Gourmet Corner: Valencia is more than Paella
Without "The America’s Cup"
& without "The Paella"
by Freddy Santamaria
, and is located in the east of the Iberian Peninsula on the Mediterranean coast. One of 17 Autonomous Communities making up the Spanish state, Valencia is also capital of the province which bears its name. Valencia is the capital of the Region of Valencia.
Valencia is the third most highly populated city in Spain
Since 1982, the citizens of Valencia have had their own statute of autonomy, with their own regional government.
The Spanish Institute of Statistics says the population of Valencia is 805,300 inhabitants (as of 2006). There are over 1600 restaurants in the city and almost 14,000 hotel rooms.
With approximately 2,700 hours of sunshine per year and an average temperature varying froma minimum of 8º C in January, the coldest month, to a maximum of 33º C in August, the hottest month, Valencia enjoys an excellent average temperature of 20º C.
This is a fact which, combined with very few rainy days concentrated in a few weeks of the year at the beginning of autumn, end of December and beginning of spring, means thatValencia’s inhabitants enjoy warm sunny mornings almost every day of the year.
Perhaps it’s the benign climate and the ever-present sunshine that make Valencia such an open city, with countless open-air bars, restaurants and, above all, people out in the streets.
History of Valencia
Probably the best way to understand the history of Valencia is to visit the archaeological site in the Plaza de la Almoina, a square in the heart of the old town – a city, like almost all-Mediterranean cities, rebuilt time and again on the remains of the different civilizations which have left their mark on its history.
This means that in thePlaza de la Almoina you can see the remains of the Roman "Valentia" and on top of them, Visigoth and Arab constructions, with remain from the Christian Era above them … and so on, until we reach the nineteenth-century buildings which, when demolished, revealed the archaeological site.
Tito Livio, the Roman historian, tells us that "Valentia" was founded in 138 B.C. on a marshy island in the middle of the River Turia to reward retired Roman soldiers with new land.
By the beginning of the 20th century,Valencia was an industrial city, buzzing with political ideas, and international events began to have an effect locally.
The most famous book of Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, writer & novelist, was "Arroz y Tartana", which was the standard bearer of the Valencia’s language of the time. A bourgeois republican, he led the Republican Party to victory in the local elections (1901-1923) and his novels were very successful all over the world.
Meanwhile, 1957 saw one of the worst floods in the history of the "River Turia".Many buildings still bear marks on the walls showing how high the waters rose. As a result of the disaster, a plan known as the Plan Sur was drawn up to divert the "River Turia".
In today’s Valencia, the old riverbed (that crosses the middle of the city) has been converted into a "green belt", and the city has made major leaps into the 21st century with the construction of beautiful gardens and new public and cultural buildings.
The"City of the Arts and Sciences", with "L'Hemisfèric", "L´Oceanogràfic", "Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia" & "The Calatrava Bridge" are part of the "New Valencia".
Valencia, host city for the 32nd America’s Cup in 2007, will also hold the European Grand Prix on the Valencia Street Circuit [August 24, 2008]. In addition, starting from 2009, the ATP Valencia Open Tennis Tournament 500 will be held in the City of Arts and Sciences.
Miscellaneous Views of The City of Arts and Sciences.
** The Gourmet Corner **
Just as the majority of people believe, Valencia is the native land & the birthplace of "The Paella".
Well, in one way that is true!
But, "Paella" is the way that the locals cook the rice in their homes.[Valencia is the first rice producer in Spain & one of the top in Europe.] It has nothing to do with the "Paella Menus" & the "Paella Plates" on exhibit in Valencia’s & Spanish Tourist Restaurants.
Each local home has their own way to cook the "Paella" and you can find more than 20 recipes,each well-known in its own right!
However, a Spanish "Culinary Book" from 1975by Victoria Serra Suňol, with the title of “Sabores” — Home Cooking — 12th Edition, I think has the most accurate recipe and ingredients for the "Paella".
"Paella Valenciana" (For 6 persons):
— 600 gr. of rice
— 1 medium size baby chicken
— 200 gr. of lean pork fillet
— 200 gr. of lean pork sausages
— 200gr. of squid
— 200 gr. of mussels
— 200 gr. of crayfish
[Please, if you are interested to know how to cook this recipe, send me an email and I will be pleased to answer your questions. Right here in this Gourmet Corner, it is too long a process to explain.]
After this "Paella" introduction, let me now advise you regarding the world of good restaurants that can be found in Valencia.
By the way, Valencia has 4 (Four) "One Star" Michelin Spanish Guides.
"My Favorite " …
Located in a popular Valencia district, far for the tourist trendy places, and very difficult to find,(the taxi crosses 4 times in front of the Restaurant with out noticing), the restaurant is located on a street corner. It has a white front wall with a small door and the street number & nothing more – no sign, no big lights, no doorman, nothing. But after you cross the threshold, all is class! Stylish design, light, tables distant from each other by at least 1 meter (rare in our day) & offering a very warm welcome!
Run by "Raul" (the owner & cook) & his wife "Amanda" (co-owner & sommelier), the restaurant dates back 30 years, when it was run by the parents of the current owners.
The chef has some influences from "El Bulli" [The No. One restaurant in the world]& his kitchen treats to perfection the fish specialties, and the rice and traditional meat dishes cooked with nouvelle cuisine influences. A delight for your taste and palate!
The restaurant hasa "sampling menu" for 110.00 euros per person, but needs to be ordered for the whole table.
The "menu" has, on the other hand, the advantage of combining starters, special rice("blow-up rice with shell fish"), fish, and traditional meat dishes with nouvelle cuisine interpretation ("roast young pigeon with pumpkin & mushrooms purée").
If your choice goes for "A la carte", instead, you can try as starters:
"Codfish warm salad pil, pil"
"Cuttle-fish with cacao & mushrooms"
For a special rice, try:
"Grilled rice with Mediterranean shrimp from Denia"—[UNIQUE!]
For main dishes:
"Fried sole with beetroot & potatoes"
"Canutillos rellenos de turron con compota de uva"[Difficult to translate!]
Of course, don’t forget to have an aperitif of "Manzanilla Clasica" San Leon, from "Bodegas Herederos de Argueso" or an interesting white wine "Belondrade" — The coffee is excellent & you should close your dining experience with a drink of the house "Marc de Riesling".
The most intimate table is No. 7[don’t hesitate to ask for it!]
Hosts: Amanda & Raul Aleixandre
The other three "One Michelin Star Restaurants" in Valencia are:
Calle Dr. Sumsi N° 4
Tel: +34 96 373 29 49
Calle Gillém de Castro N° 118
Tel: +34 96 374 66 65
Calle Amadeo de Savoya N° 15
Tel: +34 96 393 40 46
If the "Michelin Star Restaurants" are not of interest for you, the only place I can recommend is:
BODEGA CASA MONTAŇA
Bodega Casa Montaña is a century old tavern located in the area of "El Cabañal" near the port of Valencia –with a high quality cellar committed to promoting and extending the culture of wine.
Behind a modernist façade, in the heart of the popular Cabañal district, Casa Montaña is a vintage establishment with great personality. It has served as a meeting place for politicians, intellectuals and artists for over a century.
Apparently nothing has changed since its foundation in 1836.
It is still a meeting point, which opens up a universe of sensations. It is a place for enjoyment, for conversation, a place to "relive" the pleasure of the senses, and to re-encounter the flavors that surround good food and even better wines.
In its origins, it provided wine in bulk to the merchant ships of the port of Valencia, and after all these years, Emiliano García (the owner) has developed the tavern – adapting it to new times.
The human element is essential at Casa Montaña and so is the raw material:
—Anchovies: come from Santoña (near Santander city, North Cantabrian Coast) and are purchased and stocked in their season. They have an expert whose job is exclusively to remove the fishbone and slice the anchovies in filets. The result is their balanced taste and texture, which blend perfectly in the mouth. — Michirones: (cooked fava beans), are a classic in the history of Casa Montaña.
— Potatoes:come from a single harvest and are collected around the festivity of "El Pilar" in October in the dry area. The potatoes are tasty and keep their texture. They used to prepare "patatas bravas", "codfish croquettes", and "ajo arriero" in the style of Requena.
— Another ingredient in "Cod fish croquettes" is pine nuts, following the traditional recipe from Canyamelar (Cabañal). This dish is in great demand during Lent, the same as "titaina", another typical recipe from Cabañal, prepared with tuna (tollina), tomatoes, peppers and pine nuts.
— The Mediterranean character is present in Valencia’s "clochinas" or mussels.
— Grilled sardines and fried anchovies:come straight from the boats in Castellon, (city of Valencia region, north of Valencia town) and
— The grilled squid:comes from the beach in Valencia.
— Iberian cold meats and sausages: "cecina" from Leon.
— 100% Acorn Cured Ham:complete the selection of cold dishes.
— For cheese:Try the excellent cured cheese from Zamora and the cheese from the Espadan Sierra, a cheese with external fermentation and natural curd.
— For sweets:I will recommend the "tocino de cielo" with tomato marmalade.
Casa Montaña maintains,as a differentiating trait, an extensive list of wines, with over one thousand references from around the world, and with special emphasis on wines from Valencia Region. All of them can be tasted by the glass.The cellar holds as many as 20,000 bottles.
Opening times:Monday to Saturday:
** HOTELS in VALENCIA **
Valencia has a large selection of hotels in all the categories and standards, most located in the "Old Town" or in the "New Valencia":
My choices goes for hotels located in the "New Valencia" with better views, easy access, (taxis are cheap & plenty), and modern facilities:
** TRYP Oceanic (Sol Melia)
Calle Pintor Maella N° 35
Tel: +34 96 335 03 00
Tryp Oceanic 4* Hotel is located in the most modern area of Valencia, close to the Oceanographic Park and the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (The Arts & Science City). Only 500 meters away from the harbor & 2 km away from the City Center.
[Rooms 101, 102 & 103 with terrace all have direct views of the Museum of Science.]
The Airport of Manises is just 20 minutes away, and the Trade Exhibition Center & the Congress Hall are easily accessible. Distributed on 10 floors, the hotel offers 197 comfortable rooms, including 1 Junior Suite with bedroom and lounge — 1 Master Suite with 2 bedrooms, lounge and 3 bathrooms, as well as 2 rooms especially equipped for the disabled.
All of the rooms offer a fully equipped bathroom with hair-dryer, non-clouding mirrors, toiletries and direct dial telephone, air-conditioning, satellite TV, direct dial telephone with dataport, safe deposit box, mini-bar and electronic safety lock –secured garage parking, excellent hotel for business & leisure. Great Service is offered by Laura at Reception!
** AC VALENCIA
Ideal for business and leisure, located just 5 minutes from the port alongside the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias and the Oceanographic Park, right in the city’s new area.
Room Information:— AC Superior: The Superior AC Room complements the services of the AC Room by putting bathrobes, slippers and special details at your disposal.
When you cross the threshold of your room, you will feel you are in a space that is all yours, full of the exclusive details of AC Hotels; free mini-Bar, special reading light, personalized air-conditioning, TV with more than 20 channels, high-speed Wi-Fi Internet access, laundry service, 24 hour room service.
AC Junior Suite:The Junior Suite Room is individually decorated in the most exquisite style, In this room you can find a delightfully elegant sitting.
** NEPTUNO HOTEL
Paseo de Neptuno N° 2
[Playa de Levante (Les Arenes) – Levante Beach]
Tel: +34 96 356 77 77
Modern building, opened in 2004, located on the sea front,
— 5 minutes from la Ciudad de las Ciencias,
— 10 min. from the historic centre and the city centre,
Valencia has around 100 hotels to choose from, for all the tastes and budgets. It is impossible for me to present all of them, so my small selection is based on:
Quality/Service/Location & Price.
For more information:
Valencia Tourist Information:Monuments - List of Monuments
En Valencia hay Ciencia!
Freddy Santamaria "The smooth Operator"
June 26, 2008
For EDA Confidential:www.aycinena.com
Copyright (c) 2008, Freddy Santamaria.
All rights reserved.