Archive for the Seville Province Category

Carmona – where and what to eat

Posted in Andalusia, Carmona, Seville Province, Spain with tags , , on November 8, 2017 by gannet39

I was only in Carmona for two nights so, as ever, please don’t consider this a complete guide to the food scene, just a snapshot of my experiences. I’ve put everywhere on this map.

In terms of ingredients the area around the town is known for producing olive oil and good quality pork. Wild meats such as venison also feature frequently in the local diet.

I picked up a bottle of local oil from this shop next to the Puerto Sevilla. The tourist information office next door also sells it, but I think it costs a bit more.

La Yedra (High Intermediate B+), 6 Calle General Freire,

I think this is the best place in town, recommended by both Michelin and Guia Repsol. I liked the food but the best aspect for me was sitting outside in the pretty courtyard. Reservations might be a good idea as it’s quite popular with tourists.

I began with a glass of Oloroso and a tapa of Queso (B+).

The ‘Arroz Cremoso’, a risotto with boletus mushrooms, spinach and white truffle essence, was quite nice (B).

And I enoyed the ‘Paletilla de Cordero con Patatas Panadera’ (lamb shoulder with baked potatoes) too (B).

A bottle of Beronia Rioja went well.

With a final glass of Carlos III brandy, the bill came to €64.

The service was efficient and English speaking, although they could be a bit more welcoming. A good experience overall but make sure you book a table outside.

La Almazara de Carmona (Upper Intermediate B+), 33 Calle Santa Ana

This is another Michelin and Guia Repsol recommendation, located in an old restored mill. It’s slightly formal, with waiters in white tunics with silver buttons, but not stuffy.

The décor in the restaurant was a bit too chintzy for me so I opted for the less fancy tapas bar where I could get smaller portions and try more things.

I started with a glass of Oloroso sherry and a tapa of Jamon Iberico de Bellota (B+) from Sanchez Romero Carvajal, a producer from Huelva with over 130 years of history.

The ‘Chiperones de Anzuelo, Callos de Ternera y Manitas con Alioli de su Tinta’ or line-caught baby squid stuffed with veal tripe and pigs trotters served with an alioli made with its ink, was interesting even if it didn’t look great (B).

Also the ‘Cordero Guisado a Nuestro Estilo con Cous Cous Primaveral y Salsa de Yogurt y Menta’ or lamb stewed in the house style with a Spring couscous with yogurt and mint sauce (B).

My favourite tapa was the ‘Arroz Crujiente Cola de Toro’ or crunchy rice with bull’s tail (B+).

‘Beso de Vino’, a Syrah/Garnacha blend, was okay (B).

I really liked their Ribera by Lopez Cristobal (B+).

Feeling the need for a sweet I had their acclaimed ‘Torrija de Brioche Caramelizada con Helado de Tres Sensaciones’ or French toast made with caramelised brioche and served with ‘three sensations’ ice cream (B+) and a glass of PX.

Finally, a glass of Luis Felipe Licor (B+) which, along with normal Luis Felipe brandy (A+), is only €8 a glass here. You can often expect to pay double elsewhere.

Total cost €45 which was fine given the quality. I’d come again.

Bar Goya (Intermediate B), 2 Calle Prim,

This is an ordinary, everyday place located in a pleasant ceramic tiled building on the main square (just a few minutes’ walk from the Hotel Descalzas). It was recommended by the local school owners I was working with, and generally seems to be the people’s choice.

I came for lunch and had tapas of Jamon Bellota (B) and some very powerful cheese (B-) followed by half portions of grilled peppers (B) and Albondigas (B) with chips (B+).

With three medium beers the cost came to €26. Everything was cheap and good. This is the easy everyday choice that my colleagues would probably favour.

So a very brief stay during which I ate well but not amazingly so. It would have been nice to stay longer and become more familiar with the local cuisine.

Carmona – walking around the old town

Posted in Andalusia, Carmona, Seville Province, Spain with tags , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2017 by gannet39

Carmona is a beautiful historical town 33km north-east of Seville. Believed to be founded by the Tartessians, the town was later inhabited by the Carthaginians (Phonecians), Romans and Moors, all of whom have left their imprint.

Perhaps the first thing you’ll see when arriving by road is the bell tower of the Iglesia de San Pedro. The church is also known as the Giraldilla due to its similarity to the Giralda of Seville (my Giralda post is here).



Over the road from the church, perhaps a more famous sight is the Puerta de Sevilla, originally constructed by the Carthaginians but with Roman and Moorish modifications. I think I read somewhere the arch was already 500 years old when the Romans arrived!

The gate is part of the wall of the Alcázar de Abajo, the lower fort built by the Moors.

The tourist information is located here, and if you go in you can purchase a 2€ ticket to get into the Torre del Oro, the tower above the gate. You can click on these photos to go full screen. I particularly like the ones that caught the swallows.


I took this short video up there as well to capture the atmosphere created by the swallows.

You can get great views over the town and surrounding countryside from up here. Click on them to enlarge.


In the tower there’s a banner depicting a griffin which has become a symbol of Carmona. The image was originally found on a sixth century BC Tartessian vase, ‘El Vaso de los Grifos’, that can be seen in the local museum Museo De La Ciudad De Carmona

From here narrow streets lead upwards to the centre of the town.

Plaza de los Abastos, the market square, is pretty, but I think I missed the market as it was very quiet.

At the top of the hill on the highest point is the Alcázar del Rey Don Pedro which is now a parador (government owned hotel in a historic building)

The fort has its own imposing gate.

Many other impressive doorways are dotted around town (click to enlarge).


In the central courtyard of the town hall, the Ayuntamiento de Carmona, you can see (from a distance, behind glass) a large Roman mosaic depicting the gorgon Medusa which is in excellent condition. This blog post from the web has a better picture and some interesting archaeological information.

There are a lot more sights that I didn’t have time to check out, so another visit is required!

I was put up at the Hotel El Rincon de las Descalzas, a beautiful fifteenth century palace that’s a short walk from the central square. Definitely recommended.

Not a lot in Lora del Río

Posted in Andalusia, Lora del Río, Seville Province, Spain with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2017 by gannet39

Lora del Rio is a small town in Seville province. There’s nothing to see or do and I didn’t eat particularly well but the people are really lovely and friendly.

Originally I was supposed to stay at the Hotel El Alamo which on paper seems to be the best place in town. A bit of research on Google Earth however showed it to be a truckers’ motel way out in the outskirts. Further investigations couldn’t find any pavements along the road to town, making walking anywhere rather dangerous.

Thankfully I persuaded my employer to let me stay in a small pension in the town centre called Pension La Portuguesa It has no stars but it’s within walking distance of the train station and just three minutes’ walk from the school I was working at. The breakfast is just a tostada and coffee and the WiFi is very temperamental but at least I had places to go in the evenings.

You could also stay at Hostal Restaurante Vera Cruz which is very handy for the station. It’s also a tapas bar which seemed okay when I popped in for a drink. The neo-Mudejar construction was the nicest building I saw during my stay.

Google map here.

In terms of places to eat…

Taberna Javi Garcia (Intermediate B+), 21 Calle Marcos Orbaneja

This is the best place in town by a mile and I would have eaten here every night if I’d known but I didn’t discover it until quite late. It has a pleasant terrace outside, next to a fountain, which separates it from the road.

The service was efficient and friendly and the tapas recommended to me were simple but good. I enjoyed the Jamon Iberico (A) and their chips are pretty decent (A).

This is ‘Presa Ibérica con Queso de Cabra y Cebolla Caramelizada’ or pork shoulder with goat cheese and caramelized onion (B+).

Here we have ‘Solomillo Wellington con Salsa de Queso’ or sirloin with cheese sauce (B+). Not sure what the Wellington connection is as there’s no pastry involved.

I tried a couple of kinds of Anis here and decided I prefer the dry to the sweet versions. It seems they vary in strength as well. This ‘El Clavel’ Anis Seco by Cazalla was 49% whereas the Dulce by the same distillery is only 35%.

Los Alemanes (Intermediate B), 1 Avenida de la Cruz

This was the first choice of the students and teachers at the school I was working at, not sure why. I bumped into them all drinking here and was quickly roped in for a couple of jars! The food is okay (the Presa Iberica was pretty good) but it’s probably popular because the owner is a nice guy. Plenty of space to sit outside too.

And a couple to avoid…

Taberna de Currito (Intermediate C), 11 Calle Fuenfría

This place was virtually empty but I came in because they were showing the Euoropean Championship on telly. There’s no other reason for coming here that I’m aware of. I wouldn’t come again as the service wasn’t very friendly, although Spain losing one-nil to Italy probably didn’t help. I had some Jamon Bellota which was fine (B).

Restaurante Medieval (Intermediate C), 2 Calle Sierra de Andújar,

I ate here a couple of times as it’s opposite the school I was working at. The food was fine but nothing special. The medieval concept is just a gimmick although it suits the cavernous interior of the restaurant.

La Bicicleta (Intermediate B), 21 Avenida Prim, NOW CLOSED!

This gastrobar had pretensions but obviously didn’t live up to them as it has closed since I ate there. They had some nice ideas, like these Capirotes de Langostinos, but they weren’t that amazing (B). Their Croquetas were too salty and had no structural integrity so I returned them (D).

I was supposed to stay in Lora for three nights but I sloped off to Puerto de Santa Maria for the weekend as it’s a much nicer place to be (see next post). It’s easy to get to as it’s on the same train line.

Good eating in Utrera

Posted in Andalusia, Seville Province, Spain, Utrera with tags , , , , , , on October 31, 2017 by gannet39

Utrera is a fair sized historical town in Seville province that is famous for flamenco and bull fighting. Tourists also come to see the castle but I’m not sure why as there’s not much to see. Personally I spent the day time hours when I wasn’t working inside avoiding the baking heat and this is in mid-June before the summer had started in earnest. Google map here.

The Iglesia de Santiago, next to the castle, is the main church.

You can see storks’ nests on top of some of the highest spires.

The town is also known for the mostachón, a kind of small flattened cake or Arab origin made with sugar and cinnamon. There are two bakeries in Plaza del Altozano that sell them but I was always working during opening hours so I didn’t get to try them.

I spent five nights at the Hotel Veracruz which is the best (only?) place in town. Located in a nice old town house, the staff are friendly and the breakfast is okay.

I ate pretty well while I was here…

Besana Tapas (Intermediate B+), 1Calle Niño Perdido,

The bar is tucked down an alley near the main square. It can be a challenge to catch them open as they’re closed all day Sunday and Monday, and only open for lunch Thursday to Saturday.

I think this is the best place in town. It gets recommendations from Michelin, Guia Repsol and a school owner who told me that people travel from Seville to eat the tapas here. I was certainly impressed with the food. Innovation fused with tradition. Great flavours and presentation.

‘Timbal de Habitas con Papada Ibérica, Migas y Menta’ or timbal of broad beans with pig cheeks, breadcrumbs and mint (A).

‘Mollejas Glaseadas con Queso de Cabra y Setas Salteadas’ or glazed sweetbreads with goat cheese and sauteed mushrooms (A+).

‘Cochinillo Asado con Col Lombarda Fermentada’ aka roasted suckling pig with fermented red cabbage (B+).

They have many other better wines but I went for the Andalucian reds by the glass. An old friend from Cortijo Los Aguilares, Ronda was my favourite (B+).

‘Garum’ from Bodegas Luis Pérez in Cádiz is another good one (B).

The ‘Vino Tinto’ from Marcelino Serrano in Jaen was drinkable (C).

The award for the worst wine, both in name and flavour, went to ‘Tetas de la Sacristana’ (D). It was explained to me that the sacristana is the old lady who accompanies the priest during ceremonies. She’s not meant to be attractive as this could divert the attention of the priest, so her ‘tetas’ are probably not the most appealing thing to look at. I think the bottle had been on the shelf for a while as the wine was undrinkable. They didn’t charge me though.

Total cost for three tapas and three glasses of wine €22.

So except for that last blip, I heartily recommend this great tapas bar.

El Arco (Intermediate B+), 35 Calle San Fernando,

‘The Arch’ is another very good tapas bar. It’s more traditional than Besana so a good place to try local specialities. I came with my friend Juan, a local school owner, who helped me to choose.

Huevos a la Flamenca‘ are usually fried, but here boiled, eggs with a sauce of red peppers and tomatoes.

‘Croquetas de Pringá’, croquettes made from the leftovers of a local stew, are always a winner with me.

I think this is their ‘Chorizo al Estilo de la Casa’, or chorizo done in the house style (B+). Chickpeas are a very popular ingredient in Andalusia.

The ‘Pastel de Queso de Cabra con Papaya y Mousse de Pato Caramelizado’ or goat’s cheese with papaya and caramelised mousse of duck, was a rare change from tradition (B+).

They have a large selection of wines by the glass. We enjoyed a decent Ribera del Duero called ‘Finca Resalso’ by Emilio Moro (B).

And finally some ‘Queso Romero’, an aged cheese cured in oil from Cuenca, east of Madrid (B+).

On another occasion we had their ‘Cabrillas en Salsa’, big snails in a tomato sauce (B)and the ‘Adobitos’, chunks of vinegared and fried dogfish (B-).

My second favourite spot. Definitely worth the short walk from the centre of town. They have a restaurant in a separate building nearby which I’d like to try next time.

As an aside, Juan recommended one of his favourite red wines ‘Tomas Postigo’ which retails in Spain at about €20.

La Brasa (Intermediate B), 45 Calle Rubén Darío,

I’m guessing this traditional restaurant is a bit of a local institution as it’s the most reviewed place on TripAdvisor. I came for Sunday lunch of Spanish classics.

I started with a half portion of ‘Croquetas Caseras’ (B).

For the main, the ‘Parrillada de Verduras’ (grilled veg) and the always satisfying ‘Cochinillo Lechal Asado’, or roast suckling pig (B+).

To drink, an okay Ribera del Duero called ‘Melior de Matarromera’ (B).

To finish, ‘Flan de Huevo y Coco’; a caramel pudding with squirty cream, and a complimentary flask of Orujo des Hierbas (B).

Total cost 40€. All buttons were well and truly pressed. Recommended.

La Herradura (Intermediate B), 11 Calle La Corredera

This is a busy tapas bar just over the road from the hotel. You can sit outside on the pavement if you arrive early. Really there needs to be two of you to eat their parrilladas and rice dishes, the former being highly recommended but too much for a single diner like me.

I tried some more local classics like ‘Carrillera de Iberico al Vino Oloroso’ or pig cheeks with aged sherry and whole peppercorns (B+).

Espincas con Garbanzos a la Sevillana’ or spinach with chickpeas in the Sevillian style, is also very typical (B).

‘Tataki de Presa Iberica con Salmorejo de Habas’ or seared pork shoulder with a ‘soup’ of broad beans (B+).

A good spot, recommended.

And a few places to be aware of, or avoid:

La Fábrica de Nieve aka Asador Pinto (Intermediate C+), 27 Calle La Corredera

This is a grill house just over the road from the hotel. I wouldn’t particularly recommend the food, they burned my Parrilla Iberica (C-/D), but you can sit outside in the big courtyard which is a blessing when the weather is hot. I used it as a pub and came to watch England draw nil-nil with Slovakia in the opening game of the 2016 European Championship. Something to note is that Cervezas and Jarras both cost the same, 2€.

Casa Diego (C+), 33 María Auxiliadora

According to TripAdvisor, this place has a good local rep but I wasn’t that impressed. The best thing is the large terrace in the courtyard outside where I watched Spain go down 2-1 to Croatia in the Euros.

I had the ‘Berenjenas con Salmorejo’, ‘Jamon y Huevos de Cordoniz’ (B-)…

… and the ‘Croquetas del Puchero’ (B), ‘Hamburguesita de Buey’ (C+) and a decent bottle of Rueda (B). They tried to charge me for the ‘Pavia de Merluza’ even though I’d sent it back for not being fresh (D) but removed it from the bill when I protested. Total cost was 20€ which is admittedly very cheap.

Cervecería Carlos (Intermediate C), 17 Calle la Corredera,

Another tapas bar near the hotel. They have a few TV screens (the best spot is in the yard out back) so it was busy with football fans when I went. I began with a beer and was maybe going to eat but the guy behind the bar wasn’t very welcoming so I went elsewhere.

So, good food can be had in Utrera if you know where to go. Choose carefully is my advice,,,

A short layover in Lebrija

Posted in Andalusia, Lebrija, Seville Province, Spain with tags , , , on March 12, 2017 by gannet39

Lebrija is a small agricultural town in Seville province that doesn’t seem to have much going on. I was only here briefly for two nights in April 2016 but I managed to scratch the surface a little. Here’s my Google map.


The main sights are ‘La Giraldilla’ which as the name suggests is a smaller version of the campanile of Seville cathedral (a very famous symbol of the city).


Next to it is the Basilica de Santa Maria de la Oliva which I’m told is one of the more impressive churches in the province, although I didn’t get a chance to see it.


Other than this Lebrija isn’t particularly beautiful. For me the nicest building I saw was this old bakery, Panaficadora San Benito, at 123 Calle Corredera.


Lebrija is a sherry town, although it’s not allowed to use the name as its geographic location is outside the official Jerez DO. This was remedied in part by the town eventually getting its own DO after many years of lobbying.

The largest bodega is Bodegas González Palacios at 60 Calle Virgen de Consolación, which is open to the public from 09.30 to 14.00 Monday to Friday, although you might have to reserve by phone (955 972 517). They are on the Ruta del Vino y Brandy del Marco de Jerez. Sadly I didn’t intersect with their opening times.

However, with a bit of research I managed to find a smaller bodega where you can go for a drink called Bodegas Andres Ahumada at 10 Calle Marines, a small alley off Calle Tetuan.

Keep an eye out for this sign on the right as you walk down the alley from Tetuan…


…then go through this open gate and turn immediate left and go through the door that takes you to the atmospheric barrel room.


This is where all the old boys hang out in the evenings to chat and watch football on the telly. They were pretty gobsmacked to see me, probably because Lebrija gets very few foreign tourists and because this isn’t exactly an easy place to find. It’s a great spot to experience a bit of local culture. Here’s a video to give you more of an idea.


I tried copitas (small glasses) of all their sherries. I’m not usually a fan of Fino (I’m still learning) but theirs was more enjoyable than others I’d had (B).


You can get crisps, charcuterie (B/C) on bread…


… and some rather bitter Lupinas (B) to nibble on with your wine but there’s nothing cooked.


Their Oloroso Seco was great as was their Oloroso Dulce (both B+). I was given their Pedro Ximenez to compare with the latter and it was the best of their wines so far (A). I should have got a bottle but I was travelling light.


I asked if they had anything else I could try and was given a glass of ‘Settembre’ (?) a “muy, muy, muy joven” fino which explains why it tasted so awful (C-). It was an interesting experience though. Definitely come here if you can.

I was put up at the Hotel LB Lebrija at 10 Avenida Juan Pena , www.lblebrija which is owned by Juan Ramón López Caro, a former manager of Real Madrid. The rooms are modern and stylish but there is no breakfast to speak of, just some prepackaged cakes and a kettle on the reception desk. There is no 24-hour reception (a new trend in Spain since the economic crisis?) so entrance is via a security code for the door, which means you’ll be locked out if you forget or lose it.

Venta Luis Rey (Intermediate B), 1 Avenida Las Cabezas, closed on Wednesdays.

Happily Venta Luis Rey, the best restaurant in town according to the school owners I worked at (although they might be biased as their son works there), is just over the road from the hotel. I found the food to be pretty good and they had functioning WiFi, unlike the hotel.

Their Jamon Bellota is excellent (A)…


…and I also enjoyed their Lasana de Berenjenas (B+), made with deep-fried aubergines with a filling of, I think, breadcrumbs fried with diced pork of some kind.


The Ensalada Mixta (B) had ‘Caballa’ (mackerel) on top which is apparently how it often comes in Cadiz and Huelva provinces. It was fine (B) but I’m sure it’d be better during tomato season.


This local red, ‘Overo’ from Bodegas González Palacios (see above) was okay (B-) but it had tasted better (B+) for some reason when I’d had it at ConTenedor in Seville.


I wasn’t too keen on their oversalted Albondigas de la Casa (C+) which was a shame as I usually love them.


I finished with some Manchego which was made with a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk.


So, a brief but interesting stop, and I’m sure there’s more if you have time to dig deeper, but I was happy to move on…

Seville – Casco Antiguo – Santa Cruz – around and about

Posted in Andalusia, Casco Antiguo, Santa Cruz, Seville, Seville Province, Spain with tags , , , , , on February 24, 2017 by gannet39

Generally Barrio Santa Cruz is thought to correspond to La Juderia, the area east of the cathedral, but in fact its administrative area covers a much larger zone, so I’ve had to break it down into four posts. My post on La Juderia is here, Placa de Espania here and the cathedral area here. This post covers some of the remaining area.

Map of the barrios here, my Google map here.

Walking from Triana, I crossed over the river on the Puente de San Telmo and walked straight ahead to the Puerto de Jerez. In this square you’ll find the Fuente de Hispalis, sculpted by Manuel Delgado Brackenbury in 1928.


Turning right from here, the facade of the opulent Hotel Alfonso XIII is worth a look. I’d love to stay here one day.


Continuing along Avenida Roma, you come to the stunning doorway of Palacio de San Telmo.


Construction of the Baroque building begain in 1682 but this Churrigueresque entrance dates from 1754.


The florid decoration includes a balcony supported by an Atlantes; a support sculpted in the form of a man.


One block east is the Real Fábrica de Tabacos which now houses the Universidad de Seville. Tourists are allowed in for free via the main entrance on Calle San Fernando.


When construction began in 1728 it was the first tobacco factory in Europe.


Generally it is of a Renaissance design but the impressive main facade is Baroque.


The sculptures are by the Portuguese architect Cayetano de Acosta.


He is also responsible for the fountains in the courtyard.



Due south from here is the Teatro Lope de Vega, a Baroque theatre built for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, with its pretty tiled dome.


If you cross to the other side of the roundabout you’ll come to one of the entrances of Parque de María Luisa. There are some beautiful statues around the entrance gate.


Walk through here and you’ll come to Plaza de España (see separate post).

There’s lots more to see around here but these were my highlights.

Seville – Casco Antiguo – Santa Cruz – La Judería

Posted in Andalusia, Casco Antiguo, La Judería, Santa Cruz, Seville, Seville Province, Spain with tags , , , on February 23, 2017 by gannet39

La Judería was once the Jewish Quarter. It’s located in the barrio of Santa Cruz, located to the east and south east of the Cathedral and the Alcazar (see separate post).


Many people will access the barrio by walking up Calle Mateos Gago which has some impressive buildings.


Map of the barrios here, my Google map here.

The former ghetto is a maze of small streets and alleys that open into small squares. One of the prettiest is Plaza de Doña Elvira.


It’s a lovely spot to sit and relax in a cafe, or on one of the ceramic-tiled benches.


Another nice square is Plaza Santa Cruz.


In the centre of the square is a beautiful wrought iron sculpture called La Cruz de la Cerrajeríaor, or The Cross of the Locksmith in English.


It was made by Sebastián Conde in 1692 and was originally located in Calle Sierpes in the centre.


There are some nice houses around the square…


… with traditional windows known as balcones cerrados.


Large mansions are everywhere.


Some have lovely courtyards.


Many houses are painted in yellow and white which seems to be the colour theme for the neighbourhood.


There are lots of picturesque restaurants dotted around.


They’re all very touristy but this one is worth a visit.

Las Teresas (Intermediate A), 3 Calle Santa Teresa

This bar was founded in 1870 and has been run by the same family since 1920.


I love the beautiful interior.


… with the hams hanging from the ceiling.


I popped in for a glass of a favourite sherry of mine; Solera 1847 Cream (A)…


… and some Huevas Alinadas, or Hake Roe, a classic dish of Cadiz. To be honest I wasn’t really a fan (C-) but I wanted to try them. I’m sure all the other things on the menu are great.


This is just one of four posts on Barrio Santa Cruz, there’s lots more to see!


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