For a slice of Seville in the streets of Southwark, there’s no better port of call than José Pizarro‘s José Tapas Bar. Transporting you straight to cobbled streets and gentle Sevillano buzz (with none of the airmiles), it’s no wonder the chef’s Bermondsey-based venture – his first of several – has been a hit with hungry Londoners. Here, the master of Andalusian cuisine takes us on a tour of the Spanish city that inspired it all.
Served in Spain
Let’s talk about tapas. Specifically, all the tapas restaurants you need to visit in Seville; gastronomes looking for the authentic experiences should go to traditional little bars, where the food is of a higher quality, and the freshest ingredients are used. Winding your way through the afternoon – La Azotea is a perfect finishing point for crispy artichokes with Ibérico ham and migas, while tables outside Casa Román offer the best-quality people watching – and a succulent cazón en adobo (dogfish marinated in catfish).
Looking for something with a little more cultural zing? At Las Teresas, you can almost dine in the shade of Seville’s royal palace: the Real Alcázar. The rustic bar is perfectly located, two minutes from the historical palace, for a post-lunch meander to marvel at the intricate stonework. Walking back home (and stuffed to the brim, of course) make sure you detour over the Triana Bridge. Connecting the city and Triana’s neighbourhood, it’s one of the most authentic off-the-beaten track areas you can visit – with breathtaking views.
Do your snacking in Sevillian style. My favourite regional dishes are Pringas or Papas Aliñás – a quintessential Cádiz tapas dish of cold potatoes, made with pepper, tomato and onion. Seville is a very traditional city, so I like to buy some tejas de Sevilla, and tortas de Aceite while I’m there. If you don’t feel like making them from scratch, they’re a great shortcut.
Forget stopping to smell the roses – in Seville you stop to smell the orange trees. I love visiting when they’re in bloom, the smell is absolutely incredible. The end of April is feria time, where the streets get decorated and the Sevillanos get dressed up in flamenco costumes and make their way to the Real on horses or in coaches. You can hear Flamenco music all over the city, it’s truly magical!
The Slow Lane
Aracena is a mountains village with a laid-back lifestyle. I also never miss the chance to visit the Cinco Jotas bodega in nearby Jabugo – the vast dehesa where the Iberian pigs roam freely is so peaceful, and I like to hand-pick jamón that will be served at my restaurants from the cellar. It’s all carved by hand on-site, and it’s truly the best in the world. cincojotas.co.uk
The people are so attentive, and always talk to you with a smile. The Andalusians have a great sense of humour and are always happy – life there goes at a much slower pace.
A Roof with a View
The captivating beauty of La Giralda, the bell tower of Seville’s Cathedral, is best enjoyed from urban rooftop of the EME hotel. Originally restored from 14 Andalusian houses dating from the 16th century, EME’s design layers modern accents without compromising the authentic roots of the building.
History buffs should head up to the rooftop at sunset (with a glass of crisp manzanilla sherry in hand), to enjoy the ‘minaret’ which has stood in the city since the middle ages. Meanwhile less vertiginous – though equally beautiful – views of the orange tree courtyard can be drunk in from the Argote Lobby Bar on the ground floor. emecatedralmercer.com
EMA Catedral Mercer offers doubles from €195 (around £174) per night, based on two sharing.