Archive for the Castellon de la Plana Category

Castellon – the long walk to Grao

Posted in Castellon de la Plana, El Grao de Castellon, Spain, Valenciana Comunidad with tags on March 19, 2015 by gannet39

Ostensibly Castellon is by the sea, however the coast (beach, marina and port) is quite a way from the main town (see separate post) and is best reached by car. This was not an option for me, and besides I really needed the exercise.

It took me just under an hour and a quarter to walk to the sea from the hotel. It was fairly cool on the late March afternoon that I was out but it probably isn’t best done on a hot summer’s day. I found the return leg a bit of a struggle after a multi-course lunch but got back eventually.

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It’s virtually a straight line the whole way (Google map here), beginning in the bleak area around the station and the hotel, passing through the Parque Ribalta and the old town, and then along the long newly built Avenida del Mar, past lots of waste ground and allotments and finally to the satellite neighbourhood of Grao (meaning ‘port’).

There seems to be a lane for some type of public transport going down the middle of the avenida, However, I didn’t see anything moving on it so it may have gone the same way as many other infrastructure projects in crisis-ridden Spain. Maybe you could ask the hotel if they have a bike you could borrow.

Off-season Grao was pretty quiet when I was there. There are lots of touristy eateries with plastic tables on the pier but I thought I deserved a treat after the long hike.

I looked at the menu at Tasca del Puerto www.tascadelpuerto.com just out of interest but since it had received such a good slagging for its overpriced food and slow service from a local tourist website, I was glad that it was closed.

Instead I went to this place mentioned in La Seleccion del Gourmet, a guide I’m beginning to trust less and less.

Rafael (Advanced C+), 28 Calle Churraca, Tel. 96 428 2185

This is the kind of place that suits with expense accounts like to schmooze their clients in. I was looked at slightly askance due to my t-shirt, jeans and trainers look but they let me in and gave me good service.

I had the Menu Rafael, five starters and a second course, the starters I’m guessing being whatever they have hanging around in the cupboards as they aren’t listed in the menu.

The first starter was a pile of non-descript ingredients heaped on a cracker and tasting blandly of the fridge (C).

Next some duck live foie grass glistening on a glass plate, which is hard to get wrong when it’s out of a tin (B).

Also a sea-urchin covered in some gloop that I couldn’t make out. It looked okay but its flavour was obscured. (C).

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After that some deep-fried Anguillas, or elvers, which were fine in an oily way, but filled me up too much without making much of an impression (C).

Also I think these were imitation elvers made of Surimi (fish powder, also used in crab sticks), as the real ones are really expensive.

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Next a very basic paella-like rice dish, with just a few lumps of prawn. It was way too salty for me and I sent back (D).

I was full by this time but the apologetic waiter insisted I have some seared tuna by way of recompense for the rice. The four unattractive lumps I got didn’t seem that fresh (C+) but I ate them so as not to disappoint my chap.

The Verdejo wine was the one redeeming feature (B+).

I felt that the €42 bill was pricey in terms of what I received, and the kitchen seems to have lost its mojo, so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. There are other places around here to try.

Finally, a quick stroll along the seafront and then the long walk back to town…

 

Caught out in Castellon de la Plana

Posted in Castellon de la Plana, Spain, Valenciana Comunidad with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2010 by gannet39

In 2014 I had my my second visit to Castellon, and just like the first time I found it very hard to find good places to eat, partly through bad timing, and partly because it seems there just aren’t that many decent places to go.

In addition there isn’t much to see or do here. It’s a typical modern Spanish town with lots of modern construction that has left very little of the old town remaining, except for the cathedral and the Fadri Tower. The Mudejar style post office is quite nice though.

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There is a beach and a marina, but it’s a fair hike to the sea although I did manage it one day (see my next post on Castellon – El Grau). Here’s my Google map to give you an idea.
The inhabitants however seem like they are up for a good time if their Magdalena festival is anything to go by. I caught the procession one evening (at the end of March) which seemed to involve several anarchic brass bands and people in traditional dress, all jogging round the route at a fast pace.

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There was also a marching band from Japan, who looked a bit frightened by the wild locals, and one from Russia, who looked a bit embarrassed given that their troops were at that moment massing on the border with Ukraine, and here they were in full parade uniform looking ready to occupy the local town hall. They both got a clap, but it was louder for the Japanese.

Anyway, here’s what I know about the food scene….

The best place in town (according to LP and a teacher on my first visit) is Arropes at 5 Carrer Benabe although the teachers on my second visit said it was relying on the rep it had for a Michelin star many years ago, now lost.

Instead the more recent collegues recommended Pairal, just around the corner at 24 Carrer de Doctor Fleming. I didn’t get to go to either as they were both shut for the Magdalena festival. The first teacher also reccommended Cafe Antoxo Galicia at 5 Carrer Almehara for seafood, which is quite near the hotel.

Mercado de Tapas aka 15 Tapas (Intermediate A-), 7 Calle Ruiz Vila, Tel. 96 423 3322

This friendly modern tapas bar was gleaned from a blog on the internet (somebody’s foodie mum liked it), and it was the best place I ate at on this trip.
As soon as I sat down I was give some complimentary spicy little sausages (B+).

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I began the meal proper with a half portion of Manitas de Cerdo Servida Deshuesadas Rellenas de Carrilleras  de Terneras y Salsa de Boletus, aka boneless pig trotters stuffed with veal cheeks in Boletus mushroom sauce (no pic sorry), which wasn’t much to look at but the flavour was fantastic (A).
I followed with a half portion of Rabo de Toro Deshuesado con su Caldo Gelatanoso y Crema de Patatas or boneless oxtail cooked in its own gelatinous broth and served with a potatoe puree. Oxtail is usually a favourite of mine but the nouvelle interpretation seemed to have detracted from the taste somehow and I was left disappointed at the lack of flavour (C).

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Next some local Quesos de Castellon which ranged from great (A) for the young cow’s milk cheeses to what seemed to just be a rind for the goat’s cheese (C). They were served with walnuts and jams, the strawberry jam being one of the best I’ve ever tasted (A).

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With all this, a vino de terra from the local Castello IGP, a hefty 2012 Syrah from Mas de Rander, which went very well (B+). So much so that I later bought a bottle for a mere €5 from the well-stocked delicatessen Tienda El Pilar at 64 Calle Colon, www.tiendaelpilar.com.

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The Meloso de Chocolate con Crema de Vanilla strangely seemed to have been decorated with cubes of old white bread which, while tasteless, did bring a bit of crunch to a soft ice cream dessert (B).

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They put together a good Carajillo here by setting fire to the alcohol in a metal jug (Magno brandy in my case but an alternative could be rum) with some cinnamon sticks, whole coffee beans and lemon zest before the coffee is added. Very yum (A).

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Total cost €41. I’d definitely come again for most of these dishes. Might try the seafood options next time.

Meson Navarro 1 (Intermediate B), 26 Plaza Tetuan

This original branch of a local mini-chain can get very busy so it’s best to go at 8pm when it opens. Tomato bread and alioli is served automatically and the lamb chops were good (B). The wine and out-of-season asparagus were pretty average (C+). Total cost 27.25.

Plaza Tetuan is a nice little square where you can sit outside.

Meson Navarro 2 (Intermediate C), 1 Carrer Amadeo

The food at this second branch around the corner isn’t particularly good but it saved me from starvation during the Magdalena festival when everywhere else was shut.  I was a bit put off by finding cling film in my breaded pork cutlet (C), but hey, as an ex-chef, I know it happens.

The Tarta de la Casa (out of a packet) is quite formidable though; a slab of flan, topped with squirty cream and supported by four pillars of ice cream. It pushed the buttons it needed to (B-)

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There’s a Meson Navarra 3 at 4 Carrer Sanchis Abela if you can’t get enough but I’m not going back to any of them if I can help it.

I also went to these places in 2008:

Julivert (High Elementary C), 41 Carrer Caballeros, opens at 9.

Was listed by Lonely Planet as being a good veggie option but there are a few meat and fish mains, as well as salads or bocadillos (a strange choice for an evening meal but there you go). For €22.70 I got scrambled eggs with black pudding, a chicken salad, bread and wine.

Donde Marisa (B), 18 Carrer Cabelleros (off Plaza Major). Now closed or moved?

Couldn’t get in here on Friday night when other nearby places were half full. Mind you it was after 9pm so if you go at 8 you might be ok. I came back Sunday and had a five course late lunch for €17, including a tuna salad, ham and manchego, scrambled eggs with mushroom and spinach, seafood paella and carrot cake. Good food at a good price (B).

The Hotel Abba where I stayed the first time is now no more so I was put up at the Hotel Luz which is fine. The breakfast is good, and I’m told the restaurant is perfectly satisfactory should you not wish to go out. The rooms are comfortable and have good Wi-Fi, although the décor in the corridors is pretty hideous. And it’s right next to the station which is handy.

So I’ve not been that fortunate in terms of food in Castellon. Hope you do better than me.

 

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