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Just a few kilometers to the south of on city on the Albufera lagoon, we were treated to an outdoor cooking demonstration at La Matandeta, a restaurant specializing in paella and, appropriately, surrounded by rice fields, which are flooded at this time of the year. As the talented chef-owner Rafael Gálvez built his fire and warmed up two huge paella pans, we were treated to a seemingly never ending appetizer of tapas plates sent from the kitchen of his son-in-law, the executive chef Rubén Ruiz Vilanova.
Gálvez, glowing with pride and confident in his maestry of paella making, dazzled us with his technique for making classic paella Valenciana (with chicken, duck, rabbit and two kinds of beans) and a vegetable paella (the Mario Batali-Gweneth Paltrow “On the Road in Spain” paella episode was filmed at La Matandeta). Spaniards seldom eat white rice; they almost always use a little saffron and some yellow powdered colorante.
Video of making paella with a maestro at La Matandeta, La Albufera, Alfafar (Valencia).
That evening, we went to the exceptional Casa Montaña in the Cabanyal, once the fishermen’s district of Valencia. Casa Montaña, originally founded in 1836, is owned by the great Emiliano García and managed by his son, Alejandro.
After the jamón Ibérico seminar, Alejandro led us into a private dining room and gave us a short seminar on anchoas (anchovies), following by a parade of Casa Montaña's top quality product-focused tapas.
The next morning we visited Valencia’s colorful Mercat Central, located near our hotel, perusing the fish, meat, fruit-and-vegetable, cheese and spice stands, then stopping just outside the Mercat’s entrance to see the often photographed stand selling paella pans and cooking paraphernalia. And at the adjacent market bar, we sampled typical rich, thick, Spanish hot chocolate with churros and .
Next up: More adventures in Alicante and Alicante province
About Gerry Dawes
Writing, Photography, & Specialized Tours of Spain & Tour Advice
For custom-designed tours of Spain, organized and lead by Gerry Dawes, and custom-planned Spanish wine, food, cultural and photographic itineraries, send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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"Gerry Dawes, I can't thank you enough for opening up Spain to me." -- Michael Chiarello on Twitter.
"Chiarello embarked on a crash course by traveling to Spain for 10 days in 2011 with Food Arts
"In his nearly thirty years of wandering the back roads of Spain," Gerry Dawes has built up a much stronger bank of experiences than I had to rely on when I started writing Iberia...His adventures far exceeded mine in both width and depth..." -- James A. Michener, author of Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain