Laurie Eats Sometimes- Spain Edition

Every country has something they are proud of, you might even say a national treasure.

New Zealand has Peter Jackson and Lord of the Rings, Cambodia has Angelina Jolie and Spain has Jamón Ibérico! A cured ham from the Spanish countryside and the crown jewel of Spanish food!

It’s so special they cover it with a blanket and tuck it in at night….just kidding…sort of!

Ham is everywhere and in lots of food. And, it is delicious. But, for a vegetarian, we found Spain to be the trickiest of the countries that we visited during this trip.

However, one meatless dish that you can find everywhere is patatas or papas bravas. It’s native to Spain and you will see it on the menu of most bars and restaurants. It’s simple but varies a lot by sauce (tomato and aioli) potato shapes and spice level.

We ate this at at least half a dozen places but we especially liked the version of it at Ena in Seville.

Another place where we enjoyed the potatoes was Ocaña in Plaza Reial, Barcelona. I don’t have a picture of the potatoes but who needs that when I have this picture!

Drag queens, great live music and tapas! What a fun night!


ta·pas

ˈtapəs/noun

small Spanish savory dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar


Some other popular tapas that we saw on every menu were olives, ham or fish croquetas, anchovies, squid and tomato toast usually served with manchego cheese slices on the side.

The squid was either fried or in some cases, served as finger puppets!

In Granada, we ate at a casual little restaurant called Kiki-located in the Plaza de San Nicolas. Sea anemone was the special that night and it was absolutely delicious!

We really enjoyed a leisurely lunch at Gallito in Barcelona. It was on the beach, close to the W Hotel. Sea views, some cava, tapas and this yummy shrimp, squid and artichoke paella dish. What a fantastic way to spend the afternoon!

We had exceptional tapas at Vinitus Restaurant in the Eixample Quarter…in fact we ate there twice!

I mentioned anchovies earlier…the best ones were served like this at Petite Corner Bar in Seville. In fact, everything there was exceptional!

We had a delicious dinner at El Trillo in the Albaicín in Granada. Risotto, pig cheeks and tasty red wine. The ambiance was nice too-we ate in the garden but you could also get a table with a view of the Alhambra.

If you are in the mood for non-Spanish food, you should go for Moroccan or Arabic food in Seville or Granada. The hummus and moutabel at Alwadi in Seville were particularly good!

Photo credit: saffrontrail.com

When in Spain, you should definitely sample some delicious cava! Cava is a sparkling wine that undergoes the same production process as champagne. I guess that’s why it tastes so good!

Most cava is produced in Catalonia and it’s very affordable too…so drink up! Salud!

There are many other dishes that you should try while in Spain.

Gazpacho is from Andalucia- a cold soup on a hot day tasted good! I had a strawberry gazpacho in Granada and it was quite tasty!

Tortilla Espanola is another popular dish in Spain. It’s made with potatoes, onions, eggs and olive oil. It’s a Spanish omelet!

Photo credit:my gourmet connection

Bocadillos-little Spanish sandwiches with various fillings can be found everywhere.

You will also see Gambas, or shrimp in olive oil on most tapas menus.

Don’t forget to get some churros dipped in chocolate! Mmmm.

Next up…best and worst airlines, lounges and airplane food reviews

Granada, the Alhambra and the Albaicín

Granada, also in southern Spain, is much smaller than Seville and very different geographically. It sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is a higher and drier climate.

Since they were working on the train line between Seville and Granada, we rented a car for this 3 hour drive. The fields of sunflowers were beautiful!

The main attraction in Granada is The Alhambra, a moorish citadel and palace.

We stayed in the medieval moorish neighborhood called The Albaicín. It has narrow, windy cobblestone streets and is located on a hill facing the Alhambra.

See the crane and tower in the picture below? That’s where we stayed.

We stayed just below Plaza Mirador de San Nicolas, where everyone (including some bus loads of tourists because the Alhambra and Albaicín became UNESCO sites in 1984) came each night to admire the views of the Alhambra and watch the sunset.

I was a little nervous about staying in the Albaicín because I had read a few mixed things on TripAdvisor. Whoever thought the Albaicín was sketchy or unsafe has obviously never really traveled before. Just use common sense. Geez! The only dangerous thing in this neighborhood was all the dog poop!

We loved spending the week relaxing in our apartment, swimming in the pool, walking to everything and taking in these incredible views from the top balcony!

Of course, you can’t go to Granada without touring the Alhambra!

Tip– you must get your tickets well in advance to see the Alhambra! You can’t just show up on the same day and expect to get in. Get ticket information here.

We had a private, guided tour that lasted about 3 1/2 hours. I’m glad we started early (it gets hot) and I’m glad we had a guide.

Although, our very friendly and knowledgeable guide spent a lot of time discussing Roman aqueducts and Arabic writing. I had to force myself to concentrate and listen in case she asked me a question!

By the way, the Alhambra and the Alcazar in Seville were built by the same architects. Cool huh?

The gardens of the Alhambra were especially beautiful and peaceful.

There is more to Granada than the Alhambra…

I already mentioned the Albaicín-just wandering around the streets is a fun way to spend the day.

There are many teterias or tea rooms in Granada. They are typically informal with a selection of teas, juices, water pipes or hookahs and moorish pastries. Mmm.

You can also spend time wandering around the Alcaiceria in Granada. It was once a great silk bazaar but there was a fire in 1843 and it burned down. Today, it’s filled with souvenir shops but we had fun strolling through!

We could easily walk to the lovely and clean center of town from the top of the Albaicín. Getting back up in the scorching hot temps was another story…but that’s what taxis are for!

On our last night in Granada, we headed out for a flamenco show and dinner at Jardines de Zoraya. We had seen a terrific show in Seville so we had low expectations. The show was actually very good!

The appetizers were good, dinner meh and the dancers were very good particularly one man at the end of the show. However, we were blown away by the amazingly talented female singer (cantaora) and the guitar player. Incredible!

One thing that we didn’t get to do was visit Sacromonte, the Roma cave community above the city. Arabs first inhabited these caves but after they were driven out during the 1500’s, the Roma settled there and still live there today. It’s full of shops, restaurants and flamenco. Well, I guess we gotta save something for next time!

Next up…Barcelona, Gaudí and a day trip to Montserrat