Valencia, Spain – Arrival

Late October my friend and I made a short trip to Valencia. We took advantage of the budget airlines from Portugal – i.e. Ryanair and Easyjet – and grabbed a return ticket for €60 each.

Of course with that, and as with any other air travel nowadays, came the delays. Our one hour fifteen minute flight turned into three and half hours. By the time we got to Valencia, the sun was ready to set.

We had reservation at a tapas restaurant half an hour by foot from our hotel. Famished, my friend decided (rightly so) to settle for something quick at the hotel bar, while I scrambled last minute to find a restaurant on a Saturday evening.

I found one! It was La Càbila by local chef Fernando Ferrero.

The restaurant was located in the bustling Bairro del Carmen neighbourhood in the center of the Ciutat Vella (Catalan for Old City), gated by two towers.

The Quart Tower (Torres de Quart) was built in the 1400s in Gothic style, drawing inspiration from the Castell Nuovo towers in Naples. It was once a women’s prison and played an important role in stopping Napoleon’s army during the Spanish War of Independence.

Since most restaurants in Spain don’t open for dinner until eight or eigh thirty, which I considered quite late. I was the first to arrive right when the restaurant opened. The maître d’ was young and welcoming. She was able to seat me without a reservation.

I quickly scanned at the menu and opted for the 48€ tasting menu, which was comprised of 4 appetizers, a fish or meat course and dessert.

First came the house bread and the organic olive oil

Then a glass of organic white from the Castellón region, using the Macabeo grapes – traditionally blended with Xarel·lo and Parellada to make the Spanish sparkling wine cava.

My first appetizer was Coastal Prawn tartar

This was one of the customer favourites on the à la carte menu. The prawn was sweet and very fresh, so the condiment was minimalistic.

My second appetizer was Ambrosia Tomato charred “on the flame”, topped with Musola – a type of dogfish/catshark.

It was an interesting combination. The salty and meaty texture of the fish complemented the sweet and juicy tomatoes.

Next came the grilled Squid covered by a thin layer of Patade (Pork Jowl) Iberico.

The seafood was very fresh at this restaurant as the chef goes to the port everyday around 4pm to acquire them.

The last appetizer, I picked it from the à la carte menu. I had read about the eel from this region – particularly the Albufera Natural Park – and had been eager to give it a taste.

The eel’s typically prepared ‘all I pebre’ , in a spicy sauce made of garlic and paprikas. In this concoction, the chef deboned, lightly battered and deep-fried the fish in a tempura style, before pouring the sauce at the table. Later on, having sampled the “real” Auguila en ‘all I pebre’ at its origin, it’s fair to say that I prefer this version prepared at La Càbila. The deep-frying preserved the texture and integrity of the fish, with which the flavour of the sauce shone through without having to deal with the bones.

Since this is primarily a seafood haven, naturally for my main, I picked fish. It was Skate roasted in charcoal oven, with potatoes and artichokes, whose season, as I was told, just started in Valencia.

Chef Ferrero stopped by the table and explained that the skin of the fish was left on purpose for its gelatinous quality to tenderise the meat. It was very good, although I dare say, I could use a little less salt. Subsequently, as our trip went, we discovered that salt was used generously in the food from this region.

My Dessert was caramelised custard tart with cinnamon ice cream

The cinnamon ice cream was refreshing, whilest coming from Portugal, where eggs were often used in desserts, the custard would have to be outstanding to get my attention. It was alright.

As for the service…There were only two servers throughout the entire evening. As the tables filled up, they were busy attending all the customers. Not a single time did the flamboyant maître d’/waitress lose her smile and liveliness. She came from Sicily and loved what she’s doing.

After dinner, as I stepped out of the restaurant, I suddenly registered my whereabouts

I was right next to the magnificent Church of San Nicolás with its Baroque interiors, more on that later.

Content after a good meal, I took a leisurely walk back to the hotel, finding street arts around the corners

On first impression, Valencia was clean and functional. Being a tourist, I felt very safe walking the streets at 10 in the evening.

Coming up next: Valencia, Spain – Breakfast.

15 thoughts on “Valencia, Spain – Arrival

  1. Well as someone who doesn’t care for seafood, I think I would skip this restaurant. But the food looked nicely presented and I’m glad you were able to find a table last minute at a place you enjoyed. I’m looking forward to more of your Spain adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such elegant plated courses. I’ve never seen skate as an entree before (or anywhere but shallow water, for that matter). I’d bet your restaurant choice was better than the one where you originally had a reservation. Good for you! BTW, the rose window in San Nicolas is a nice tease of how the interior of the church looks. I look forward to your post about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Flight delays are a nightmare, but it’s good you were able to adapt and find a restaurant to eat at upon landing. That fish and all of the seafood looks really good and fresh: given that Valencia’s by the coast, the quality should no doubt be excellent! Glad you had a wonderful in Valencia, and I can’t wait to hear more!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great flight prices! I feel like nonstop flights overseas have gotten expensive to the point where I’m actually thinking, maybe it’s worth it to do a layover. I’ll just pick a layover w a nice lounge. Looks like a fun trip.

    Liked by 1 person

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