This is my final post on our trip to Spain and it feels a little strange writing it. I am currently in an expat ghetto in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong and am looking out over the harbour as it is wracked by rains. The humidity, the spices, the textures in the food couldn’t be different from Spain. But there is one major similarity between Hong Kong and Spain. Good food is ubiquitous. Any bar, cafe, hole in the wall, plastic stool under tarp or other establishment offers you the potential for a good meal which England and London can’t match.
To show what a food dork I am let me tell you a story. Before (re)visiting Seville this time I lay in bed after our meal at the El Bulli hotel (here) until 4am on my blackberry researching which places to go to. I gained inspiration from the Ginger Gourmand’s tapas hunting trip to Jerez (here) and also the Gourmet Chick’s trip to Seville (here). Then, I remembered what I said above and thought stuff it, we can’t go wrong and left it to chance.
I was right, we couldn’t go wrong. We had breakfast at a place we stumbled across and had the simple joy of toasted bread, olive oil, tomato and ham (Las Claveles). We then ran into Seville’s oldest confectionary shop (Confiteria de Compana) and had the guidebook recommended tocinos de cielo with some coffees. Interestingly the texture of the tocinos de cielo was akin to many of the Asian puddings I have been eating in Hong Kong (like a set milk with flavouring). Then logically came church so we visited a Convent to buy some tortas de aciete (olive oil biscuits). They were from Convento de Santa Inés and you put your money in the food equivalent to a confessional box, it turns and out comes your holy snacks.
Then we wandered up to the area around the Iglesia Santa Catalina as this is an area renowned for its tapas and took the simple policy of just going in the busiest tapas bars. We began with El Rincon De Tito for a beer and some jamon serrano. Just a dingy backstreet bar but one which leaked character and served perfect basic elemental jamon and cerveza.
Then we heard a lot of noise from the bar next door – Quitapesares – and entered to find the owner thoroughly drunk at 1:00pm serenading his customers. Perfect I thought. We ordered some caracoles (small snails) which came out a of a big vat by the bar. Absolutely fingersuckingly brilliant. You ripped them out of their shells with your mouth whilst sipping beer and watching the craziness begin in the bar.
Then to El Rinconcillo, Spain (or Seville’s) oldest tapas bar. This should be a themed tourist attraction by now. The atmosphere drained off and bottled and sold with tea towels. Instead it was fervently still local, heaving and buzzing. You point, gesticulate, barge, back slap and eat. The tapas was also quite unfathomly good. This is a place which could (and in most places would) live on its name alone. Instead the old masters behind the bar serve you simple tapas like cod in tomatoes, rice with charcuterie or chickpeas with spinach that are absolutely spot on (the rice and plate debris is pictured). Coupled with two beers in cost us 17euros and we over-ordered.
PS I have to disclaim that the rather sexy shot of the beer and snails is one of Jen’s. She is rather proud of it. For other posts on Spain see here.