If you think about Valencias eating culture what comes up in your mind? Is it Tapas, Sangria, Oranges or maybe the Valencian Paella? Well you are right about all of it but you should know that the city has way more to offer! During my time as an Erasmus student I made my own culinary journey that I wanna share with you in my first Blog article.
When I arrived to Valencia the first thing I had to try was the Horchata also called Horchata de chufa. It is a really sweet watery drink made of almonds and sugar. I tried it once in a spanish seminar and I loved it ! Not many people know the traditional spanish drink but it is worth to try cause it really has an unusual taste. In the center of Valencia there are many Horchaterias where they are served with fartons. I have to confess you that I never entered one. Just go to Plaza de Reina and buy them at the Gelaterias. They are really good and you can have them to go! It is served ice cold as a natural refreshment so you should try it in summer. And if you got addicted to it then buy them in the grocery stores.
Now do me a favor and go to the Sangria section and….nooooo don´t get the Sangria!! Grab the Mistela and buy it! It is a really aromatic sweet vino de liquor and is served in a beautifully decorated bottle. It looks expensive but it only costs a little over 2 Euros. The first time I heard about it was in my spanish class in Valencia, where we got chupitos of Mistela in combination with Turrón. It is consumed as a traditional Christmas dessert and the stores are full of it around that time. Turrón itself can take on a variety of consistencies and appearances. I personally prefer the hard and crunchy ones and when you take a bite of it, it feels like it could break your teeth but don´t worry it won´t happen;)
During my first week of living in the Hostel in the city centre I was looking for a good place to have dinner. I was strolling through the streets and I discovered the Bretônne Annaick. It was hidden in a street right next to the cathedral. As the name tells you its not a spanish restaurant its a french one.
They serve the traditional Crêpes called Galettes. I have never heard from them before so I had to try them right away. I entered the place and I just saw this big bus in the centre of the room which had the kitchen inside and colourful drawings hanging everywhere on its walls. When I got a table I understood where the decoration came from. The table cloth was a big white paper and they give you pencils so you can spend time drawing while you are waiting for your Galette. And if you did a good job you may find it hanging there one day. But now back to the Galettes. They have a long list of different toppings but I would recomend you to take the Complete with eggs, jamón and cheese. If you go at lunchtime you can get a menu with a salad that is worth to try as well.
As a huge fan of crêpes Bretônne became my favorite restaurant in Valencia until I met a good friend of mine from my Lindy Hop class in Valencia. He is the best cook I know and we share the same passion for culinary delecatations. Besides enjoying his delicious meals we had fantastic dinners at places he discovered in the city centre.
The first restaurant that he showed me is the Refugio. And I just say crazy good stuff!! It became our favorite restaurant of Valencia and just a few people know about this place. So what I´m saying is it´s a hidden treasure for Foodlovers;) They serve course menus and they are the most unusual ones I have ever eaten. My personal Highlight was the bullsteak with an unexplainable but really yummy sauce. Besides the excellent cuisine I just love the atmosphere there. Especially the waiters and cooks are really charming and I´m talking from a girls perspective. They will also try to explain you the card if you don´t understand anything. But sometimes that doesn´t help either because the meals are so special that they are just inexplainable. After the second time there I just gave up asking, so just pick something and suprise yourself! Your choice will always be good.
Our second favorite place to have lunch or dinners was the MIMMO Cantina take away. You can find it in the street Carrer de Dalt, really close to Refugio. If you are in the mood of having some Pizza then you should definitely have some there. I just love their toppings. Have you ever tried Pizza with pumpkin cream or Pizza with dates? Sounds weird but they are super tasty so go and try them!
The hottest spot for students and especially for Erasmus students to eat is the Cien Montaditos. What you should know about Monta? Minibocadillos for 1 or 2 Euros and Tinto de Verano! It´s not the most tastiest food but it´s a great place to meet up with friends and have a cheap lunch or dinner. You can find Montaditos at many places in the city but they will always be crowded especially when you go at spanish dinnertime. I gotta say that it´s not the food that makes Monta special to me. I love that place because I met my “Erasmus family“ there. Since then we met there every Monday where we enjoyed fun evenings together. So a million thanks to Montaditos and my wonderful friend Marco:)
An other popular place to meet and to have some Drinks are the Pubs in Valencia and you should definitely check out Underground. Especially among Erasmus students it was a perfect place to come together. It is located at the Plaza Cedro, close to the Blasco Ibañez or how I call it the “5th Avenue of Valencia”. It is styled up as an english Pub and sometimes you will find a cute Pub dog inside. I love their music and if you are lucky you can get the fluffy couch in the back. Don´t go for the beer I recomend you to try their Mochitos with various flavours like mango, strawberry and melon.
This sad-looking dog never left my side after I started feeding him with our snacks. He got kinda angry when I stopped so either he was really hungry or drunk. He is a Pub dog so I go with drunk.
And again I associate wonderful memories with that place. One incredibly fun night on that couch with my two friends and amazing photos taken by my “food expert“. I immadiatly fell in love with Underground and that´s why I decided to throw my “Erasmus Bye Bye Party” there. I miss you Mochito, I miss you Pub dog and I miss you Couch!
Now let´s go to America!
In my last weeks in Valencia me and my Valencian Bff made an amazing discovery in the city. An american clishé diner! I´m talking about pink interior, waiters dressed up in 50´s style and Milkshakes. It´s called Tommy Mel´s Diner. We immediatly decided to go there one day and have a “Bff date” with Milkshakes: “Yeah let´s go there and have Milkshakes!” – “Wait…do they even have Milkshakes?”- “I don´t know, but they look like they have some so yes they do”. Well we were right. I have to admit that the prizes are a little too high but you really get the feeling of being in a 50´s movie.
If you prefer having some tea or coffee in Valencia I know two places you must visit when you are in the City. But before you go you may want to learn about the spanish coffee rules first.
- The perfect spot for me to have some tea is Café museu. My “Food expert” showed it to me and he said it´s really famous for it´s tea. They are really spicy with an intense aroma and they have many types of them, which makes it hard to choose. When you picked one they will serve it to you in a pot and the waiter may advice you to wait 5 minutes before you drink it. This litttle charming place looks like a Hobbit house from the inside and it´s quite hidden so you will barely find any tourists there.
- When my american girl who I met on my trip to Andalucia had to go back to the States we wanted to meet for the last time so she came up with the idea to have a coffee in Café de las Horas. It is a place trés chic where you can enjoy your “café con leche” like a Grand Dame or like a Gentleman. When you step into the café you feel like you have been teleported to the 17th century. The interior is maybe a little to much of everything but that´s what Baroque is all about no? I hope though this pretty place is not the last one I met up up with my friend….
If you like Buffets you will definitelly like this place! I discovered it after a really hard shopping day in El Saler, which is right behind the Ciudad de las ciencias y de las artes. It´s the mediterranean Buffet Neco. There´s always a long line in front of it so go there before they open so you will get a table. You basically pay 10 to 13 Euros and you can eat as much as you want! For me it is the heaven. But be careful theres a Buffet for desserts too, so you should it systematically. Just a lttle bit of everything (Everything looks good so you willl have the desire to try from everything..trust me). And of course you should drink a a lot!
I´m happy to have been a part of this amazing city that I call my Home as well and my article just gives you a glimpse of my culinary experience there. I love to think back of my first time eating Sushi, trying superheavy but supertasty Francisinha from my portuguese friends, having a fun night with Portwine or our own Jamón in our kitchen bought by my french roommate! And oh yes I probably had the best Paella you can get in the city! And I even had the chance to learn how to make it! You wanna know where? Well that will remain my secret;)