Sevilla Old and New

When I told the taxi driver that I suffered cold and rainy days in Sevilla in 2010 he laughed and said I must have been incredibly unlucky.  It never rains in Sevilla and it’s always beautiful, he said.  But walking around with my feet wet and shivering is what I remember the most.  Of course I visited the cathedral, the fine arts museum, and ate a lot but I also never made it to the Real Alcàzar de Sevilla (well, I did but a portion of it was shut down and since we were going to Alhambra we passed on it), or see a flamenco show.  So it was great that I was back in Sevilla again (this time with fantastic weather) to do some of the things I didn’t get to do two years ago.

I’ve written numerous times about my love of breakfast and even posted once on how much I enjoyed pan y tomate in Spain.  This morning I took my whole family to a café I like in Sevilla called Café Rayuela.  Paula and I happened to just come upon it one morning, and I wondered if it was still there and whether it was still good.  It’s not on the main tourist thoroughfare; it’s just on a little side street right along the walls of the Alcázar and if you time it right (we were lucky), you can grab a table inside or outside when the weather is good.  But there are always locals standing around by the counter and if I went by myself, I would have done the same.  The service was as gruff as I remembered it (the same lady who waited on us the last time) but the coffee guy was still nice and friendly, and I absolutely LOVE their pan y tomate.  The bread is perfectly toasted and I don’t know what they do to their tomatoes but it’s not too watery and it’s not too dry, and it has the perfect balance of pulp and puree.  A drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt on top make it even better.  With a hot cup of  cortado in your belly and a full portion of pan y tomate, you are ready to take on the world!

We ate quickly so that we could get to the Alcázar before any tour groups arrived; it was a good thing because if I didn’t have a reason to leave I would have ordered another round.  When we left the café, there was a long line of locals waiting for our tables…

It’s not a coffee pot.  It contains olive oil. When you’re done it’s polite to take it back to the counter for  the other customers to drizzle over their bread.

Real Alcázar de Sevilla.  It’s really not as impressive as Alhambra but it’s still a great place to visit, and the gardens are definitely worth exploring for a while, too.

Those are orange trees; you see them everywhere in Sevilla. They’re too bitter to eat but they are used to make marmalade.

I let the seniors take their time in the garden and ran over to this little shop to get some cookies for them.  How can you pass up cookies baked at a monastery by nuns?  You have to look for an entrance alleyway across the street from the Sevilla Cathedral to find this place.  It’s like a little treasure hunt; you walk through the dark passage and then are greeted by this!

After I picking up the seniors back at the Alcázar, we walked through the part of Santa Cruz we hadn’t yet strolled by.  More narrow streets, quaint plazas, and old houses with open courtyards, corner cafes where local seniors hang out…  so fun!  But we couldn’t stay for too long because I was going to take a long “scenic route” to our lunch destination.

Az-Zait is literally two blocks away from where we dined the evening before, Eslava.  But to get there we boarded a bus that crossed the river to Triana and then crossed back over.  I thought it was a nice way to see that part of town during the day and get a glimpse of the local life in Sevilla, which as tourists don’t normally get to experience.  All the historic sites and beautiful old buildings are on one side of the river and Triana looks like it could be any semi-suburban town you might find in Europe.  No tourists with cameras and guidebooks, just everyday people going about their business.

Our lunch was lovely but really quiet.  There were just two other diners in the entire restaurant seated way over yonder.  I suppose we could have opted to have dinner there and lunch at Eslava, but that’s just the way it went.  We did the tasting menu and the food was good, nothing to fault or hate or overly gush over, just good.  The standout for me was the salmorejo, the cold gazpacho-like soup from Córdoba.  We thought the version we had at Vinería San Telmo was good but the salmorejo at Az-Zait kicked butt!  It was so much better in every way.  It was punchier, brighter, and had more depth.  If the food at Eslava was traditional Spanish, I would categorize Az-Zait (and also Vinería San Telmo) as decidedly more contemporary Spanish.  It’s not molecular gastronomy or even what José Andrés does, but it was nice to see this side of Sevilla.

Amuse of gin & tonic gelée and delectable salmorejo at Az-Zait.

Fish course & meat course.

Dessert, petit fours, and moscatel.

The ladies really wanted to do a bit of shopping (read: more food souvenirs) so naturally we headed over to El Corte Ingles once again.  We meant to take the bus back to the hotel but after waiting for a while we decided to walk.  I’m glad we did.  Otherwise we would have missed this modern architectural marvel, metropol parasol.  Very cool and unexpected in Sevilla.

It’s always good to feel lingering curiosity for a city you just visited, right?  I would return to Sevilla and to this part of Spain again.  I still have the Basilica Macarena, Casa de Pilatos, long evening paseos along the river, maybe not a bull fight, but certainly Iglesia Colegial del Salvador (haven’t gone inside!), more time walking around and getting lost in barrio Santa Cruz, and the list goes on.  Besides, I will need to hop over to Córdoba next time, visit señor Jorge and his lovely wife Sally in Marbella (I’m so sorry to have missed your birthday festivities.. I was so close to by!), and travel to Jerez de la Frontera and out to Cadiz.  Oh Spain.  I “heart” you so much!  Good bye for now.  We leave you to board our teeny tiny plane to Lisboa, Portugal…

Real Alcázar de Sevilla: Plaza del Triunfo, Seville, Spain

Restaurante Az-Zait: Plaza de San Lorenzo, 1, Seville, Spain

Espacio Metropol Parasol: Plaza de la Encarnación, Seville, Spain

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2 Responses to Sevilla Old and New

  1. Jessica says:

    Nice shots! I’m glad you got to go back to the Alcázar; I studied abroad in Sevilla and it’s my favorite thing in the entire city. Hope you get to go to Córdoba and Cádiz too, they’re great!

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