Disclosure: I was given a complimentary tour in exchange for this review but, as always, all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.
It should come as no surprise that blogging twice a week while on the road is quite a challenging task. However, don’t judge me too harshly. I’ve been busy exploring the lovely city that is Valencia. How can I write great posts for you guys if I’m holed up with my computer?
Naturally, one of the most exciting things I’ve done in the city is a food tour. Specifically, the ultra-mouthwatering Valencian Treats and Tastes tour. Food tours are my new obsession while on the road, and with good reason. They’re the best way to sample the best dishes and restaurants a city has to offer. Why waste your calories on bad food?
Although I had already been in Valencia for a couple of weeks by the time I did my Valencian Treats and Tastes tour, I’m pretty confident that I wouldn’t have learned about all the delicious hidden gems in the city without Lenny, my incredibly knowledgeable tour guide. As a fellow foodie, she knew where to get the best version of every Valencian dish, and even sent me a comprehensive list of must-eat places after the tour. Talk about good customer service!
Pictures are worth a thousand words (or more when it comes to food!), so I’ll let the photos of the tour speak for themselves.
The tour started just down the street from my apartment at Mercado de Colón. Unlike the Central Market, which boasts an enormous variety of groceries and fresh seafood, Mercado de Colón is more of a collection of cafes, bars and restaurants. It has become my go-to hangout spot, especially when I’m craving a horchata de chufa. Lenny introduced me to the café that has the best horchata in Valencia, and I haven’t looked back since. Side note: you can’t have a horchata without an accompanying fartón (sweet breadstick) to dip into it. Do as the locals do!
A food tour in Valencia would be incomplete if we didn’t go to the Mercado Central, Valencia’s famous central food market. Here, you’ll find any and all foodie goods: fresh produce, cheeses and cured meats, a selection of nougat, and much, much more. While here, I was treated to a delicious meat and cheese tasting. (Note: The original tasting included jamón & cheese. As I don’t eat pork, I was offered an alternative of cured beef). I also got the opportunity to visit a saffron and paprika shop to learn all about the saffron growing process. Did you know it takes around 150 saffron flowers just to get one gram of saffron spice? Now I understand why it’s so expensive!
On the way to our next stop, I stopped by the beautiful Correos building (the main post office) in Plaza del Ayuntamiento. Valencians clearly take architecture seriously, because that was one of the most exquisite post offices I’ve ever been to. U.S.A., take note!
Although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, the chocolate truffle I had from Trufas Martinez in Russafa might be the best I’ve ever had. Seriously, it melted in my mouth. Although the storefront is tiny, the owners make all the chocolates from scratch in the shop. They even have “travel truffles” for those of you who want to take the goodies home to family and friends.
Next, Lenny took me to the Russafa Market. Although it’s similar to the Mercado Central, it’s much smaller and consequently far less overwhelming. I’ve been there several times to pick up groceries since I did the tour.
While at the market, I feasted on a delicious sampling of olive oils, tapenades, and jams. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an olive fiend, so, needless to say, I bought both the green and black olive tapenade. SO delicious. Look for the booth in the photo below when you visit the Russafa Market!
The last official stop of the tour was at El Huerto, a historical restaurant in Russafa. Lenny kindly arranged for me to have lunch here at the end of my tour. Despite its large size and beautiful décor, El Huerto appears to be a somewhat inconspicuous building near the Russafa market. I concluded my tour with two tapas: a beetroot gazpacho and a cod fritter. Thanks to Lenny’s insider connection, I was able to lunch on an individual-sized meloso (a specialty soupy rice dish and a staple of Valencian cuisine). Because cooking Spanish rice dishes is such a huge effort, most restaurants will almost never make them for one person. I felt special :). Of course, like everything I ate on the food tour, the meloso was delicious.
All in all, I highly, highly recommend doing this food tour with Valencia Urban Adventures. Many people come to Valencia and try paella and maybe a horchata, but this tour taught me that Valencian food is much, much more than paella. I’ve purposely left out the names of most of the spots because I think Lenny’s knowledge of the food scene is just as valuable as trying the food for yourself. You’re guaranteed to leave the tour feeling like an expert on Valencian cuisine.
Note: If you’re not planning on going to Valencia anytime soon, but want to take an awesome tour in another city, check out Urban Adventures. All the tours focus on responsible travel and supporting local businesses and are capped at 12 people. Although I’m someone who tends to shy away from tours because they often feel too touristy, my experience with Urban Adventures wasn’t like that all, which is why I wholeheartedly recommend them.
Tell me: Have you ever been to Valencia? What food dish is your favorite (or which would you most like to try)? Share in the comments below!
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