Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sevilla felt like home
After spending two days walking around the hills and pueblos blancos, or white villages, around Ronda, we returned to Sevilla for one night. It was like coming home. We went to one more flamenco show, an intense, beautiful performance at Casa de la Memoria Al-Andalus with a guitarist whose hands flashed as he played. We had pimientos de Padrón one more time at Modesto. Becca bought another shirt at Zara. And we went back to the Alameda de Hercules park.
The Alameda park in Sevilla was one of our favorite places in the city, which was odd because it wasn’t much of a park and more a long, skinny length of brown dirt and scrubby trees. It runs a long ways between the barrio of Macarena, where we initially stayed, and ends near the commercial, shopping district in the center of the city. They were clearly doing some remodeling, and one night, these giant metal statues showed up on the beds of even bigger trucks, but the construction didn’t stop people from congregating there almost every night, Monday through Friday.
The bars and restaurants that line the Alameda draw a crowd that’s a bit hipster, a bit grungy, the type that will happily sit around a guitar for hours, but also lots of children, as the Spanish are big on keeping their kids up at all hours. Becca and I couldn’t understand it—they didn’t look grouchy or tired, which I always thought was the reason for putting your kids to bed at 9. In the U.S., everyone says that when you have a child, it changes your life, and I’m sure it does, but I get the feeling that it wouldn’t change your life so much here. We saw extended families at outdoor bars late at night, from babies to grandparents all time. If I ever have a child, I will definitely be the kind of mother who takes her baby to the bar.
Almanara, our favorite restaurant on Alameda, would be just the kind of place a mother could take her children. During the day, it’s a sleek narrow column of a restaurant with some outdoor tables serving fruit drinks and smoothies, including the most intoxicatingly delicious lemonade with yuerbabuena. (Note to self: plant yuerbabuena in container garden next summer.) At night, they serve food from a mainly vegetarian menu, but it’s good! Really, I’m not kidding, and the menu even had words like “seitan” and “tempeh.”
The best thing we had was their gussied-up, more veggie-filled versions of the tortilla española, with eggplant in my case and courgettes, or baby squash, in Becca’s. There was plenty of cheese and plenty of salt, and the layers of potato and egg and eggplant almost melted together, they were so smooth.
We did have an odd seaweed pasta in a balsamic sauce, literally strips of seaweed taking the place of old-fashioned pasta. I’m sure it’s a low-carb dieter’s dream. It didn’t taste bad exactly, but it didn’t really taste good. Ambitious and imaginative, though, so I would give a B for effort.
And to prove that it is not a restaurant devoted to self-deprivation, Almanara serves an insanely delicious chocolate dessert. I’m not quite sure what it is—who knows, it might have soy or something, but it’s almost as firm as a frozen custard without quite being an ice cream. It actually tastes like chocolate, unlike many chocolate desserts, and they serve it with those simple Maria biscuits I like so much.
That was our last meal in Sevilla. The next day, Becca got on a plane back to New York and I got on a bus to Salamanca. (And 5 days later, here I am in Santiago de Compostela, getting ready to go on to Bilbao tomorrow.)