Travelling from Barcelona to Seville with a few stops in between, this summer we headed to Spain for two weeks of sun, swimming and serious sightseeing. Oh, and a LOT of eating. Spain’s cuisine varies from region to region and while the menus might have varied, there was one food that stood out wherever we went: rice. Whether it be as a side, starter or stand-alone main, the Spanish really do love their rice – and they do it well. Here were a few of our favourite discoveries:
Les Quinze Nits, 08002, Plaça Reial, 6, 08002 Barcelona
Although traditionally a Valencian dish, paella is popular in Barcelona with the city’s seaside location making the seafood version a particular favourite. We were particularly impressed by the range of paellas at Les Quinze Nits which is located on the Plaça Reial, just off the main Las Ramblas. Serving Catalonian classics at affordable prices, we loved the rich, earthy stock of the seafood paella (€9.40pp) which is packed full of fresh seafood and perfectly flavoured rice. Unfortunately the restaurant doesn’t take reservations so be prepared to queue (this place is popular), or arrive slightly before or after the standard lunch and dinner times.
Black cuttlefish rice
Luki, Plaça del Sortidor, 3, 08004 Barcelona
Also known as Arròs negre, cuttlefish rice is a traditional Catalan dish that gets it dark colour from the squid ink, which also enhances its seafood flavour. At Luki’s the dish is served as a starter with a side serving of rich, garlicky aioli. Prices are cheap and portions are generous, with a three-course set menu costing just €10, including wine. The restaurant itself is slightly off the beaten track (a few minutes from Raval in the corner of Plaça del Sortidor), with a relaxed, friendly vibe and excellent service. The smashed eggs are another winner and we were pleasantly surprised by Luki’s take on gazpacho, using melon rather than tomatoes. Surprisingly cheap and unexpectedly delicious.
Squid with Basmati Rice, Nuts and Raisins
Located in the Puerta de Triana neighbourhood of Seville, Flores Gourmet is the latest venture by the Federico Flores family who have been at the distribution forefront of promoting Andalusian wines and food products. Part restaurant, part wine bar and part gourmet food store, at Flores you can try-before-you-buy with a menu that includes everything from Iberian Curry Kebab to seafood ceviche. The clean, fresh flavours of the Squid with Basmatic Rice, Nuts and Raisins are a welcome change to the typically rich tapas dishes of the area, with an extensive range of Spanish wines to help wash down the delicious, meaty flavours of its famous jamón ibérico.
Flores Gourmet, Calle San Pablo, 24, 41001 Sevilla
Risotto with Prawn Ceviche
Mama Bistro, Calle Mateos Gago, 9B, 41004 Sevilla
Risotto might not be your typical Spanish dish, but Mamá Bistro isn’t your typical Spanish restaurant. Ranked no. 1 on TripAdvisor as the best restaurant in Seville, this family-run venture combines Spanish, French and Italian influences to create classic Mediterranean dishes with a stylish, modern twist. This is particularly evident in the risotto with prawns. Think chilled, fresh prawn ceviche, surrounded by a rich, creamy, Italian risotto, bursting with basil and decorated with edible flowers. The octopus and chorizo is similarly accomplished, and we couldn’t help drool over the suckling pig ordered by our neighbouring table. Book ahead, or get there early – this place gets busy.
A few of the other things we ate…