There`s nothing better for the soul than to jet away for a pampering weekend full of sun, excitement , fabulous Wines and superb food experiences. I`d never visited Valencia before so this was a great opportunity to take in this wonderful city and to spend a few days touring the region , meeting the Restaurateurs , Farmers , market traders and city folks. Now ,back in the cold Cumbrian climate i`m just pining to return again in Summer with lots of happy images in my head…and my camera.
The Spanish city of Valencia , known throughout the world for its Oranges is the 3rd largest city in Spain. The historical city centre (above ) hosts many bars, people enjoying life eating and drinking and generally everyone seems pretty well laid back. I`m not going to bore you with the finer points of Spanish food geekiness as I do realise that not everyone`s as bad as I am. It`s probably for the best if I just tell the tale with my photos instead. First stop Central Market.
This is the cities main food market and a foodies dream location…..Ohhh the wonderful dishes that I could create from here. Everything was fresh , the seafood alive , the vegetables in tip top condition and the stallholders totally passionate about their produce.
Superchef Quique Dacosta started off his cooking career here 25 years ago at El Poblet restaurant which he now owns ( with a Michelin star ). Downstairs he`s also opened a very modern and lots less formal `Gastro Bar` called Vuelve Carolina and also a nearby Tapas style restaurant , Mercatbar. The evening set off with a visit to Vuelve Carolina for a small selection of their Tapas to whet the appetite before dinner upstairs in El Poblet.
The Living Forest “Coca”
Paper and Iberian Pork
So , Tapas quickly down and straight upstairs to El Poblet for a shortened version of Quique`s Tasting menu.
Fine dining Dacosta style is what you`ll get here. Superbly styled and firmly established innovative signature dishes ( from past seasons at the Quique Dacosta 3 Michelin starred restaurant ). A meal at El Poblet won`t break the bank and runs in at 58 Euros for a Tasting menu. Then there`s the Historic Tasting menu for 82 Euros. For this you`ll typically get 3 or 4 appetisers , 7 or 8 main dishes , 2 desserts and then petits fours. For a Michelin starred restaurant then prices don`t often beat that.
Here`s a scaled down version of Quique`s Historics Menu seeing as though I ate 10 courses at Mercatbar and 4 courses at Vuelve Carolina before dinner at El Poblet I think this was a wise choice.
A very innovative and convincing signature of Quique`s entitled `Petals of Roses`. So beautiful.
“The Haze” – Peas , Pork, Enoki Mushrooms with aromatic Moss and Pine scents.
“Rice Ashes” – Quique`s tribute to Valencia`s Autumnal landscape. Each year and after the Rice has been harvested the Rice fields are totally burned in order to prepare and nourish the soil for the following season. Hidden underneath the Ash on Quique`s dish lies a creamy Senia Rice that generates life back into the dish. Truffles and Chicken livers add huge amounts of body to the dish.
Citrus Countryside – Kumquats , Mandarins and Citrus biscuit powder.
Petits fours – “The Magic Box”. Shake the box and delights will appear before your eyes.
Next morning was a trip around the Rice fields. Harvest time had already passed and so the various growing areas were in a state of preparation for the new season. There`s many many varieties growing here and controls are very tight on quality and variety. The photo below demonstrates just part of a selection harvested from the various farms of the Albufera Rice fields.
More family recipes – Paella in Elche
An aerial view over the Rice fields of Albufera shows the huge areas dedicated to this fine product.