Soliciting Flavours

Musings (more like rambling thoughts) of a Cardiff based lawyer obsessed with food and wine

Very moorish stuff! A few days of eating and drinking in Córdoba Province, Spain.

Córdoba (in southern Spain – about an hour on a fast train from Malaga) has been on my must visit list for many a year (as I slowly tick off city after city in Spain – where I would happily holiday for the rest of my days). It is a city with a delightful mesh of cultures, with the Romans, Moors, Christians, Jews and modern day Spaniards all having brought elements to the party.

As a city it was the capital of the Islamic Emirate that once covered much of Spain and was (in days gone by) regarded as the capital of the known world (back in the 10th century).

Nowhere better exemplifies the blend of cultures in Córdoba than the awe inspiring Mesquita (where the architecture and art of Islam and Christianity sit side by side).

Stunningly beautiful and rather humbling in terms of what was built in days of yore (I very much doubt humanity would now have either the inclination or indeed the wit to produce such beautiful things).

Whilst Mrs SF and I were there we, of course, had to eat and drink and we found/ stumbled upon some rather nice places.

This is by no stretch of the imagination a definitive guide to eating out in or the best of Córdoba (we were barely there long enough to scratch the surface of this rather wonderful city) and I am sure there are loads of lovely places that we didn’t visit (so many places, so little time). What it is is a summary of places Mrs. SF and I enjoyed during our 3 day/4 night visit.

The food and drink

It is fair to say that Córdoba (as a town that is very much on the tourist trail) has its tourist traps (lots of day trippers to lure in).

I like to think we avoided them, with the places we enjoyed included the following:

Taberna Luque (Calle Blanco Belmonte 4, 14003 Córdoba)

Looking for a substantial repast after a mega long “Planes, trains and automobiles” (not in that order) journey from Cardiff to Córdoba (via Bristol and Malaga), this tiny little place on the edge of the historic centre was just the ticket.

Not the cheapest, but good quality food and drink and the friendliest waiter ever.

Nice looking menu with plenty of interest.

We started off with some rather fine house croquetas and a complimentary plate of excellent lomo (cured pork tenderloin). We followed this up with a rabbit and garlic dish and some baby lamb chops. Both packed with flavour.

Cheese and a rather pleasing sweet Montilla PX finished off proceeding rather nicely.

The wine list is decent enough, with local Córdoba wines and those from further afield in Spain (i.e. Rioja). We had a pleasant bottle of Bodegas Sierra Cantabria crianza (€16), which went down rather well with our food.

Nice little spot and well worth a visit. The waiter we had was a total star. No English, but he seemed to know what we wanted instinctively and he coped remarkably well with my diabolical Spanish.

Taberna Montillana (Calle San Alvaro 5, 14003 Córdoba)

On a side street close to Plaza de Las Tendillas, this is a great place to gorge on Córdoba classics like flamanquin, salmorejo and deep fried aubergine with honey (berenjena con miel).

The deep fried aubergines with honey and goats cheese, in particular, were a revelation. Not usually that much of a fan of aubergines, but the way they do them in Córdoba really brings them into their own.

Taberna La Montillana’s riff on ham egg and chips, which we had on a second trip, was also top notch.

On the drinks they have a very classy and well priced selection of wines, which focuses on local wines, including Montilla Moriles wines (many of which are made like sherry, but most certainly are not sherries).

Prices are very reasonable and portion sizes are very large. Below was a tapa portion (€4.70) of the aubergine.

We visited this place a couple of times as it was close to our apartment and really very good. Lovely place and a must visit if in Córdoba in my opinion.

Website : click here

Garum 2.1 (Calle San Fernando 120 – 122, 14003 Córdoba).

Just off the river about 5 minutes walk from the Mesquita, the Alcazar and Córdoba’s Roman bridge

this is an ideal place for a classy lunchtime pit stop between sightseeing venues.

Interesting and creative tapas (for which it has won many an award) are the order of the day in this joint

with interesting takes on local dishes classics like salmorejo (here with cubes of amontillado jelly in it), berenjena (this time as deep fried balls with cane sugar syrup) and wider Spanish classics like bacalao fritters, Russian salad and tortilla.

The star of the show was some uber crispy skinned suckling pig.

Just look at how tiny this trotter is!

They have a nice list of wines from Andalucía and beyond. We had a lovely bottle of Garum from Bodegas Luis Perez in Cadiz.

This wine is a firm favourite of Mrs. SF and I and was very nicely priced here at (I think) about €16.

Prices here are a little above the average in Córdoba, with tapas being between €3.50 (for salmorejo) and €8.90 (latter for razor clams).

Still very good value with portion sizes quite big.

Very inventive,tasty, stuff and highly recommended.

Website: Click here

Restaurante Choco (Calle Compositor Serrano 14, 14010 Córdoba)

If you are looking for a blow out meal in Córdoba, this place serves up top notch stuff.

Cheap it ain’t, but well worth the top dollar it costs. One of the best meals Mrs. SF and I have ever had. A full run down of our visit to this place is on the blog.

Website: click here.

Taberna Tercio Viejo (Calle Enrique Redel 19, 14001 Córdoba)

This hole in the wall joint is very convenient if you are visiting the rather wonderful Palacio de Viana (a fine example of the famous patios of Córdoba).

It is very cheap, with a good selection of your standard tapas

What it is, however, known for is caracoles (snails to you and me)

I gorged on these with a lovely (nicely full) glass of Montilla – Moriles fino. Bliss for me – Mrs. SF passed on the snails (whilst giving me the “you’re a raving nutter” look – a look she has had much practice with over the years and thus has pretty much perfected it).

Very cheap with a good glass of fino and a glass of snails in a spicy broth or a larger en salsa portion (which I had) setting you back €2.50/€3,70 (compare that to Chez Francis here in Cardiff where 6 escargot cost £6.95 on my last visit).

El Gallo (Calle María Cristina 6, 14002 Córdoba)

El Gallo is one of those no frills, spit and sawdust type of tapas bars that proper Spain excels in. Forget the sophistication of the pintxos bars of Donostia – San Sebastian (much as I absolutely love them – back there in June) or even (in Córdoba itself) Garum 2.1, this is a bar that sells no nonsense food and drink at cheap as chips prices.

We enjoyed some lovely lightly battered prawns, with a very punchy aïoli, and a couple of glasses of Montilla – Moriles fino

and change from €5 (to my surprise it was quite alot more than a few cents of change).

Always packed (but there is lots of room in the back behind the bar), a few words of Spanish (not when spoken with my gawd awful accent though it seems) and sharp elbows help in getting served

It is very close to the Roman temple in Córdoba, with all roads in Córdoba seeming to lead to that spot.

We got lost on numerous occasions (even with Google maps) and uncannily seemed to invariably end up at the location of the temple!

Website: Click here.

Mercado Victorio (Paseo de la Victoria S/N, 14004 Córdoba)

A rather upmarket indoor food court, this cater for both your food and booze needs (covering Córdoba classics and beyond).

Think top notch jamon, cheese, flamanquin and seafood.

Nice selection of booze is also on offer, including local Montilla – Moriles wines

and those from all over Spain.

Website: Click here.

Montilla

We also made a side trip to Montilla, on the way to see friends in Malaga.

Montilla is about 40 mins on the bus (€3.20) from Córdoba and is very much a wine town, with it having a number of bodegas that are easily accessible by foot from the bus station.

We visited Bodegas Perez Barquero (luckily we had an individual tour and tasting thanks to a very kind introduction by Montilla – Moriles Wines in the UK ).

Great fun and very informative (Rafael Delgado who showed us around was a wonderfully genial host – a true gent), Mrs. SF and I came away mildly sozzled and with wine booty to take back home.

Whilst in Montilla we ate at Taberna Bolera (Calle Fuente Álamos 9, Montilla, 10 odd minutes walk from Barquero and even closer to Bodegas Alvear).

This place offers nice (good value) food and drink. Be aware portions are on the large side, so sharing of dishes tends to be the order of the day.

Very popular with the locals, it has a lovely selection of local wines.

at very good prices (the Lagar Blanco Palo Cortado is a bargain at €33 on the list – I picked up a bottle retail for €30 which in itself is a good price – so the Montilla experts I know
tell me – as outside of Montilla it retails at €40 plus).

We had a fantastic bottle of Bodegas Alvear Fino Capataz for the bargain price of €14 (for a half bottle – it retails in Spain at around €13 mark so the mark up is tiny here).

Lovely aged fino, which was on the road to becoming an amontillado. Cracking stuff for the price and a fab food wine.

The Verdict

Córdoba is a lovely city, with a delightful mix of cultures. This mix pervades not only the architecture, but also the food.

Good eating is to be found at all levels from your rustic tapas bars up to Michelin star joints and everything inbetween, with prices very reasonable.

On the booze front you have the charms of the local wines, with Montilla – Moriles wines (hard to find here in the UK – although Waitrose and M&S stock MM wines) dominating and offering super value.

Local and wider Andalucian still wines are also well worth taking a look at. I love Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines, but Spain has so much more to offer on the wine front and Andalucía is definately a region on the up, outside of the traditional power house of the sherry triangle, with some fabulous reds and whites.

Great place for a city break, with a few days (perhaps) either side in Malaga (super, very underrated, city) added to the mix and a side trip or two to the wine towns in the wine producing Montilla – Moriles DO, South of Córdoba (on the way to Malaga).

For the low down on Montilla – Moriles wines I would highly recommend Montilla – Moriles Wines UK. Great site from lovely people who are über passionate about these wines. They have lots of good tips in terms of eating and drink in Corboda and the surrounding area too.

The Detail

We flew into Malaga and then got the train from the airport so as to pick up a hight speed train from Malaga’s Maria Zambrano station. Trains are frequent and fast (50 mins from central Malaga to Córdoba).

In Córdoba, we stayed in Apartmentos Turísticos Duque de Hornachuelos – Nice apartment with a lovely terrace and all mod cons.

It even came with its own archeological ruins on site.

We visited in Semana Santa, which is quite something in Spain (especially the south), even if like me you are not religious.

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