Moving from the small, seaside city of Castellon, I was entertained by the Old World charm of Valencia, and the youthful vibrancy of Barcelona. But with one thing still on my mind: Paella! The locals say that the best paella is always found at restaurants along the beach. So while in Valencia, I headed to the beach, with it’s beautiful silky, sand, and sun tanned bodied, and found the restaurant of my quest; “Restaurante La Pepica“. This restaurant is an establishement to say the least, being located there for more than 100 years, and being visited by such celebrities such as Ernest Hemmingway! They must know what they are doing with paella, and I was right.
Although Paella Valenciana, made with chicken and rabbit, is the namesake for Valencia, I was on the beach, and needed to try seafood, so I ordered Paella Mariscos. The paella came, with the rice forming a thin layer in the pan. I could see that the edges of the pan had bits of “burnt” rice, which is crunchy and one of my favourite parts of a rice dish. The paella was made simply, topped with prawns, then mixed in the rice were fish, shrimp and squid. The rice was al dente, but I think that this is normal, as I’ve tried 7 paellas to date and all but 1 were al dente.
Squeezing lemon on the dish allowed the citrus flavours to brighten the earthiness from the spices in the rice, and make the seafood come alive. This was the perfect paella while I have been in Spain. To enjoy with this paella, I of course had a bottle of wine; a local rosado from the Valencia region. It was made from Cabernet Sauvignon, which is quite surprising, but it was very tasty with sour cherries and strawberry flavours and a very smooth round mouthfeel. A perfect pairing. If you ever go to Valencia, Spain, visit Restaurante La Pepica, and raise a toast to Ernest Hemmingway!