5 days in Andalucia, Part II: Day 2 Córdoba.

17 Sep

I am circling back around to finish 5 days in Andalucia and then I’m going to try to catch up with my other travels since then with 1 post per day this week.

Day 2 Córdoba was all about the Mezquita and the Alcazar, followed by a very good lunch!

So, I wake up after a long nice sleep in my very comfortable bed and grab a quick breakfast (included in the price of the hotel) of jamon iberico, manchego, scrambled eggs, fresh squeezed oj, and few biscuits for the road.

It’s 9:30 a.m. and I know I need to get to the Mezquita rather quickly before all the other tourists descend on it. So, here’s a quick history of the church turned mosque turned cathedral – named the Mequita – depending on whose history you want to believe.

The cathedral literature says “It is a historical fact that the San Vicente Basilica was destroyed during the Islamic period in order to build the subsequent mosque.”

Other literature just picks up at the year 785 when the construction of the mosque began. It underwent 4 stages of construction in different eras according to who was in power at the time. It was the social, cultural, and political center of the town.

Here are some pics of the outside as I moved around it.

This is the outside wall consisting of 19 original doors that are now closed. These doors were important sources of light way back when.

Here’s a close up of one of the doors. They were spectacular.

You enter the Mezquita through a rather unimpressive courtyard compared to what is next. Immediately inside the main building, you see the alternating red and white brick and double arches all about which “were modeled on the Hispanic-Roman tradition”, according to the brochure. See the first pic, above.

Throughout the whole inside you can also see the work of Byzantine artists. The mosaics were incredible.

Here are a few more pics:

And, here’s a shot toward the ceiling of the now Christian part of the Mezquita:

So, after several hundreds of years, King Ferdinand II reconquered Córdoba and he was eager to claim the mosque as a Christian space. So, inside you’ll see plenty of Christian symbols, chapels, and a treasury composed of pieces used during prayer time.

It’s all pretty stunning.

After the Mezquita, I went over to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (castle of the Christian Monarchs). It began as a palace and fort for Alfonso X in the 13th century. From 1490 to 1821 the Inquisition operated here. Today, it has some beautiful gardens surrounding it. Not sure if they want to make you forget the atrocities that were committed here, but it worked on me for a few minutes when I came to the rose section. Such sweet smells. I know I’m cheap at times.

Here’s a pic of the Alcázar, from the top looking back over the city.

Here’s a pic of the gardens:

After going to mosque and church, I decided it was time to head to the Jewish temple. I’m an equal opportunity learner when it comes to religions 😉 No pictures here, but it was cute.

Of course sightseeing works up an appetite, so I headed to a restaurant called Ziryab Taberna Gastronomica. I was the first one there at 12:30 because that’s super early to eat lunch, but that’s how I roll these days.

From the moment I walked in, I was greeted by a darling waiter named Luis. He was all smiles and very happy to assist me. He suggested the menu del dia and that’s usually a good choice. I asked what choices in each section he liked and he steered me onto my favorite salad I’ve had in the past 6 months. It was a very simple salad, yet the ingredients were perfectly fresh and ripe, which they needed to be to execute this mostly tomato salad.

Here are the ingredients: tomatoes, hard boiled egg yolks, capers, sliced pickles, fresh basil, sweet onions, sherry vinegar and olive oil. Then, on the side, there were endive leaves with basil oil on them. Perfect, delicious. I love basil oil. I think there’s nothing better on a salad in the summer.

Here’s a quick recipe if you want to make it at home:
Basil Oil

Ingredients and items you need to get started:
1 bunch basil, stalks removed
boiling water
bowl of ice water
non-terry towel
blender
good extra virgin olive oil
salt

Directions:
1) Bring a pot of water to boil (just enough to submerge your basil leaves)
2) Drop the basil leaves in for 10-15 seconds, just enough so that they are barely wilted but still super green
3) Take the basil out with a slotted spoon and immediately submerge into the ice water bath. This helps retain the color and the freshness and is a necessary step. If you skip this step, your oil will be an ugly color.
4) Remove basil from ice bath and squeeze out excess moisture in a non-terry towel.
5) Throw basil in a blender with some good EVOO and puree until it has a fine consistency. Use that day or the next. Keep in a covered container in the fridge.

Next came the main course. Again, I was hesitant to order fish, but the waiter talked me into it mostly because I was curious about the almond sauce underneath.

Nice dish! The tuna was cooked perfectly – seared on the outside and rare on the inside. The sauce was excellent. I asked the chef, who the waiter was nice enough to bring out the Chef to talk with me, and she – Claudia – said the sauce was made of toasted almonds, toasted bread, saffron, soy sauce, black pepper and stock. She also studded the outside of the plate with more basil oil, which the dish really needed as the sauce was smoky. So, basil was a great compliment to it.

Finally, dessert: brownie with yogurt ice cream. Well, the brownie was very mediocre and I’ve made way better, but the yogurt ice cream was probably some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. It was incredibly smooth, with just a hit of sweet, and it had the great tanginess of really fresh, plain yogurt. Me encanta!

Here’s a pic (I already took several bites before I remembered to take a picture, per usual when someone puts something sweet in front of me. Usually, I forget who I am and what I’m doing for a few seconds as I’m so excited to see chocolate).

And the bread. Hot, crunchy outside, soft inside. The 18 euro lunch was fabulous. And, the nice waiter served me a glass of Pedro Jimenez (good, dark sherry) and a café solo on the house. Great service, thanks!

Well, I had to take a nap after that, and actually for the night. Although I had a few stomach issues yet again (damn fish), I had another nice long sleep and awoke to a beautiful day to go to Seville.

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3 Responses to “5 days in Andalucia, Part II: Day 2 Córdoba.”

  1. Peter September 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Very Nice – wow I was missing you for a while! don’t you know I am living vicariously through your travels and adventures, get on the blog sister! Just kidding hope you are getting to enjoy as much as it feels like through this journey, take care and have fun!

  2. Bev September 18, 2012 at 12:21 am #

    Beautiful! . . .I must try to make Basil oil. Now I’m hungry again! Better go eat dinner. Take care xoxo

  3. sthadani September 19, 2012 at 12:57 am #

    I spent 4 months in Cordoba in college and have never been back or even really talked to anyone who has. So glad you liked it. Thanks for bringing back a lot of amazing memories!! This post in particular makes me want to reread my diaries from that semester abroad… Good on you for keeping such detailed records of your travels too. Looking forward to the next instalment where you and C are united!

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