Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Valencia: What to Eat, Where ?

When in Valencia, from Monday to Friday you can pay much less for lunch than on the weekends. Everywhere there is a "menu del dia" (daily specials) with prices starting at 8 euros up to 11 euros per person. It may include wine, taxes and dessert. Spaniards go for a decent meal during lunch and some tapas on the evening - just the opposite of the Dutch. Cloggies get satisfied with a simple sandwich and are prepared for the warm meal very early in the evening.
Just two blocks from our hotel we found a bar serving lunch (starter, main course, dessert and a glass of  wine at 8,50 euros). Our starters: gazpacho manchego (above) for me and paella for hubby (bellow). I thought I was going to get a chilled tomato soup, the famous gazpacho andaluz,  but instead I got a broth with chicken (and rabbit maybe?) and pasta - or another sort of dough. Exquisite. A typical autumn dish !  I do not recommend you have a paella for one person though- probably they make a big dish and re-heat it during the day or maybe is even from the night before.

The first evening we opted for tapas at a restaurant downtown called Baldo, in a contemporary decor. Must try: croquetas.  Just like it is made in Brazil: golden outside, soft inside - so different from the brown-almost-black-hard-outside Dutch kroketten.  Another delicacy is calamares a la plancha: squid lightly baked and served with garlic and parsley. The fried anchovies were also great. We spotted a couple of Dutch tourists who were in the airplane with us eating hamburgers with French fries also at Baldo. Oh My !

On the same street of the Mercado Central there were lots of paella pans and clay pots. I think I have enough clays pots but I started to caress some paella pans... My husband is my conscience and started to whisper "C'mon, you have a very good one at home".

How can use use gian paella p in aconventional stove ? Here is the answer (below).

Whoah ! This is what I call a giant paella. Spotted at the harbour area. It was noon and two men were already throwing pieces of frozen meat into the pan in order to make a huuuuge paella for the evening.
Downtown Valencia we had excellent paellas at two traditional, small places: Gres de Sabra (or Gris de Sabre ? just near the souvenir shops and where the bus turistic departs). A wonderful (and a bit too salty) paella with lobsters.  And paella de mariscos - my ever favourite - at Tasca located on Calle Corona 7, parallel to Quart Caballeros street. Just go there for lunch and ask to the owner behind the counter a paella dish for two (around 18 euros per person). At both such small restaurants the paellas were fresh - the cooks started the preparation the moment we had ordered them. Toasted on the borders and bottom, creamy in the middle of the pan, very aromatic...
Mediterranean food is wonderful, but my husband's taste buds ask now and then for something oriental. When we were at lunch time checking the menus and prices on the streets he started to talk to me about this oriental restaurant well recommended on his pocket guide: Feng. During the week, for just 8 euros something you can choose from 80 dishes - including desserts, a sweet liquor and taxes, excluding drinks. Really, you could pick as many cold dishes and salads from the belt as you wanted and also order warm dishes to the waitresses. They were Japanese and could communicate in a broken Spanish - but had a very good will and patience.

Wanna go for a change while in Valencia ? Feng is quite reasonable, calm and has elegant decor: dark wall with delicate Japanese decorative pieces. Calle Conde Altea 19, L'Eixample district. Metro stop: Colon.

Gourmet souvenirs ? I suggest you search for some turrones. A turron is a sweet bar with roasted nuts. It can be hard and crunchy (a chocolate one with almonds, for example) or soft, with or without egg yolk. Downtown Valencia, just near the bus turistic it was 13,50 euros. I refused to buy any. In a shop on the way to Plaza de Toros we  saw a shop with sweets and a turron was 3,50 euros. My husband exclaimed: "It cannot be ! I think she said trece and not tres. Go ask again.". I asked the girl behind the counter and she repeated: "Tres. Tres euros coma cinquenta".  Incredible ! I have bought five different ones, and back at home I gave soft ones to a friend of us and my parents-in-law (I prefer the hard ones cause I am a wild person - my mother-in-law even calls me barbarian, hahaha! But the soft one with walnuts surprised me and maybe became my favourite). In Holland you can find smaller, soft and chewy version of turrones at HEMA - they use rather the French name of it...  nougat.


LuRussa said...

Pela Espanha toda tem uns "botecos" onde você come as melhores paellas do país, não precisa ir em fancy restaurantes, né ? é uma delícia...são geralmente lugares pequenos, ficam lotados de gente, e o preço é muito bom !! as tapas também !!!


Anita said...

Falou dona Lu !
O Tasca e' pequeno, discreto, super limpo e muito bom. So tinha amigo do dono la, gente que tinha ido em busca de comida tradicional de boa qualidade e sem firulas.