Pulpo a la gallega, i.e. galician style octopus. Chewy yet tender, and dressed to the max with olive oil, pimenton, and salt. This was my first meal in Spain, and I loved it.
I'm still figuring out whether I can add captions to the photos in my galleries, but in case not, here's a short overview of some of the dishes I've tried so far in Andalucia. For the most part, the food in Andalucia, at least in the late summer, involves a lot of jamon, potatoes, olive oil, and various fried things. It's delicious, in short. I haven't tired of it yet.
Above left: Not egg but bread topped with bacalao and salmorejo (see more on salmorejo, below).
Bottom right: Two different types of jamon, manchego cheese
Feeling out of place and a bit lost during my first night in Sevilla, I signed up for a tapas tour organized by a Canadian and a Brit. Our guide, Peter, was knowledgeable and laidback. It was an amazing time, much like spending an evening with a longtime foodie friend. We toured three tapas bars, trying a few at each location, along with a sampling of manzanilla, a type of sherry, and local Spanish red wines. I don't know if the name is intended, but the fragrance of manzanilla is indeed like an apple, though the flavor is deliciously dry.
One of our guide's, and now mine, favorite tapas bars in Sevilla. Down to heart, a homestyle place, serving up undeniably good food.
Potatoes marinated in vinegar. According to our guide, it is possible to mess up even potatoes.
At one of the more newfangled tapas bars, owned by an Argentinian. Squid ink spaghetti with seared scallop.
A risotto with provolone and arugula that made me swoon. At Al Ajibe in Sevilla.
Seared tuna, well prepared. Also from Al Ajibe.
Hearing that I was going to Cordoba, my guide mentioned a place called Umami. I forgot to ask for the address but stumbled upon it anyway. Don't mind the English-the food here is no hype, pure flavor. They are doing interesting things with salmorejo, and when I tried one of their recommended dishes, I realized they weren't kidding around. One of the best meals I've had so far in Spain, albeit not entirely traditional.
Menu cover at Umami
The basics of salmorejo, which can be served as a soup or sauce, are tomato, garlic, bread, and olive oil. Unlike gazpacho, salmorejo is rather thick and has no cucmber. I ordered two types of salmorejo at Umami-the Mazamorra off the traditional menu (almonds, olives, jamon) and the Squid Ink off the newer menu. The Squid Ink salmorejo was so good, especially with the bits of langostino on top. The Mazamorra was good, though I didn't care for the nearly sweet nuttiness. I prefer salt.
When I asked if the salmorejo would be enough food, my waitess recommended the foie. I was hesitant, but she was right. I assume this is fish liver. The dish was an experience. The melting texture of the foie, combined with the flavor of the sear, mixed with a little bit of the salt seasoning and some of the fish ink aioli (is that a thing? that's what my waitress said)...heaven. There was something in the seasoning besides salt, but I didn't catch what it was. Last but not least, there was the tomato, slow roasted with soy sauce and ginger. It tasted like candy.
The orangeish color of the foie
Fried boquerones, aka anchovies. Squeeze lemon juice over them and eat them whole.
Una tostada con aceite de olive y tomate. My favorite breakfast in Andalucia.
Solomillo de cerdo al whiskey - Pork loin in whiskey sauce. Bright, a little sweet, a little acidic. Yum.
My first glass of sherry in Jerez: an Oloroso. It may look sweet, but it's actually quite dry and great with food.
Speaking of food, this is what accompanied that first glass of sherry: A mixed salad of the house. Tinned asparagus and tuna and lackluster lettuce. It didn't hold a candle up to the microgreens we're used to in LA, but I was in dire need of something other than pork and potatoes.
In the morning, a line forms just outside El Mercado Central in Jerez, as people wait patiently for their churros. Once you grab your paper packet of churros, you can walk to a nearby cafe and order a hot chocolate to dip the churros.
From El Mercado Central (a separate post on this soon), I picked up some olives for a euro, and some grapes for 1.25 euros. The olives vendor told me these were Verdiales dulces. I think I spelled that correctly. Not bad for lunch and leftovers!
For my most recent dinner in Jerez, I stopped by Tabanco Plateros for some cold tapas and sherry. Not all of them come from these barrles, though I did see the bartender pour cream sherry from the one on the right.
An array of cold tapas in Jerez: Queso payoyo from a local mountain village, botifarra sausage with fennel, pimientos rellenos. The peppers were stuffed with some sort of soft cheese and dressed with sherry vinegar made from the Pedro Ximenez grape. I started my meal with an amontillado, another type of sherry that is similar to the Oloroso. It's nutty and fragrant yet light.
A closer look at the Amontillado
I ended my meal with a fino, the lightest and driest type of sherry. This was my favorite, since it was crisp and went well with food.
That's it for now. I'll be posting more about the churros and central market soon!