Valencia – Ciutat Vella – El Carme

El Carme aka Barrio del Carmen is the coolest up and coming neighbourhood in the old town. I’d love to have a flat here even if it is a bit noisy with all the night life in the area.

Of course there are lots of great places to eat and drink.

Cafe Sant Jaume (A), 51 Carrer dels Cavallers

A great place to start off is this beautiful old bar on the main tapas drag. You can sit outside on a tiny square off the main drag. We had an excellent beer called Reserva 1925 from the Alhambra craft brewery in Granada, a new one for me (A).

La Comisaria (Intermediate A), 5 Plaza del Árbol, lacomisaria.com

I really like this place because if fuses two of my favourite cuisines, Spanish and Japanese. Eddie the friendly head chef and owner has heaps of international experience, being half Welsh and half Portuguese and having worked in Brazil and at Noma in Tokyo.

The fusion dishes he creates are sublime. Chupa Chups de Langostionos con un Dip de Guindilla Dulce, deep fried langoustines with a sweet chilli sauce (B+), Tartar de Salmon al Estilo La Commisario (B+) and Ensalada Japnonesa de Algas en Texturas y Pepino, a shredded jellyfish and seaweed salad (A-) particularly remain in the memory.

Eddie also introduced me to Albufera, a local blend of Monastrell and Tempranillo that has been aged in oak barrels for three years. I liked so much that I took a bottle home (A).

La Carme (Intermediate A), 2 C/Sogueros www.restaurantelacarmevalencia.com

The building is old and atmospheric with wooden shutters and a very pleasant interior. They are going for a slightly upmarket clientele but the service is down to earth, efficient and very friendly. They also open at 8pm unlike most places so if you are an early eater (by Spanish standards) you can beat the rush.

You can choose one dish from a choice of five for each of the three courses from the €20 fixed menu which is very good value for money.

I had Ensalada de Formatge de Cabra, Datils i Pistachos, basically a green salad with slices of apple, goats cheese with dates and pistachio nuts, which was fantastic (A). Must make this when I go home.

Escudella de Lluc al Forn amb Gambes i Almejas Gratinada, a gratin stew of baked hake, prawns and clams which was pretty good (B). This all went well with a bottle of local 2011 Chardonnay Sauvigon Blanc ‘El Miracle’ (B+).

The Flam de Xocolata al Rom amb un Toc de Taronja, chocolate pudding with rum and a splash of orange (B+)with a digestif of local muscatel (A) made me a very happy bunny.

At the end of Carrer de Quart, the continuation of Carrer dels Cavallers, you’ll find the Porta de Quart, one of only two remaining gates to the old town.

Guarding the approach from the river, on the north east side of El Carme, is the more impressive Porta de Serrans. You can pay to go up the towers to get a view.

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