Spain report -- Costa Blanca
- Jeremy Osner
We stayed in Gorga, near the city of Alcoi. To me, the best part of the trip foodwise was buying in the markets and eating at home -- the produce, the eggs, the milk, the meat... but we also found a couple of nice restaurants.
The restaurant in Millena, 2.5 km north of Gorga, had excellent paella and hands-down the best lamb chops I have ever eaten -- really just an amazing degree of flavor -- though I guess this is attributable as much to the quality of the meat that's available as to skill in the kitchen.
The Hotel Els Frares in Quatretondeta, 4 km east of Gorga, is excellent and much fancier than anything else in the immediate vicinity. We had their tasting menu and went away feeling very happy indeed; I don't remember specific dishes, just a general feeling of deep contentment. Also the British proprietor is friendly. They have a website, link below.
If you ever are anywhere in the region make absolutely sure to try the ice cream -- my favorite brands were Jijonensa and Alicante. Jijonensa has a Truffel flavor and a Nougat flavor, both are amazing. Oh, speaking of flavors, all the brands have a flavor called Nata (cream), which is just ice cream without any flavoring in it; and Ibense has a flavor called Mantecao (lard), which I found amazing and perplexing but did not try.
Just to add a couple of words about Jijona which is in the province of Alicante - it's sometimes spelled Xixona (on maps and road signs) - and is home to the famous Turron de Alicante and Jijona. These nougats of various textures are made at the factory in town, and there are tours. Unfortunately, we arrived too early in the afternoon to go on one, but at least stocked up at the small factory store (and got to sample the different varieties - hard, sticky, filled with almond slivers, or almonds all ground up). We also read in a guidebook that there's an ice cream factory in Jijona, but the best we could do is find the store that sells the wonderful Jijona brand ice cream.
Another place that deserves mention is the farmstand near Guadaleste -- it is at km 4 on the road from Callosa d'en Saria to Guadaleste, about a half-hour drive northeast from Alicante. The farmstand sells some local fruits, turrone, dried fruits, and nuts; but the main thing that attracted me was the dessert wines. There is a winery cooperative in Callosa which sells its product here; the selection is as follows: Muscatel, Mistella, Port, Viejo, and Licor de Jierbas. I bought a bottle of each; the only one I have drunk so far is the Muscatel, which was too young but you could taste how it was going to be great in a few years. I'm trying to avoid being too eager to sample the remainder.
Oh, the other thing they sell is various types of honey -- you will definitely want to buy a jar of loquat honey (which I've annoyingly forgotten the Spanish name of -- can anyone help out here?) It has a really subtle, complex flavor.