Spanish cuisine is renowned for its exquisite flavours and unique combinations. Paella is by far the most widely known Spanish dish and it hails from none other than Valencia. Spain’s third largest city is overlooked by most tourists, however its cuisine alone will entice you to change your plans. Located on Spain’s east coast Valencia enjoys the best of both worlds, fresh seafood from the Mediterranean Sea, fresh produce and excellent game from the fertile lands that surround the Sierra Calderona. These can be appreciated through a tour of the city’s gastronomy with our recommended Valencian menu.
In Spain where the tapa culture prevails, you can enjoy small bites of many dishes prior to your meal. In Valencia, you’ll commonly see the usual jamón ibérico (Iberian ham) and potato croquettes, however the selection of seafood and meat dishes is what you should try. Starters like seasoned vegetables sautéed with Mediterranean squid and Iberian ham will open your appetite. You will also notice that a variety of dishes combine flavours from the land and sea just like the city.
RICE & NOODLES
Rice is an important ingredient in the Valencian diet. It was introduced by the Moors, and is used in a variety of dishes including the ever so popular paella. Traditional paella recipes feature chicken, rabbit, duck, even snails with seasonal vegetables like green beans and peppers mixed with saffron and cooked to perfection. There are many modern variants such as seafood paella and mixed paella (with both chicken or rabbit and seafood).
For the best paella, we recommend you stop by La Marcelina (Avenida Neptuno 8), the restaurant has been around for 200 years and their paella is one of the reasons why. They have won numerous awards over the years, often called the ‘authentic culinary paradise.’ Chances are if you meet someone who has been to Valencia, they have surely been to La Marcelina.
There are several other dishes in which rice plays an important role. For the best selection of rice dishes seek out chef Josemi Bielsa at Tridente Restaurant (Paseo de Neptuno 2). This seaside restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a complete Valencia meal with pleasant scenery. From traditional paella prepared with farmyard chicken, rabbit and duck, to paella made with Mediterranean lobster. Other delectable dishes include the traditional arroz a la banda, a rice dish with fish and the popular arroz negro prepared with cuttlefish ink. Our next suggestion is 100% Valencian, something you will not find anywhere else called Fideuà. Fideuà is a noodle dish with seafood that includes shrimp, clams, squid and fish. Since this is a particular dish, for the best, we recommend you go to the 2010 winner of the Madrid Fusion Award – Senzone Restaurant (Calle Navarro Reverter 14). Located in the modern Hospes Palau de la Mar hotel in the centre of Valencia, the restaurant may look unassuming, but its cuisine will completely satisfy you.
The Mediterranean offers an incredible range of seafood and chef Bielsa carefully chooses only the best to prepare scrumptious dishes. Fish dishes are commonly served with all i pebre sauce, traditionally made with garlic, peppers and eel though there are many variants. Tridente Restaurant’s fresh fish served with cuttlefish ink vermicelli and ‘all i oli’ foam is simply irresistible!
For a taste of the authentic countryside, we recommend a short trip 63 km southwest of Valencia to the secluded Xátiva castle where you will find Mont Sant (Subida al Castillo S/N Xátiva). This restaurant is a culinary masterpiece located amidst the charming countryside. Here the selection is small, but the taste is incomparable. From preserved artichokes in oil with shavings of Iberian ham to our choice, duck stuffed with foie gras, porcini mushrooms and Iberian ham, everything is cooked just right, seasoned to perfection and wonderfully presented – all you have to do is enjoy!
No meal is ever complete without dessert. Valencia is also known for its almonds with which are used to make turrón, definitely worth a try. At Mont Sant it is a must to try their pineapple carpaccio, absolutely delicious. If you prefer chocolate, the Senzone’s ‘chocolate pure expression’ is your match. Other local treats include fantos, which are sugar glazed pastries best enjoyed with horchata a refreshing drink made with water, sugar and tigernuts, perfect after a busy day of shopping or sightseeing in Valencia in the oldest, most famous horchatería, Santa Catalina (Plaza Santa Catalina 6).
While you enjoy the sights, be sure to savour the cuisine and make the best of your trip to this magical city.
LUXOS City Guide for Valencia
Traditional Paella Recipe
1 kilo of rice
2 kilos of chicken
1 kilo of rabbit
300 grams tomatoes
500 grams green beans
250 grams Valencia beans
100 grams peppers
3,5 litres of water
Place the paella pan over a flame with oil, when it is hot add the cubed chicken and rabbit. Fry until lightly brown, add diced tomatoes and peppers and cook for 7 to 8 minutes without burning. Add water and cover until meat is almost cooked, combine beans, saffron, paprika. Add more water and boil for 3 to 4 minutes, gradually add rice and leave cook for 5 to 6 minutes, then lower the flame and leave it stand until the rice absorbs the water.