I am a regular contributor on the Italy board (I spend 5 weeks a year there with my wife), but have never contributed on this board other than to ask a question; but my experience in Valencia was so tremendous, I need to share. Having been to Spain 4 other times, we were not expecting much from the food other than lots of Pulpo and Jamon. Other than San Sebastian, we have generally found the food in Spain to be lacking on the freshness front. This trip though--one week, just Valencia--was a real eye-opener. We had consistently good meals with lots of fresh ingredients and plenty of fruits and vegetables--not the normal diet of protien plus veggies cooked until gray.
With that introduction, however, I need to say that by far the shining star was Joaquin Schmidt. Book a flight, take a train, whatever it takes, add Valencia and Schmidt to your itinerary if you are anywhere on the Iberian Peninsula. Besides the fact that the owner/chef also handles waiter and presumably dishwashing duties (there was nobody helping him); the food and the overall experience if you are a foodie was over the top outstanding, creative, delicious, attractive...did I say delicious.
You get only three choices (other than wine)--four courses, five, or six. You do not know what you are eating until AFTER you have eaten each item. It challenges you to really taste the food to try to figure out the puzzle (and each dish is a puzzle of flavors and concepts) you have been provided. We ordered the five course option and half-way through the meal we changed to the six course; not because we needed more food (there were plenty of extra items in addition to the five we ordered); but because we wanted to prolong the pleasure. And three-quarters of the way through the meal we were so swept away by both the food, the experience, and the man that we booked a table for the next night and it was equally sublime (and completely different--not a single repeat) the second time around.
I truly hope that those of you who are truly food nuts have the opportunity to go there. Our meals, including two bottles of wine each night (and dessert wine) ran about 110 euros a person--not cheap, but when compared to all of the overpriced meals we have had in Europe and the US over the years, it was really a bargain.
P.S. on top of it all there was blessedly not a speck of foam on any dish
Thanks for sharing but I'm not sure I agree with your comments... Are we talking about the same country?
" Having been to Spain 4 other times, we were not expecting much from the food other than lots of Pulpo and Jamon. "
" Other than San Sebastian, we have generally found the food in Spain to be lacking on the freshness front. "
"... not the normal diet of protien plus veggies cooked until gray."
"Thanks for sharing but I'm not sure I agree with your comments... Are we talking about the same country?"
I've been hearing this kind of thing forever from tourists going to Spain.
On the other hand I've had to endure similar stories about awful food in the UK from Spaniards visiting England.
There is plenty of dreadful food in both countries for those unable or unwilling to hunt out good restaurants (you've see the familiar "paellador" http://www.paellador.es/ proudly shown in hundreds of busy places in Spain so don't pretend ignorance :p ).
It's a shame it took the OP 5 visits before they worked it out.