Devour Tours is the real deal. They do their research, the food guides are extremely knowledgeable plus they have great EQ. The food stops? Vetted and worth coming back to.
POSTED BY JENNIE
On an extremely hot day in Seville, we almost miss our pre-paid food tour. We decide to walk to our meeting place, the Metropol Parasol, but we get lost in the narrow streets that lead this way and that. In the end we decide to take a taxi but get stuck in rush hour traffic! We run to the meeting place, 10 minutes after the agreed upon time and thank goodness, a very tall lady holding a Devour Seville sign is still there. The rest of the group, two American couples, are there as well.
Sara, our tour guide welcomes us warmly and introduces us to the rest of the group. There are 8 of us in all plus Sara. Sara is Italian but has lived in Seville for many years. She starts off with a photo of a rainbow cake with each layer representing the different inhabitants of Seville from the time of the Phoenicians. The Jews, she says are the icing on the cake because they’ve always been present throughout. Her visual is catchy and puts everyone at ease.
It’s about 7:30pm, but it is still so bright and so hot. We’ve booked the Tapas, Taverns & History Tour. The cost is 89E for adults and 80E for teenagers inclusive of all food and drinks. It’s pretty steep considering there are 4 of us, but like I said it’s bang for your buck.
We begin our walking tour in a place called Bar El Comercio. This establishment has been around since 1904. It looks like a very local, very traditional establishment. Sara is welcomed warmly by the person at the counter and there is a table waiting for us. The first drink is Vermouth (Vermut in Spanish), an aromatized, fortified wine flavored with various botanicals. It tastes a bit like cough syrup, but I like it. Apparently it’s home brewed and the recipe is Bar El Comercio’s own. Jamon Iberico de Bellota is also served with Spanish bread sticks called Picos. The Jamon is very good quality, razor thin and melt in your mouth.
It’s a pleasant walk to Barrio Santa Cruz, Sara makes it a point to have a conversation with each of us. It’s easy for only one person to dominate the conversation and it is up to the tour guide to balance it out and Sara does a good job. Our next stop is a hole-in-the wall called Taberna Alvaro Peregil whose claim to fame is that it introduced Vino de Naranja or Orange Wine to the city. It is so small, not all of us can fit. We have Vino de Naranja, a nice kind of sweet liqueur with very good manchego cheese and chicharrones de Cadiz or slow-roasted pork belly slices. It was very tasty except it was served cold, I would have liked it hot but maybe that’s the way it should be enjoyed.
It’s not all about food, since it’s also a history tour. Sara takes us to the Jewish Quarter and entertains us with various bits of trivia and captivating stories. The sun is about to go down and the air gets a bit cooler. We head to El Arenal, which according to locals is the place to eat.
I recognise Casa Morales, the 3rd place Sara brings us to. I’ve seen it before in many guide books. It is a busy night and again, there is a table reserved for us. This bar is even older than the other 2, it was founded in 1850. The enormous tinajas or clay jars used to store their house wine is what you will notice first. The place is so photogenic and it feels like you stepped into a time warp. Here we have bacalao & salmorejo montaditos, sobrasada and a manzanilla sherry from Sanlucar de Barrameda. The sherry is crisp, light, perfectly chilled and the tapas, which I’m trying for the first time, are delicious.
At this point we know a bit about the people with us in the group. One couple is from New York and the other couple is from Texas. The couple from Texas have been to the Philippines and it’s funny that according to them, the best paella they had was in Manila, of all places!
Our 4th stop is nearby, it’s called La Taberna and it’s anything but minimalist. All sorts of knick knacks decorate the place and that’s what gives the place its charm. The tiles are beautiful too. Here we’re given 5 choices. We all chose different things and the winner turns out to be the Presca Iberica. My kids liked the drink here the best, it was Tinto de Verano which translates to “the red wine of summer”.
The truth is I had been feeling under the weather for the past couple of days. By the 5th and last stop at Enrique Becerra, my energy was sapped. Too bad because the first four stops were tapas and the last stop was a meal, with sweet sherry and rioja. I still got to enjoy the food but I forgot to take photos. The photos you see below I got from the website of Enrique Becerra. We had foie gras, beef cheeks, lamb and for dessert, tocino de cielo.
Our night ended at around 11:30pm. We said our good-byes to the 2 couples and Sara was nice enough to show us the way out of El Arenal. The next day, I was completely sick and stayed in bed the whole day. Now, as I write about the food tour, I find myself enjoying the experience all over again and maybe even more sans the heat and the annoying cough.
Here’s a tip, take the food tour on your first day because not only does it give you an orientation about the city, it also gives you ideas where to eat for the rest of your stay, so you don’t end up eating in the wrong places.