by Faris Almussallam
During my last trip to Spain, I decided to go to Valencia. Although it is Spain’s third largest city, it doesn’t get enough attention as its flashier siblings: Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, and Marbella. Being the curious traveler that I am, I booked my flights and set off to discover the city.
In general, I found the city extremely vibrant culturally, with a buzzing art scene. One aspect of the city that cannot be overlooked is its cuisine. This, coupled with the overall warmth of the locals, engenders a dining experience that is elevated yet humble at the same time.
There was one evening in Valencia where I had some free time and I didn’t feel like staying in – so I did a bit of research online and found an interesting restaurant not far from where I was staying – Bobal – which bills itself as a Mediterranean restaurant.
Once again, I got a typical Valencian welcome – friendly and down to Earth, as if they were welcoming a real friend, and was shown to my table. It was quite quiet, as I had gotten there very early by Spanish standards (dinner is usually had at around 10PM in Spain). I took some time to figure out the menu, as there were quite a few options, and they were also proactive in asking if I had any dietary requirements. They were flexible enough to replace the pork ingredients with something else – this is the mark of a real restaurant – not because of bogus “customer service” claims, but it’s a mini challenge to the chef to see if it can make the dish work without the original ingredients. Saying that, I would never request that a pork steak be replaced by a beef one – I would just opt for something else. But perhaps if something had bacon bits, then perhaps it could be done with something else. They have an a la carte menu, and also a set menu – which I chose (With some modifications)
The journey started with a marinated sardine with Valencian tomato, onion, and local herbs. This was then followed with fruits de mer with squid ink sauce, followed by gratin cod with allioli of apple and a “soft” soup of garlic and seafood. To continue, I went on to the crispy roll stuffed with goat cheese and smoked beef with compote of pears.
The dish after this, I must admit, didn’t fit with the rest of the meal, and wasn’t of the same quality, but was edible nonetheless. This was the milk-fed lamb – slow cooked at a low temperature with apple marmalade and a thyme flavored sauce. To finish, I was presented with the “dulce final” (i.e. sweet ending) which consisted of a melon sorbet with watermelon foam, black chocolate with pralines and white chocolate, and a goat cheesecake with pear ice cream with apple sauce.
This place was absolutely amazing, and well worth going to. I loved the warm service and attention from the staff, and the creativity of the dishes, as well as the care that went in to craft and present them. I’ll definitely be visiting Valencia again, and when I do, I’ll be sure to pass by Bobal for another unforgettable meal.
Keep up to date with Faris’ journeys around the world by visiting his website www.traveleye.net, and follow him on Instagram @travel.eye, and on Facebook: Gotraveleye. Follow his YouTube channel @TraveleyeGlobal.