Spain is not only well known for its beaches, resorts and history, but also ( and for some people it is the most important feature) … FOOD. Here I would like to share with some of the typical traditional dishes that you should try while enjoying your stay in Valencia.
When we think about Spanish cuisine the first thing that comes to your mind is paella and you are not mistaken. Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that is based on rice with variation of added meat, seafood, or vegetables. In fact, the province of Valencia with its rich rice field scattered around the area, is considered the cradle of paella.
When I first came to Valencia I was dreaming about to going to one of arroceriaz and get myself a decent plate of a paella with a seafood. To my amusement I found out that there is NO seafood in Valencian paella. Yes. You heard me right. Traditional Valencian paella is cooked with rabbit, chicken different kinds of beans, pepper and other vegetables .
To tell the truth, I really liked the paella with rabbit and chicken. It is a really hearty food, so I wouldn’t recommend eating it all day long but trying it is a “must do” in Valencia! One of the restaurants where I really liked Valencian paella is called Bar& Kitchen and it is located in the historic city center on Plaça d'Ibanyes, 7. The meat in paella was very fresh and well cooked with a tasty crisp and most importantly it was not really oily (I noticed they like to add a lot of oil in every dish). Although the portion seemed quite small but in the end, I didn’t even to manage to finish it. The price was quite ok, taking in consideration the location – around 8-9 euro for a portion
Of course it doesn’t mean that this port city doesn’t have any sea food with rice, just they are called not paella, but arroz marinero, arroz a banda etc. I highly recommend you trying arroz negra, which is sometimes mistakenly called “black paella”. It is made of white rice, the ink of cuttlefish ( or squid) that gives it the black color, squid, garlic, green cubanelle peppers, sweet paprika, olive oil , seafood broth and sometimes chefs add crab meat , shrimps or muscles.
Cool fresh Sangria – a traditional beverage drink – will perfectly add to a nice dinner. It normally consists of red wine, chopped fruits, sweeteners and sometimes brandy. The origin of this drink goes back to the Roman Empire. It is believed that Romans were the first to start mixing wine and water in order to sanitize the drinking water. However, only in 20th century sangria became famous worldwide. Tinto de Verano - not so well-known in the world- is another popular drink in Valencia. It is similar to sangria but in contrast to Sangria it is way sweeter and also it is more easy to prepare as it consists only of red wine, some sparkling water and sweeteners.
Another cool beverage that is advertised on every corner and in many cafes is Horchata. This white opaque drink looks like milk but it is made from tigernuts (chufas), water and sugar. I found this drink really sweet but surprisingly refreshing (just what is needed to survive the Spanish hot weather). The tradition of drinking horchata comes even from the period of Muslim presence in Valencia (around 13 th century). Horchata is usually served here together with fartons , sweet brick-shaped kind of pastry made of flour, water or milk, sugar, oil, yeast and eggs.
One thing I noticed while living in Spain – is that locals like to eat very often at least 5 times a day. In the morning they eat breakfast (desayuno) that consists of coffee with milk ( café con leche that is similar to cappuccino) and toasts with paste made from fresh tomatoes with olive oil or croissant. Then around 10-12 comes the time of the second breakfast that consists of coffee and some snack. 14-15 is usually the time of lunch and in many cafes and restaurants there are special daily menus, where for 9-12 euros you could get 3 courses and a drink. Around 16- 17 again comes the time for coffee or some snacks and in the evening between 21.00-22.00 is the time for some dense dinner.