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Food & Drink

Rice is the culinary king: paella valenciana springs to mind at once, but much more typical are dishes such as arroz abanda and caldera on the coast, arroz con costra and paella huertanos on the plains and arroz serranos in the hills. These truly local dishes combine rice with tiny fish, with pork and vegetables and with game and wild herbs. Traditionally only part of a meal, these are followed by fish dishes, robust stews or spit-roasted meat. Look out for gazpacho de mero, a fish stew served with flatbread, grilled emparador and lenguardo, swordfish and sole and large whole fish baked in a salt crust – dorada al sal.

Succulent cochnillo, suckling pig, the inland gazpachos, highly spiced meat stews eaten with flatbread, or trigo picado, a traditional cracked wheat dish, are all excellent. Winter country stews include olleta and giraboix, based on dried beans and meats cooked with mountain herbs and saffron.

In Murcia the freshness of the local produce spills over into the cooking: green garlic and sweet pimenton flavour dishes inspired by the huge range of fruit and vegetables.

Pictures below are examples of meals from restaurant local to the apartment (Las Cuevas in San Migel de Salinas and Picasso in Campoamor).

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Desserts and Sweets
Local oranges, lemons, peaches, cherries and other fruit appear alongside the ubiquitous flan (caramel custard) and feature in tarts and glace fruits. Almonds are everywhere; popular in the ultra-sweet Moorish-inspired biscuits, sumptuous puddings and cakes, often flavoured with local honey. Sampling turron – a nougat sweetmeat traditionally eaten at Christmas – is a must.

Main meals apart, there is still plenty to try. Tapas, the small platefuls of food served with drinks, can easily substitute for lunch or dinner. Fish, shellfish, olives, slices of ham and sausage, vegetable specialities and local almonds are just a few of the local offerings in many bars.

Do as many natives do and have breakfast out – what could be more heavenly than churros, the long sugar-coated fritters, dipped into a cup of steaming of coffee or thick hot chocolate?

Thirst-Quenchers and Wines
The Costa Blanca produces some excellent wines from the main areas of Monovar and Jumilla – the red from the latter region with an astonishing 18 per cent alcohol content. Monovar makes deep reds and delicate roses, as well as a famous desert wine, Fondillon. The lesser known Pinosa and Ricote wines are good and Moscatel is the region’s distinctive desert wine. Alicante has its own herbal digestive, Cantueso. Sangria, cava, fresh orange juice, horchata - a nut-milk drink made from almonds or tiger nuts – and granizada, a fruit slush, will all slip down well at different times of the day.