It being Valentines Day this week I decided to spoil my precious one rotten. To treat her like a queen and to give her the best date ever. I am of course referring to the love of my life, the centre of my world, my bestest little sister.
Not being one to do anything by halves, I had booked us a romantic dinner for 2 at one of Valencia's best kept secrets. (I'm only sharing it with you because it was such a phenomenal experience.) The restaurant in question in Samsha, hidden away in a residential area, away from the tourist hotspots, and it turned out to be a wonderful discovery.
(This blog post contains images of the dishes, stop reading if you enjoy food, are susceptible to food envy or have a tendency to dribble/drool when regarding food porn....or intend to go to the restaurant and want a surprise on the night)
Only looking at the menu for show, of course we were having the tasting menu, it would be rude not to!
Prepare to feast your eyes on an epic gastronomic experience.....
Seaweed Crisp, Malta grain blini, Ginger tonic caviar, Yogurt crisps and Guacamole
This aperitif worked well as a palate cleanser. The highlight was the guacamole, I'm a big fan of Avocados, but this was something else. It had a real zing to it, and you got a nice kick from the cayenne pepper instead of being swaddled by gloopy avocado mush. It packed a decent sharp punch.
The yogurt crisps were such an innovative idea, they didn't just dissolve on your tongue instantly, but kinda lingered there for a while- so as to increase your taste sensation experience. I have absolutely no idea how they were made, but it was such an awesome concept!
Fake red pepper with Wild Mushrooms and Mexican Chilli and Crispy Onions and Black Olives and Sage crisps
Irish Sourdough Roll with Sun Dried Tomatoes
We didn't really know what was going on here, it kinda got lost in translation. Something about peppers and spice and mushrooms.... The mini muffin was wonderful though, so soft and warm, yet still savoury and dense without being stodgy.
Tuna Fillet Pâté with Cherry Thins, Cherry pallette drops, Popping Candy Cherry Pebbles
I know what you're thinking, "tuna and cherry, how can that work?!" Same. We didn't think it would work either, but oh my, we couldn't be more wrong. The tuna was so dark and intense, almost like smoked mackerel pate. And then you had the tangy sweetness of the cherries. And it was proper cherries, not that artifical synthethic stuff that tastes plain wrong.
The intense flavour of the cherry in the thins balanced so well with the meatiness of the tuna and the texture was so beautiful smooth, as to melt effortlessly on your mouth. And the presentation, just plain wow. I mean look at it, it's a work of art in its own right!
Buckwheat with Soy Sauce infused Warm Egg, Chapiro Mushrooms and a slither of Smoked Baby Eel
Spelt Roll with Soy
Neither of us are big grain fans, and the description of this dish was a tad bizarre. But once again we were wowed; the flavour combinations just worked! The soy sauce cut through the eggy flavour to make it nice and rich and gooey. The mushrooms smelt all earthy and reminded us of autumnal walks through the woods in muddy wellies. And the eel, that was the magic ingredient that brought the whole plate together. The smokey tones meant that you only needed a slither to add that hint of mystery to the egg, and then the crumbly quinoa provided a fantastic texture in your mouth. Surprisingly awesome.
White Fish Fillet, Parsley foam inside White Onion rings with Roasted Tomato Puree
This dish was such a great design; we were both instantly reminded of spaceships and the solar system and crazy planets. The foam was such a vibrant green and danced a fizzy fiesta on your tongue. The fish flaked apart perfectly and still managed to hold its own with the strength of the roasted tomatoes, which had feisty, sultry, deep flavours. All together in your mouth was just incredible; the clean sharp parsley, the intense tomato and the salty fish. Beautiful, just beautiful.
Oregano crusted Fillet of Iberian Pork with Onion and Pepper Salsa with Spinach and Goat's Cheese Ravioli
Sun Dried Tomato and Pine Nut Roll
This dish was the showstopper of the meal. It was preceded by the laying of a meat knife, so we already had our senses tingling. I have never had such a delicious piece of meat in all my life. Not in 21 years of life has meat made me feel this way before. We were totally dumbstruck and lots for words. Let me paint you a picture....
It's mid summer, you're walking round the gardens of a country house, there are bees flitting between the flowers, the men are out on the lawn playing croquet, the laughter is being carried to your ears on the breeze, the birds are chirping away in the trees, you wander a bit more and come to the herb garden and suddenly get a waft of the most enticing smelling scent, your nose leads you to it, the intesnity of the smell increasing, you're salivating by now, you reach out and crush some of the oregano leaves in your fingers and suddenly the garden is transformed into a symphony of sounds, sights and smells of such brilliance you go weak at the knees.
THAT was the effect the oregano had on us with this dish. It was out of this world. Not to mention that the meat was so tender and soft and gorgeously juicy. I didn't want to chew and swallow, it was such a divine sensation on my taste buds, all of them savouring the moment.
Also, the ravioli. In different strengths of spinach which varied from: playing hide and seek with a goat to full on billy goat's gruff! An incredible lesson in how a slight change in intensity can dramatically affect the flavour.
Mojito: Mint Sponge with Mojito Ice, Muscovado Toffee Spiral, with a Coca-Cola Liquid Core
Almond & Lime Biscuit
Hello Alien friend. This complex dish had been totally broken down into its component parts, so that you were better able to appreciate all the individual flavours. The mojito ice was bursting with the joys of summer of being sat on a beach in Cuba, refreshing drink in hand. The toffee was beautifully smooth and creamy and rich and sweet, but not in any way sickly or overbearing. It worked very well with the sharpness of the ice, and left your tongue clamouring for more. Even the little lime jelly shamrocks were evidence of a chef with such an eye for detail.
Volcano: Dried Rum & Coffee soil with Chocolate and Hazelnut rocks, Tropical Guava Earth and a Mango Core
The grand finale was science in action. We each were presented with a volcano with an array of flavours that then exploded with mango lava seductively oozing down the side of the volcano. The guava cake was so moist and soft and light and fluffy and nicely refreshing to balance the darkness of the chocolate and coffee. It was all we could do to restrain ourselves from actually licking the plates clean.
Dark Chocolate Crisp, Cocoa Blini with Lemon Tonic Caviar, Hazelnut and Green Tea Puree and Coconut crisps
By this stage we were feeling pretty stuffed and had totally lost count of the amount of delicious dishes that we had enjoyed. So you can imagine our surprise when our lovely waitress brought out what appeared to be the starter again....we thought maybe the kitchen had left-overs that they wanted to get rid of.
Until she explained that it was a final aperitif, intentionally with the exact same appearance as the starter. The lemon tonic caviar were exquisite and didn't dissolve in your mouth, but patiently waited until you bit through them; squirting their refreshing juices onto your over-indulged tongue.
This meal ranks easily in my top 5 meals so far in life, if not number 1. The presentation, the flavour combinations, the variety (some complex-mojito, some simple-tuna), the attention to detail and the thoughtfulness of having a different bread with each course that matched the dish perfectly. It was such an enjoyable experience, like it was designed for you to have fun eating it and discovering the flavours. As Ells said "It was all so magical, like being Alice in Wonderland exploring flavour combinations that were out of this world".
I fully recommend this restaurant, the waitress is lovely and welcoming and I can promise you a meal like no other. Book now!!