Our Trip to Spain and Portugal: Sevilla Part 1

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We left the Southern Coast of Portugal after breakfast, making our way to Spain…

It was a pleasant drive in our rental car from the Algarve. We listened to the [easyazon-link asin=”1451648537″ locale=”us”]Steve Jobs[/easyazon-link] audiobook (absolutely amazing — I highly recommend).

When we arrived in Sevilla in the afternoon, the sun was shining and bougainvillea was blooming everywhere. Is there anything better than a day in Spain in May? I couldn't think of a single thing.

Words cannot express how much Seth and I loved Sevilla. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. I think I even liked it better than Barcelona (although Barcelona is amazing).

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After we checked into the hotel, we walked to the nearest tapas bar, about a block away, for an afternoon snack. In Spain, the restaurants and bars all close around 4:30 or 5 pm and they don't open back up again until 9 or 10 pm, which is when they eat dinner (they have siesta in the late afternoon until 9 or 10 pm).

We had missed lunch, and we needed a snack to tide us over until dinnertime.

You know you're officially in Spain when you see this:

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Cured pig's legs hanging from the ceiling of every restaurant and tapas bar.

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We ordered some jamon (Spanish ham, which they sliced from one of the pig's legs from the ceiling) and Manchego cheese (local Spanish cheese). And we had some local wine — Seth had a Rijoa and I had a glass of Spanish white — very refreshing on a hot day.

After our snack, we went back to the hotel for our siesta (aaaaahhhhhhh… air conditioning, cable TV, and wifi).

We checked our email for the daily iPhone photo updates from Kate's grandparents (Bubbe & Papa) back on Long Island:

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How sweet is that? Kate sleeping in Bubbe and Papa's guest bed wearing her curlers. Still sleeping breech, which is the way she was in the womb.

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Here she is on a playdate playing princess dress-up with the neighbor kids.

After our siesta, we walked over to a different tapas bar, Las Golondrinas.

Trendy, young, hip, and the food was great.

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We started with a couple of glasses of wine and the most amazing radishes, with a little olive oil and sea salt.

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Next we had anchovies with roasted red peppers on toast.

Next, pork with potato chips.

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Then we ambled over to what would become one of our favorite (if not the absolute favorite) tapas bar in Sevilla, Sol y Sombra.

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It was just a couple blocks away from our hotel. It had such a homey feeling — like a pub in England. Tapas bars really are the equivalent of the neighborhood British pub.

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We don't have anything like this in America — except Starbucks. But in my opinion, Starbucks is what's wrong with America. They are cookie-cutter places with no local feel. You don't head over to the Starbucks to hang out with your neighbors and shoot the breeze and enjoy the local cuisine.

Don't get me wrong — I like coffee and I have nothing against Starbucks inherently. It's just sad to me that here in America we don't have “public houses” like they do in other countries where you can just hang out, meet up with your mates, and enjoy traditional food and drink.

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At Sol y Sombra, there are posters all over the walls promoting bullfights.

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And plenty of religious iconography.

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And of course we ate the local cuisine…

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These were a kind of fried anchovies — kind of like calamari, only different. And out of this world!

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See this is what I mean… when you're in a Spanish tapas bar, you really feel like you're in Spain. The culture pervades. Unlike when you're in a Starbucks and you could be literally anywhere.

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We made fast friends with our bartender, Miguel.

He reminded us of George Clooney, so we called him George. Which made him laugh and blush.

He didn't speak very much English, and we couldn't speak very much Spanish, but we bonded nonetheless. Needless to say, there was a lot of gesturing.

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We went to Sol y Sombra at least four or five times, in the span of a 3-day stay. And every time we walked in, we'd yell out, “George!” as soon as we saw Miguel. We'd shake hands and hug each other and then we'd stand at his part of the bar the whole time so we could chat in our broken English-Spanish.

When it was time to leave Sevilla, we were very sad to leave George.

We had our last meal at Sol y Sombra.

I had the menudo for breakfast, which is a traditional stew made from the stomach of a cow. I love menudo. Don't knock it 'till you've tried it.

This was, hands down, the best menudo I've ever had!

My advice to you — when you go to Spain, don't skip the menudo. And if you're ever in Sevilla, make your way to Sol y Sombra. Tell Miguel (George) we said Hola!

Stay tuned for the next installment — Sevilla Part 2. (Yes, there will be more tapas!)

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Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

28 thoughts on “Our Trip to Spain and Portugal: Sevilla Part 1

  1. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!
    When you leave Kate with her grandparents, do you leave very specific instructions in regard to food- what she can and cannot eat? How do find is the best way to manage this?

    1. @Sara

      Kate’s grandparents are the BEST! Her grandma buys grass-fed meat, raw milk, sprouted bread, etc. They are not perfect (and neither am I — nobody is!). They eat “regular” food, too, like luncheon meats and non-organic fruit, etc. And they do take her out to dinner at restaurants.

      But they don’t take her to McDonalds. They don’t feed her chips or candy (except she gets one Hershey’s kiss before bed for each night that Mommy is away — that’s how they count down when I will be back).

      Bubbe makes Kate homemade chocolate chip cookies (she uses sprouted flour and real butter) and homemade ice cream. She uses my recipes from this blog. Kate gets that kind of stuff EVERY day when she’s at their house. I think it’s really important to allow grandparents the space to “spoil” their grandkids with treats.

      Bubbe and Papa are super respectful. They know what my rules are about food, just from having been around us so much, and they follow those. I don’t expect them to be perfect, and I’m BEYOND grateful for all that they do to feed Kate so well.

      1. Oh and by the way… I would be OK with it even if Bubbe and Papa DIDN’T do all of that — the sprouted bread, raw milk, etc.

        If they fed her normal food like cereal and regular non-organic milk and regular grocery store meat and bread, it would not bother me. Even if they gave her some chips and candy, it would be OK.

        Why? Because it’s only a couple of weeks a year and the majority of the time she DOES eat really well.

        1. I’m working on this. My DH took our LO to the grandparents house in Long Island last weekend for a four day holiday – and the food was awful. It’s so sad because many Americans *think* they’re eating healthy – the proceed to eat big fluffy bagels, cream cheese spread, store bought cookies, and a lot of stuff of unknown origin from Costco and Trader Joe’s. My husband was there, but even with him being mindful, it was difficult. We’re going back to Europe (alone) for a week this year, and the thought of the food my child will eat scares me. Not because I think a lot of crap food one week of the year will kill him – but because of the mood swings I observe in other children with the sugar/carb highs and lows – and the stomach upset, etc. But I’m working on this control issue . . . .

  2. We called the cow stomach “tripe”, I don’t know why. My grandmother would bread it and fry it. I loved it. I think about it every once and a while, and wish I knew somewhere to buy it, so I could attempt to replicate what she did. The flavor was like nothing else I’ve ever eaten. I remember she washed it a lot, then put it in buttermilk and then flour. Probably fried it in lard, because they raised their own pigs and butchered them. I would love to try the menudo.

    Thank you for sharing the pictures and your trip. Kate is beautiful and growing up. I couldn’t believe she stretched almost all the way across that double bed.

  3. what is with the roll of toilet paper in between the wine glasses? 🙂

    the food looks so good……..yum. where’s the bread? don’t they eat bread over there?

      1. I should have explained the toilet paper!

        When we asked Miguel (our bartender) for a napkin, that is what he put on the bar. 🙂

        Yes there is plenty of bread in Spain — I just didn’t happen to include a photo.

        1. The TP was the same in Korea when I visited. I never received an explanation for why casual restaurants didn’t have napkins.

  4. Hey Ann Marie, great pics! I am looking at the food pics while I am making my dinner. So hungry! The fried anchovies sound interesting. I bought a tin because I am trying to include more little fishes in my diet. Would frying those work? Sevilla looks beautiful. I also enjoy your travel posts

    1. You could try frying those but I don’t know how they would come out.

      We had a lot of fried anchovies and sardines in Spain and Portugal — they were all fresh, not canned.

      These were some kind of bigger anchovies — I forget the name.

        1. You can get the bigger anchovies in LA from some Whole Foods stores when in season. They are delicious.

  5. AnnMarie, I am having foodgasms just from your photos. Imagine indeed if the US had something like this. *daydreams*

  6. I studied in Seville when I was in college and ADORED it. No place like it. Would love to live there someday…

  7. All Spanish ham is delicious and worth a try, but la creme de la creme of Spanish ham, is jamón ibérico de bellota. I hope you had a chance to try it. If not, it’s an absolute must if you ever go to Spain again. It comes from the Iberian black pig, which grazes freely in oak forests, and during the last stage of its life it feeds entirely on acorns (hence the “bellota”), which gives it a nice nutty flavor. I find that Spanish pork products in general are of superior quality.

  8. When I saw your picture of Menudo, it reminded me of the tripe soup my mother made when I was a little girl. When I Googled it, I was delighted to see that Menudo is the Spanish equivalent of my Polish mother’s soup. She was not good at seasoning things, the broth was a little flavorless (unlike the one you experienced), but I loved the chewy texture of the tripe. I have really enjoyed all of the travelogue you have shared.

  9. So jealous! I lived in Spain when I was in college, but I was a vegetarian then (gasp!) I missed out on so much food. I would tell the waiters were ever I went, “Soy vegetariana” and they would look at me like I was totally insane. Love the pictures of your daughter, so cute. Can’t wait till my daughter’s hair is long enough to put sponge rollers in them!

    1. @Stephanie

      Haha! That is so funny! Yes, I went to the Czech Republic as a vegetarian when I was in college and it was the same thing. They were lIke WTF? They could not understand why anyone wouldn’t eat meat if you can afford it.

      I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch — I will email you!

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