On the Gastronomy Trail in Valencia

Valencia is currently witnessing a food and drink revolution with the birthof ‘gastro tapas’, the ‘gin and tonic’ trend that is hitting the city andmany new gourmet restaurants, including four Michelin starred, appearingover the last few years.

Combine this with the more traditional gastronomy elements of the city suchas the ‘pintxo’s tapas bars, popular throughout northern Spain; excellentpaella, a dish that originated here and local drink ‘horchata’ made fromtiger nuts – it’s a must visit city for gastronomic aficionados. For those that want to follow the gastronomy trail and seek out some of thenew, quirky and traditional food and drink attractions in the city here aresome of the highlights:

• The recession in Spain has prompted many tapas restaurants to re-inventthemselves which has led to the birth of ‘gourmet tapas’. Probably bestdescribed as similar to the modern day tasting menu, one of the top placesto sample it done the Spanish way by renowned Spanish chef Quique Dacosta,is Vuelve Carolina in the historic centre. www.vuelvecarolina.com

• If you’re impressed by Vuelve Carolina, pop upstairs another night to eatat Dacosta’s new restaurant, El Poblet that opened in October 2012. Dacostais one of Spain’s top chefs and owner of renowned two star Michelin ‘QuiqueDacosta Restaurante’ in Denia. The menu incorporates some of the traditionaldishes he offered in Denia when he first opened his restaurant in the 1980s.www.elpobletrestaurante.com

• For fine dining try Riff in the L’Eixample area or La Scucursal in theBarrio del Carmen. Both have one Michelin star and offer some of the bestMediterranean fusion cuisine in the city. www.restaurante-riff.com orwww.restaurantelasucursal.com

• There are many tapas bars in the historic centre that offer ‘pintxos’ – atype of fast food tapas. This dish is typical in northern Spain and consistsof a meat, fish or vegetable tapas skewered together on a piece of bread.Diners help themselves from the cabinets at the bar and pay at the enddepending on how many ‘sticks’ or skewers they have on their plate. Greatfor those that like to look before trying.

• Gin and tonic is suddenly the drink of choice all over Spain and Valenciais no different. Almost every bar, pub and café has a separate gin and tonicmenu listing a wide variety of gins. It’s not cheap – averaging around €10 adrink – but a small price to pay to be in with the in crowd. Even a Spanishwinery has jumped on the trend and launched a gin www.nginvlc.com/home.asp

• Visiting the Central Market, Europe’s largest fresh produce market is amust for the variety of food stuffs on offer as well as admiring thefantastic structure itself. There are around 900 stalls selling everythingfrom freshly caught fish to whole sheep’s heads, sacks of colourful spicesand brightly coloured oranges and lemons. www.mercadocentralvalencia.es

• No visit to Valencia is complete without trying the local non-alcoholicdrink, horchata. An unusual drink and unique to the Valencia region it’smade out of tiger nuts, sugar and water in which you dip large finger-shapedbuns called fartons. The best place to try it is a traditional horchatorias– there are two opposite each in the centre, close to Plaza de la Reina

• Those that like their drinks alcoholic should head to the Café de lasHoras, one of the best settings in which to try Valencia’s other local drink‘Agua de Valencia’, made from oranges, any spirit which is on hand andtopped up with cava. This cocktail bar with its high-baroque ceilings andopulent furnishings demands drinking something exotic.

• Head 20 minutes out of the city for the chance to try the city’s mostfamous dish paella in a stunning location. The Casa Carmela Restaurant islocated on the beach front and cooks Valencian paella over wood, thetraditional way. www.casa-carmela.com

• Another legendary place to try paella at the beach front is La Pepica,where Ernest Hemingway and other luminaries once dined. The walls areadorned with photos and tributes to those famous and some not so famousclients and the view over the Mediterranean is superb. www.lapepica.com

• Handy for making all that Paella, Valencia has its own rice growingregion, Albufera, not far from the city centre. La Albuefa Nature Park ishome to a huge fresh water lagoon and claims to be the birthplace of paella,as well as being one of the most important wetland areas in Spain. Thevillage of El Palmar, inside the park is probably the optimum place to trySpain’s national dish.

• Valencia runs a Restaurant Week twice a year, usually in June and Novemberand it’s a good time for food lovers to visit as chefs at participatingrestaurant across the city prepare special menus for diners. Priced at just€20 for lunch and €30 for dinner - it’s a great opportunity to taste some ofthe city’s top restaurants. www.valenciacuinaoberta.com

Factbox Valencia is easily accessed with direct flights with Ryanair from Bristol,East Midlands, Stansted, Manchester and Dublin, EasyJet from Gatwick andIberia from Heathrow to Barcelona, with a connection to Valencia.

For more information about Valencia visit www.turisvalencia.es


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