Our gastronomy, from traditional to nouvelle or avant-garde cuisine is one of the hallmarks of the Costa Blanca. The excellent quality and diversity of the raw materials available both from the sea and vegetable gardens are typically Mediterranean. This, coupled with the expertise of our extraordinary chefs, has made our land become a culinary benchmark nationally and internationally. Ferrán Adrià, considered to be the best chef in the world, said: “Alicante is undoubtedly the best area of Spain to eat. And I do not mean this with the intention of relegating the rest of Spain. You can eat very well in all areas of the country, but the Costa Blanca has something special that makes raw materials taste different and dishes have unique flavours. I am not mistaken if I say that in Alicante all the flavours of the Mediterranean mix together in a combination hard to beat."
The Costa Blanca has achieved an international reputation for its fine cuisine. Seven restaurants in Alicante province have earned 9 Michelin stars, the most prestigious worldwide gastronomy award. Chef Quique Dacosta has three stars for his establishment in Dénia. The following restaurants all have one star each: Kiko Moya's L'Escaleta, Susi Diaz's La Finca, María José San Román's Monastrell, Sole, Pepa and Tona's Casa Pepa, Alberto Ferruz's Bon Amb and Alfonso Egea's Casa de Alfonso. Our restaurants have also been recognised by the Repsol guide. This also awards establishments with “Suns". Quique Dacosta and L'Escaleta each have 3 suns. In Alicante province there are 5 restaurants each with 2 suns, and another 9 restaurants each with 1. Joaquín Baeza Rufete won the 5th Edition of Chef of the Year in Spain, and the pastry chef Paco Torreblanca, an international benchmark, has his kitchen in the town of Petrer. The Costa Blanca's gastronomic reputation has crossed borders which is why one in three visitors who choose to come to the Costa Blanca choose it to enjoy its extraordinary cuisine either in restaurants, bars and gastrobars.
Alicante products with a certificate of origin
Cultivados y elaborados en distintas zonas de la provincia de Alicante, estos productos cuentan con el sello de calidad de la denominación de origen, distintivo que se concede a los productores e indicativo geográfico que se aplica a aquellos productos cuyas características particulares son propias de la zona donde se produce. Son los Vinos de Alicante, las Bebidas Espirituosas de Alicante, la Uva Embolsada del Vinalopó, las Cerezas de la Montaña de Alicante, los Nísperos de Callosa d'En Sarrià y el Turrón de Alicante y Jijona.
EN The following are products grown and manufactured in different areas of Alicante. They all have the quality stamp “certificate of origin", an official guarantee given to the product assuring the quality of its producer, and the geographic location of where it is produced. They are Alicante wines, liquers from Alicante, bagged grapes from the Vinalopo area, cherries from the Alicante mountains, medlars from the town of Callosa d'En Sarrià and turron (nougat) from Jijona and Alicante.
Turrón (nougat) from jijona and from alicante
Both types of nougat are made in the town of Jijona using raw materials from the Region of Valencia. The origin of these sweets dates back to Arabic times. The turrón de Alicante nougat is brittle and hard -turrón duro-. There are two types: the Supreme made using a minimum of 60% almond and the Extra, made of a minimum of 42% almond. On the other hand, the Turrón de Jijona, a soft nougat -turrón blando- is made using a minumum of 64% almond for Supreme type and a minimum of 52% almond for the type called Extra. Both Alicante and Jijona nougats also contain a minimum of 10% pure honey. Nougat can be enjoyed at any time of the year as it is also used to make ice cream, sorbet or as part of a crushed ice drink.
Liqueurs from alicante
There are four alcoholic drinks recognized by the regulatory council. The Cantueso from Alicante is obtained by distilling the flower and the stem of the Cantueso plant in alcohol. The Herbero from the Sierra de Mariola area is made by distilling or steeping certain herbs from the Sierra de Mariola, such as sage, chamomile and fennel in alcohol. The Anis Paloma from the town of Monforte del Cid is made by distilling green anise and/or star anise in alcohol, whilst the coffee liqueur from the town of Alcoy is made by steeping natural roast Arabiga coffee in alcohol.
Tinto Alicante (Red Alicante) Historically wine that is considered to be from Alicante is nowadays a red wine made up from a grape variety called Monastrell and is present in 75% of its production. The rest is made up of other permitted red grape varieties. The result therefore, is a deep red wine-colored, ruby red or purple tint depending on the time of maturity. The wines may be, crianza or reserva, though mostly today you find young wines aging in wooden barrels. This results in the Monastrell grape having full body and a touch of contrast to any another variety. This short time in wooden barrels, tames the wine and gives it a certain elegance, as well as a toasty quality given by the timber which is used in all of our wineries. Moscatel Alicante Alicante's Moscatel is made from the grape of the same name. The wine was developed from the Moscatel liquor which is also known as a sweet wine named ´Mistela´, very famous in the Marina Alta region. Mostacel wines have a wide range of colours ranging from harvest yellow to the bright, yellow amber of aged wines. This points out its floral bouquet, elegance, freshness and its versatility which allows you to experience new flavours. Prestigious and vintage wines Recognised from this in the region, the regulating council has not wanted to forget the role they have played in the history of the wines from Alicante, although its production has been reduced due to the lack of demand. These types of wine are aged longer than average due to the kind of grape variety used in its production. The wines are very complex with intense and sparkling colours and are full of history. Sparkling wines The Sparkling wines are produced by authorized grape varieties such as the Moscatel grape. These sparkling wines have the freshness and the features of these grapes varieties. They therefore perfectly suit the Mediterranean cuisine, specifically in Alicante, where the traditional dishes are different from region to region but all share its Mediterranean heritage.
The Alicante wine route
The Alicante wine route is a perfect proposal for the “wine lover". One can become immersed in a fascinating journey that links several parts of the Costa Blanca with its great wine making tradition. The route covers the area of Vinalopó in the south including the towns of Algueña, Monóvar, Novelda, Petrer, Pinoso, Salinas, Villena and Elche. Further to the north the route covers the areas of Marina Alta and Baja with towns such as Alcalalí, Benissa, Senija, Llíber, Benigembla, Parcent, Castell de Castells, Murla, Xaló and Alfàs del Pi. Both of these areas are different but share one common symbol, the vine. Interesting leisure activities related to wine are on offer, such as guided tours of the vineyards and wineries and wine tasting amongst others. In each of these different towns you can enjoy the people, sights, customs, traditions, crafts, typical cuisine and renowned native food and agriculture.
Land of rice
Rice is without a doubt one of the most important dishes in Costa Blanca's gastronomy. There are over 300 recorded different recipes that you can make using rice. They are also prepared in a variety of different methods: soupy, dry, creamy, combined with vegetables, meat or fish. The province of Alicante has its roots in the Mediterranean sea but also has a long history inland and in the mountains. Different types of rice are prepared in the two different areas. In towns by the sea rice dishes are prepared predominantly with fish and seafood. Further inland rice is made with meat, pulses and vegetables. El Caldero. Creamy rice made with fish with a strong flavour that live near the rocks. Examples include monkfish, mullet, conger eel or red scorpion fish. It is prepared in a copper or iron kettle and is very typical in Tabarca, Villajoyosa, Torrevieja and south of the province. Arroz a banda. It is cooked in a pan again with strong flavour fish but is served without pieces of fish. It is very typical throughout the province but particularly in the area of Marina Alta. Arroz con costra. This rice dish is cooked in different ways depending on the area. Its ingredients are mostly from the land, meat and sausage. It gets its name from the characteristic crust on top which is made by pouring beaten egg over it. It is cooked in a clay pot. It is most common in the areas of Baix Vinalopó and Vega Baja. Arroz al horno. This oven baked rice is made in a clay pot with the following basic ingredients: potatoes, black pudding, chickpeas, pork ribs and tomato. The recipe varies depending on the area. Arròs amb fesols i naps (rice with beans and turnips). It is probably the oldest rice dish making up our gastronomy. Its main ingredients are meat and pulses and it is very traditional in the area of L'Alcoià, El Comtat and La Marina Alta. Arroz con conejo y caracoles. Its main ingredients are tomatoes, rabbit, snails and saffron. It is cooked over a fire made of grape vine cuttings in a open pan. It is very typical in Alto and Medio Vinalopó.
Taste of the sea
The Mediterranean sea offers a wide range of prestigious products, and the Costa Blanca is very lucky with the fact it has over 200km of coastline. There is a total of thirteen fishermen's associations. The most common seafood species caught are red prawns, king prawns and shrimps. The most common fish are whiting, hake, red mullet, monkfish, red sea bream, sole, anchovy, sardine, sea bream, sea bass, conger eel, mackerel, horse mackerel, bonito, ray, turbot, common dentex, four spot megrim, tuna and swordfish. The most common cephalopods and molluscs are squid, cuttlefish, octopus and the sea urchin. There are several markets along the Costa Blanca where you can visit and experience the fish auctions open to the general public. Many local dishes contain some of the more than 20 different types of fresh fish available off the coast. They are used as “tapas", starters, main courses as well as ingredients for a variety of rice dishes. With all these fish dishes, many of which are as old as fishing itself, we are able to enjoy the taste of the Mediterranean. Typical fish dishes include “suquet de peix", “calderos", “calderetas", “llandeta" and “fideuá". The red prawn from Denia, also known as “red gold of the Mediterranean" is internationally renowned. Its flesh is firm yet juicy and it has an intense but delicate taste of the sea making it a supreme product. The chef Quique Dacosta in his restaurant in Denia, which now has three Michelin stars, was the pioneer in offering creative dishes using the red prawn. Examples include cherry “gazpacho" with red prawns, grilled red prawns with oil and “bleda" and rice with red prawns cooked on the barbecue. The International competition of “creative cooking with the Denia red prawn" is held anually. Another product that the Mediterranean offers is the king prawn from Guardamar del Segura, one of the most prized seafoods. It stands out for its texture, colour and awesome taste. Several editions of the “Gastronomic Week of Ñoras (type of small red sun-dried pepper) and King Prawn" have taken place in Guardamar with many of its restaurants taking part.
El salazón es una de las formas de conservación de pescado más antiguas que se conocen, su origen se remonta al siglo IV a.c. cuando en la época pre-romana salaban los pescados y los dejaban secar al sol como método de conservación. Desde la antigüedad se sigue manteniendo el mismo proceso de elaboración por lo que estamos ante productos tradicionales y exclusivos de la Dieta Mediterránea. Los más tradicionales en la Costa Blanca son la mojama, hueva, bonito, anchoa, bacalao y capellán. Aunque su consumo más habitual es en aperitivos, también se utilizan como ingredientes de ensaladas, en arroces, o en platos como el guiso de patatas, la borreta, la pebrereta, o la pericana muy típica en las comarcas de L´Alcoià y El Comtat.
EN Salting is one of the oldest known methods of preserving fish. It dates back to the 4th Century BC when in pre-roman times fish was salted and left in the sun to dry. Since ancient times this process has been used, and it is still being used to make traditional and exclusive products that form part of the Mediterranean diet. Amongst the most popular “salazones" on the Costa Blanca are cured tuna, roe, bonito, anchovy, cod and poor cod. They are usually consumed as snacks, but can also be ingredients for a salad, rice dishes, potato stews, “borreta" (vegetable stew with cod), “pebrereta" (green pepper, tomato and pumpkin salad with salted tuna) or “pericana" (onion and tomato salad with cod) which is very popular in the areas of L'Alcoià and El Comtat.
Dishes eaten with a spoon
A lo largo de toda la provincia de Alicante hay una gran tradición por los platos “de cuchara" que se elaboran de muy diferentes formas desde hace siglos y reúnen toda la sabiduría mediterránea en cuanto a la unión de alimentos y aromas. De un extraordinario sabor y alto valor nutritivo, combinan la carne, legumbres, verduras y hortalizas cocinadas en ollas o pucheros. El más conocido es la olleta, plato que tiene muchas variedades entre las que destacan la Alcoyana, Alicantina, Blat, Castell, Músic, Notari, Trigo picado, San Antoni, etc. Otro plato clásico es el cocido con pelotas, muy tradicional en toda la provincia pero especialmente en la Vega Baja, Alicante y en las Marinas. El gazpacho con carne no puede faltar en las comarcas del Vinalopó y de L´Alcoià donde se elabora con aves de caza o de corral y es condimentado con hierbas aromáticas. En la costa se cocina con pescado, normalmente con mero y donde se utiliza la morralla para el caldo, muy típico en Torrevieja, Santa Pola y la isla de Tabarca.
EN Throughout the whole of the province of Alicante there is a long tradition of dishes “eaten with a spoon" that have been made in different ways for centuries. They are a perfect example of the Mediterranean mix of food and flavours. These dishes are delicious and have a high nutritional content. They combine meat, vegetables and pulses, and are cooked in a variety of pans. The best known is called “olleta" and has many varieties: from Alcoy, from Alicante, Blat (made with wheat), Castell, Músic, Notari, Trigo Picado (literally crushed wheat), San Antoni, etc. Another classic dish is a meat stew with meat balls. This is popular throughout the whole province but it is particularly popular in the areas of Vega Baja, Alicante and Las Marinas. “Gazpacho" with meat is very popular in the areas of Vinalopó and L'Alcoià where it is prepared with game or poultry, then seasoned with aromatic herbs. On the coast, specially in Torrevieja, Santa Pola and Tabarca island, “gazpacho" is typically made with grouper fish and fish stock.
Our vegetable garden
Over the years the climate, the soil and the experience of the farmers have meant that now the Costa Blanca can count on extraordinary and varied products that grow in its fields. The Vega Baja is one of the most fertile irrigated areas in Spain. Typical crops include artichokes, peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, cucumbers, leeks, broad beans, brocoli, watermelons, melons, oranges, lemons, and leafy veg such as lettuce, chard or spinach. Our province has 3 different crops with a certificate of origin. They are the medlars from Callosa d'En Sarrià, bagged grapes from the Vinalopó area and the cherries from the mountains in Alicante. The star crop grown around Alicante is the “Mutxamel" tomato, well known for its taste. The high quality round grain rice ideal for all kinds of paellas, stews and baked rice dishes is grown in and around Pego and Les Valls. The protagonist in the mountain regions is the almond. For more than 100 years the “Mollar pommegranate" has been grown in Elche, Crevillente and Albatera. It is a fruit with a high nutritional content and is considered as one of the best fruits in the world. At the moment the “Elche Mollar Pommegranate" is in a process to achieve a protected certificate of origin. Also found in the area in and around Elche and the Bajo Vinalopó there are large palm tree plantations producing dates. Another traditional product in the area is the “Albatera Fig", currently waiting the award of “protected geographic instruction". It is a variety of immature fig of high quality and very rich in vitamins. The “ñora", mainly grown in Guardamar, is a variety of mature round red pepper. It is sun dried and an essential ingredient in many dishes and sausages. In Roman times the cultivation of olives began, especially in the regions of El Comtat, L'Alcoià, Marina Baixa and Marina Alta where now highest quality virgin olive oil is produced. Herbs and spices are essential ingredients in most of the dishes of our area. Typical examples include saffron, paprika, nutmeg, white and black pepper, crushed garlic, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, Thymus piperella, basil, etc. The town of Novelda has a long tradition in packaging and marketing spices thanks to companies that market the spices both nationally and internationally.
Sweets and deserts
The Costa Blanca area enjoys a large variety of sweet products, often of Arabic origin such as the internationally renowned Alicante and Jijona types of nougat. The town of Villajoyosa has one of the most important chocolate manufacturers in the world where many different varieties are produced. We recommend visiting both the Nougat Museum in Jijona and the Chocolate Museum in Villajoyosa. For many years hand made ice cream has been produced in the towns of Ibi and Jijona. More than 350 different flavours are made there, and they are recognised for their high quality. There is a long tradition in Orihuela for different convents to bake cakes and sweets. This is still going today and the cakes are available for everyone to savour direct from the convents producing them. This “Sweet sensation" includes cakes like “pasteles de gloria" an egg and almond sweet typical at Christmas, “almojábanas" a sweet cake soaked in honey, or many others such as “zamarras", “chatos", “pezuñas", “valarinos", “paparajones", “yemas", “buñuelos", assorted jams, etc. Throughout Alicante province there are many well known, both nationally and internationally, pastry chefs such as Paco and Jacob Torreblanca, Raúl Asencio, José Manuel Samper, Fran Segura, Francisco Castell, José Manuel Marcos, Daniel Álvarez, Vicent Pascual, Adriana Agulló, Rubén Álvarez, Pamela Romero, José Montejano, etc. There is a wide variety of typical products such as almond and other types of sponges, sugared almonds, “monas", “coca boba", “almendrados", “sequillos", pumpkin cakes, sweet potato pies, “coca de mollitas", candied fruit, “torrijas", fig bread, “yemas", “mantecados", “polvorones", “perusas", “orelletes" or “Pá Beneit". In short, our land offers a long list that makes up our “sweet catalogue".
The Costa Blanca offers many places to visit related to gastronomy, such as companies, museums, wineries, oil mills, etc. Villajoyosa is famous for its chocolate industry. The origins date back from the early nineteenth century, when an Italian took the first grindstone there. This city now hosts internationally renowned chocolate manufacturers, and tourists can visit the Valor, Clavileño and Pérez chocolate factories. The town of Jijona is the birthplace of nougat. Products made here are exported all over the world. The Nougat Museum is open all year round and between July and December there are guided tours of the “1880" and “El Lobo" factories. The “Mollar" pomegranate is grown in the fields of Elche, Crevillente and Albatera. In Albatera there is a museum at the Vitalgrana plant dedicated to the pomegranate. It is called Museo Interpretación del Granado “Councillor García Antón". In Elche there is a selection of different food related places to visit. You can visit the oil mill “El Tendre" founded in 1839; also Salas y Sirvent “SYS" distillery, where they show the process of making “cantueso" and other spirits. You can also visit “La Loma" artisanal cheese making installations, where they still use a traditional manufacturing process. Finally there is the winery “Faelo" that offers two types of visit: the tour and wine tasting option or a picnic lunch. You can also visit the “Masía El Teuladí" in Relleu, built in 1918, famous for its olive oil. This is where the extra virgin olive oil “Señoríos de Relleu" is made. The visit includes a trip around the fields and facilities, followed by oil tastings.
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