9 pm there was a very long waiting list.
The food lived up to everything I had heard, we ordered dorada, a type of bream, with pisto , spanish ratatouille, then duck confit with sweet carrots and pistachio. These were so good we ordered two more dishes solomillo (fillet of beef) with baby roast potatoes, and chicken with a selection of mushrooms and a polenta cake. With two glasses of rioja the bill came to 30 Euros, for food of this quality and with excellent service this was a bargain.
Ovejas Negra. C/Hernando Colon 8, www.ovejasnegrastapas.com what a find, minutes from the Giralda a modern tapas bar with loads of local clients. Super friendly staff but be warned get there early as it is soon full, we tried the pig carpaccio which was possibly the best tasting pork ever and a large portion and then a lovely casserole of baked aubergine with a parmesan crust. Could have worked through the menu but there was somewhere else to try.
Arenero Taller de Tapas, Pasaje de Vila 6, is just off the C/Mateos Gago one of the busiest streets in the Barrio Santa Cruz but this modern tapas restaurant is far removed from most of the surrounding places. Without a reservation we were lucky to get a table for two and while the service is serious it is attentive and knowledgeable and the food fantastic. We only tried two dishes but the pulpo andaluz style was memorable, tender octopus slices on top of wonderful garlic potatoes with salmorejo, thick gazpacho from Cordoba, to accompany it, the mini burger was excellent but the pulpo still lingers in the memory. Just wish we had found it earlier.
Eslava, C/Eslava 3, San Lorenzo www.espacioeslava.com/en great to go back time and time again and find that the tapas are still so good and the prices for the quality so reasonable. This time we tried the scallops in a Japanese sauce and salmonettes, small red mullet simply grilled, two great small dishes and two very good white wines for 10 Euros, what is not to like.
If you want more advice on where to stay, eat and drink and what to see then go to www.cityhaunts.co.uk and check out the Seville page.
Another new addition to Seville is the Metropol Parasol, Plaza Encarnacion a wooden structure of six parasols forming what looks like a giant mushroom and known as such by the locals. The entrance to gain access to the roof is in the basement and after you pay your fee of 3 Euros which includes a drink you go up in the lift to the terrace area. I have to admit that the jury is still out for me on the structure, true it has improved an area that had little going for it but does it fit in…..
What to drink in Seville, well you should try fino sherry whatever time of year, if you are going ugh sherry remembering the horrible sweet ones brought out for Christmas then time to put that behind you and try this. Either from Jerez or El Puerto de Santa de Santa Maria or from Sanlucar de Barrameda when it is called manzanilla this is served chilled and goes amazingly well with seafood especially prawns.
Another local tipple is tinto de verano is a great refreshing drink and not as sickly as sangria, it is simply red wine with usually sprite and ideally the lemon version and some ice.