Easter in Seville has to be experienced. It is almost 20 years since I was last there but this city is still entrenched in tradition, the locals full of pride and the tapas rather wonderful. But it’s wise to go there with some knowledge on how and what to eat as the temptation to steer away from that healthy living you may have nailed prior to going on holiday is huge. Churros lurk around every corner and the patisseries are mind-blowing.
Waves of nostalgia hit thick and fast as we weave our way through the city; turning corners to see familiar tapas bars, the aroma of incense, candle wax squelching under our feet… feelings of cold and hunger mix with the excitement of revisiting this remarkable place.
Seville is not kind to vegetarians, nor is it built for the winter, therefore my experience of spending a year in this city as a young vegetarian was not on the whole a magical 12 months. But I do have very fond memories. This time I’m putting some demons to rest, the sun is shining, it is 23 degrees and most importantly I’m with my clan. Although my veggie days are over I do have a nine year old ‘flexitarian’ to feed (thanks to EasyJet I learnt this new bit of vocab en route home in their in-flight magazine– ‘someone who prefers to eat a plant based diet but dabbles in meat and fish on occasion’) plus we are looking for ‘sin gluten’.
Our first night we make the mistake of following our host’s tapas advice; it’s tapas for grown- ups, i.e. brilliant bars using enormous wooden barrels as tables with no stools. It’s busy and I can’t see the chalk board menu so I rely on rusty Spanish to order some delicacies. We end up with meat and bread, some cheese and some more meat (on bread). Luckily, my ability to order vino blanco secco has stuck with me. Always a mellow tasting safe bet in Spain.
The next day we hunt down what we are after near Plaza Espana. A brief family meeting establishes that priority needs involve stools/chairs, fresh fish, meat and Cruzcampo. We find this and more at a fantastic bar near this awesome plaza, La Raza. The Sevillians are arriving in their weekend attire and the place is buzzing. We order baked ribs with quinoa and piquillo peppers, deepfried marinated dogfish and my Seville vegetarian classic – espinacas con garbanzos. The latter is an oily blend of spinach and chickpeas. There’s a rich cumin flavour about this dish which pushes through the oily slick and satisfies my need for greens.
In the Santa Cruz area there is plenty on offer too. Baked squid is a great choice. Look for the ‘plancha’ (grilled) section rather than ‘frito’ (fried) when choosing fish and meats for a healthier option. Bar Agua Y Vida offers a beautifully tender octopus salad in a garlicy juice. Here too you can order a trio of tapas served as a ‘plate’. The three classics shown are the typical broad bean salad, espinacas and potato tortilla. This is an ideal way to try different dishes and to meet everyone’s foodie needs.
Typically, as is often the way, we discover that the best tapas bar is outside our apartment. Bar Autiquedades is the jewel in the crown. Solomillo al whisky and fabulous oxtail stew top the bill.
My final thoughts on Tapas 20 years on; wonderful, I love eating tiny plates of truly tasty foods then moving on to hunt down more. We ate well though left requiring a major salt cleanse. And finally - tapas with your clan is way more enjoyable than going alone!
I’ll be recreating some of our favourites this week with a lower sodium less oily approach…..