Almorzando in Restaurante Chaparral: A VÍ vid Breakfast Experience.



Even before we created VÍ vid to promote Valencian gastronomy and wines we were used to taking almuerzo on our visits to bodegas and fairs across the Valencian Province.

The Valencian mid morning meal tradition was inevitably part of our working day and has been an invaluable experience and learning curve .

We had both been to Chaparral, on top of the Serrania between Valencia and Castellon provinces individually but our first joint visit proved to be an exceptional experience.

A stack of expensive cycles!

A stack of expensive cycles!

This restaurant is open at weekends only during Winter and is a favourite haunt of cycling clubs , motor cyclists, walkers, mushroom collectors ( in season)  and lovers of traditional Valencian food . It has a strong tradition of providing almuerzos with a wide range of bocadillos, meat from the barbecue and then later in the day paellas, other  rice dishes and fideuàs.

As you approach the crest of the mountain road from Naquera and Serra towards Segorbe, there is a t-junction with a right hand turn off towards Garbi. 2km up this road is Chaparral, nestling amongst the pines and Carrascas.

Testing the Caldo with Kike and Lorena, Gandia 2014.

Testing the Caldo with Kike and Lorena, Gandia 2014.

It is run by a young couple, Kike Serrano Escribano and Lorena Catala Cases who are gaining an increasingly good reputation in the Valencian gastronomic canon.

Not just for Chaparral either. They run a traditional bakers down the mountain in the village of Serra and are increasingly doing well in the various Concursos ( cookery competitions ) held in Valencia each year. They also run courses for trainee chefs but their dedication to Valencian Paella has won them the top award from Wikipaella, the `Cullera de Fusta´or wooden spoon. ( In Valencia this was the traditional implement for eating paella directly from the pan until it was outlawed on health grounds by the Health Department!)

Our recent visit was a bright  sunny but cold Sunday morning and we followed the `peñas´ of cyclists, well wrapped up over their lycra team kits, as they stood on their pedals, straining for every last ounce of energy and effort to climb the steep and winding road from Serra.

Inside Chaparral

Inside Chaparral

Once we reached the restaurant we were pleasantly surprised to find a parking space. Usually the motor-cycles and racing bikes are piled up, filling all the room  outside but this morning there were spaces in the car park. The restaurant has an open terrace and ample room inside and as usual it was bristling with activity! We were welcomed by Kike who explained what was offer and showed us a table by the window with a good views of both inside and out!

The `Carne from the Brassa Option´

The `Carne from the Brassa Option´

We were tempted by meat from the barbecue but in the end, after debating over sausages ( home-made traditional local embutidos, chorizo and morcillas) or lamb we decided on the bocadillos. Kike asked us if we wanted the special breads or were happy with the traditional village bread. We opted for two `special´breads, one made with black olives and the other with a crust of whole seeds. These were to be filled with the home-made `escalivada´, tuna and salt cod with roasted peppers and  onions in olive oil.

Les Alcusses.

Les Alcusses.

As we waited we were brought a bottle of Les Alcusses, a fruity red wine from Moixent in Terres dels Alforins, part of DO Valencia. This was served with the local cacahuetes ( grown to the North of Valencia) and home preserved olives…a very important part of almuerzo!

The bocadillos had been thoughtfully cut in half so that we could each try both types of bread and were served on a black slate. We were also brought three types of dressing, an aioli ( the garlic mayonnaise ) a home-made mayonnaise of milk and a commercial variety.

Our bocadillos.

Our bocadillos.

The texture of the breads with their soft crumb, crisp crusts and the varying flavours of the fish and the rich vegetables made for a memorable experience, the milk based mayonnaise coming out on top in that selection!

 Mayonnaise selection

Mayonnaise selection

We followed that with coffee and then a chat with Lorena and Kike before we were shown the extensive paellero and kitchen. There were a range of paellas in various stages of preparation over open orange wood fires. These were all ordered by the next round of customers on their way to Chaparral for lunch that day. Lorena had been preparing the desserts.

In the Paellero.

In the Paellero.

VÍ vid thoroughly recommends this restaurant for almuerzo and/or lunch and hope to be arranging an event there shortly.

This young couple has a wonderful range of food to suit all tastes, mostly home-made and we will be returning just as soon as time permits.

VÍ vid: Almuerzistas!!

VÍ vid: Almuerzistas!!







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