July, a Month for Eating Well in Valencia!

Deconstructed Valencian Salad at Galbis.

For reasons I am not entirely sure of why July has become a month for eating well, both at home and in local restaurants in the Valencia Region! This year has been no exception and we had the opportunity to taste traditional dishes, modern interpretations of them and enjoy good company and good wines.

Rosti with Mushroom and Grilled Goats Cheese.

The month started with a trip to L´Alcúdia, capital of the Ribera district, to the cookery school, sometime restaurant and take-away owned by Juan Carlos Galbis Olivares. Juan Carlos is a well decorated master chef who has dedicated his life to a study of rice varieties, their uses in culinary dishes and comparing their flavours and absorption rates in differing circumstances. He is considered an expert in cooking paella and has a modern interpretation of a number of classic starters and everyday food, including snacks.

Tartlet of Botifarra and Ajos Tiernos.

His restaurant/ school is called La Cuina Meditterànea and we were to enjoy a wonderful meal here to get the month going.

We started with a deconstructed Valencian salad, a peeled local variety of tomato, stuffed with roasted aubergine and topped with a slice of boiled egg, baby pickled cucumber and an anchovy. It was then given a few drops of the tomato juice and oil.

Juan Carlos Galbis and Paella de la Ribera.

This was followed by a grilled potato tartlet topped with minced wild mushroom and a slice of goats cheese roasted. Next was a tartlet of pastry topped with botiffara ( a local sausage) and pine nut over ajos tiernos ( baby green garlic tops) this latter in homage to the humble breakfast bocadillo!

All the starters were served with local vegetables ( cucumber, olives, green tomatos and peppers )  preserved in salmuerra which is a pickling mixture. This was followed by a tour de force of a Paella de la Ribera, basically a Valencian paella with the addition of pelotas ( meatballs) made from liver, pine-nut and spiced with cinnamon. For pudding Juan Carlos served a piñacolado with the liqueur in a jelly! There followed a class on the different rice varieties and their various properties but I am glad to report that he had used espiga de albufera, the local cross between Bomba and senia which is much prized by local chefs for its absorption of flavour.

Fideuà at Casa Ricardo.

Later in the month it was time for a fideuà, the seafood dish with macaroni at Casa Ricardo with some friends. On this occasion humus and batons of fresh vegetables such as multi-coloured peppers were served with plates of jamon, cheese and ibericos before the main course which contained squid, clams, mussels, Dublin bay prawns and langostinas . Essentially a simple dish to prepare the skill is in preparing a good stock from local fresh fish, leek, carrot, a little wine, baby crabs and of course saffron. These fumets are different in every restaurant and household in the region!

Tartare of Salmon and Avocado.

Eduardo Frechino, chef and proprietor at El Castillo in Godella played host to the `Fin del Curso´of the Platform for Gastronomic Information, ostensibly a tasting of good cavas from Cataluña, accompanied by a range of his own tartares.

We began with Torello Brut Nature Gran Reserva a blend of Macabeo, Xarel-Lo and Parellada. With 36 months in contact with the lees, the wine is pale lemon yellow, with small fine, persistent bubbles. On the nose patisserie and in the mouth round, nice attack and a long dry finish. This was served with a tartare of salmon and avocado, with mushroom and onion.


The second wine was Recaredo Brut Nature 2007 a blend of Xarel-Lo, Macabeo and Parrellada. This has also spent considerable time in bottle with about 3% of the wine in wood. A little deeper yellow in colour it also is bright with fine persistent bubbles. On the nose balsamic notes and mature fruit and in the mouth citrus fruits, lively, fresh and well structured. This was served with a tartare of tuna and black cuquillo olives with onion, yoghurt and olive oil and with salazones ( thin slices or air-dried tuna loin in a tomato and oil salsa.)

Tartare of Ternera.

Third wine was Gramona, Imperial Brut Gran Reserva 2005, a blend of Xarel-Lo, Macabeo and chardonnay and best wine of the three. This has had between three and four years in contact with the lees and is pale straw, with gold flashes and fine, persistent bubbles. A much more complex nose has biscuits, apples, spices, flowers, mature fruits and nuts. In the mouth a good attack is followed by a well-balanced smooth, fruity wine with well-integrated alcohol. This was served with gambas rayados, the red langostinas from Denia which cry out to have their heads sucked dry! The flavour is full and distinct. This versatile wine took these and a tartare of tenera with lemon, onion and Lyonnaise mustard easily in its stride! A memorable evening!

Guesta at Casa Ricardo.

Casa Ricardo played host to the third  wine-trade lunch as well. This is set to become an annual event I hope and this year again was enjoyed by friends, the kids taking advantage of the swimming pool as well!

Tapenade Provençal, Endives with jamon.

Starters of grilled endives with jamon and a salsa of thyme, garlic and concentrated sherry vinegar and a tapenade Provençal, accompanied by salads of tuna and of chickpeas with spinach were followed by a paella valencià and fried cod with tomato and onion salsas. Fresh fruit and lemon tart with sorbet of lemon and water melon with vodka finished the day off. These were accompanied by wines from Vera de Estenas and a pair of sauternes, Rayne Vigneau 83 and Nairac 86. Very rich!

Pescaditos Fritos…Baby Hake.

Lunches in Cullera and El Palmar followed with starters traditionally prepared from baby cuttlefish, fried baby hake and lamb or swordfish for the main course.

At El Rek in El Palmar, star of the show was the Paella de Mariscos! This was full of flavour, moist and enjoyed in a relatively quiet restaurant with nice breezes coming off the Albufera.

Paella de Mariscos at El Rek.

July has been a good month, with a good range of  Valencian dishes…some interpreted in a modern way and some prepared very traditionally . All showed why Valencia is such a great place to live….and eat well!

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  • Raymon  On July 21, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Esa es una muy buena bueno punta especial a las fresco a la blogosfera.
    Simple pero muy exacta precisa información …

    Muchas gracias por compartir esta. Una lectura obligada poste!

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