Today, our ‘Gourmet Traveller’ blog series is focusing on the moreish (and Moorish!) delicacies and traditional dishes that await us in Seville – one of our favourite European destinations. Food and travel go hand in hand and one of the great pleasures of visiting a new city or country is sampling local culinary favourites. In Spain, of course, tapas is likely to be on your list.
The name comes from the Spanish verb tapar which means ‘to cover’ – it is thought that the original tapas were slices of meat (ham or chorizo) offered to sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns. These delicious, salty proteins peaked a patron’s thirst and business boomed. Bartenders and restaurant owners created a wider variety of these snacks and, over the years, tapas has evolved into a high quality, sophisticated cuisine, widely available country-wide. .
So, which tapas dishes will you be trying on your visit to Seville? These are some of the most popular…
Espinacas con Garbanzos (Spinach with Chickpeas)
This dish might not sound as exciting as you’d expect when it comes to Spanish cuisine, but it is very popular with Andalusians and a great example of how simple ingredients can be combined to create a delicious dish. The spinach is wilted and then mixed with chickpeas, seasoning, turmeric and cumin, and then served with a wedge of warm bread. It’s filling, full of goodness and a dish we certainly recommend trying.
Salmorejo (Cold Tomato Soup)
Another favourite tapas dish in the Andalusia region is Salmorejo – cold tomato soup. It can be found across the region in most bars and restaurants and, in some, it is served with toppings including boiled egg and Iberian ham.
Cola de Toro (Stewed Bull’s Tail)
This is a dish that you are likely to find on the menu in restaurants across Seville and it’s one of the most flavoursome. The tail is cut into thick pieces and then slow-cooked for several hours, in a sauce of stock, vegetables and red wine, until juicy and tender. It’s then left to rest and when ready, served with fries and bread. The best places to try this are in the restaurants around Seville’s bullring.
Another delicious tapas option but one that must be timed just right, as the caracoles season lasts for just two months of the year – May and June. During these months, bars and restaurants across Seville are adorned with signs announcing ‘Hay Caracoles’ (we have snails) and locals enjoy them as regular snacks. They are cooked in a spicy broth and then served hot – delicious!
Jamón Iberico de Bellota (Acorn-Fed Iberian Ham)
The Spanish are well-known for their love of ham and it is smoked, cured, cooked and then served in a variety of different ways. With that said, no tapas sampling would be complete without jamón. This particular ham comes from free range black-hoofed Iberian pigs which are fed solely on a diet of acorns. This ultimately results in a delicious nutty ham which is often enjoyed on toast or on its own.
Carrillada de Cerdo (Pork Cheek)
Like bull’s tail, the pork cheeks are slow-cooked in a rich tomato sauce with onion and root vegetables. It’s a hugely popular dish with locals in Seville and one you’re likely to find on most tapas menus. It can also be ordered as a larger meal in many restaurants, too.
At a glance, these look like your typical potato croquettes, but on closer inspection you’ll see that there is so much more to these yummy snacks. Although they originally came from Cordoba, Seville’s tapas bars have put their own spin on them and created an Andalusian classic. Iberian cured ham and goats cheese are rolled in pork loin, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and then fried. It’s not the healthiest of Spanish dishes, but it’s worth trying. Apparently, it is named after Charles V´s Flemish assistants, whose light hair and complexions were a similar colour to the Flamenquine’s exterior.
Cazón en Adobo (Fried Dogfish)
One of the most traditional tapas dishes in Seville, but rarely found outside of Andalusia, this tender white fish is covered in a light batter and fried. It’s known in the English language as dogfish or shark fish and best served warm with a cool beer.
Aegean Odyssey will visit the Mediterranean and call to Seville on numerous sailings in 2018; you can view the full list in the Western Mediterranean section on our website.