Devour Seville Food Tours - Seville, Spain
Travel & Lust is about sharing boutique and genuine travel experiences that encourages holiday goers to engage in the local's way of life. We love the angle Devour Seville has taken, combining culinary walking tours (the best way to see the city) with a hint of cultural sight seeing. The whole 4 hours of the tour was captivating and entertaining as we bar hopped through 9 different food points, and had time in between to view some of the nooks and crannies Seville has to offer.
We have experienced the Andalusian capital many times before, but the depths of the tour allowed us to experience the city at a whole new level. There are an estimated 5,000 bars in Seville city alone, and with this overwhelming fact you may very well need a bit of orientation when it comes to eating at some of the best places. Devour Seville has cultivated a natural relationship with local businesses in the city, therefore the food tours are a nourishment to traditional backbone spots, keeping family-run businesses in the limelight. We recommend you book a food tour at the beginning of your stay in Seville, as you will surely want to make a reservation with some of the restaurants you will come across (as we sure did). Additionally, the tour guide will give you advice on how to make reservations for some monumental sight seeing, and show you how to skip the line for some key sites. Very importantly as well, it is best you wear proper foot wear as most of the inner city roadways are cobbled streets.
We had the first meet at 10 a.m. in the morning at the controversial Parasol Metropol, or otherwise known as Incarnación's mushrooms (Las Setas de la Encarnación). The structure was designed by the famous German architect Jürgen Mayerand, making it a monumental statement with its staggering dimensions and popularity for claiming to be the largest wooden structure in the world. Our guide Jaimie, hosted us along with a family from Chicago and a couple from Hong Kong. Everyone kindly introduced themselves and thanks to Jaimie's charisma, we were all conversing with each other throughout the tour and learning about each other's travel experiences in the Andalusian city.
The first food point was at a famous bar Bodega El Picadero (you will find many bars in Seville with the same name, this is near the Parasol Metropol). We had a light brekkie with a cup of coffee and a tostá de pringá. This is a slice of bread with chopped toppings consisting of finely cut sausages, blood pudding and bacon with strips of red peppers. This is a family business that began with the elaboration and distribution of wines and spirits more than 75 years ago from the Aljarafeño enclave of Villanueva del Ariscal, just 15 kms from Seville. Mr. Antonio García Castro, mentor of this firm, leaves to his sons D. Juan Antonio and D. Augusto García Sequeiros the reins of the business and they, back in 1975, decide to expand their activity in the hospitality industry to serve directly to the public. As with their tapas, they have a great variety of sausages, tender beef, Iberian ham, anchovies, smoked food, preserves, products of the Iberian pig and manchegos cheese, blue and goat cheese are offered here as well. This is traditional Sevilla (Spanish for Seville) at its best, and you can learn a lot about the locals from just ordering your breakfasts here.
Our next stop was at the underground food market below the Parasol Metropol in Plaza de la Encarnación. We experienced the art of ham slicing, from the ham-carving professional named David. This is a cultural phenomenon that is taken very seriously in Spain's gastronomy. The owner of the market stall is Gema Alastuey, originally from Huelva. Her family has been involved in raising pigs and producing ham since she was very young, and she has always wanted to be involved in the family profession. Gema´s strong connection with Seville has always been about ham and her work. We were offered two trays of the buttery jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn-fed Iberian ham), it was beyond delicious with bread sticks to fill us up until the next stop. Our tour guide Jaimie translated as David explained the importance of cutting ham correctly, as it affects the texture, taste and even in determining how long the ham can survive in the kitchen.
We tried mojama and chicharrones de Cádiz at the little Taberna Álvaro Peregil - La Goleta, this little bar can be found near the cathedral. The word mojama comes from the Arabic musama (dry), but its origins are Phoenician, specifically from Gdr (Gadir, Cádiz today), the first Phoenician settlement in the Western Mediterranean Sea. The Phoenicians had learned to dry tuna in sea salt to prepare it for trade. Mojama is made using the loins of the tuna by curing them in salt for two days. The salt is then removed, the loins are washed and then laid out to dry in the sun and the breeze (according to the traditional method) for fifteen to twenty days. The chicharrones de Cádiz are belly of pork, served with lemon juice and cumin, typical in the province of Cádiz, only 1 hour drive from Seville.
We continued the tour to a cloistered nuns' convent that has sparked equal parts curiosity and impressions. Through a wooden closed window, Jaimie put money on a lazy Susan and ordered a box of yema de huevos y azúcar (egg yolk and sugar). This tasty combination is actually quite filling and addictive to say the least. If you happen to stop by a convent, be on the look out for all kinds of tasty selections such as the naranjitos, an almond-based cookie with bits of orange or mazapanes, a candy that is made of either peanuts, almonds or pistachios. The nun's recipes come from the times of the Romans and Moors, which has been preserved over the years. Unfortunately, many convents are closing because they have fewer nuns, so please do make an effort to buy sweets at the convents.
We cut through a section of the Jewish quarter and were explained that Seville had the biggest Jewish community in all of Spain. After walking through the labyrinth of cobbled streets and narrow sidewalks, we came across a well famed taberna (tavern) that serenades their walls with Holy Week processions and photos. We drank a large glass of a ruby coloured sangria (alcoholic beverage with red wine and chopped fruits) with aromas of fresh citrus. There was a selection of montaditos (small sandwiches) to indulge, the spicy chorizo (Iberian pork sausage) with roquefort cheese and carne mechada bites (shredded beef, like a meatloaf).
The tour got more interesting when we tried the delicious cazón de adobo (dogfish shark), in the south they cook it with garlic, oregano, cumin and vinegar marinated dogfish shark. This dish is religiously eaten during Seville's renowned Feria de Abril (April Fair or Spring Fair), which due to the hefty demand at the city fair, many people rather have a plate at their local freiduriá, so they don't need to cue up at the event. A freiduriá can be best described as a café with mostly fried food and wine, the Spanish version of fast food. We tried a dry manzanilla wine with the food, this type of fino sherry is originally made around the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, in the province of Cádiz. In Spanish, chamomile tea is called "manzanilla", and thus this wine gets the name because the wine's flavour is said to be reminiscent of such tea.
After a couple of more stops around the old quarter, we finished the tour at our favourite confectionery shop La Campana. This is a very unique establishment, with a vibrant terrace that faithfully respects the primitive image of its foundation since 1885. There was a large selection of meringues, polvorón cakes, almond tongues, Sevillian yolks, etc. which are some of La Campana's most traditional sweets. Seasonal items such as torrijas, roscos de kings and panellets are also very popular here.
Our tour guide Jaimie ordering for us. We tried the sweetened orange wine served at the archetypal bar Taberna Álvaro Peregil - La Goleta owned by a famous flamenco singer's son.
Devour Seville has made the tour very exciting by encouraging us to try exquisite food and wine, in addition to explaining to us the ingredients and where the products come from. We got to meet locals who keep traditions alive in the city, and were happy to learn of dozens of new places to eat and visit in Seville. Discovering the city like an insider lets you engage with the locals and support iconic family-run taverns (some more than 100 years old!). We will definitely be planning another walking food tour with them as they host in other cities in Spain: Madrid, Barcelona and Malaga. For these other destinations, you may visit their website www.devourspain.com.