When in Spain head to Seville. When in Seville hunt down these tapas dishes – your palate will thank you for it, says Lucy Hancock
The medieval city of Seville was once the heart of the Moorish empire in Spain and is one of the jewels in the country's culinary crown. As the reported birthplace of tapas, it's also home to the best jamón in the country. These are the seven tapas dishes you must try for a true taste of Andalucia in one bite.
If your Spanish isn't too hot and you thought you were ordering little chips, you'll be in for a bit of a surprise with this dish. These mini octopuses normally come a la plancha (grilled on a metal plate) and are perfect with a simple squeeze of lemon and a cold glass of cava.
Solomillo al whisky
Even if you're not a huge whisky fan, this pork tenderloin served with a garlic-infused whisky sauce is to die for. A hearty dish for the more voracious tapas consumer, it's a great reminder that the Spaniards sure know how to cook their meat. Trust me, you'll be needing bread to mop up every last drop.
Rabo de torro
OK, I admit this might not look like the most appetising dish you've ever seen but this oxtail stew is what the word 'awesome' was invented for. Served in a rich, velvety sauce, the meat is cooked until it falls off the bone. Tapas portions are generous in these parts, so make sure you've flicked your hunger switch to 'on'.
A creamier, more golden version of traditional gazpacho, this Sevillian speciality is usually served cold with a sprinkled garnish of small pieces of ham or sometimes a diced hard-boiled egg. In tapas terms, it's often used as a sauce for the little sandwiches known as montaditos. Boosted by vinegar and garlic, the burst of flavour from the region's sun-drenched tomatoes make it feel like your holiday is dancing around your mouth. If you fancy making it yourself, using good ripe tomatoes is the key to a successful soup.
Served in most bars, the ham from acorn-fattened black Iberian pigs is without doubt some of the most delicious you will ever taste. This stuff isn't any old jamón, this is the kind of jamón that treated with such reverence you're bound to leave Seville with a new-found love for the stuff. The very best is labelled jamón ibérico de bellota and has a beautiful ruby colour and incredible depth of flavour. Thinly sliced, it requires no more accompaniment than a square of olive bread and a glass or two of the local sherry.
Bacalao is Spanish for salt cod and dishes made with it are among the region's most treasured. Cod features frequently in Sevillian tapas, whether its soft creamy flesh is coated in breadcrumbs and fried (bolas de bacalao frito) or cooked to simple perfection with a light parsley sauce as an accompaniment. Meaty yet delicate, these dishes are testament to the adage 'less is more,' and are best enjoyed in the gentle breeze by the river Guadalquivir.
Espinacas con garbanzos
Simple chickpeas and spinach – a mind-blowing combo? When flavoured with the holy trinity of cumin, paprika and garlic it certainly is. Cook it yourself and see!