Rosie and Griff’s Love for Sevilla27 October 2017 – posted in: Rosie's Tips
Griff is astounded by the quality of the soil and the crops grown between Sevilla and Jerez. We weren’t expecting to see the fertile soil supporting all this cropping, even cotton is growing with an old irrigation system of troughs to carry the water. The newer farms had travelling irrigators. The soils where the sherry grapes are grown is calcareous soils, the same as all the good wine areas of Europe. It’s amazing to see the seams of calcaire in the terrain.
Jerez is a pretty town and we went to Bodegas Gonzalez Byas, producer of Tio Pepe.The facility has won world tourism awards for their tours and it is quite an amazing venue, so no wonder. Bought a bit of sherry for later (particularly the Pedro Ximinez..) and drove to Seville via Cadiz.
Seville is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has many monuments built by the Moors and converted by the Christians….the wars have been endless. It’s a busy Saturday evening so we decided to head to Seville and our apartment.
The apartment is in a great spot so we threw the bags in and ducked downstairs for an aperitif. Sangria of course and an introduction to get to know our local bar folk…..These guys are so professional and enjoy you visiting their city. They really understand what service means and we thank them for that.
Visit to Real Alcazar, a beautiful Palace which has remains from the first century…So much history. The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe and was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Loved the garden and as was inspired to rethink my garden designs at the winery and our home. As a qualified horticulturist and landscaper, I love seeing garden designs related to history as we mostly do our plans with history in mind. We just adapt the plant material to suit the climate. Micro climates have been created in Alcazar to support the growth of exotic plants from the regions. (More to come after seeing Alhambra…).
Seville is such a pretty city with the river a big influence in the eel of the city.
We walked to the Triana Mercado and came across many places where we could easily have stopped for a quick tapas. Saw an amazing shop full of Sombreros and Griff found one that suited him very well, but at 300 Euros it was a little too pricey!The Mercado is very good and the cheese shop here was excellent. Had a big “chat” in my Spanish and ‘spanglaise’ to buy lovely cheese from the local area. Lots of goat and sheep’s milk used. Bought a blue Manchego which was great.
Dinner tonight was at Sal Gorda, recommended by Jesse Hegge from Locale Foods who had visited last year. A fusion style restaurant and very popular with the locals and in the know tourists. We love the pork cheeks and the food in general. The atmosphere was really good, and the walk to the restaurant was a part of that. So many bars and restaurants. Fantastic! You really can’t wrong.
Our best meal in Seville was on the recommendation of our host Maria, at Eslava. I can’t begin to say how wonderful the flavours were, and so simple.It is mostly locals and quite out of the way, but we would have eaten through the menu here if we had stayed a while longer in Seville…it’s that good! So, if you only have one meal in Seville, make it at Eslava, (but not on a Monday).
Off to Granada and a quick visit to Alhambra which is just stunning. Granada is a gorgeous city too with many historical areas, good food, wine and accommodation.
The Alhambra gardens are more spectacular than the Alcazar, and also bigger. Many terraces and water feature, and kept very well by the big team of gardeners. There are new and old areas all with individual designs. The history of Alhambra is pretty savage, with the eldest son inheriting the Sultanship, but all the younger ones trying to knock him off to be the Sultan. The Sultans did not have a long life, but I think it was a good one. Alfonso IX of Spain with Isabel had a time of ownership of Alhambra but sent everyone broke building a new palace and driving people away with exorbitant taxes. It stood neglected for 200 years after Alfonso has no-one o do the work for him.
Our next stop is just south of Valencia.
Benimentall…..( there are so many Beni… places in this area of Spain, so it must mean good…?)
Vivood Landscape Hotel was definitely good for the mind (if “mentall” means mind…). In a rustic setting and using pods for the rooms that were dropped in position without affecting the landscape too much. Great use of timber and cement boards to create a very chic finish for the buildings. The planning took 12 months and the construction only 3months. Thank you to Helen Attwater from Eagleview Park for the recommendation, even though she hasn’t been. She had been told about it and mentioned it to me when they were at the winery just before we left. Nothing better than a good tip from someone you trust.
The region is a rustic valley and hills with olive grove and almonds growing everywhere. Harvesting was happening for the almonds and the almonds we had were delicious!
Found a little gem of a restaurant in the Michelin guide (as well as the hotel restaurant), and dined at L’Obrer twice for lunch. Regional food and wine at its best, and full of locals both times we went, even though it was mid week.
We will definitely visit this region again as we need to discover more about it.
Again we had to drop the car off in its home country so we decided to stay just north of Barcelona for a couple of days and set foot on our chef’s Kike’s home soil. We stayed in Begur on the Costa Brava and that was a wonderful choice. The little village is delightful and offers lots of choices for accommodation and dining. The days we were there the cute square hosted the Begur Scooter Club annual Show and an evening of Catalan music with wind instruments I have never seen nor heard before. I need Kike to tell me what they were. We had a swim in the Mediterranean at Sa Riera, and our best meal was at Sa Rascasse, which is also a hotel at Aguafluer and would be a very nice place to stay. Our whole grilled John Dory was so sweet and moist, and the grenache blanc with it was great too. Host Oscar is an interesting bloke and there’s lots about him their website.
Now we’re on the TGV to Montpellier to pick up our French car. Oh how great it would be if we had the population to support a very fast train!
To check out some images from Rosie and Griff’s holiday in Seville visit our Facebook Album