I have never been a foodie. I am too picky of an eater to really go all out and sample delicacies the world over. If you asked me a year ago where the best restaurant I have ever eaten was, I would tell you simply — in Las Vegas. Because, well, let’s be real, Las Vegas has some of the best food around. Even for picky eaters like myself.
But, after a whirlwind five days on BlogtripF1, I am now convinced the absolute best food is in Spain. Paella. Fresh grilled fish. Iberian Ham. I even wrote about it for Madator Network.
Stef (@adventuregirl) and I had extended our time in the Land of Valencia. She had a change of plans, and I had no plans, so we decided to hang out in the region for a few extra days after the F1 Race. For two more days, we sampled deliciousness, shopped and sunned ourselves on the blue Mediterranean. We went from Valencia back down to Alicante to experience more of the best of Spain.
On our last night, the night Spain played Portugal in the World Cup match, we had been told dinner was arranged at our hotel, the uber-gorgeous and swank five-star Hospes Amerigo’s restaurant, Monastrell.
We dressed for dinner and met in the lobby, where we were greeted by a petite and friendly brunette. We had no idea who she was. She quickly talked about going to watch the game and then joining us for dinner.
It wasn’t until a few minutes into our conversation when we were led inside the restaurant did we put two and two together.
Lining one of the walls were photos, and there, standing in front of a kitchen, was the woman we had been chatting with.
Chef Maria Jose San Ramon. THE Chef Maria Jose San Ramon. Known as the “Saffron Queen,” she had recently returned from a gig at the White House where she had taught the chef how to prepare the ultimate paellea.
And, now there we were, standing with her in her restaurant, engaged in friendly banter and making plans to dine with her following the game (GO SPAIN!).
Stef and I headed to one of the chef’s other establishments for some tapas and tinto de verano, La Taberna Del Gourmet, a gorgeous restaurant a quick walk from Monastrell.
After watching the game, we met Chef Maria Jose back at Monastrell where we cheers-ed Espana and then settled in to our meal.
And what a meal it was.
Oysters. Pulpo. Lobster paella. Sweet, decadent desserts. Wine. Every single moment was stacked with the most amazing flavors, the most interesting taste combinations.
Pure foodie heaven.
Each time a dish was served, our eyes would grow big, light up.
I tried to savor every single bite, but when food is that good, it is hard to prolong such amazingness. Within a few hours, our meal was over. Bellies blissfully full.
My backpacker diet was absolutely ruined, trashed, spoiled rotten. It hurt me the following day to return to bread and cheap street vendors.
It also hurt to say goodbye to Stef. Like saying goodbye to the rest of the BlogTripF1 group, it was hard to utter the “see you soon” I dreaded. Her and I had spent so much time together, talking, laughing, drinking, EATING. We were friends before the trip, but being together for nearly the week we spent was so fulfilling.
But, she had a plane to catch back to America, and I had a train to catch to Barcelona. Yup. Another reunion. This time with Tina from my Monfrague week in April.
If you’re thinking of looking in to flights to Europe (and to this hot restaurant), Jet2.com offers great deals to various European destinations from a range of UK airports from Manchester to Alicante.
Disclosure: Land of Valencia covered all lodging, meals and activities as a part of the #blogtripf1 program.