Valencia is Spain’s third largest city. Found on the country’s eastern Mediterranean coast, the city is renowned amongst many things for its paella, sailing and architecture.
I have been invited to experience a luxury perspective of the city by UEMURA, a new luxury travel design company that is rapidly expanding internationally from its Valencia base.
So over the next few days I will share with you some of the highlights of this designed city experience.
The first day has been all about food glorious food. Uemura designed a day with Michelin star Chef Bernd Knoeller
Market Tour with Chef Bernd H. Knoeller
Valencia’s ‘Mercado Central’ is a striking part of the city’s architectural heritage. It’s also a fabulous place to capture a flavour of daily life in this foodie destination. Uemura had arranged for a special treat for its guests – a market tour with Michelin star chef and Valencia foreign resident, Bernd H Knoeller. His RIFF Restaurant is amongst the most notable places to eat in the city.
Knoeller greeted us with a smile as he ushered us into the modernist market building, opened by Spain’s King Alfonso XIII in 1928. Before long we were following his typical market routine of chatting with market traders and buying ingredients for his restaurant.
Open each morning until 14.00, the market is home to hundreds of market traders selling fresh produce, fish, meat and preserves. There are also a few bars and coffee shops too.
Bernd has his favourite stop for coffee, a special espresso bar where the coffee is velvety, strong and with hints of liquorice.
Our shopping trip is leading to a highlight of the day – a masterclass with the chef himself at his renowned restaurant RIFF, where we enjoyed a multiple course lunch as he prepared each dish.
Masterclass & Lunch RIFF Restaurant
After a morning at the market, we get to settle in the designer restaurant RIFF.
The table is set impeccably and the welcoming team offer us a signature ‘Pale Mary’ welcome drink – a bloody Mary, but made with tomato water, so it is distinctly pale, not red, yet retained the rich aroma and taste of fresh tomatoes. There are snacks for the table including delicious, melt-in-the mouth ham fat from Huelva, served on a spoon with citrus.
Chef Knoeller is a friendly and welcoming host and whilst he prepares the first dish, begins to tell us a little about his background. From being a passionate musician in Germany to a Michelin star chef in Spain has been an interesting and eventful journey!
Oranges are of course iconic of Valencia and the chef is one of the few people in the city to use the blossom in his dishes. The intensity of the blossoms are specially captured and incorporated into plates such as the Pajel we are fortunate enough to enjoy.
During each course the chef talks more about his delight in food and produce and shows us recipes from his photographic culinary book, ‘cocina y fotogafia’.
The dishes continue to come, from razor clams with a light rape seed mayonnaise; to skate with polenta; his interpretation of a Valenican rice dish; and lamb, specially cooked at a very low temperature.
We also get to try other specialities of the RIFF restaurant including his own ‘mojama’ dried tuna.
Lunchtime cocktails with Spain’s Top Mixologist
During this long, indulgent lunch we take a break to head next door and visit the famous Valencian mixologist Ciriaco Vicente Ausina.
This was another fabulous surprise, as Ciriaco is Spain’s top ‘coctelero’, having won a Michelin Star. So next door, Ciriaco created his remarkable gin and tonic using the Valencian ingredient ‘horchata’, (Gintonic de horchata) topped with Ciriaco’s signature G&T foam.
It’s been a remarkable day of unique tastes, or gourmet food and drink – and a showcase of how Uemura promises to design and create a travel experience for its privileged guests.
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