Wednesday, 3 October 2012
A casual visitor to this blog might assume that I am permanently on holiday! Before I can get all my pictures up from one I am off on another. Rest assured, it is more impression that reality. I'm actually forced to take short holidays more often over the summer than I would otherwise as I have to negotiate with senior staff with children for annual leave and usually lose. I do actually work without a break for long stretches of the year but I generally keep work related chat on this blog to a minimum. Besides, holidays are more interesting! Wasn't it fashion first lady Diana Freeland who said "the eye has to travel"?
I wanted to share a wonderful bar I visited whilst in Sevilla. Recommended by my accompanying foodie friends, El Rinconcillo was founded in 1670 and is reputedly the oldest bar in the city. We went on Sunday morning hoping to get breakfast but on arrival found the graffitied shutters still down. Come back at one o'clock we were told.
Once inside you enter first into a handsome bar with high ceilings, heavily mosaiced walls, tiled floors and an ancient wooden bar above which are hanging several legs of cured ham.
In front of the bar is an area kitted out with sherry barrels serving as tables on which to take tapas. Normally in Spanish bars there is a standing area by the bar to eat slightly cheaper tapas, essentially snack sized portions of what is on offer on the menu. To sit down, there is often a restaurant section with tables and chairs but you won't be able to order tapas but will have to order larger plates called raciones and often there will be special dishes that are not available in tapas size.
Sevillianos eat late. At one o'clock we were first through the door as people generally start their lunch at two. We were greeted by a very charming waiter who served us our drinks and talked us through the menu. So charming was he in fact that he convinced us to sit down for a meal in the very inviting neighbouring dining area.
On the wall was an enormous antique poster advertising the 1929 Feria. The Feria is celebrated in many Andalusian towns in early Spring and originally began as a cattle fair in the mid nineteenth century. A small mini-town of casetas or tents will be constructed for the week's celebrations and are usually run as a pop up restaurant or bar by local businesses or church groups where people can eat, drink and dance. Traditionally people came dressed up for the occasion with the women wearing a traje de gitana, a frilled flamenco style dress. Over the years the style of the traje de gitana has changed with whatever was deemed to be fashionable at the time. Sevilla has always produced some of the most beautiful Feria posters. My favourites were produced between the 1920's and 30's and reproductions can sometimes be found in tourist shops.
In some bars in Andalusia you can still see signs stating "prohibido el cante". The sign was actually referring to a ban on flamenco singing during the years of Franco when he repressed flamenco, gypsy culture and indeed most forms of regional song and dance in Spain.
Some pan (bread), jamon (ham) and tinto de verano con limon and I'm happy. Tinto de verano is a mix of lemonade and red wine and tinto de verano con limon uses lemon flavoured Fanta. It sounds like a horrendous abomination of red wine! But it is actually surprisingly good on a sweltering hot day. In addition we had small clams in white wine and garlic, and spinach and chickpeas.
Below is another bar we went to in another part of town. I liked how they made the large clay vats where alcohol was traditionally stored a feature of the interior.
We also spent early evening having a drink at a fancy hotel which has a rooftop bar where you can watch the sunset over the cathedral. How is this for a sundowner view?
Hope everyone is having a great week!