Valencia – the food capital of the world according to the Food & Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations. What a delight! We (my husband and I, the trip was part of ongoing birthday celebrations) had sunshine, blue skies and enchanting food, in the middle of January, what is not to love!
The wonder of Valenica is that it doesn’t seem to have caught up with the commercialism of the other big Spanish cities. Just 3 Euros for 2 coffees and a pastry. Our favourite was the Pasteleria Ciudadela. for ensaimada, a coiled sweet bread dusted with icing sugar.
We stayed at the Westin. A 15 minute walk to the old town and a 30 minute walk to the Port via the Arts & Science Complex. The Campo de Mestalla football ground is a 2 minute walk. The service throughout the hotel is some of the best we have had. On the bar list was Zeta Beer, a local craft beer, 100% natural, unpasteurised and unfiltered. The Zeta Hell was refreshing with a citrus flavour. We only ate in the El Jardi bar, the food was okay, I suggest you go out. Close by is the Bocadobar , we had the best Iberian ham croquettes of the holiday here (we did a lot of croquette tasting!). The sauteed prawns with wok vegetables are good and the wine list has a good local selection.
The best tapas of the holiday came from Casa Montana, a Valancian institution and well written about. Our favourite tapas were the smoked eel and the cuttlefish and onions, top class. The smell of Vermouth from the casks as you enter is intoxicating and made for a refreshing apertif with ice and lemon.
The City of Arts and Sciences is an architectural sight to behold as well as a great place to visit. With Europe’s biggest aquarium, and a science museum where not touching the exhibits is prohibited!
On food and drink must tries, look out for the Tiger Nut milk or Horchata, a creamy, luxurious, nutty flavoured drink. So named, because of it’s stripey shell, as it isn’t actually a nut, its a legume. Available at most local cafes and in the Central Market. If you want to try it now Rude Health have just bought out a product available in Waitrose. The other must try, is the tomato bread, if it makes me look as good as the glamorous ladies that we saw breakfasting on it each day, I’m in! Take some rustic bread and grill, rub with garlic and tomato, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!
For any food lover the Central Market is a must do, it has an extensive display of top quality local produce. The saffron price and quality is excellent as it is produced locally, go and see Domingo Lopez at his stall La Panada de las Especias, for a good selection. There are a lot of food tours on offer, we went as part of a paella cooking lesson from Escuelade de Arroces y Paellas, where we learnt the art of Valencia paella. They have a recipe on their website if you’d like to try at home first.
We loved Valencia, its weather, architecture, food and drink, go and visit!