Here in Seville, I´ve realised I´m an inverted snob. I suspected as much living in London where you had to drag me kicking and screaming to Hooray Henry infested areas such as Chelsea and Fulham. Surely in a city so far from the infamous British class system I´d be happy to hang out with everyone, even if they do have a tendency to wear chinos and Ralph Lauren polo shirts.
But no, my little foible has followed me to deepest Andalucia, where Pijos (the Spanish equivalent of sloans) abound, and elicit the same recoiling effect as their counterparts in Blighty. But the thing is, this overt poshism somewhat limits my experience. Certain areas such as Arenal, become ´no-go´ zones but in the end it´s me who misses out.
Such was the case of tapas bars of the moment ´Ovejas Negras´ and ´Mamarracha´. I´d heard of Ovejas Negras a while back, but its proximity to the Cathedral had ´Watch out there are Pijos about´ ringing in my ears. So, in a cutting my nose to spite my face kind of way, I just decided to stick to what I knew, i.e. the various eating establishments lining the Alameda de Hercules. Until that is a Galician friend who was new in town, and free from such self imposed restrictions suggested checking it out, and in I stepped, scanning the room for the fire exit, in case I was launched into a pijo phobic panic attack.
Sitting, perched on a stool by the bar, I needn´t have worried. Ovejas Negras is smart, but in an exciting, finger on the pulse kind of way, and the food doesn´t disappoint. We ordered the Risottazzo, which is basically a mushroom risotto, but the flavour and texture was far from basic. Risotto outside of Italy can be tricky to pull off, I´ve tasted some bland, gloopy stodge in my time, but the offering at Ovejas Negras was a creamy, mushroom delight with a depth of flavour that turned me into a ´crazy Harry met Sally moaning in public lady´. I also tried the fish and chips, a tastier twist on the British variant, with moist battered cod chunks nestling on a bed of tartar sauce and spiced up, chunky chips.
Ovejas Negras opened in 2011 under the helm of Argentinian Juan Manuel Garcia and his business and life partner, Andaluza Genoveva Torres Ruiz. Together they had worked in an array of international kitchens, including under the chef one loves to hate, Gordon Ramsay in LA. So with a wealth of experience and influences under their belt they have literally taken the mid priced tapas market by storm, bringing pop art, urban interior style, and kick ass service to what was a tired and conservative offering. Most importantly, the food doesn´t suffer, it´s intelligently put together, envelope pushing enough, but not too much to scare the locals and there´s an eclectic mix of clientele who are drawn by the buzzing atmosphere and plaudits from far and wide.
But things don´t end there for Juanma and Genoveva. Just along the street they´ve opened Mamarracha, which is currently even more of a hot ticket than Ovejas Negras, boasting a hot coal oven and a vertical garden passing itself as a wall covered with 450 plants. And then there´s La Chunga, down by Triana Bridge, recently celebrated as one of the best breakfast joints in town, so it seems fair to say, thanks to this dynamic partnership, Seville´s gastronomic landscape has been changed for ever
Ovejas Negras, Calle Hernando Colon 8, Tel 955 12 38 11
Mamarracha, Hernando Colon 1, Sevilla, Tel 955 12 39 11
La Chunga, Calle Arjona 9, Sevilla, Tel 600 34 11 39