Late Autumn gathering in bubbles feels as indulgent as ever right now. WFH life and Saino’s home delivery freeing up time to languish in the preparation of really simple, special dishes. Clicking through Valencia’s gastronomic tours for foodie inspiration – and because let’s face it a few days of sun, Cava and tapas would not be a bad thing, I check in with Sea Saffron, the travel company creating intimate experiences in Valencia that combine gastronomy with wine pairings in venues emblematic of the city.
Together we pour over the region’s delectable offering and now that travel is very much on, I’m torn between creating sherry flights in the comfort of my own home and the seduction of their Spanish sojourns. Here’s what they suggest for bringing the taste of Valencia to a party for six.
For the most classic of Spanish appetisers, a simple Pan con tomate. This staple is often enjoyed before a meal, or as almuerzo (late breakfast).
Toast small pieces of bread and serve with quality Spanish olive oil blended with grated tomatoes. Aioli adds a pop of flavour complementing the sweetness of the tomatoes: for a homemade blend, use 3-4 garlic cloves well minced, a generous amount of olive oil, 1 egg yolk and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Stir well, almost to a whip, and season to taste.
Clòtxina Valenciana (Valencian Mussels) accompanied by Tantum Ergo Rosé by Bodegas Hispano Suizas.
Prepare the mussels by steaming and marinating them in garlic, lemon, black pepper, white wine and olive oil.
Serve with a full-bodied sparkling Cava rosé, aromas of vanilla and dried fruit will support the medium-intensity of the mussels, rather than overwhelm the dish.
Jamón Iberico and Queso Manchego (Iberian ham) is a staple on any Spanish menu, accompany with Maduresa by Bodegas Celler del Roure.
Typically, the country’s best cured meats come from Salamanca, specifically a region called Guijuelo, or the protected region of Jabugo in Huelva.
Serve with queso manchego, one of Spain’s most cured cheese, and wait for the nutty flavour to swoon in, complement with a Tempranillo from Rioja.
Lubina a la Sal (Salted Sea Bass) accompanied by Impromptu Sauvignon Blanc by Bodegas Mustiguillo.
If there’s a fish synonymous with Valencia and its fishing culture, it’s Sea Bass. Prep by coating it in a thick salt layer and bake in the oven, scraping off the salt just before serving and drizzle with olive oil.
The rich almost meaty flavour pairs well with the fruity salinity of an Albariño, Spain’s great white wine, the grape is typically grown in the coastal region of the North of Spain. It’s a match made in heaven.
Torrija (Spanish-style French toast) finished with an iconic Pedro Ximenez from Jerez.
For an absolute banger of a crowd pleaser, a delicious French toast and crème brulee hybrid. Simply put, it’s bread soaked in a milky reduction and caramelised until crisp, with less focus on the bread and more on the caramelisation to ensure liquidity in the middle with a crisp caramel edge.
The finale to this Spanish feast, a digestivo, a dark and sticky PX, or Pedro Ximenez – it’s intensely rich, sweet and moorish. Enjoy from a glass or pour over ice cream for a spectacularly delicious, double-dessert ending.
Make the most of open travel corridors and the 2.5hr flying time to discover Valencia’s rich history in tapas and wine tasting on a Sea Saffron tour. Take in the patchwork of architectural styles and an exclusive Moorish cave dating back to the 11th Century.
*Returning from Spain to the UK requires additional border measures including self-isolation for 14 days. Check here for the latest travel guidance for Spain.
On return? Moro and sibling restaurant Morito in Exmouth Market and Morito on Hackney Road serve some of the best Spanish dishes outside of Valencia.
For some seriously mouthwatering wine tasting shots check out Sea Saffron’s Instagram here.
For itineraries and tour details visit www.seasaffron.com