Tony and I visited Alhambra, Granada in 2011.  The Alhambra is a must see for anyone who loves history, architecture, gardens and good food…in the beautiful city of Granada.
Getting there:  the train network throughout Spain has been greatly modernised in recent years.  Of course the other option is a tour group or via a private vehicle.  If visiting Alhambra and other World Heritage sites in Spain it might be advisable to book tickets online well ahead of your visit.  We did meet up with some people who left that too late and they were unable to visit Alhambra when they were in Granada – one of the main reasons for their visit so extremely disappointing.  Also be aware that the peak season can be very crowded.  We visited in September in the early morning – it was so beautiful and not too crowded.  Not sure if that has changed since 2011?

Here is a VERY brief summary of historic information from the Net (Wikipedia)
A UNESCO World Heritage site: 

Originally built as a small fortress in 889 AD on Roman fortifications – largely ignored until the mid 13th Century when it was rebuilt as a palace with garden walls – photographs show the distinct Islamic architecture of the time.  It was converted into a Royal Palace in 1333 by the Sultan of Granada.
“After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered in the Renaissance style.”

And some more from Lonely Planet

“The Alhambra is Granada’s – and Europe’s – love letter to Moorish culture, a place where fountains trickle, leaves rustle, and ancient spirits seem to mysteriously linger. Part palace, part fort, part World Heritage site, part lesson in medieval architecture.”

This blog post was inspired by our Spanish cooking over the last few days.  We’ve tried quite a few Paella recipes and this one is our favourite.  More recipes will be posted here soon + list of our collection of Spanish cookbooks.

Tonight’s Spanish inspired dinner – both dishes quite simple:

Cook with Confidence – Tapas” (Parragon Books 2015)….$13 from a Canberra post office

Ingredients to Serve 6-8:  4 sirloin steaks approx 200 g ea (thick);  5 garlic cloves;  3 tbsp Spanish olive oil;  125 ml dry Spanish sherry;  S&P;  fresh, flat leaf parsley (to garnish);  crusty bread.

The side vegetable dish to accompany the Sirloin steak above is:


Ingredients:  3 eggs;  450 g baby leeks;  225 g asparagus spears, trimmed;  150 ml mayonnaise;  2 tbsp sherry vinegar;  1 garlic cloves (crushed);  S&P;  2 tbsp capers

Method:  Summarised – hard boil eggs;  Slice leeks & asparagus into 9 cm lengths;  Steam or boil until just tender – drain & rinse under cold running water;  drain again;  add vinegar & garlic to mayonnaise + S&P;  toss dressing & veg together & chill for at least 1 hr;  just before serving put eggs & capers on top.

From “A Passion for Tapas” Parragon Books

Another favourite dish which is quite easy:

Steamed Mussels with Spicy Broth (from Neil Perry’s Good Food cookbook) – P108 – Serves 4

1.5 kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded;  extra virgin olive oil;  1 red onion;  4 garlic cloves;  1 teas chilli flakes;  2 tbsp baby capers (rinsed);  1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley roughly chopped;  150 ml dry white wine;  3 tbsp unsalted butter;  freshly ground pepper;  juice of 1 lemon.

Heat a little oil in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid.  Add the onion, garlic and chilli flakes and sauté for about 5 min.  Add mussels, capers, parsley and wine, then cover and cook until the mussels open, discarding any that don’t.  Add the butter and stir to combine with the pepper and lemon juice.  Check the seasoning and serve with toasted bread.
Like Paella, it works well with other Tapas dishes.  We love the simplicity of this dish.  The butter at the end enriches the sauce, but if you don’t like it by all means leave it out, it will still be yum.  To give the dish more substance, add some cooked pasta just before serving…so an Italian influence but it does work well with Spanish dishes and quicker than Paella when days are busy.

Where to after Granada?:

We travelled onto Seville –

 (Lonely Planet has just ranked it No 1 city in the world to visit with our home town, Canberra coming in 3rd!)…

the journey between Granada and Seville is approximately 3 hours by train;  2.5 hours to drive.  We had a few days in beautiful Seville (would like to return!) and then travelled onto Cordoba – a quick 45 min rail journey so possible to do as a day trip from Seville.  The highlight in Cordoba is the Moorish architecture – named after the Moors, North African people who conquered the Iberian Peninsula and many islands in the Western Mediterranean beginning in the 700s.

One of the most famous examples of Moorish architecture, the Mezquita or Grand Mosque of Cordoba, is today the region’s Catholic cathedral.

More on Seville and Cordoba in a future post.

Map below is from one of our Cookbooks/Travel Guides – Lonely Planet’s “From the Source – Spain”. Lots of good restaurants and food related experiences around Seville so we would like to return!