Posted by: Jay & Christina | February 2, 2011

Our Andalusian Adventure Continues!

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Our next Spanish destination took us to the city of Córdoba, a medieval town in the region of Andalusia. A lot of people take a day trip from Sevilla, but we were continuing northward toward Barcelona, and made a two-day pit stop.

Córdoba 001 Not really sure what’s going on in Córdoba in 2016, but they are definitely ready for it.

Córdoba is most famous for its Mezquita-Catedral (Mosque-Cathedral). The original structure switched hands between the Christians and the Moors a couple times. The building and construction was mostly completed by the Moors, but now it’s a Catholic cathedral.

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The outer walls of the Mezquita-Catedral Córdoba 065

The huge interior of the Mesquita-Catedral is simply breathtaking. There are so many small intricate details on the walls, rows and rows of pillars, and symmetrical red and white archways.

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And smack-dab in the middle of this building is a cathedral, complete with alter, domes, and religious figures.

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It felt like we were in a church and a mosque mashed-up in one building.

We also spent a couple hours wandering around the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (The Palace of Christian Monarchs). It was one of the primary residences of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. So, it explains why there was a statue of them with Christopher Columbus.

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The palace was not really that interesting, just a place to walk around. But, the nicely manicured garden was okay enough to make the visit pleasant.

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We loved Córdoba. Sure, the city is nice. Sure, the Mezquita-Catedral is impressive. Sure, the little side streets and medieval feel is cool. But, mostly, we fell in love with Córdoba for the food. Mmmmm, foooood…I should warn you now that the rest of this post will be rambling on and on about food.

We ate a few meals/snacks at a little tapas bar right next to the Mezquita-Catedral called Bar Santos. They are famous for their Tortilla Española, a Spanish omelet (not the Mexican flatbread us Californians usually think of). Jay and I frequently ate Tortilla Española at home. Jay learned to make it from a cooking show, and it was a staple in our diet. It’s easy, quick, and it required only a short list of ingredients: eggs, potatoes, onion, and Jay liked to throw in some green olives for saltiness. We’ve never had a true Tortilla Española before, and this was the perfect introduction to it.

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At first bite, I wasn’t too impressed but I soon realized how my fork kept going back for a piece of the huge slice sitting in front of me. The potatoes were velvety and smooth, the egg was fluffy, and each bite was filled with the perfect amount of saltiness. We were fans. We also tried other dishes, which we really liked. It was the perfect place for a small meal.

Since we were spending Thanksgiving in Córdoba, we wanted to splash out a little bit from our usual budget-conscious fares. A quick search on tripadvisor turned up a restaurant called Ziryab Taberna Gastronomica. We decided to take a stab at it, and showed up at 8pm.

Oh yeah, that reminds me to mention meal times in Spain. It’s pretty similar to that of what we experienced in Argentina- large lunches, a long siesta, and late dinners. However, for us, being frequently on the move (sight-seeing, transiting to a different city, what have you), we sometimes missed our window of opportunity for lunch. If we wanted to eat a late lunch, say around 2pm, we were going hungry. Restaurants and most eating establishments closed for siesta between 2pm and re-open at 8pm. So, thankfully, places like Bar Santos, which didn’t close for siesta, kept our bellies full.

Back to our Thanksgiving feast: We showed up at Ziryab Taberna Gastronomica at 8pm, and they were just opening their doors, so we were the first patrons in. Faux pas? Who cares, we were hungry!

Once we seated, we looked over the menu as we enjoyed a glass of red wine. The menu was in Spanish, and we did an okay job of navigating through it and picking out our dishes. We started out with a typical Andalusian dish called Salmorejo. It’s a thick, almost pasty, gazpacho-type soup made of tomatoes, and topped with Iberian ham and croutons. Yum!

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Then, we had their oh-so-delectable fried eggplant drizzled with honey. It was so good, we were too busy gobbling it up to bother with a photo. Then, came the main course, the grilled squid risotto. It was divine! The squid was cooked perfectly, and the risotto was creamy and perfectly seasoned.

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And we finished off our meal with a shared dessert of frozen yogurt with fresh berries. The meal was perfection for a very reasonable price of about 35 Euros. We easily would’ve paid more for this meal. The quality, the clean flavors, and the service made us feel all fancy-schmancy, which was pretty difficult to do at this stage in the game. We were feeling scrubby despite having tried our best to clean up with our very limited clothing options. The waiter could have fooled us with his impeccable service and his perfect English. I felt like I was dripping in diamonds, and sashayed out of that place in my hoodie with dignity! We loved it so much, we went back for another meal the following night, tried other items on their menu, and were equally impressed and satisfied.

Unfortunately, we had a couple misses too. For example, how can anyone do churros con chocolate wrong? Apparently, this one place advertising churros con chocolate in their window can.

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Greasy microwaved churros with thick nasty hot chocolate. Boo. And I was so looking forward to it too.

Our final lunch excursion in Córdoba took us to a restaurant called Casa El Pisto/Taberna San Miguel. It was a charming family-run establishment filled with sophisticated locals and tourists. The decor was fantastic with walls adorned with paintings by Julio Romero de Torres. I’m not sure that they were originals, but they were really beautiful to look at.

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We ate a few different tapas, pretty forgettable, a bit on the salty side, but the service was great, and the house wine was pretty tasty. The only dish we bothered to photograph was the first: a ceviche-type salad of sliced white onions, marinated white fish, orange chunks, olive oil, and lots of salt. Some bites were too salty for me, but some bites that weren’t had a nice balance of sweet and salty.

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So, that was it. We came to Córdoba, we ate, and we left. We made our next move to the cities of Toledo and Cuenca in the region of Castilla La Mancha.




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