Valencia – Ciutat Vella – Horchata in Plaza Santa Catalina
Plaza Santa Catalina is a small square in the Ciutat Vella adjoining the larger Plaza de la Reina, at the opposite end from the Cathedral. When you’re in the area you should try the famous Valencian drink Horchata.
Horchata, or Orxata in Valceniano, is made from Chufas, know in English as Tiger Nuts, which in fact aren’t nuts at all but the edible tubers of a plant. Originally from Egypt, brought to the area by the Moors in the thirteenth century. The beverage even has its own local DOC with the best stuff coming from Alboraya, a nearby village.
The tiger nuts are mixed with water and sugar to create a sweet, almondy flavour which is very pleasant and refreshing. The two most famous horchaterias in Valencia are both immediately opposite each other in Plaza Santa Catalina:
Santa Catalina Horchateria, 6 Plaza Santa Catalina
Built 200 years ago, this is the older of the two and the more beautiful with it’s lovely tiled interior. It’s a cool, peaceful place to escape the heat and bustle outside.
I had my horchata (B+) with a Farton, a kind of lightly sweetened bread specially made for soaking up the horchata, which it did very well (B).
El Siglo, 11 Plaza Santa Catalina.
A mere 175 years old and not quite as attractive as its neighbour over the way, but still nicely decorated with ceramics and Art Deco lettering.
Apparently locals consider the horchata to be better here, at least according to this blogger. My tastings were a year apart so I wouldn’t like to call it. Both were very refreshing (B+).
The blog also has an interesting post on how horchata is made and where to get it from.
Just at the end of the square is the Iglesia de Santa Catalina which has a nice tower. I think you can climb to the top for a small fee. Personally I prefer to save my money for food…