Saturday, November 19, 2005

Restaurant 68: La Barraca (Valencia, Spain)

Clockwise from top left: La Barraca; The Seafood Paella; One of El Greco's many masterpieces; The pigeons love the statue more than the toursits;

LOCATION: Las Arenas, near the beach, Valencia, Spain
DATE: August 29, 2005
FOOD: Seafood Paella
PRICE: 9.20 Euros

Olive oil, rice, and one huge skillet and you’ve got yourself a meal. Valencia is the birthplace of paella, that expand in your stomach like a blowfish, combine whatever ingredients you have lying around the kitchen, meal with machismo enough for Hemingway, rice experience. Served in an iron skillet only slightly smaller than the country of Luxembourg, paella is meant to be a communal feast, an entrĂ©e for an entire table to share.

La Barraca, located on a strip of Valencia’s beach front with as many Paella restaurants as the Conquistadores had infectious diseases, is more casual than many of its rivals, plastic outdoor furniture in place of the table clothes and hardwood chairs next door. But the paella is just as authentic as at the neighboring restaurants. After 30 minutes of anxious anticipation, the paella is brought tableside. The seafood variety had excellent mussels and decadently tender calamari. However, the prawns were stringy and the shrimp, flavorless. The saffron colored rice had been beautifully penetrated by the olive oil bath and possessed a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth quality. The rice attached to the sides of the pan developed a crispy char which had the succulent consistency of roasted garlic. While La Barraca’s paella might not thrust Valencia into the realm of elite world food cities, it certainty does its city proud.

RATING: 6.8/10
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