There's something about Spain that means that culinary excellence is in its very roots. The country may be a relaxed one, yes, but the flavours and tastes that can be experienced in Spanish cuisine is an exciting adventure, and one that's best experienced in the costal regions of the country, places such as Costa Blanca.
The close proximity to the ocean of course indicates that there'll be plenty of seafood on the typical Costa Blanca menu, but be sure to expect a healthy dose of meat too, along with great use of seasonal produce and locally sourced herbs, spices and oils.
For incredibly fresh seafood, why not venture down to the harbour and buy directly from the fisherman? A common occurance in Javea and Moraira, purchasing straight from those that caught it not only ensures your food is as fresh as it possibly can be, it also means that you’re supporting the local industry – it’s something that’ll taste good and feel good!
The Spanish markets are a must-see for many of the Costa Blanca visitors, and there's an abundance of them to explore. One of the most favoured markets is the one in the town of Moraira, held every Friday morning just behind the town centre. Here you'll find an abundance of fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables as well as nuts, spices and oils, herbs and dried fruit, along with many non-food items too. A very similar market takes place every Thursday in Javea, too.
Be sure to also take a look at the slightly smaller market in Teulada. It takes place on a Wednesday, and is much more of a local market. Here, you'll find more practical items and excellent quality food for a little less than in Moraira.
If you've hired a car and are happy to travel a little further afield for produce, then be sure to check out Denia, Altea and Benissa. All of these host markets that are full of local flavour, but be sure to ask about the specific days and times when you arrive in Costa Blanca.
In Costa Blanca, the food is very traditional; the flavours are strong and the colours are vibrant, and there are most certainly a few dishes that you should try during your time in the resort. You'll find some more foodie tips and the nicest places to try the dishes in Villa Plus Guide to Costa Blanca, but in the meantime, have a look at some of these speciality dishes...
- Paella – Perhaps one of the most iconic dishes of Spain, Paella makes use of everything that the country is great at producing. Fresh fish,saffron-infused rice and local vegetables make this dish a tasty treat, and seems to taste even better when ordered in a giant pan to share between you and your guests.
- Cocido con Pelotas – Though a potage, the tasty dish combines little balls made of egg and parsley that appear in the soup both crumbled and fried.
- Arroz a banda – At its essence, arroz a banda is a simple dish, though it can be paired with extra bits depending on the preference of the chef. Typically, it is rice that's cooked with dried red peppers to give it a little kick, but is often served up with calamari (squid), shrimp, chicken or pork with garlic.
You cannot ignore the prevalence of tapas dishes in this region of Spain, either. Though the above dishes are delectable too, there are few things more exciting in a meal than sharing a few small plates, giving you the option to sample as many bites as possible!
This is a growing notion in the UK too, and though tapas dishes feel like they could be difficult to recreate at home, in actual fact they are simple and easy to prepare – perfect to eat with a group of friends and a good bottle of wine. Here, we have easy versions of two Spanish favourites: Patatas bravas with chorizo, and Paella with squid. Enjoy!
For the Patatas bravas, you'll need:
- 250g cooking chorizo
- 1 chopped onion
- 2 sliced garlic cloves
- 1 chopped red chilli
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Cayenne pepper
- Can of chopped tomatoes
- 1kg of new potatoes, halved
Firstly, you'll create the very thick sauce that you'll eventually stir into the potatoes. To do this, you need to fry the onion, garlic, chilli, paprika and cayenne pepper in the olive oil until browned. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, combine, and leave it to simmer until a nice, thick paste is formed – this will take around 20 minutes.
In the meantime, steam the potatoes for around 10 minutes. In another frying pan, slowly cook the chorizo so that its oils are released. Once the potatoes are steamed, add them to the chorizo pan, and turn the heat up! Once browned, they are ready to serve up with your sauce.
Paella with squid
For the Paella with squid, you'll need:
- 200g of cooked, frozen prawns
- 100g of frozen peas
- 2 small chorizo sausages, sliced
- 1 sliced onion
- 1 chopped garlic clove
- 600g cooked, plain rice
- Half a teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- Wedge or two of lemon to serve
To get started, put the olive oil in a frying pan and heat, before adding the chorizo, onion and garlic, allowing to cook until softened. Then add the turmeric, stirring the pan's contents as you go, before adding the prawns, peas and rice along with a good dose of boiling water, around 150ml.
Keep stirring until everything is combined and cooked through before serving – don't forget those lemon wedges, they make a great visual addition when plating up!