Exploring Valencia with Quique Dacosta
In October 2016 we had the pleasure to revisit the Valencia region to explore the area together with one of the best chefs in Spain, Quique Dacosta. During our first visit of Quique Dacosta Restaurante in 2013, we were impressed by Quique’s ultra-creative cooking and his talent to use very special local ingredients in his dishes.
In 2013 we also visited one of his other restaurants, El Poblet, located in the center of Valencia. This year we started our trip with a visit to Quique’s tapa-restaurant Mercatbar, located just outside the historical center of the city.
MercatBar was created to represent traditional Spanish cuisine in a modern and accessible interior. The word MerkatBar derives from the combination of the word market in Valenciano, and the word Bar. Several interior elements refer to the market atmosphere and it is also possible to dine at the bar, where chefs will personally serve you their tapas.
The cuisine of MercatBar is accessible for all, offering tapas-inspired snacks like oysters with mango and squid with garlic. Of course, Quique’s creative philosophy is never far away, resulting in more creative and international inspired tapas as well. Make sure to sample one of the paellas, some of the best in the city!
The price quality ratio in this restaurant is excellent, with a set menu of 7-8 tapas for 30€.
Website Mercatbar (Valencia)
Fish market Dénia – Gamba Roja de Dénia – Paëlla Tasting
Dénia is a pleasant coastal town located a one-hour drive away from Valencia. It is here that Quique Dacosta manages his famous 3-Michelin star restaurant. But Dénia is also home to one of the best gamba’s in the world: the gamba Roja de Dénia. These delicious creatures are caught in the sea between Dénia and Ibiza at a depth of 500-800 meters.
The best restaurateurs buy these gambas directly from the fish auction in Dénia, and that is exactly what we did together with Quique Dacosta. These gambas are not cheap and the big ones can easily cost up to 250€ per kilo.
For dinner, the gambas we got from the market were prepared at the creativity studio at Quique Dacosta Restaurante. It was a memorable tasting where we got the chance to sample the different sizes of the sweet and juicy gambas, prepared in different ways (cooked, fried, raw).
After the gambas Quique served us two of his famous paellas (actually Quique Dacosta his very first speciality were paellas and he is very famous for it in Spain). These were some of the best paellas we ever tasted, with an impressive flavour intensity and a perfect socarrat (the crispy caramelized, slightly burnt crust on the bottom of the pan).
The meal was wrapped up by one of Quique’s desserts from the restaurant. A teaser for what was to come the next day…
Lunch at Quique Dacosta Restaurante
The full picture report of our 6-hour during lunch at Quique Dacosta will be online soon. It simply was one of the best lunches in years and every one of us was surprised by the level of creativity, the intensity of the flavours and the impeccable service. From the snacks such as the Carbon of pericana, to the table show of The living forest, everything was world-class. This restaurant is a must for everyone considering food more than a daily need.
Bodegas Gutierrez de la Vega & Restaurante Elias
On the last day of our trip we visited the small bodega of Gutierrez de la Vega, where some of Spain’s best wine is produced. The winery is located in a small village near Dénia called Parcent, a place marked by tradition and craftsmanship. The 70-year old owner Felipe Gutiérrez de la Vega makes sure that everything is taken care of in detail, ensuring the precise humidity and temperature for the optimal state of the wine. For the ageing he uses different types of oak, French, American, Caucasian or Hungarian, harmonized by classical music that is always played in his cellar.
Website Bodegas Gutierrez de la Vega (Parcent, near Dénia)
Just before our flight back we drove to the famous restaurante Elias for lunch. This restaurant can be found in Chinorlet, a tiny village located near the airport of Alicante. It is one of Quique’s favourite restaurants and that can be considered as a big thing! It is famous for traditional dishes from the region, such as the ‘Caracoles Serranos a la brasa’ (snails from the grill), ‘Conejo Frito al Ajillo’ (fried rabbit with garlic) and the aroz dishes (rice dishes such as paella). The paellas are made on a big open fire and are served in giant portions to share. A great place for some quality food from the Valencia region!
Website Restaurante Elias (Chinorlet, near Alicante)
A big thank you to Quique Dacosta, Didier Fertilati, Andrea, Iria, Alberto, Stéphanie and the whole Quique Dacosta team. You guys rock.