A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros

Finger-licking Seville and Environs

With the huge, varied offerings in its restaurants, Seville is well worth a culinary visit. From the oldest in the city, Rinconcillo (Calle Gerona, 40. Seville), where the waiters write your order down on the bar counter with a piece of chalk, to the modern Eslava (Calle Eslava, 3-5. Seville), award-winner for such tapas as Un cigarro para Bécquer (a cigar for Bécquer), which emulates a cigar, made of brik pastry filled with algae, cuttlefish and squid-ink calamari.

Then there is the canned fare of La Flor de Toranzo (Calle Jimios, 1-3), the varied side-dishes of Catalina Casa de Comidas y Más (Plaza Padre Jerónimo de Córdoba, 12. Seville) and the legendary piripi (sousing) at Bodeguita Antonio Romero (Calle Antonio Díaz, 5, Antonio Díaz, 19 y Gamazo, 16. Seville), a bread roll filled with bacon, cheese, tomato and mayonnaise, with a touch of garlic and pork fillet.

If Seville is worth visiting, its environs also deserve a culinary tour, either to taste the local fare or to find out more about such emblematic products as their cured ham.

At Sanlúcar la Mayor, some 25 kilometres from Seville, is the restaurant Alhucemas (Avenida del Polideportivo, 4. Sanlúcar la Mayor), an eatery serving deep-fries which, according to many chefs, have the best fried fish in Spain. While they have not yet earned a Michelin star, the managers are regulars at gastronomic congresses, where they reveal their culinary secrets. The restaurant is also frequented by shrine pilgrims seeking their spicy skewered meat known aspinchos morunos,and their lobster salad.

A bit further afield – just one hour away by car – is the must-see ham museum unveiled five months ago at the Cinco Jotas (Calle San Juan del Puerto, s/n), in Jabugo, Huelva. The trip is rewarding as it reveals all the secrets of the production and curing of 100% Iberian bellota ham via a series of talking panels, graphics, videos, interactive screens and a 12-metre-long cyclorama which plunges you into the meadows where the hogs roam free… There are three unforgettable moments: walking through the impressive cellar, where 50,000 (maybe more) legs of ham are kept, the room where a contest is held – with screens, as if in a TV set – where visitors are quizzed about what they see and awarded virtual slices of ham, and the end of the visit, where you are treated to a tasty delicacy, washed down with red wine or sherry.

Nearby the museum you can visit the Gruta de las Maravillas (Calle Pozo de la Nieve, s/n. Aracena) in Aracena, a complex of monumental, millenary caves with interior lakes and figures so incredible they seem hallucinatory. You can have lunch at the Arrieros restaurant (Arrieros, 2. Linares de la Sierra) in Linares de la Sierra, where they serve one of the best hamburgers in Spain, made of tenderloin and field mushrooms. (According to Martín Berasategui, it’s the best hamburger he’s ever tasted, and he must be right.) Indeed, the menu is based on Iberian pork, field mushrooms, fruit and vegetables from their allotment and local aromatic herbs. In a nutshell, what their chef, Luismi López, describes as alta cocina serrana (“highland haute cuisine”), which materialises in the form of excellent dishes, notably Iberian game carpaccio, foie gras and vinaigrette del Condado, tomato soup, strawberry gazpacho, scrambled blood sausage and king prawns, toast with semi-cured cheese and herbs…

Text and images Ferran Imedio (Gastronomistas)