Valencia - Spain

Traditional local products of Spain

local1SPAIN: HISTORY AND FOOD

As a gateway between Europe and Africa, and the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, Spain has been hotly contested throughout history. The Greeks colonized their coastal areas as early as the 8th century BC, while the Celts occupied the interior regions. In the second century BC, Spain was under Roman domination. At the beginning of the 8th century AD, the Moors (Arabs from North Africa) crossed Gibraltar and entered Spain, occupying it for the next 700 years before the Christian kingdoms expelled them.

This long history of invasion is still evident in the cuisine of Spain. Olives, olive oil and wine link it closely with Greek and Roman (Italian) culture. The meat and fish cakes show the Celtic heritage. The Moorish influence is seen in the use of honey, almonds, citrus fruits and spices, such as cumin and saffron (a yellow spice).

Leader in exploration and colonization, powerful Spain was one of the first nations in Europe to discover the treasures of the New World. Beginning in the late 1400s, explorers returned from journeys across the Atlantic Ocean carrying new and exotic foods such as tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, corn, peppers, chocolate and vanilla, all native to the Americas. These foods slowly joined the Spanish diet.

SPANISH FOODS

local2local3The culinary traditions of Spain are based on a large amount of locally grown vegetables and fruits, as well as meats and poultry. Serrano ham, a cured ham and sausage, a seasoned sausage, are popular. Seafood and fish are popular in coastal areas. Other popular foods are cheeses, eggs, beans, rice, nuts (especially almonds) and bread (a crisp white bread is common, freshly baked every day). Olive oil and garlic are common ingredients. Spain is also known for its wines, including rioja, made in the northern province; Sherry, a fortified wine that can be dry or sweet; and sangria, wine mixed with fruit and soda water.

Rice, a main ingredient, is grown in the tidal flats of Valencia. Although there are numerous variations, paella is usually made with a variety of seafood (such as shrimp, clams, crab and lobster), chorizo ​​(sausage), vegetables (tomatoes, peas and asparagus), chicken and / or rabbit, and grain rice long. The broth, onion, garlic, wine, pepper (sweet paprika) and saffron add flavour to the stew.

local4local5Each region has its own kitchen and different specialties. Gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, comes from Andalusia, in southern Spain.

Traditionally, a special bowl called dornillo was used to crush the ingredients by hand, but modern Spanish chefs use a blender. Andalusians also enjoy deep-fried dishes (fish, such as sole or anchovies, fried in bulk). Catalonia (Catalonia), in the northeast of Spain, is known for its creative dishes that combine seafood, meat, poultry and local fruits. In the Northern Basque Country (Basque Country), fish local6is important for the diet, with cod, eel andlocal7 squid featured. The characteristic dish of Asturias, in the northwest of Spain, is la fabada, a bean stew. In the interior regions, such as Castilla, meats play a leading role. Spanish omelet, a potato omelette, is served throughout the country. It can be prepared quickly and makes an abundant but simple dinner. The best-known dessert in Spain is the flan, a rich flan.

Valencian Community, the city of Valencia

The Valencian Community, one of Spain’s 17 Comunidades Autónomas, or “autonomous communities” is located in eastern Spain, on the Mediterranean Sea. To the north lies Catalonia, to the northwest the region of Aragon, to the west the region of Castilla-La Mancha and to the south, the region of Murcia. The Comunidad Valenciana is made up of three provinces – Castellón, Alicante and Valencia. Valencians have their own language, Valenciá, similar to Catalán, spoken in neighboring Catalonia.

History and Cultural Influences

Like the rest of Spain, Valencia was an important zone for many invaders – Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, and Visigoths. The capital city is also called Valencia, founded by Romans in 138 B.C. as Valentia, meaning “strong” or “powerful.” In the early part of the 8th century, the Moors arrived in Valencia and governed the region for 500 years. Their influence is evident in the area’s culture and cuisine. The Moors introduced rice, sugarcane, oranges, and almonds and advanced irrigation systems. Valencia was reconquered by Christians in the 15th century.

local8Although there is an incredibly diverse cuisine in Valencia, rice dominates the region’s menus. Rice dishes can be broken down into “dry” rice dishes, like paella, and rice stews called arroz caldoso in Spanish, which are cooked in traditional ceramic or metal dishes. Then, there are oven-baked rice dishes like arroz al horno and soft rice dishes made in earthenware casseroles like arros amb costra with an egg crust.local9

Although Valencia is known for the high-quality rice it grows and rice dishes, such as the now world-famous paella, the traditional gastronomy of the region has much more to offer. The coastal plains and the inland mountain areas have two distinct cuisines. Fish, seafood, and rice are the mainstays of the coastal cuisine, whereas meat dishes including game, lamb, and kid goat are common in the mountain areas.

Both mountain and coastal areas of Valencia can claim their own ollas or stews that can include seafood, vegetables, beef, pork, lamb or other meat, dried meat, bacon, beans and/or sausages.

Valencia’s cuisine can best be described by dividing it into provinces: Castellón, Alicante and Valencia.

Castellón

local10Castellón is the northern-most of the three provinces. The most common dishes of this area are rice-based. One of the most unusual rice dishes is called arroz empredrado and is made with tomatoes and cod fish covered with white beans.

The inland area of Maestrazgo is known for its meat dishes, especially lamb, roast kid goat, stuffed meat and tripe. The stew of the area is called “Castellón” and is made with white beans, meat and bacon fat and is eaten all over the province.

Arroz marinero or “Sea Rice” is similar to paella and includes rice, shrimp, clams, peas and peppers. The area is famous for large prawns and they are popular here.

Valencia

Valencia is well-known for two of its crops – oranges and rice. In fact, the Valencians are so proud of the high quality rice they grow that there is a Denomination of Origin for rice! The rice-producing zone is around the “Parque Natural de la Albufera” in the province of Alicante, but other areas include Beniparrell, La Alcudia, Oliva, Pego and Sagunto in Alicante.

Of course, we must mention paella, the internationally famous rice dish from Valencia:local11

Paella de Marisco (main ingredient: seafood)

Paella Valenciana (main ingredients: chicken and rabbit)

Paella Vegetariana (main ingredients: vegetables)

local12Valencia also has a number of dishes made of seafood and fowl, complete with sauces. All-i-pebre is a sauce made of a combination of garlic, oil, and paprika and is commonly served with eel. Pato a la naranja is duck with orange sauce, an original dish from this area.

We can’t describe Valencian food without mentioning the sweet drink called horchata, made from earth almonds and particularly refreshing on a hot summer day. What is Horchata de Chufa?

Horchata de Chufa is a natural, healthy, nutritious drink, and also consists of a small tuber unique the tigernut with D.O. Valencia. The tiger nut is not grown anywhere else in Europe, which, added to its peculiar drying process, makes it a unique product. During the whole cycle of tiger nuts to horchata, the tiger nut  is planted, going through the fields of tigernuts, until it is dried, through a tiger dryer. Then it is transformed into a freshly made horchata which commonly is served with fartons in an original horchaterías located in Valencia or in near villages like Alboraya.

Alicante

The cuisine of Alicante has been influenced heavily by the surrounding areas, including La Mancha, Valencia and Murcia. So, many dishes you may find here are Alicante’s version of another region’s dish. For example, paella alicantina is a version of paella that is prepared with chicken and rabbit, not seafood.

Fideuà or fideuá is a noodle dish made in a paella pan, using similar ingredients as a seafood paella, but substituting noodles for rice. local13This dish is so popular along the coast of Alicante, that the area around the town of Gandia holds competitions to see who can prepare the best fideuá. As with paella, there are many different varieties of fideuá. Some use thin vermicelli noodles while others prefer thicker noodles like spaghetti. Fideuá can contain fish, squid and other seafood and saffron, but some prefer to use squid or cuttlefish ink, which turns the dish jet black.

Other dishes from Alicante are:

Bajoques Farcides – pepper stuffed with rice, pork, tomatoes and spices

la Pericana – cod fish, olive oil, dried peppers and garlic

Cocido de Pelotas – made for special occasions has chicken or turkey, lean pork and bacon fat, garbanzo beans and spices, served with balls made of egg, pork, blood breadcrumbs and parsley.local14

Arroz con Costra – a very special rice dish, now popular all over the Community of Valencia, but originating in Elche, Alicante.

local15Alicante is well known for its sweets or desserts, including dates, pomegranates and turrones. It is famous worldwide for its almond nougat candy called turrón, a favorite Christmas treat of Arab origin and contains almonds and honey. The most famous city for turron production is Jijona.

The Valencian Community is also famous for its wineries all around the region. Below some examples:

local16The Vicente Flors winery recommends the white wine Flor de Taronger from Macabeo and less than 5% Muscatel for this hot summer season: fresh, light and totally floral.

Today, the owners of the Flors winery are involved in all the processes of winemaking: from the type of pruning, the load to leave, the green pruning, the harvest and even the selection table prior to entry into cellar. The harvest is done by hand and cold maceration.local17

Vicente Flors Winery. Les Useres, Castellón http://www.bodegaflors.com/

local18The winery Pasiego proposes the white wine Pasiego Las Suertes, from the 2014 vintage. It has a pale yellow color with green hues, clean and bright. The nose is floral, with touches of tropical fruit and good intensity. The palate is tasty, with just acidity and good persistence.

Wineries Pasiego. Sinarcas, Valencia. http://www.bodegaspasiego.com/

Pasiego Las Suertes: Varieties 75% Macabeo + 25% Sauvignon. The varieties are prepared separately. 8 hours film maceration. Fermentation at a controlled temperature of 18ºc.

Tantum Ergo rosé is one of the proposals of the Bodega Hispano-Suizas to savor the summer. With denomination of origin Utiel-Requena has a continental climate with Mediterranean influences. They recommend consuming it at 8 degrees.local19

Bodegas Hispano-Suizas, the Pontón, Valencia. http://www.bodegashispanosuizas.com/  Tantum Ergo. Color: pale pink. Aroma: powerful, high intensity, recalling aromas of red fruits mixed with nuts and a light touch of toasted vanilla. Taste: broad, with creamy touch, reminding the skin of ripe cherry over a light aroma of vanilla and spices. Balanced acidity and very long finish.

local20The Quod Superius 2011 is an award-winning red wine from the Bodega Hispano-Suiza. It is the most punctuated wine of the winery elaborated with a coupage of varieties among which the bobal, the queen variety of Requena, dominates. Therefore, the best bobal of Spain is in this wine. They recommend consuming it at 18 degrees.

Bodegas Hispano-Suizas. The Pontón, Valencia. http://www.bodegashispanosuizas.com/  Quod Superius. Color: intense red of high layer. Aroma: powerful and elegant, it presents great diversity of nuances with a background of ripe red fruit on a very well integrated wood that gives complexity and distinction to the wine. Taste: majestic, velvety and silky touch, which slides through the mouth with density, noticing the ripe tannin and well polymerized with oak. End of mouth very long and harmonious.

In Bodegas Murviedro the white wine DNA Alma Mística is included. It transmits the essence of the wines whose origin is the cultural intrinsic fusion of the towns and lands of Spain. The essence of Spanish wines, a modern tribute to the ancient Spanish heritage. In particular, Alma Mística is a very aromatic white wine, ideal as an aperitif and to accompany salads, fish, seafood and white meats.local21

Bodegas Murviedro Requena, Valencia. http://murviedro.es/ DNA Murviedro 2014. Color: yellow with green hues, very bright. Aroma: very intense and of great complexity, with a wide range of aromas of exotic fruits (lychees, passion fruit) and floral nuances. Taste: tasty and aromatic, enveloping but fresh, very persistent.

The Impromptu 2014 It is the best sauvignon blanc in Spain, an achievement that this wine repeats year after year. Serve at 12 degrees.

Bodegas Hispano-Suizas. The Pontón, Valencia. http://www.bodegashispanosuizas.com/  Color: Yellow with greenish reflections. Aroma: very high intensity, mineral, recalling aromas of fresh tropical fruit and compote. Taste: with good fruit weight in the mouth, unctuous, dense, good final acidity and very long in the mouth.

local22Bodegas Hispano-Suizas, The Pontón, Valencia. http://www.bodegashispanosuizas.com/  Quod Superius. Color: intense red of high layer. Aroma: powerful and elegant, it presents great diversity of nuances with a background of ripe red fruit on a very well integrated wood that gives complexity and distinction to the wine. Taste: majestic, velvety and silky touch, which slides through the mouth with density, noticing the ripe tannin and well polymerized with oak. End of mouth very long and harmonious.

Los resultados del Concurso Mundial del Sauvignon, que reúne por sexto año consecutivo a los mejores vinos blancos de los cinco continentes elaborados principalmente con la variedad francesa sauvignon blanc, y Vegamar ha vuelto a ver reconocido uno de sus vinos: el Vegamar Blanco 2014 con una Medalla de Plata.

Bodega Vegamar. Calles, Valencia. http://www.bodegasvegamar.com/. Color: amarillo cristalino con matices verdes. Aroma: de intensidad muy alta, recuerdos de fusión de fruta tropical con mediterránea, destacando la piña, maracuyá, lima y mandarina con un fondo floral de azahar. Taste: Amplio, con buena estructura, rico en sabor de fruta y acidez equilibrada fresca.local23

Vegamar Crianza is the ideal wine to pair with rice dishes, red meats and cured cheeses. From the Vegamar Winery this wine is made with different grape varieties: Tempranillo, Syrah & Merlot. He has received the Gold Award in Proava 2015.

Vegamar Winery. Streets, Valencia. http://www.bodegasvegamar.com/ Color: intense red with light shades tile. Aroma: high intensity, with good balance fruit and wood and hints of ripe red fruit on a vanilla and toasted background. Taste: full, broad, ripe and soft tannins, with good fruit weight and a finish of new oak wood very well integrated. Very long aftertaste with balanced acidity.

local24The aging Bobal en Calma is a recommendation of the Bodega Dominio de la Vega. For the summer it is pleasant to drink despite being a breeding, although it is recommended more for the late afternoon or late at night.

Dominio de la Vega Winery. San Antonio, Valencia. http://dominiodelavega.com/en/  Bobal en Calma. Vivid cherry red with violet iridescence. Intense aromas of red fruits in season (cherry, blackberry, redcurrant) wrapped in notes of vanilla, toasted and spicy background. The passage through the mouth of the wine is deep, fresh and fruity, with a soft and mature tannin.

Reymos Selección, sparkling wine born of the careful preparation with the best muscatel  grapes to achieve maximum expression, is the proposal of Anecoop Bodegas. High-end product for demanding consumers, able to distinguish and appreciate the unique nuances of this broth. They recommend consuming it as a welcome drink and / or aperitif at 5-8 degrees. local25 

Anecoop Winery. Reymos Selección. In view: pale yellow color, with greenish reflections and fine pearl. To smell: great aromatic flow of the variety, with complex and sophisticated nuances. Taste: breaks with the traditional idea of ​​sparkling wine. Final sensation: persistent with toasted nuances. Light because of its low alcohol content.

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