Marina Beach Valencia, VÍ Vids Unforgettable Experience

Situated on the Las Arenas beach, a privileged location by the city´s port, The Marina Restaurant is Marina Beach Clubs great gastronomy challenge, the reference leisure and restaurant complex in Valencia.

Sebastian Gros, the French Executive chef with more than 20 years experience is responsible for designing and executing a project based on the best Mediterranean produce and Valencian traditional cuisine with a cutting edge.

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With two years of activity the Marina Beach Club has established itself as one of the best, is the only one of its type in Valencia, a city which has experienced an unprecedented culinary and cultural ‘take-off’ in recent years. It is precisely this cultural pride which led the Recaba Group, responsible for the Panorama Restaurant located on the Marina, the upcoming 5* Grand Luxury Hotel on Las Arenas Beach and a surprising and impressive restaurant in the city centre to launch this all-Valencian project. Of all these interconnected propositions it is the Marina restaurant that best represents the regions rich cornucopia making excellent use of its pantry and demonstrating that haute cuisine can be framed in a beach club atmosphere.

 

 

NATIVE  PRODUCT AND RICE WITH OWN HALLMARK

The menu is a road-map of authentic Valencian cuisine, with selected products and age-old cooking methods, to discover hand in hand with Sebastian Gros, the Executive Chef.

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Born in the city of Oyonnax, close to the French Alps and where his grandfather ran a Michelin-starred restaurant, Gros arrived in Spain after developing part of his career in equally starred restaurants in his native country, such as Chez Roger, Château Eza or Le Rivage But it was in Valencia where he decided to settle, captivated by the climate, the Mediterranean  and the potential of its emerging culinary level.

Now, Marina has a team of 24 people and has renewed its offer under the following premise. the fresh and seasonal product as the protagonist, and the traditional recipes reviewed -without skimping on creativity  Thus, we find dishes such as “esgarraet” with quince all-i-oli, artichoke roses with honey and truffle vinaigrette, various  scrambled egg dishes  (with crayfish, prawns and leeks) and other ‘straight  from the sea’ appetizers, such as mussels, clams or cuttlefish, in different elaborations. The Valencian imprint can also be seen in the tomato salad of El Perelló which is served with tuna loin or in the Mediterranean sea bass ceviche with granita of ‘Agua de Valencia´.

ROSAS DE ALCACHOFA

The taste of Gros for the sea and the mountain is evident in dishes such as calves sweet breads and grilled red prawn and in the wide variety of meats and fish that swell the menu. All this is accompanied with home baked breads (focaccia, brioche, rye, etc.) and finished off  with refreshing and sweet homemade desserts prepared by a chef patissier, such as tiger nut horchata, “valencianito” (orange juice with vanilla ice cream and Grand Marnier) or caramelized orange toast. Special mention should be made of the rice, whose elaboration is led by its own maestro, that of Juan Carlos Galbis, the first chef to receive a Michelin star in the city of Valencia

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Juan Carlos Galbis

and the son of the rice cook Antonio Galbis who has defended the original recipe of ‘Paella Valencia’ and whose work has contributed to its internationalization. In Marina the authentic version is served: with free range chicken, rabbit, snails, artichokes in season, green beans and garrofó (Lima beans) In addition, with  the advice of Galbis, the menu incorporates ‘Jornadas’  (or fortnights) of rice varying between dry and moist, traditional and creative. Among the highlights are ‘arròs dels bous ‘ (with red mullet, monkfish and cuttlefish), which takes its name from a peculiar technique of trawling with oxen, which emerged during the eighteenth century on the beach of Cabanyal and which died out at the beginning of the twentieth century.

In addition to its regular menu, Marina presents three different formulas to discover the full range of dishes:

* An off-menu with up to eight suggestions that vary each month.

* A menu of the day at a price of 19.50 euros that always includes a rice dish.

* A tasting menu of eight dishes without wine pairing (45 euros) or with pairing (65 euros) or with beer (55 euros).

To complete the gastronomic experience, the restaurant has an exceptional wine list – in which there are up to 180 references – inspired by Spain but open to the world, with numerous international labels.

EMBASSY OF THE VALENCIA BRAND                                                                                    Marina Beach Club, with 3,500 sqm and capacity for more than 1,400 people, is articulated in different areas intercommunicating.Marina Beach (6) The main building houses  ‘Sky’ (an exclusive terrace for private events) and the Marina restaurant, with a circular floor plan and  panoramic views of Las Arenas beach and the  port’s pier with a capacity for 150 diners. It has been designed and decorated by the architect Juan Ranchal and the interior designer Janfri.

OASIS ON THE SAND                                                                                                                       The experience continues on the large terrace that extends to the sea and that gives way to the infinity pool, open from mid-spring to early fall. Around it, high and low tables,  sofas and chill-out armchairs, sunbeds and rafia cocoons are distributed, ideal to enjoy the carefully selected cocktails  and premium spirits, as well as the Japanese snacks made by a sushi chef. In this area, a menu based on light and fresh dishes is served: rich salads,  “00” D.O. Santoña anchovies, Russian salad or sandwiches. These will coexist on the beachfront with the Mediterranean proposals of the ‘El Portet’ restaurant, where the fresh  fish, seafood and rice enhance a perfect summer day.

DEGUSTATION MENU “LOS 8 ACTOS DEL MARINA”

Tuna tartare, bed of wakame, Japanese seasoning and tile of nori alga.

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Ceviche in aromatized tiger nut milk (horchata) with passion fruit, freeze-dried baby tomatos and ‘Agua de Valencia’ granita. 20180410_150548_1523474295959_resized

Small bite of Galician beef steak tartar over airbag and iced cream mustard.20180410_152604_1523474104683_resized

Sea & Mountain (Sweetbreads and red prawns).20180410_155446_1523474095925_resized

Roasted octopus, cooked as “a feira”, over cream of sweet potato.20180410_153841_1523474088704_resized

Grilled foie over rose gelée with mushroom sand and truffle Hollandaise, plus Duck magret Nikkei style.

 

 

Arros Dels Bous, citrus foam and almond all-i-oli. 20180410_165045_1523472998002_resized

Caramelized french toast, coffee foam and milk-based caramel ice cream.20180410_171327_1523473016771_resized

The wines which accpmpanied the dishes.

 

Address: Marina de Valencia, s / n.                                                                                  Telephone: 96 115 00 07.                                                                                                                Schedule: Marina Restaurant, uninterrupted cuisine from 12:00 to 24:00 hours. Complex, from 11:00 to 03:30 hours.                                                                                                      Average price: € 30-35 per person

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VIvid Team

 

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‘Valencia Wine Nights’ is Born! VÍ Vid’s New Wine Club for Expats in Valencia,

On 22 March a new wine club for expatriates in Valencia commenced with a tasting in Macabeo Canovas, a restaurant near the Colon market in the city centre. Born from a Imagen1discussion thread on a Facebook expats page the wine club is a response to the interest in Valencian wines amongst a new wave of  incomers to the city, keen to learn about Valencia’s wines.

VÍ Vid has been running wine tastings for some 8 years and this was a natural20180322_194233 new step for us to take.                            Our sessions are semi-formal with a commented tasting (in this case of  five  wines) in which views on the wines are welcomed and encouraged from all the participants.

The original discussion thread had been about cheap supermarket red wines and some of the wines being suggested were amongst the most ‘commercial’ and non-Valencian on the market! For this tasting VÍ Vid sought collaboration from two bodegas, Coviñas and Cent Piques to show wines widely available from Supermarkets and in Valencian bars and restaurants of a distinctly higher quality even if they were at the cheaper end of the market spectrum!                      collage expats macabeoMacabeo Canovas who hosted the event is a modern, bright and relatively new addition to the locality. A very friendly environment where quality food is offered and orders are made freshly. They offered a special post tasting menu, having given over more than half their space to our tasting, including their specialist breads, fillings and ‘sandwiches’ made on the premises and completed to the diners request. You can read our review of Macabeo Canovas at https://wp.me/p7dfvi-1hy

Coviñas is the largest bodega in Utiel-Requena, the Denomination of Origin 70kms to the West of the city. It is a second line bodega (actually 10 bodegas) which supply wines in-bulk and in bottle for supermarkets, bars, restaurants and to specialist shops as well as exporting huge amounts as well, in a number of different ranges. Coviñas have been prominent in raising the visibility of wines from the region in the export market, particularly of the native variety Bobal working with the DO and Territorio de Bobal which is pursuing World Heritage status with UNESCO for the 2700 year-old industry.

By contrast Cent Piques is an altogether different entity. A small operation which buys grapes and finished wines from other producers, using their spare capacity sometimes to produce  wines which are nearly all ecological, mono-varietal and ‘Vino de Autor’ ( wines which reflect the soul of the wine-maker) Their production is small, sometimes under 1000 bottles of a particular wine and are marketed directly to bars/restaurants,  one or two specialist wine shops and are also available to our wine clubs who have tasted many of their new wines as they are released.

16 tasters gathered on the 22 March at the beginning of this new project and tasted the following wines;

Bodegas Coviñas, Enterizo Macabeo Blanco, 2017, DO Utiel-Requena. This white is straw in colour and from the white variety most widely planted in the Valencian Communities five DO´s. Clean and bright with gold flashes it has a particularly expressive nose of ripe red apple, pear and melon with white flowers and a hint of fennel. In the mouth the wine has an easy pass with a big hit of fruit matched with a serious acidity which balances perfectly and a long full finish with touch of minerality. The wine is widely available in supermarkets such as Consum which had it on offer for 1.98€ but which has subsequently risen to a more normal 2.30€ a bottle.

Bodegas Coviñas, Enterizo Bobal Rosado, 2017 DO Utiel-Requena. 

This is an absolute classic Valencian rosado from the Bobal variety, the regions native grape. The bodega does not go in for fancy pale pink wine which is regrettably becoming the trend here, producing a strawberry red colour wine, clean and bright with a violet edge. On the nose it has strawberry, raspberry and hints of bubble-gum and lollipop, flavours which are replicated in the mouth with a clean fresh acidity and a long full finish. The same price as the wine above these wines go with just about any food and are invaluable in Summer when it is too hot to drink red wines. This wine has been awarded a gold medal in the Concurso de Vinos Valencianos organised by Proava.

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Cent Piques, Bodegas Vinados, Trilogia 2017 Vino de Autor.

Produced from three varieties, Graciano, Tempranillo and Monastrell with no oak ageing this is a young wine with a lot of fruit. Graciano is unusual in Valencia, an Italian variety which is grown more in the Rioja region. Tempranillo is the most widely planted red grape  in Spain, a workhorse variety an Monastrell is the regional variety of Alicante. In this wine the red fruit predominates on the nose, raspberry , and in the mouth the others balance out the wine giving a very pleasant, easy drinking red, round with a long finish. Available in bars and restaurants, prices vary.

Cent Piques, Bodegas Vinados, Graciano 2017 Vino de Autor.

The single variety Graciano which was used in the above blend is a red which shows the varietal characteristics well. The wine has simply been fermented in stainless steel before being stabilised and bottled. On the nose it is brambly raspberry and blackberry and in the mouth a spiky fruit well-balanced with round tannins and easy to drink. perfect on its own or with mild cheeses or jamon, ibericos etc. Available to bars/restaurants and prices vary accordingly.

Aula Merlot 2016, Bodegas Coviñas, Vino de Autor, DO Utiel-Requena .

From a range of  monovarietal wines aimed at restaurants which all show excellent varietal characteristics. This Merlot is plum red, bright in colour and on the nose has plum, damson and hints of ripe fruits. A classic French variety now grown well all over the world, it is full in the mouth, ripe fruit, soft tannins and sufficient acidity to balance this wine perfectly. It is available through supermarkets as well and currently is in Carrefour for around 5.30€ a bottle. prices will vary in restaurants.

This successful first tasting has led to calls for  further events and we hope the second tasting will take place in the same venue in the second half of April. VÍ Vid will be happy to create further new groups if required and will conduct tastings for small groups in your house and other events. Just e-mail us! vividvinos@hotmail.com

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VI´vid Team

The Rebirth Of Mariluna, New Image and New Varieties, a VÍ Vid Report.

 

The 26th of  March was the date chosen by Sierra Norte to present their new Mariluna range in the Marina Beach Restaurant, wines  which use national varieties, Tempranillo and Bobal in red, and Verdejo and Macabeo in white. Imagen4Manuel Olmo, winemaker and the bodega’s managing director  explained  that the evolution of Mariluna ‘inside and out’ is a commitment by the winery to bring quality wine to  younger wine drinkers with a more minimalist graphic in its labeling.  Organic wines of Mediterranean character  which is the imprint of Sierra Norte: great freshness and aromatic intensity.Imagen2

Mariluna has a version in red and another in white, and in the development of both they have  opted for the most internationally recognized Spanish varieties, which are accompanied by Mediterranean native varieties. Another new feature is that it has an organic wine  certification.     In  Mariluna white, the predominant variety is Verdejo (85%), which is accompanied by Macabeo.mariluna blanco mio For its preparation, only the free run juice, which is obtained from a very light pressing of the grape, is used. As a differential element from other whites, this wine has two months of aging on its fine lees, with a weekly stirring that increases its volume and complexity in the mouth. The result is a very aromatic wine on the nose, fresh, with notes of white flowers, citrus and apricot. Friendly in the mouth, pleasant, with good acidity, complex and unctuous, with a creamy touch. It is rich and with a long afertaste The wine has,  by the way has already won its first medal, the bronze in the Concurso de Vinos Valencianos organised by Proava. We tried the wine with stunning appetisers such as sushi, gyozas, and mushroom croquettes and  light starters made by the Marina Beach chef, but  it also pairs perfectly with white fish, seafood, fresh cheeses and salads.

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Mapi Domingo,winemaker, and Manuel Olmo

 

This new personality of the wine is accompanied by a new image, a label with a minimalist representation of the bottom of the sea, appealing to the name of the wine and also to its Mediterranean character.
In the case of Mariluna red,Imagen5 the majority variety is Tempranillo (85%)  together with Bobal. The grapes come from vineyards over 40 years old. In its preparation, a ‘pumpover’ technique is used, which consists of extracting the entire must from the tank in its maceration phase and re-incorporating it at once to cause the liquid to break the so-called cap, formed by the skins, to obtain more color and structure. This wine then rests for six months in French and American oak barrels. At first sight medium-deep, , ruby-red colour with purple hues. Clean and bright, Nice ripe fruit on the nose with a  touch of cacao, red fruit, toasty notes and sweet spices. It is fresh and elegant with good structure on the palate, silky with well integrated acidity and a pleasant aftertaste.                                                     
It goes well with semi-cured cheese, grilled tuna fish, white meats or even grilled red meats, such as goat or lamb. It would also pair well  with mushrooms, cod and other white fish in sauces                  Sierra Norte will be present in the Mostra de Vins i Aliments, which takes place in Valencia from 5 to 9 April, so you will have the opportunity to taste their fantastic wines.

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VI´vid Team

 

 

 

Schweppes Redefines its Range of Tonic and Premium Mixers. VÍ Vid Reports.

Schweppes, the leading brand and expert in mixology since 1783, redefines its range of tonic and premium mixers inviting you to taste the essence of the most special places in the world distilled in a bottle.20180314_135741

Schweppes wanted to redefine the proposal of its range of tonic and premium mixers to recreate, in each drink, the sensations that some cities, regions and countries can offer. Sensations impossible to explain with language because they are a seamless mixture of people, energy, sounds, food, smells, colors and history that can only be understood, transmitted and enjoyed through the five senses.  “Tonic & Toque de Lima” which embodies the essence of Delhi; “Tonic & Pink Pepper” inspired by the  City of Rio de Janeiro; “Tonic & Hibiscus” a tribute to the most emblematic flower of Hawaii and “Ginger Ale & Ginger intense” a sensory trip to Jamaica, are some of the themes of a range that also incorporates a new reference: “Tonic & Matcha”, a flavour of full on-trend until now unprecedented in the world of the mixer.20180314_142522            Last 14th of March , “Acción y Comunicación” the Schweppes Media Agency invited VÍ Vid to the press presentation of  Tonic & Matcha, held in Apicius Restaurant. Inspired by the city of Kyoto and one of its most representative traditions, the tea ceremony, Tonic and Matcha is the result of the strong investment of Schweppes in R & D and has been created to continue offering new possibilities to the consumer and the profesional bartender. It is a flavor of full on-trend and hitherto unprecedented in the world of the mixer that stands out for its versatility, since it combines perfectly with all types of gins as well as with other spirits such as vodka, white tequila, pisco and even bourbon or Ron. Schweppes has been the forerunner of trends and its brand has evolved and revolutionized the mixology in Spain. Calm, tradition and refinement define the great novelty of Schweppes. Of intense color, in the glass it Viaje Japon_Schweppes 1 (3)is delicate and subtle, with a marked aroma of green tea, herbal memories (chlorophyll, mainly) and a citric point that is repeated in the mouth. Intense, fresh, persistent, perfectly balanced and with typicity, it also shows the perfect bubble that characterizes the Schweppes Schweppes Tónica & Matcha (Kioto) (1)brand and a slightly bitter aftertaste, brought by quinine. At the time of mixing, Tonic & Matcha stands out for its great versatility.  In gin and tonic it is recommended to serve with a twist of lemon and mint leaves or with a twist of grapefruit and kaffir lime leaf, if you want a more sophisticated combination. With pisco you can finish with a twist of lime and grape; with white tequila, with kaffir lime, lime twist and a slice of melon and with bourbon, with orange peel or china orange. Alberto  Pizarro had designed three cocktails for this presentation and for these 20180314_145644special cocktails Enrique Medina, the Apicius chef created an incredible pairing menu, with some individuals appetizers  such as watermelon ‘al pil pil’, cacau del collaret, olive filled with negroni, mochi filled with Valencian orange and ginger, puff pastry

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Apicius Appetizers

with titaina and pine nuts, seafod croqueta and capuchina with artichoke, black pudding and potatoes. collage matcha2Starters red tuna sashimi Balfegó with ponzu, ganache with foie gras pumpkin and pipes matched with the 1st. “Matcha hari cocktail”: Green grape, mint, basil, lemon, Schweppes tonic matcha.          The 2nd  cocktail “Sakura tree”: Pisco quebranta, puree of yuzu and calamansi, black tea syrup and chocolate mint, Schweppes matcha tea was paired with hake from the Cantabrian sea with mayonnaise in its spines, spectacular

 

the cooking point of the hake, and finally the last main course  lamb fregola from Viver with smoked cheese, flavory and perfect matching with the Sakura Tree.       20180314_155921Finally the 3rd cocktail “Call me, honey”: Jack Daniels honey, purple chicha, lemon, sugar, Ginger Ale with the dessert Pure chocolate with matcha tea.20180314_162515(0)

Let´s enjoy the the perfect bubble of Schweppes!

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Vins Del Comtat, the Mountain Valley Winery; A VÍ Vid Report.

In the Northern Interior of Alicante province close to the Mountains and Natural Park  of the Sierra Mariola is the town of Cocentaina and the Bodega and vineyards of Vins Del Comtat.20180308_111615 Just an hour and a quarter from Valencia in an area of outstanding natural beauty (even if it was a challenge for the GPS!) the bodega is in two warehouses on an industrial estate.  We met winemaker David Carbonell who had promised us an interesting visit ( our first to this Bodega)20180308_112402 whose wines we have admired for some time.

The Bodega is in warehouses because the investment is all in the vineyards and the winemaking process which are considered more important than flashy premises in a beauty spot.                                                                           Vins Del Comtat are probably best known for their  white wines from Viognier and Moscatel and for the Monastrell reds which define Alicante. But they have Chardonnay , Cabernet Sauvignon and other varieties and have an experimental vineyard from which small batches of wines from different varieties can be made and assessed.20180308_120630

It is David who is credited with introducing Viognier into the Valencian vineyards and as we have noted before this French variety ( Rhone Valley South of Lyon, Condrieu and the Languedoc) is making great strides as it has proved versatile and to produce quality wines. The variety has been the one big success of the experimental vineyard and the new vineyards  have been  producing for nearly 20 years.

Inside the first warehouse  space is at a premium. Small 2k litre tanks for the experimental wines are cheek by jowl with the 10 and 20k fermentation tanks with their double skins and automatic pumps which allow computer controlled pump-overs and the 35,k litre stabilisation deposits. Here also is the barrel park and the bottling and labelling machines and the laboratory.

David had promised us a comprehensive tasting and it began in the barrel park which holds 170 French  barrels20180308_112349 of mainly 500 litre capacity. He explained that the Bodega´s philosophy was to promote the regional variety (Monastrell) which here provides a fresh style grown between 610-690m above sea level. The vines are between 40-50 and 100+ years old and David showed us a photograph of one of the latter vines, probably supplying  its third generation of winemaker! The soils in this area (Paraje de El Salze-white willow) are sandy, stony and with limestone. They drain well  and  retain the moisture.                                           The Bodega produces three styles of wine, a Monastrell which is neither Paraje nor single plot, young and fresh, the El Salze which is ‘Paraje’ and then Moncabrer, (the top wine and currently with Cabernet Sauvignon) which is from a microvinya. The plan however is to elevate the El Salze  Monastrell to this level.  We began with a sample from barrica (3-4-17), black cherry in colour with violet edge, shortly to be bottled. Fresh and with good acidity and plenty of fruit, around 14.5%ABV and with a good touch of terroir. ( From the 50-year-old vines).    20180308_124207                Next we tasted a sample from the 100 year-old vines, a similar deep colour with a real coffee cream nose, vanilla, with caramel and toffee overlaying deep fruit, a well-integrated wine which will be the next El Salze, quite forward now.

We followed this with the Cabernet Sauvignon for the Moncabrer, from 2015, deep, brambly with green pepper, sweet and fruity.                                            We were joined on and off by mutual friend and wine-maker Joan Guiá from Finca Collado who was checking on some samples of recently finished younger wines. collage vins del comtatHe was to join us for the second part of the visit (and tasting) in the tasting room and shop which is in the second warehouse where the bottled wines wait their moment of release onto the market. Here we started with the young Viognier 2017, pale gold with pale flashes, clean and very bright. On the nose it is fresh with apricot fruit and spice, aromatic and in the mouth a really good balance, aromatic with a long finish. Good as an aperitif or with rice or seafood dishes this will improve in bottle.20180308_121337

We followed it with the 2017 Tostado Lento with just 2-3 months exposure to oak with regular batonnage on the lees. The extra  process gives the wine a deeper colour, more fruit on the nose with honey.  The 2016 is even more aromatic and golden, full of passion fruit and pineapple and guava, a real testament to how this wine has adapted to its new home.20180308_122256

The bodega´s other white is a Moscatel/Chardonnay (Verdeval)  and it is only one of three bodegas we know using this combination. The Moscatel comes from the Marina Alta, from vineyards overlooking the coast and the wine is fresh and fruity and reasonably light in the mouth with good acidity and structure from the Chardonnay.

The Bodega`s young  Monastrell from 2016 with three months in oak is a medium bodied red cherry coloured wine. A light fresh fruity red this is an easy drinker , good for sharing or with light tapas.

The 2016 El Salze, 100% Monastrell from the Paraje is brambly, quite dry, but fresh with a soft acidity and a long finish with hints of the terroir. It is quite a contrast with the barrel sample we had tried earlier from 2017 and will have a long future ahead of it.

The Moscatel Dulce Crystalli,20180310_214022  also from vineyards on the Cabo de Nao in the Marina Alta, has a typical apricot and peach, fresh fruit nose, with lychees and white flowers. Light and refreshing in the mouth, with a long finish this would accompany fresh fruit well. Some of these wines are available in Valencia through their Distributors, Santander, others not tasted are in some local Carrefour branches. We recommend you look them out! The bodegas philosophy of investing in the wines is paying off. These are singular wines, of very high quality with good varietal characteristics and representative of their mountain valley terroir. David certainly gave us a comprehensive tasting and explanation of the bodegas aims and we look forward to showing these wines in up-coming tastings!

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2º Concurso Espardená Valenciana en Alcira, Francisco José Garciá. VÌ Vid reports from the Jury Room.

Unusual in the canon of Valencian Gastronomy but for once this  was a competition  actually held on a Sunday attracting 28 restaurants as competitors despite this being one of their busiest working days.

But then everything is a little unusual when it comes to Espardenyá.

Espardenyá is a relatively modern dish according to our good friend Paco Alonso, created around the beginning of the 20th century by mistake and in his view ‘if there is one dish capable of promoting disorder and chaos it is espardenyá’.

History has it that a group of rice harvesters met regularly to share a meal, sometimes a paella, on other occasions a fidueà or an Alli Pebre. Each would take an ingredient for the agreed dish. However,  one day the messages were confused and some thought it was to be a paella others an alli pebre. Nonetheless, once gathered together they decided to mix some of the ingredients and the resulting dish  proved to be an unexpected success (or  Espardenyá in the Valencian language)!

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Some ingredients, Eels, eggs and a ‘picada’.

So what  constitutes this  chaotic plate? Firstly chicken and rabbit, (duck is also permitted,) then eels, pimenton dulce (with or without a guindilla) and potatos (sliced or in small chunks) . Thirdly a ‘picada’   of almonds, the local nuts (cacahuetes) garlic, parsley and bread (optional). The dish commences with the frying of the chicken and rabbit in virgin olive oil and then as the dish progresses water is added to make the stock and to cook the eels and potatos. the picada is added towards the end. Rice is not used so the picada thickens the stock. Finally when it is ready an egg is poached on the top, one for each person.

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Preparation from (Clockwise) La Plaza, Bonaire, Casa Picantera, La Visteta and La Granja.

It is traditionally cooked over wood in either a paella, a honda ( deep pan) or a perol (iron casserole).

This is not a widely known recipe according to Paco Alonso, coming from  the towns of the Ribera Baixa around the Albufera and the rice fields. But it has been claimed by Alcira, capital of the Ribera Alta (the next door county). This competition has been dedicated to Francisco José Garciá who had an affinity for the dish and was a well-known and respected market stall holder in the town.

Today the competition´s organiser is Herminio Crespo, journalist with Noticias de la Ribera, who coordinated an excellent event with the town hall and the Government securing the highest first prize for a ‘concurso’ of 3000€ for the winners! It was he who invited VÍ Vid to participate on the jury on Sunday.

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Almuerzo, sobrasada, anchovies, bacalao ingles and carpacio de bacalao.

Before the competition starts there is  a  traditional almuerzo which the jury, press and contestants share. Once preparation commences individual contestants carry on with their ‘breakfast’ until the cooking begins.

During the cooking the local association of bakers (Gremio de Horneros) dispensed artisan breads to the public along with the cake most associated with Alcira ‘La Regaña’ which is a type of Panquemado, rich with pumpkin in the dough. It has a saffron coloured centre.

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La Regaña.

What had started as a bright sunny morning soon changed   with arrival of the tail end winds of Tropical Storm Felix which tried to introduce its own form of chaos! The 28 contestants (whittled down from 50 entrants) had to  control their fires whilst the gusts of wind tried to put them out, disperse anything that wasn’t tied down around the Plaza del Reino and generally made  laying the tables for the lunch afterwards impossible!

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Herminio Crespo briefing the Jury.

The jury retired to the designated marquee only to enjoy some further disorder as the wind tried to lift it away. Outside a  band struck up playing some loud but excellent paso dobles and the nearby 2 o’clock mascleta suggested World War 3 was coming. Yes, Valencia is enjoying  it´s Spring festival , Fallas !

Still, despite all the distractions, the chefs are made of sterner stuff and the finished entries began to arrive for consideration by the jury who soon were concentrating on the food in front of them. This is certainly not the first time we have been on a Jury and we know to expect a wide variety. The espardenyás did not disappoint in this respect.

Without giving any secrets away the finished dish should resemble rather more an alli pebre than a paella. The stock should have good colour from the pimentón ( though not to be so strong that it dries the throat); the guindilla should add a little heat if used; the picada should not absorb all the stock leaving the dish dry or nearly dry; the bottom should not be burn´t;   the potatos should be firm  (not turning to mash) and the flesh  should ‘spring’ from  the eels when pressed.

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Espardenyá a la ‘Visteta’, (Photo Sergi Fem Terreta)

Apart from the ingredients above no additional elements are permitted and it has to be said that , on a very difficult day for open air cooking,  the contestants did brilliantly presenting us with some excellent and widely varied entries! Those who used paella pans  were more prone to the stock evaporating during the cooking, (4-5 entries were dry or practically dry), those who used bread also risked a thicker sauce and  one or two were burn´t on the bottom. One had overdone the guindilla!

Judging seemed to pass very quickly and after the deliberations were over  we joined the contestants, public and press at the lunch now laid out on trestle tables down the street until the scores had been  counted and verified.

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Contestants! (Photo Sergi Fem Terreta)

Then  the awards ceremony could take  place.

The contestants were:-

  • La Granja,
  • La Visteta, Barx
  • La Mar Sala, Cullera
  • Casa Granero, Serra
  • Bonaire, El Palmar
  • Gambrinus, Siete Aguas
  • Casa Picantera, Cullera
  • Rincon del Faro, Cullera
  • El Carmelito, Alcira
  • El Roble, Alcira
  • L’ Alqueria del Pou, Valencia
  • Camino Viejo,Alcira
  • Ca Tomas, Alcira
  • Miguel y Juani, L’Alcudia
  • Tastem,Valencia,
  • El Roure, Alcira
  • Meson Tous,Tous
  • El Lloc, Alcira
  • Forn de Carrascosa, Alcira
  • Juan XXIII, Benefaio
  • Salones la Cancela, Sueca
  • La Orza, Chiva
  • El Racó, Meliana
  • Chef Amadeo, Gandia
  • Avenida 2.0, Massamagrell
  • Ros Estudio,Llombai
  • El Almacen, Valencia
  • La Plaza, Torrent.

The winners were:-

  1. El Lloc, Alcira,
  2. L’Alqueria del Pou, Valencia
  3. Ca Tomás, Alcira
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El Lloc receive the Winners cheque from the Mayor. (Photo Sergi Fem Terreta)

This contest proved to be a huge success and great fun in the chaotic circumstances, no-one batted an eyelid and Espardenyá lived up to its reputation! Congratulations to the winners, all the contestants, the sponsors ( Gandia wines and San Miguel cervezas) to  the town hall for their organisational skills and support and to Herminio for the invitation to participate as juror.

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Wines from Sponsors, Gandia.

 

 

 

Sabor a Málaga Visits Valencia,VÍVid Reports.

collage vivid marian y riki portadaMonday 16 February  the Diputación of Malága and Sol wines held a lunch for the press in Vincci Palace Hotel in Calle La Paz. The aim as always was to bring together wine and food writers and to promote the products of a small group of the 800 producers who make up Sabor a Málaga, a trade body dedicated to promoting Malagueña gastronomy in restaurants in the province, nationally and internationally. Coordinated by Pedro G. Mocholí some 20+ journalists  from the sector convened for an aperitif of a Puente Nuevo, 20180216_140135 (480x640) (300x400)an organic India Pale Ale  from Arriate, near Seville, and named after the famous  bridge at Ronda. Amber in colour the ale is just 3.8%ABV (the same strength as a session beer in the UK) and on the nose there are aromas of apple, honey with hops and a hint of patisserie. In the mouth it is immediately refreshing  with good bite, sensations of malt and a balanced bitterness, very easy to drink it was a good introduction to what was to prove  a very flavoursome meal.                                       Sergio Garrido was the chef charged with bringing together this

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Sergio Garrido & Pedro G. Mocholí

representative menu from the South with touches of Valencia and elsewhere in its make-up.His career trajectory starts with a family of chefs ( his grandmother cooked in `El Fuente de Marbella hotel) and includes spells in London and Jamaica before becoming Executive Chef for the Vincci chain of Hotels, most recently working from the Vincci Posada del Patio in Málaga. He is a member of the Eurotoque group of chefs.  The menu of five courses began with a Tartar de Salchichón Malagueño, sobre Migas de20180216_150852 (640x480) (400x300)

Sopa Perota, a dried sausage with a base of vegetable soup with day old bread. This was matched with Don Pepe, Pedro Ximenez , (Bodegas Cortijo La Fuente) from 40 year-old-vines. 20180216_145114 (480x640) (300x400)A solera style dry white wine with more than a touch of Rancío, smooth with hints of almonds, and olives it is meaty balanced and long.The second course was Pulpo Frito, Caviar de vino Málaga y Miel de Caña de Frigliano. the base of the dish was a sauce of sugar 20180216_152617 (640x480) (400x300)cane honey with yoghurt, creamy but a perfect foil for the octopus and needed a big wine. It had one, the stunning white from Lunares, a 2016 white from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, 14%ABV. Golden in colour with 20180216_145645 (480x640) (300x400)a complex intense perfumed and fragrant nose, a mix of pineapple, mango, guava, passion fruit, all of it ripe and in the mouth a full-bodied wine, full of lively fruit but with a perfect acidity and well-integrated alcohol, dense and very round with a long ripe fruit finish. 20180216_154529 (640x480) (400x300)Next was  Arroz Señorito con Gambas de Málaga y Caldillo de Pintarroja. Of course the arroz is similar to that produced here in Valencia, a classic dish with peeled seafood, but the addition of the sauce, a reduction of a soup made in Malaga with a type of shark caught locally made it very rich. A young red matched well with this dish, Excelencia de Ronda, a Tempranillo 2015 with a four-month medium crianza is lush, fruity nose with hints of the malolactic fermentation on the nose and  distinct cherry tart, in the mouth it was all ripe fruit long but with a nicely balancing acidity which matched the rich seafood well.

 

The meat course was Ropa Vieja de Chivo Lechal Malagueño, 20180216_160932 (640x480) (400x300)a croqueta  served with a disc made with baby goat and was matched with Los Frontones   from Bodegas Excelencia 2010 a red with 12 months in oak with a very Bordeaux style, ripe red and black fruit, slightly vegetal and creamy in the mouth.

20180216_163011 (640x480) (400x300)The dessert was Torrija al Vino and served with Dulce No 12 from Cortijo La Fuente. Amber in colour this Moscatel has big fat legs! 20180216_164159 (480x640) (300x400)An intense perfumed nose is full of floral notes, citrus, orange peel and herbs.In the mouth it is a big fresh, sweet and satisfying dessert wine with a powerful aftertaste.Accompanying the meal three olive oils were available as well. All three are meaty with distinct frutal notes and individual uses with salads etc . The Finca La Torre is ecologic from the Holiblanca variety and full of almond, apple and banana notes 20180216_144631 (640x480) (400x300)on the nose. La Laguna de Fuente de Piedra by contrast is from the Arbequina variety. It is milder and smoother  with fresh fruit notes of apple, herbs and flowers and is sweeter in the mouth. Smoothest of all was the Hojiblanca from Aceites Molisur, the reserva de Familia. This well organised and well structured lunch showed off the products of Malaga well and was a good opportunity to taste and match wines from the region with the gastronomy. Our thanks go to our hosts the Diputación of Málaga and the bodegas and olive oil producers together with Sol Wines for this excellent opportunity.

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