Thursday, November 1, 2012

Food Highlights and More - Valencia, Spain

Valencia might be my favorite Spanish city so far. I don't say those words lightly. I have visited Zaragoza once, Barcelona twice, and Madrid thrice. In Zaragoza, I saw my host's home, a park, a heavy metal bar, and a classroom. In Barcelona, I have a favorite bar, restaurant, ice cream place, and enjoy the architecture. Though I've been to Madrid the most, I feel I barely know the city. But Valencia, Valencia I know.
This is what happens when I stay with two Valencians very enthusiastic and proud of their city. I get to wander the city, admire the fountains and squares, marvel at the ancient buildings and towers, sample local cuisine, and imbibe the drinks.
 The first notable drink is orxata made from the pictured tubers of the xufa plant. It was fascinating to hear that orxata's originates from Valencia. It was even more fascinating (and difficult) trying to pry apart these shelled tubers to enjoy the nutty tasting meal inside.
My friends took me to Sequer Lo Branch, where xufa is processed and orxata made. It's traditional to drink the orxata with fartons. Above you see the best way to enjoy orxata.
Another traditional Valencian specialty are the Valencian mussels, or clochinas. You must go to La Pilareta where clochinas is their specialty. Trust me, you'll want lots of bread to soak up the slightly spicy broth immersing the mussels.
If you're not too full or feel like something cool to assuage the spicy clochinas broth, I recommend nearby Amorino. They specialize in artfully arranged, wonderfully dense, rich gelato. Order three flavors for an edible "flower".
Another traditional dish is fideua. Pictured above is a non-traditional version featuring duck. I thank Gin Tapas for a great meal. I also thank my friend's sister for dating a Valencian restaurant magnate. While dining beneath the warm Valencian sun, we also enjoyed several different croquetas and tuna salad.
This dish headlined an amazing home cooked dinner. If you visit Valencia, find this dish in a restaurant or adopt someone's mom. It is arroz al horno with pork. It was legen-.... Wait for it ..-dary!
I want to mention Le Marquis for their eye catching photos decorating their startling white interior, but also their Menu of the Day. It is 14 for three courses. The highlight was this crepe with morcilla (blood sausage), foie, red fruits, and a small salad with vinaigrette drizzle.
When most people think of Spanish food, they think tapas, small plates, meat. There is more to Spain as you witnessed above. However, I want to mention Valencian tapas because they do them quite well. La Croqueteria, for example, stays open late and specializes in croquettes. They do serve other tasty dishes, so admire the crispy ham, sliced potatoes, fried egg, and be jealous you weren't there.
My last night out was fantastic. Friends were craving Negresco's signature cocktail and they knew I enjoyed cocktails and whisky. This venue advertises a large whisky, gin, and cocktail selection. Their menus were large, overwhelming with choices, but they had excellent descriptions. We drank a lot, danced, were entertained by the Spanish Elvis (a drunk patron whose nearby karaoke bar was closed), and played with a French bulldog mix. Cute, right?
When you visit Valencia, it will cure any ennui. This cat used to be sad and plaintive, but then it visited Valencia and discovered the excitement it offered.
Whether it's wire brushes, cocktails, traditional venue, architecture, exciting restaurants, Valencia has a lot to offer. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


  1. The food are really good to look at! I have a penchant for seafood and spicy stuff. Sadly, mussels do not go well with my tummy, so I think I’d let that Valencian mussels skip for now. It seemed like you had a nice time there. :)

    Kate Burton

  2. thanks for your comments. There are many other great things to eat in Valencia. Definitely look for paella.