Life is too short for regrets. One should never feel sorry for bouts of recreational debauchery, unless of course one is campaigning to be the next Prime Minister. With grey, politically volatile London taking its toll on Mr and Mrs Flavour, we spanked the credit card and booked a cheeky weekend in Valencia. Armed with pockets full of euros and approximately 540 words of Duolingo Spanish between us, we embarked on a trip guaranteed to be more fun than Theresa May’s leaving drinks. Here are our top tips for a short break in Valencia (well, the bits we can remember).
We were quick to fall in love with Valencia. It’s big without being busy and the locals are laid back, friendly and as thirsty as us. Their former riverbed has been transformed into Europe’s biggest green park, meandering through the city towards the beach, giving joggers plenty of calorie burning miles to navigate. The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is an architecturally magnificent hub of entertainment and culture that can’t be missed. The vibrant street art and boutique bars of the trendy El Carmen district reminded us of Shoreditch, albeit with fewer men who looked like Pirates.
Valencia is reputed to be the birthplace of paella, and no self-respecting foodie should visit this gorgeous city without sampling a massive plateful. A bit of research landed us at Casa Carmela, rumoured to serve the best paella in town. Established in 1922, this restaurant in the beachy La Malva-Rosa district attracts locals like Nigel Farage attracts milkshakes. They cook their paella the traditional way, in gigantic pans on wood fires. This method guarantees plenty of delicious crunchy bits to fork-fight over with your partner. They offer a pleasing range of fresh grilled seafood too. Book early as the hungry masses are eager to take your seat.
Eager to sample more deliciousness, we headed to the bustling Mercat Central to salivate over some of the freshest, most inviting produce we’d seen. We browsed the stalls whilst sipping local Vermouth, getting far giddier over tomatoes than any sane person should. Nearby Taberna La Senia was a great place to taste them. Their giant tomatoes came drenched in olive oil and accompanied with hunky slabs of flaky tuna. Unbeatable when dusted with salt and scooped up with crispy local bread. Another favourite for us was Habitual in Mercat De Colon. The plywood interior of this Ricard Carmena restaurant may look like an Ikea trip on acid, but the cooking is a work of pure genius. Mr Flavour raved like a crackhead over the roast smoked Angus rib with potato purée and black pepper jus, calculating how much he could fit in his suitcase without alerting the authorities. Ricard’s Russian salad with stuffed olive foam was equally incredible. We visited their sister establishment Canalla Bistro for another fix. This one had a more industrial Asian meets rock and roll feel, with tacos worth selling your soul for.
Any fans of sunshine, good vibes and bars which charge less for wine than for soft drinks should make a beeline to Valencia. The streets teem with happy people and quality eateries serving delicious local dishes for the price of a London tube journey. We’re already planning our next Spanish adventure. Let’s just hope our next PM doesn’t let Donald talk them into building a massive wall around Britain. We don’t climb well with bellies full of paella.