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RESTAURANTS IN THE COSTA BLANCA SPAIN

This is not a definitive list, but they are all restaurants that we have enjoyedTuk Tuk, Costa Blanca, Javea, Denia Tours


Spanish Food

Alcala de La Jovada

 

 

La Font D'Alcala, Plaza Vilaplana, 12, Alcala de La Jovada. Tel: 96 5514187  42 k drive from Denia, Alcala de Jovada can be approached up the Val de Gallinera ( great towards the end of March to see the cherry blossom), or up the Val D'Ebo. La Font D'Alcala is worth driving to for the  fantastic traditional food of the locality. Comfortable restaurant and also a barbecue terrace for the summer months ; service is excellent and the food a delight. La Font D'Alcala , a Casa Rural, has very comfortable rooms, and special deals to be had for dinner bed and breakfast, so if you fancy a peaceful night away from the coast in idyllic surroundings, give them a call. Click on thumbnails for larger views. For history and walking around Alcala de La Jovada, click here.

                            

Altea









La Costera,
Costera Mestre de Musica, 8, Altea. Tel:96 584 02 30. Excellent restaurant on the edge of the Old Town in Altea. Food superb, French influence, Excellent service and wonderful atmosphere. You need to book
Click
here for more details


Benimaurell

 

 

El Venta Collao, Through Benimaurell to the top of the hill. Tel:696012352. Stunning drive, up the Vall de Laguar, good food, great views

Benitachell

 

 Ve

L'Escala Restaurant, Get directions when you book. On the road between Javea and Benitachell Tel: 96 649 32 50. Fantastic Argentine food.

Bernia

Verdi Vent

 

Verdi Vent, Crta Jalon-Bernia Km 5. Tel: 96 597 34 13. .Lunchtimes only. Closed Tuesdays. Lunch in the mountains. Fabulous four course set meal with wine. Favourite with ex-pats.

 

Restaurant Sierra Bernia. Tel: 676871866, 609129729 Go past the Verdi Vent right up to the top of the hill and keep going until the road ends. On the left set in a clump of pine trees is a small Spanish restaurant...rabbit and chips to die for, give it a try...small restaurant so book by phone. Alternatively go up from Benissa, right to the top of the Bernia, and turn left rather than right towards Jalon

 

Col De Rates

 


Restaurante Pedramala. Situated at the top of Coll de Rates, between Parcent and Tarbena. Tel: 671216676. Worth the drive for good food and stunning views

 

Denia

El Jamonal de Ramonet

 

 

 

El Jamonal de Ramonet, Passeig del Saladar, Tel: 96 578 57 86. Fantastic range of Tapas

Cafe Soles, Ctra Las Marinas(about 2k out of Denia). Tel 96 578 19 80. Amazing breakfast, English or Continental

Can Broch, Placa Drassanes,4. Tel: 96 642 17 84. Pricey but excellent, particular favourites are their desserts. Still brilliant in 2012

Restaurante Venta de Posa, Ptda La Freda 9, La Xara, Denia. Tel:96 578 46 72 Great, lively Spanish Restaurant

Republic Denia, Marina de Denia Tel 96 643 01 23. Lovely position on the New Marina..good food, not cheap, but well worth a visi

El Canto, C/Loreto,8,Denia. Tel 966427913. Fairly new Restaurant, try their fresh sardines and Buey..great. Service fantastic

El Palmar

L'Albufera

 

La Sequiota, C/Vicente Baldovi 9, El Palmar. Tel: 96 162 03 16. Worth visiting L'Albufera, the wetlands just South of Valencia. This restaurant in El Palmar is one of many, but we had a terrific Paella here.

 

 

El  Vergel

 

Restaurante BB, Pda. Camaes, Km.74 - C.P. 03770 - VERGER, EL. Tel 965750575. Used to be the Chicken Shack..great chicken here, very inexpensive

 

Gata de Gorgos

Restaurante Val de Cavall

 

El Corral del Pato, Ctra,Gata-Jalon,Km1. Tel:96 575 68 34. Excellent, Valencian food a speciality

Vall de Cavall, Ctra Nacional 332 Pda Benisaina,3, Gata de Gorgos. Tel: 96 505 84 75. On the road between Gata and Teulada, just past the big pottery shop out side Gata, turn off to the left. Beautiful setting, pool and really good food, including a set menu on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Advisable to phone for a booking at the weekend

 

 

                                                                                                 

 

Jalon

Xalo

 

Caramull Restaurante  Ptda. Cutes, 17, Jalon. Tel 966 481 309. You can find this restaurant on the Benissa road going out of Jalon, about 400 metres along on the left. In our opinion, Caramull Restaurant has the best menu del dia in this area....very Spanish restaurant...different menu and excellent food, ambiance and service for 12€..we were the only extranjeros in the restaurant. Visited on the day of the storms in October 2007 so pictures to follow after our next visit. Looks like an excellent menu for the evenings too

Javea Arenal

Champagne Bar

    Pizzeria Pepa.Paseo Amanecer, s/n, 03730 Playa del Arenal, Javea, Alicante, Alicante, Spain Tel:+34 965 79 25 72..Some of the best food you will find on the Arenal in our opinion..Great value for money menu del dia...not just Italian food...look at the website by clicking here

Champagne Bar, Jalousie Playa Arenal, Tel: 96 579 22 00. Try the fillet steak and gambas in garlic. Lively, popular bar.

Tapindo, Av del Pta, see Website for location. Open 7 days a week, Mon-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 12pm-8pm. Great Indonesian Take Away...fabulous flavours

 

Javea Old Town

Le Gourmand

Le Gourmand 

IberiIberia a GastrobarCafe 

La Rebotica

Embruix

 

 

Le Gourmand, Carretera Jesus Pobre, Javea Tel: 96 628 96 86. In a lovely position immediately below the sheer wall of the side of Montgo, half way between  Jesus Pobre and Javea. Elegant al fresco dining – all purple-and-white- fabulous menu and great service

de

 

Iberia Gastrobar, Calle San Buenaventura, 9, 03730 Xŕbia, Alicante, Spain Tel 965 99 67 16 Great Spanish food and service. Good atmosphere. Take the advice of the waiter when ordering, you won't be disappointed!

Restaurante Embruixr  Carrer Major, 17, 03730 Xŕbia, Tel 966 46 20 73 Great food, great atmosphere...if you just want a snack, try their bocadillos. Click here for more details

Restaurante Fuentes, C/Cronista Figueres Pacheco, 2 (Behind Bookworld Espana), Tel: 96 579 27 03. Very good Spanish food

 

Tasca La Rebotica, C.St Bertomeu 6(opp church). Tel: 96 646 13 18 Excellent tapas great atmosphere

 

El Gaucho, Ctra Jesus Pobre, Tobago 1, On the road from Javea Old Town towards Jesus Pobre under the Montgo. On the left not far out of Javea. Tel: 96 646 1338. Excellent menu del dia, Excellent A La Carte Menu, Excellent service . Well up to the standard of Pizzeria Pepa, their sister restaurant. Book before visiting as this is a very popular restaurant. Click here for more details

Javea Port

Restaurante Calima

La Casa della Pasta

 

 

 

Restaurant Calima, C/ Marina Espanola 14. Tel: 96 579 48 21 Enjoy lunch or dinner overlooking the sea, excellent Spanish food

La Mezquida,C/ Cabo la Nao, Javea  (on right on road from old town to Arenal just past Liddells) Tel: 96 579 36 20  Spanish restaurant, great paella.

Gurkha Palace, Avda. Rey Jaume1, no8. Tel: 965793331 Indian & Nepali restaurant, good food and service; also takeaway service.

Restaurante El Portet, C/. Cristo del Mar, 8. Tel 96 646 15 22 Excellent Menu del Dia

Piri Piri Restaurant,  Paseo Marina Espanola 15, Puerto de Javea. Tel: 96 579 47 45. Excellent Tapas, Menu del dia, overlooking the sea. International a la carte menu

La Casa della Pasta , thCarretera del Cabo La Nao-Pla, 27, 03730 Xŕbia, Tel: 966 46 13 47 Really good Italian food, great service and atmosphere all dishes 5 euros....always packed so book by phone

Moraira Calpe

 

 

Restaurante Bajul, Avenida De La Paz 27, Moraira. Tel 965743381. Wonderful Indonesian Cuisine, great service too..closed Saturdays

Oliva

 

 

 

Restaurante La Pampa, Ctra Nac.332, Km.211, 46780 Oliva, Tel: 962852749...About 5km the Javea side of Oliva on the left hand side of the N332 if travelling towards Oliva.....pass all the Putas!! Fantastic Menu del Dia at 6.50€ (March 09). Food superb, meat especially and great service...looks like a great place for evenings too, not expensive, dancing on Saturdays.

Parcent


La Piscina, On the road to Col de Rates on the right hand side just outside Parcent. Tel: 96 640 51 26. Great menu del dia, excellent service and good atmosphere. Open 12- 6 only. Buffet starter..excellent salads etc...good choice of mains...€15 including drinks



 

 

 

 

 

Pedreguer

Restaurant Armell
Restaurant Armell, Lugar Albardanera, 56, 03750 Pedreguer. Tel:965760898, Closed on Wednesdays. Fabulous Spanish food and service

Tarbena

 

 

Casa Pinet, Placa Major. Tel:96 588 42 29. A must if only to see the memorabilia, good inexpensive Menu del Dia

   

 

Teulada

 

 

La Polenta, Avda. Mediterraneo,35. Tel: 96 574 01 07. Great  Italian food

Valencia

LLLa Parrillita 

Casa Vela 1

  

 

CCasa Vela 2

BodegBodega Avellanas 

Bodega Avellanas 

ThThe Ginger Loftft 

 

Hostal Antigua Morellana, C/ En Bou 2 Tel 963915773. Cheap, comfortable, friendly and clean hostal in the Barrio Carmen. This is not a hotel, but for somewhere to stay in the middle of Valencia that is not expensive, you willl find it difficult to beat.   www.hostalam.com

 

La Parrillita, C/ Salamanca, 7, Tel: 96 381 93 28...Fantastic Argentinian food here, great service lots of atmosphere...small so book!

 

Casa Vela 1, Calle Isabel la Católica, 26, Tel 96 3516734... Charcuteria and small restaurant, book if you want to go..fabulous food

 

 

 

Asador Taperia, Conde Altea,43. Tel 963955156  Great Spanish restaurant, 2010 around 125€ for 4 people...fantastic food...would recommend the Buey

 

 

 

Casa Vela      Carrer D'Isabel la Catňlica, 26, 46005 Valčncia34 963 51 67 34 Brilliant Tapas Bar, there is another branch is very near The Artes and Ciences area...just  a few doors down from the hotel Tryp Oceanique...great Tapas and atmosphere

          /L

 

Meson el Rebeco, C/ Hist.Claudio sanchez Albornoz, 7. Tel 96 369 38 66. Found this Argentine restaurant on recommendation from taxi driver. Fantastic food, not expensive....not in normal restaurant areas, but well worth a visit...Their Buey is amazing

 

 

Samaruch Restaurant,  Paseo Neptune 58, Playa de Las Arenas, 46011 Valencia. Tel. 963556648. Eat on the beach in Valencia, great paella and friendly, good service. The restaurant is on the beach just past the port going North.... well worth finding.

 

Caprichos del Clero, C/Conde Altea, 29. Valencia 46005  Tel: 963740763. Great small restaurant...Spanish food..do a 12€ menu in the evenings. Fresh well cooked and friendly service

 

 

 Bodega Avellanas, C/Avellanas 15, Valencia 46003...Tel 96 392 36 45. This small Spanish bar is one minute walk from the cathedral...friendly, cheap and what looked like great tapas. A change from all the self service touristy places around the cathedral

 

The Ginger Loft, .C/Vitoria 4. Valencia 46002. Tel: 963523243. Found this place in February 2011..Great Menu for 12€.freshly cooked food with excellent vegetarian options. Great service too

XATIVA


Restaurante Los Manueles,  , Av.de Selgas, 46800 Xŕtiva, 637 31 59 92ai Very good Menu Del Dia at a very good price (€7 in Oct 2009) to include drinks
     
0, 46800Xativa. Tel : 615 184 010..

 

 Spanish Wine

Article contributed by Paul Sterne

Serrano Ham

Article contributed by Paul Sterne

Tapas 

Site on the recipes and history of Tapas

Edible Mushrooms

Recognise the different species of edible mushroom. Spanish site

Spanish Cheese

Extensive information on Spanish Cheese

Olive Oil

Interesting site on the manufacturing of Olive Oil

Sausages

Short description of the different Spanish sausages

Paella

Article from comunitatvalenciana website

 

SPANISH WINE, 

by Paul Sterne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     Literally every kind of wine under the sun is available here, Catalan wines, Manchego wines, Riojan wines, Galician wines, Basque wines, Murcian wines, Castilla-Leon wines and many, many more. Each has its own colour, aroma and taste, exemplifying the very individuality of these regions themselves. And they're good too. After all, their makers have been at it for long enough.

Today, there is so much it is almost mind-boggling and tackling it all is a formidable task. The first step might be to get a little understanding of what Spanish wine is all about, how it is classified, the grape varieties, and some practical tips.

RED

Though ordering by the region is still far and away the most common method in Spain, grape variety awareness has increased over the years. Both foreign and domestic varieties abound, and even some little known local varieties have resurged. Here's a sample of what you can get.

 Tempranillo: Many consider it the country's finest and most noble contribution to the wine world. It plays a major role in some of Spain's most prominent regions such as Rioja, Navarra, Ribera del Duero (where it known as Tinto fino or Tinta del país) and La Mancha (called Cencibel) and can now be found practically anywhere else. It is a very well-balanced grape. Not only does it age very well but also it is also capable of coming up with fine fruity young wines.

 Garnacha (grenache): The mostly widely-planted red grape in Spain, Garnacha for years earned a name as a kind of work-horse for the wine industry. However it tended to go bad quickly though, and that made the much revered aged wine a far reach. In the last few years, it has made an enormous turn-around. In certain regions, like Priorat, it has proved capable of producing wine for blending of quality light-years beyond anyone's wildest dreams, and we are seeing a resurgence of this fine variety. Garnacha produces fruity and intense, often hearty, reds, and in Navarra, it is the backbone of most of the region's exceptional rosés.

 Mazuela or Cariñena (carignan) Has for long been in the same boat as Garnacha. Carignan actually gets its name from the Spanish wine region Cariñena, where, ironically, it is about as common as coconuts. Cariñena is a high in acid and ages well, making it a wonderfully key figure in blending.

 Mencía: Grape variety closely related to the Cabernet Franc. It is very popular in León and Galicia and yields a dark red, fruity perfumed wine. Though some wineries are toying with aging, its best virtues tend to appear in young wine.

 Monastrell (Mouvédre): Popular in south eastern Spain, (Jumilla, Yecla, etc.), this variety stands out for making somewhat dry reds as well as appreciable sweet dessert wines. Few biological specimens could do as well in the punishing heat of Murcia as this one. You would think it was a cactus. Great on its own and compatible with other grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

 Others include Bobal, Graciano, Prieto Picudo, Negramoll, Listán, Manto Negro 

Those are the local ones (there's a whole slew of other minor ones), but you will also find the foreigners making their presence known. Here are the biggest for reds: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah (becoming very popular)

WHITE:

  Albariño: Lately the jewel of Galician white wine. Fruity and very smooth. This grape has been the force behind Galicia's incredible revival and its wine has become Spain's undisputed superstar in the white wine world. It's very fruity and crisp. Fermentation in the cask is on the rise with some stunning results.

  Verdejo: One of Spain's most well-established whites. Grown primarily in the small region of Rueda, these whites are famous for being dry and full of character. 

Viura (Macabeo): Pale and light and low in acid, this white is popular in many parts of northern Spain with irregular results. It also contributes to Catalonia's cava. 

  Airén: The big one in La Mancha. Probably the most widely planted vine on earth, and exclusive to Spain. Traditionally a good example of the more the worse, but that characteristic is changing. It may never be an outstanding variety, but some feel that it is sorely under rated and that it can produce some pleasant wine.

 Godello: Another Galician goody. Well in the shadow of Albariño, it has made a strong case for its reputation of late. Highly aromatic, it can be somewhat softer than Albariño. 

 Treixadura: Used mainly for Ribeiro, traditionally Galicia's most famous wine. 

 Moscatel (Muscatel): Common on the east coast of Spain and used for traditional sweet dessert wines. Malvasía Though found on the mainland and used for sweet and semi-sweet wines, much of its fame originated in the Canary Islands during the 16th and 17th Century. It has made a notable comeback of late.

  Palomino: When you think of sherry, this is the one you want to thank. Light and fresh, it is also found in other northern regions of the country. 

 Pedro Ximénez: This one is common in Malaga and Montilla-Moriles. The screw-top bottle looks suspicious, but the sweet wines often earn raving reviews. 

And, of course, we cannot forget a few friends from abroad:  Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc (Common in Rueda), Riesling 

What exactly does Crianza mean?

The Spanish have always been crazy about aged wine. In the past, anything briefer than a turtle's lifespan seemed just plain inadequate if the wine was to rise to immortality. Thank God that mentality has taken the route of the VHS videotape. Today, there are great wines both young and old. Nonetheless, aging is still a common technique and a source of countless classic labels from all over the country.

You may have (or may not have) come across the word "crianza" before in your life. It is sometimes a source of confusion because it actually has two meanings. In a larger sense it refers to the general aging of wine in a barrel and bottle. This practice can be broken down into three categories:

 Crianza: Overall aging: 2 years. 6 months in a barrel and 18 months in a bottle before going to market. Here's the other meaning. Whenever you see it on your bottle, more often than not it refers to this specific period of maturing.

 Reserva: Overall aging: 3 years. 12 months in a barrel and 24 months in a bottle. 

Gran Reserva: Overall aging: 5 years. 24 months in a barrel and 36 months in a bottle. That's a good way to raise expectations. 

Many regions follow these guidelines but the specifics can vary from one to the next. Plus, there are many fancy new-style wines which adhere to their own aging processes and which have nothing to do with the traditional methods. Another ever-increasingly popular method is the one termed "Roble" or "En barrica". These are wines with a hint of wood barrel aging.

If you don't see any of these terms printed on the label, or if your wine doesn't cost three hundred euros, more often than not it is a young wine and should be drunk as soon as possible from the vintage printed.

 A look at One Wine Region

The former information should prepare you to take on the Spanish wine experience. You will be familiar with world renowned giants like Rioja. This remains Spain's premier region in terms of recognition, exposure and, in many ways, overall quality, especially in the red wine department.  When you're not a 100% sure and don't want to take any chances, you can almost always count on a Rioja to pull you through. But you also have rising-star reds from Ribera del Duero, Toro, Priorat, Jumilla and La Mancha, as well as fantastic Albariños from Galicia and refreshing rosés from Navarra. The list just goes on and on, so let's just look at at one.

D.O. Rueda

Here's a white wine region nestled in the very heart of red wine land, Castilla y León. It's called D.O. Rueda and it has comfortably wedged its way into the Madrid market as the white wine to drink. Nowadays, if you order a white in the capital without specifying, this is probably what you'll get. About thirty years ago, Rueda wines looked, smelled and tasted nothing like the ones we enjoy today. The classic Rueda was a sherry-like wine, slowly oxidized in a big dark glass container. It took the foresight of a legendary Rioja winery, Marqués de Riscal, to turn things around in the 1970s. Now the region produces some of Spain's finest whites, and at great prices too.

 The local variety is called Verdejo, but Sauvignon Blanc has adapted very well here as well. Verdejo has an apple-like aroma to it, as opposed to Sauvignon, where tropical fruit dominates. Verdejos are crisp, dry wines. Sauvignons are a little more fruity. If you feel your nose is up to it, give it a whiff and see if you can detect these characteristics.

Ruedas can be split up into three categories. Since the information stated on the bottle isn't always very explicit, follow these rules;

Rueda. If it just says Rueda, that generally means it has 50% Verdejo and 50% from another variety such as Viura.

Verdejo. Means all or most of the wine is Verdejo.

Sauvignon Blanc. Most or all is Sauvignon Blanc. 

You may also find red wines, but they have just arrived on the scene and need time to improve. 

With the passing of each year, the offer expands and Ruedas are now fairly frequently sighted at wine shops abroad. Whether you are in your country or in Spain, especially in the center of the country, here is a selection of a few Ruedas you might like to try:

Cuatro Rayas Verdejo, Veliterra Rueda, Mantel Blanco Verdejo, Martilli Sauvignon (also the Verdejo is very nice), Aura Verdejo, Palacio de Bornos (both Verdejo and Sauvignon), Castelo de Medina, Doña Beatriz, Carrasviñas Sauvignon, Oro de Castilla Sauvignon (also Verdejo Jóven), Marqués de Irán Verdejo, Veracruz Verdejo, Marqués de Riscal (Sauvignon, Verdejo and Limousin), Naia Jóven, Blanco Nieva 

These wines are still a steal compared to other hip regions, many going for less than 5 Euros, so they are an excellent way to start out on Spanish whites without paying a hefty price. They go well with fish, seafood, soups and fresh cheese.

In Short

D.O. Rueda (Province of Valladolid, Comunidad Autónoma Castilla y León) 

Famous for Dry whites made from Verdejo and fruity ones using Sauvignon Blanc.

How to Visit the Region 

Head 100 miles straight up the highway from Madrid to Galicia (A-6) and you can't miss it. Rueda has its own exit and many of the wineries are located there. 

Sangria

Sangria is a dangerously delicious wine punch which has done for Spain what Irish coffee has done for the Emerald Isle. Basically the only ones who drink it are the tourists. The word "sangria" actually comes from English for crying out loud! Can you find it? Of course you can. Is it that common? Of course it isn't. Unless you roam around the coast of Spain where, what do you know, all the tourists are!

Sherry

80% of all sherry produced is commercialised outside Spain. That should give you an idea of who really drinks the stuff. Inside the country, it's mostly drunk in the land where it is produced, Andalusia in the South. Yes, you can find a bottle in nearly every bar in the country, but you won't find many people ordering it.

Though you can find practically every kind of wine, predictably the most important are reds, whites, rosés, sherries and sparkling wine (called cava). Spain is primarily a red-wine drinking country and thus its widest array lies there, but the others are readily available everywhere too.

Denominaciones de Origen (D.O.)

Most Spanish wine that we, as consumers, are concerned with is classified under a regulating system known as Denominaciones de Origen (D.O.), which translates as "Appellation" or "Official Wine-producing Region".

In short, an official wine region with its own governing body and rules. It tells us that the wine we are buying is truly from the specified region and that it adheres to the characteristics, which give it its fame. It may not guarantee the quality, but at least you know where it comes from and that some kind of control is behind it.

Why should knowing the D.O. be important to you? Think of it this way: the average Spaniard goes more by the region than by the grape variety. Aside from very specialized wine bars, rarely do you enter a bar to order a Chardonnay or Syrah. Normally, you'll say a Rioja, a Ribera del Duero, a Toro, or simply "un vino tinto"!

In fact, a lot of Spaniards don't even know what grape goes into their wine -- and often don't care. So, it definitely helps to bear this mind whether you are at restaurant table or perusing through the shelves of your local wine store. Here's a breakdown so you can impress your listeners at your next Spanish party:

 Denominación de Origen (D.O.)  The standard appellation that ensures you that the wine is from the place it says it is and that it meets many of the standards that make it typical of a wine from that region. They are controlled by a regulating board whose mission is to see to it that the wine Juan is making goes by the rules and that the grapes Jorge is growing are succulent and perfect for winemaking. The board also delineates the varieties admitted into the D.O., the range of crop yield, and aging techniques, to name just a few.  When buying a wine from anyone one of these official regions, look for the words "Denominación de Origen" or "D.O." (or at least the name and the official seal) either on the label, the back label, or on a smaller sticker below the back label to make sure it is what it says it is. If it isn't there, it may not be the real McCoy!!

 Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.Ca.) A D.O.Ca. is an even higher category than the D.O. and for the moment only two wine regions, Rioja and Priorat, have earned this distinction.

 Vino de la Tierra (or regional wine) is often a small region aspiring to greater expectations, that is a D.O. classification. The good thing about wines under this appellation is that they tend to be cheaper than water and can be delicious. Plus, some wineries use them to allow themselves more winemaking freedom, like V.T. Castilla, for example. The downside is finding them abroad may take some looking. But if you come across one, don't turn your nose up at it.

  Vino de Mesa (or Table Wine) This one speaks for itself. It belongs to no specific region and may come from anywhere in the country. Actually, most wine in Spain is Vino de Mesa, but a large percentage is sold anonymously in bulk to foreign nations for blending. Ironically, some very prestigious wines in the past have been obligated to sell their wine as "Vino de Mesa" simply because the winemakers did not wish to ascribe to any D.O. and thus had to carry this generally non-flattering term. As a whole, it's pretty basic stuff so keep that in mind before passing judgment.

 Independent wineries You can also find a number of wineries who have opted to stay clear of the D.O.'s probably for the main reason of not having to adhere to any restrictive legislation. Born Free and all that stuff! Some of these vineyards produce Spain's finest and most select wines (Two have even formed their own D.O.!!); others, though, drift on the other end of the spectrum.

Trying to give you a taste for what's available in Spain is no easy task simply because of the immensity of the offer, but to help you get a handle on things, let's list what kind of wine can be found in Spain and what regions stand out for their quality. This will at least help you orient yourself next time you are staring blank-faced at an imposing wall of Spanish wine at the local store:

Red Wine Regions: Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Priorat, Navarra, Cariñena, La Mancha, Valdepeñas, Jumilla, Bierzo, Almansa, Montsant, Yecla, Campo de Borja, Castilla, Valdepeñas, Manchuela

White Wine Regions: Rías Baixas (Albariño), Rueda, Penedès, Ribeiro Valdeorras, Txacolí regions (Basque Country), Alella, Lanzarote 

Rosés: Navarra, Cigales, Utiel-Requena

Well-rounded Regions (Reds, whites and rosés): Somontano, Penedès, Costers del Segres, Catalunya, Madrid

Fortified Wines: Jerez (sherry), Montilla-Moriles, Malaga

Sparkling Wine: Cava

Sweet Wines (Type of Sweet Wine): Valencia (Muscatel), Malaga (Pedro Ximenez), Montilla-Moriles (Pedro Ximenez), Lanzarote (Malvasía)     Top of Page

Spanish Sausages

Embutidos - Spain's Famous Sausages

From time immemorial the people of Spain have used salt, spices and fresh air to preserve sausages for later use.  Over the centuries these skills have been honed to an art, creating a myriad of unique chorizos, salchichones, morcillas and more. CHORIZOS  are cured using smoked Spanish paprika, giving them a deep red colour and rich smoky flavour.  LOMO EMBUCHADO is an entire pork loin coated with paprika and spices and dry-cured.  This very high quality 'embutido' has a tender, lean texture and a complex smoky flavour with much less fat than other sausages.  SALCHICHONES are cured with chunks of black pepper instead of paprika, so they have a whiter appearance and milder flavor.  MORCILLAS are blood sausages cured with onion or rice, great for stews or grilling.

 

 

Spanish Ham: A Gourmet Treat,   by Paul Sterne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spanish Cured Ham 

Produced using methods similar to those employed in Italy for making "Parma ham", or in France to produce "jambon cru"; the Spanish variety offers a unique taste experience, with its own special flavour, texture and aroma.

These hams are a key component in Spanish cuisine, and recent changes in import legislation have begun to make them available in Europe and other parts of the world. Served in thin slices, it makes an exquisite snack; and small amounts add a delightful flavour to a wide variety of dishes such as soups, vegetables, or pasta. Such is the variety and complexity in flavour, aroma and texture, that experts regularly organise tastings in much the same way as with wine. 

 Production Methods, Types and Classes of Ham

Serrano means "from the mountains", as the cool dry mountain air offers the perfect conditions for the curing process. The process in fact involves three distinct phases:

1. The fresh hams are first trimmed and cleaned, then stacked like cordwood and covered with salt. This serves to draw off excess moisture and to preserve the meat from spoiling. This typically lasts 2 weeks.

2. The salt is washed off and the hams hung to dry and start the first curing phase. This phase serves to initiate the curing process, here (among other things) the fat begins to breakdown. This takes about 6 months.

3. Air drying - it is during this phase that the hams are hung in a cool, dry place, where the distinct, subtle flavours and aromas develop. This lasts from 6 to 18 months, depending on the climate, as well as the size and type of ham being cured. The drying sheds ("secaderos") are usually built at higher elevations, thus the name "serrano".

There are also three main factors that determine the quality - and of course the price - of the serrano hams:  Cut, Type of Hog  and Feeding Conditions 

There are two distinct cuts: the hind leg or "jamón" (ham), and the foreleg or "paleta" (shoulder). 

There are also two different classes of hog grown for ham production: the native Iberian hog which makes for the highest quality, but only represents about 5% of the total production, and the more cost-effective "white hog" - normally of the Large White, Landrace, or Duroc strains and crosses.

Feeding conditions are an important factor in both production and quality. The best hams are produced from the long legged Iberian hogs, range fed and fattened on acorns in the cork-oak groves along the southern half of the border between Spain and Portugal. While range fed, Iberian hogs produce without a doubt the "creme de la creme" of Spanish hams, this method is costly, slow and not particularly productive. Thus, the large majority of hams in the marketplace are derived from "white hogs". 

Spanish Ham "Denominations" 

As it does for wine and other agricultural products, The Instituto Nacional de Denominaciones de Origin (INDO), maintains the "Denominación de Origin" (DO) program for cured ham. The DO is in fact a quality control program, designed to insure both the origin of the product, as well as its production methods, raw materials, etc.

The INDO recognises four distinct DO certified ham-producing areas: 

Dehesa de Extremadura 

Province of Extremadura, just south of Guijuelo also bordering on Portugal. DO certified Dehesa de Extremadura hams (dehesa means "range"), are either from purebred Iberian hogs, or Duroc crosses, which are at least 75% Iberian bloodstock. There are a variety of quality levels, which depend upon bloodstock, cut, and feeding/fattening conditions.

  Guijuelo 

Province of Salamanca in west central Spain, close to the Portuguese border. All hams which carry the DO Guijuelo label are made either from pure bred Iberian hogs, or Duroc crosses which are at least 75% Iberian bloodstock. There are two quality classes:

1.Jamón Ibérico de bellota - Range fattened on acorns ("bellotas" in Spanish), and marked with a red band. 

2.Jamón Ibérico - Range fattened, diet supplemented with commercial feed, and marked with a yellow band.

Jamón de Huelva

Province of Huelva in Southwest Spain also bordering on Portugal. DO certified Jamón de Huelva hams, are either from purebred Iberian hogs, or Duroc-Jersey crosses, which are at least 75% Iberian bloodstock. There are a variety of quality levels which depend upon bloodstock, cut, and feeding/fattening conditions: bellota, recebo or pienso.

  Teruel 

The entire province of Teruel (northeast Spain) is included in the DO Teruel production category. The air curing must, however, take place at more than 800 meters above sea level. The hams here are all "white hogs" - Landrace, Duroc or Large White (and crosses). There are no cork-oak ranges in the Teruel area, so these are fed and fattened with commercial feeds. The cool dry climate however makes things just right for producing high quality "serrano" hams.

Enjoying "Serrano"

1.Temperature: This is definitely a "room temperature" product. To get the best of flavour and aroma, store and serve at room temperature. It's best stored in a cool dry place. Refrigerate only if absolutely necessary, and be sure to let it acclimate several hours before serving.

2.Serving: As a starter or snack, serve in very thin, freshly cut bite-sized slices. Exposure to the air dries, and more importantly dissipates those special aromas, so do slice just before you serve - and it's OK to eat with your fingers!

3.Cooking with Ham: The taste of serrano ham makes a great flavour addition to all sorts of dishes. Finely diced and very lightly fried, it adds a special touch (like bacon bits) to soups and salads. A great Spanish cooking technique - "rehogado con jamón" - will work any where: Lightly fry diced ham in olive oil, then sauté your favourite cooked vegetable in the mixture. It works great with artichokes, green beans, brussel sprouts, etc. Diced to medium size, it also makes a great addition to your favourite spaghetti sauce recipe, or an omelette. Lightly fried slices do wonders for ham and eggs.  Top of Page

 

 

Paella

The typical paella is cooked in a flat metal pan provided with two handles riveted to the sides. Paella-type rice can be prepared with chicken or rabbit or both, with shellfish, fish of various kinds, or with vegetables only. The combinations are practically limitless - ranging from meatless "Lent" paella containing only salted codfish and cauliflower, to paella made using small game fresh from the hunt. For all good Valencians priding themselves on their origins, rice - so combinable with different flavours and ingredients - is practically a symbol of their identity, an emblem that always provokes a certain amount of controversy when it finally reaches the table.

Because of its very nature, the paella is exaggeratedly Baroque. It is a festive, popular and, curiously enough, a masculine meal customarily made by men out-of-doors. The Valencian phrase anar de paella (to go paella-eating), customarily used throughout the region, provides a glimpse of the ritual nature of this pursuit, which may involve outings, hunting parties, picnics and the like. Making a paella is less simple than it looks, and there are self-named specialists in every single village, town and district. The actual style is greatly dependent on environmental factors, such as the availability of raw materials, the type of rice grain (bomba, granza, secreti), the composition of the local water, the proportion of oil actually used, not to mention the kind of wood used to kindle the paella fire - another art in itself.

Although there are as many kinds of paellas as there are districts in the region, genuine Valencian paella most always has a good helping of ferraduras (long, wide-pod green beans) and garrofó (giant dried butter beans). As for meats, chicken is the most common, followed by rabbit, and exceptionally wild duck. Adding extra flavour are white-shelled mountain snails known as xonetas or vaquetas with thin black stripes, providing what some call an exquisite taste, and often fetching very high prices. But there are also seafood and shellfish paellas, which in recent years have become increasingly popular, particularly the high-priced but mouth-watering lobster paella.

Whatever the ingredients may be, when an orthodox paella reaches the table, the grains of rice should be crisply dry, loose and golden, never mushy or sticky, leaving no trace of oil if served on the plate. When the paella has been cooked over an outdoor wood fire, the paella-eating ritual calls for diners to sit in a circle around the pan placed on its fire irons, and eat from the communal pan using a boxwood spoon and occasionally refreshing themselves with gulps of cool wine from a porrón (a glass wine jug with a pointed spout that drinker's tip up and pour into their open mouths).

Another highly popular recipe using the same flat pan is the fideuà, which is a 'rice' dish using fish and shellfish, made with noodles instead of rice, cooked in a fish stock. This dish is delicate and mellow, with colours ranging from golden yellow when it contains seafood and saffron, to jet black when garnished with squid or cuttlefish ink. Restaurants in the resort town of Gandia organise highly popular competitions to see who makes the best fideuà. The Marina district of Alicante abounds with seafood fideuàs using very thin vermicelli noodles, or sometimes thicker noodles and clams, or black noodles bathed in squid or cuttlefish ink.

Despite the cBulinary diversity of Valencia, one has to admit that rice monopolises most menus, becoming an inevitable reference point. Quite rightly the Valencian food critic Antonio Vergara states that "the Spanish Mediterranean is like a tiny China. The difference is that our methods of cooking rice are much more entertaining, more colourful, and more pleasing to the eye then those of China."

The repertoire of Valencian rice dishes is by no means a monotonous succession of paellas - that humble yet exquisite dish from the "huerta" or market gardens of Valencia that, by popular demand, was exported from typical farmhouses in the country to invade eating houses, seaside stands and open-air restaurants along the Malvarrosa beach in Valencia and the Portichol and Albufereta beaches in Alicante in the late 19th century.

The lineup of specialities currently on offer at restaurants in the city, at rice restaurants near the seashore and at picnic stands on the beach are difficult to classify in a simple list. First, a division should be made between "dry" rices (paella) and rice stews (caldoso) cooked in calderos, pucheros, peroles and cazuelas - varying types of metal or earthenware casseroles. There are also soft, spongy rices made in earthenware casseroles like arròs al forn (oven-baked rice) and arròs amb costra (oven-baked rice with an omelette crust), whose recipes are incredibly similar to that of the arròs en cassola al forn described in a 16th-century Valencian cookbook called the Llibre de Coch, by Robert de Nola (1520).