Bars, Bodegas and Orange Trees in Sevilla
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
20 February 2020
How about this for our first day in Seville?
Lunch in the sunshine under the orange trees - overlooking the Guadalquivir River at the Bodega La Albariza on Calle Betis in Triana.
The setting was magical!
An early evening tapas and wine tour...
We rendezvoused with our local guide, Mila, at the gothic doorway of the Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blanca – in the barrio (neighbourhood) of Santa Cruz in the old Jewish Quarter of Seville. This church was built on the foundations of both the original small neighborhood mosque that was converted after the re-conquest of Seville by the Moors in the 13th Century into a synagogue used by Jews in the Jewish barrio of Seville. Santa María la Blanca was a synagogue until the late 14th Century, when, after a terrible pogrom, it was converted into a Christian church. Apparently it has a rather impressive interior, although we didn't stop to look inside as we had tapas and wine waiting for us but we will definitely be back to check it out.
We walked through the streets of Santa Cruz toward the Seville Cathedral area. The streets were incredibly narrow and we would often need to find a handy doorway to stand in or flatten ourselves against the walls to let the cars pass.
The first stop was the Taberna Goleta owned by Alvaro Peregil. This was a tiny tapas bar in Santa Cruz where you stand at the small tables outside eating, drinking and talking. The Taberna Goleta was the first bar to introduce vino de naranja to the city – a sweet fortified orange wine.
Of course we were there to try it -
Vino de naranja is a white wine flavoured with macerated orange peel followed by a process of aging by the solera system. I found it very sweet -
one description I read on a bottle was...
"Absolutely delicious, having been matured in oak casks for 2 years with bitter orange peel, the taste is sweet, with notes of coffee, toffee, sultanas and orange"
I didn't pick up on notes of anything and I think it is probably an acquired taste!
To accompany our aperitif of vino de naranja was a tapa called montadito of "pringá"
The montadito is like a sandwich made with a very small loaf of bread that is filled with pringa. Pringa is the meat from a stew that is made of different meats such as chicken, pork ribs, chorizo and Iberian blood sausage that are cooked in a broth flavoured with different sauces and spices (the sauces and spices vary depending on who is making it) and then the meat is pulled apart until it resembles the texture of pulled pork.
The bar was located in a busy street close to the Seville Cathedral, in fact as you looked up the street you could see part of the cathedral and the famous bell tower called the Giralda. It was a fabulous place to drink, eat, talk and people watch.
Moving on from Taberna Goleta we walked past the Cathedral and then into another barrio of Seville - Alfalfa. Alfalfa is an area described as one of "narrow streets with small, independent shops and bars, where you’ll find lively tapas places, some idiosyncratic late-night joints, creative crafts, and unusual jewellery".
Located on a small street in Alfalfa was our next stop the Bodega Aurora - a cosy and welcoming bar that would be easy to miss. Usually frequented by locals, this bar was founded in 1913 by Francisco Portales, who came from a village near Santander. The bar is currently run by fifth generation members of his family. Although it has been renovated a couple of times over the last 100 years it still retains the original features of its massive wood bar, and several large sherry casks.
We had a lovely glass of tinto de verano here, a fizzy red-wine-based drink, together with two typical Sevillian tapas of
A spinach and chickpea stew flavoured with cumin that is a twist on an Arabic recipe, this tapa dates back to the time of the Moors in Spain, with ingredients introduced from the Middle East. It’s warm, cozy, exotic, and healthy!
The terribly unhealthy but very delicious Chicharrón which is pork belly that is fried with garlic and oregano. Definitely something you eat first and read the description afterwards!
1. Hole in the wall bar of Taberna Goleta owned by Alvaro Peregil
2 montadito of "pringá"
3 Alvaro pouring the vino de naranja
4 Glasses of vino de naranja
5 Oranges on a tree (more about this at the bottom of this post)
6 View up the street to the cathedral and the Giralda bell tower
7 People watching - the restaurant across the road from where we were having tapas
8-10 Outside the Bodega La Aurora - and with Mila our Local tour guide
11 A bowl of Chicharrón
12-14. The bar inside the Bodega La Aurora
Our final stop was at the oldest bar in Seville - El Rinconcillo, founded in 1670. Decorated in the same way as when it first opened with beautiful ceramic tiles on the walls, the different patterns of the tiles date from the 17th century! Iberian hams were dangling from the ceiling, apparently this is how it has always been. The waiters follow the traditional practice of writing down the customer's order with chalk on the mahogany bar, erasing it later when the customers pay.
Our drink here was a glass of manzanilla sherry, and our tapa was thinly sliced Iberian ham. snack on a tapa of Iberian ham, which we enjoyed while standing at one of the wine cask tables people watching and taking in the atmosphere of the place. Fabulous!
1 The exterior of the El Rinconcillo
2,3e The interior showing the beautiful tiles, dangling hams and fabulous bar
4. A glass of a local red that followed our manzanilla sherry
Oranges (Naranja) in Seville
I've always known that the oranges of Seville were famous but what I wasn't prepared for was the visual and olfactory bombardment we experienced when we arrived in Seville.
I think that when I thought of oranges from Seville I imposed my kiwi perception of mass production in agriculture and I imagined nice tidy orange tree orchards outside the city. I was so wrong - in Seville almost all the streets are lined with orange trees, they are in private gardens and public parks, they are even in the courtyard of the Seville Cathedral!
The oranges were brought to Spain by the Moors in the10th century and are still the most popular trees in the city.
Apparently there are approximately 31,000 orange trees producing over 4 million kilos of oranges.
When we arrived in February the temperature during the days was mostly in the low 20s (Celsius) and that meant that Spring had arrived early. Springtime is when the orange trees blossom. Visually, the trees decorate the streets with the white of the blossom, the orange of the fruit and the dark green of the evergreen foliage; and the pungent perfume from the blossom pervades the entire city.
There were so many oranges - the trees were heavily laden and there were many just lying on the ground where they had fallen. You don't eat these oranges because they are incredibly bitter and sour. So what do they do with them? Well, most of the oranges are collected up and made into marmalade (the most famous brand is the “Seville Orange Marmalade” which is sold in England) and to flavour the famous vino de Naranja.
The flowers of the bitter orange tree are used to produce essences for aromatherapy and orange blossom water for sweets; and the leaves have long been used for medicinal purposes.
1. Orange tree outside the art school (escuela de arts) close to the Plaza de Espana
2,3 Orange trees in the courtyard of the Seville Cathedral
4. Orange blossom