Casa de Valencia is an old hotel in the Pricesa district, about 500m walk from the Palacio Real de Madrid (Royal Palace of Madrid). Opened by the King himself in 1975, this place has seen better times. But the restaurant remains one of the best place to eat Valencia-style paella in the capital city.
Primer plato / First course
Chopitos encebollados – baby squids and chopped onions sauce – I love baby squids and we simply steam them with salt when prepared at home. The recipe here was quite simple as well. Chopped onion is softened in olive oil and then further reduced with white wine and spiced with bay leaves and garlic. Baby squid was then tossed in this onion sauce.
Croquetas “de Jamón de Jabugo”– Croquettes with Spanish jamon ham – classic tapas, nothing to shout about.
Perdiz de Campo Escabechada – pickled field partridge – Escabeche, if you don’t know about it, is a vinegary, bracing sauce that makes for a nice easy lunch for several days after you make it because escabeche keeps for more than a week in the fridge. Red-legged partridges, or perdiz, are the classic Spanish escabeche bird. It was very tender, strong taste and totally covered by the tomato sauce.
Pescaditos Fritos ( Salmonetitos ) – fried little fish – Pescaditos fritos is a traditional dish from the southern coast of Spain. Small red mullets were used here. Typically the bigger ones were grilled, but these were too small to be grilled and therefore dusted with flour and deep fried. I still find that mullets have too much bones to be a good fried fish.
Cogollos de Tudela con Salmón Ahumado – Baby romaine lettuce “puffins of Tudela” with smoked salmon – In Spain this sort of lettuce is very popular. It is traditionally grown in the municipality of Navarra Tudela around the banks of Ebro River, and has a bitter taste, stronger than the common lettuce. They are used mainly in salads, and feature prominently on celebrations menus and served in many Spanish restaurants as a starting dish. Here, it was simply paired with smoke salmon with a vinaigrette dressing poured over it.
Segundo plato / Second course – Paella
Paella is a Valencian rice dish that has ancient roots but its modern form originated in the mid-19th century in the area around Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain’s national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish (despite the fact that actually it is a commonly eaten dish across all Spain, so it can be considered as a Spanish national dish). Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identifying symbols.
Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice (which must be round grain), green beans (bajoqueta and tavella), meat (chicken and rabbit), sometimes duck), garrofó (a variety of lima beans or butterbeans), sometimes snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary.
Paella Valenciana “pollo, conejo y verdura” – Valencian paella with the traditional chicken, rabbit and vegetable – Didn’t know what to expect, this would be the closest I am getting on the true, authentic paella experience. All the rest of the paella I have eaten so far would not count as they cannot be called Valencian paella. Here’s a pedigree version. The rice was cooked al dente, i.e. undercooked by Asian standard, even though they have been rested and already infused with all the stock and flavour. The rabbit and chicken were all overcooked, but the flavour of the gamey rabbit still stood out from the chicken meat. It’s all very rustic, but my personal opinion was that I preferred renditions in Singapore where the rice was cooked “properly”.
Here’s a recipe link to Valencian paella.
Seafood paella replaces meat with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of meat from land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans. Most paella chefs use bomba rice due to it being less likely to overcook, but Valencians tend to use a slightly stickier (and thus more susceptible to overcooking) variety known as Senia. All types of paellas use olive oil.
Paella Mixta “pollo, marisco y verdura” – MIxed paella with chicken, seafood and vegetable – very tasty, rice was slightly undercooked, but it was so flavourful of the seafood stock that one forgets the crunch of the rice.
Here’s a recipe link for seafood paella.
Fideuà is a noodle dish variation of the paella cooked in a similar fashion, though it may be served with allioli sauce instead with simple lemon wedges. Legend has it that a chef in the Valencia area was cooking for a crew on board a ship, and the ship’s captain loved paella. He ate a lot of it during meals, resulting in insufficient amount going around for the rest of the crew. So, he substituted the rice with noodles and hoped that the captain would eat less, but no luck. It was so tasty that it was still insufficient to go around. Hence fideuada “a large amount of noodles” and a new classic was invented.
Fideuà Marinera was made with the same ingredients as the mixta. So same taste. Again the noodles were al dente, which is still a bit hard for my taste.
Postre / Desserts
Milhojas Casero – This classic French pastry, whose name in both French and Spanish—mille-feuilles and milhojas, respectively—means thousand leaves (for its delicate multiple layers), is also known as the napoleon. The name is probably a reference not to the diminutive Corsican emperor, but to the multilayered confections of Naples.
The filling was made up of two parts – the first layer was a vanilla-almond cream that was spread on top of a second layer of custard. The crispy puff pastry on top and bottom, both were still crispy when served. Very sweet and very suitable to round off a wonderful dinner.
Here’s a link to the Milhojas Casero recipe. It’s in Spanish but gourmet has no language barrier.
And also drinking sweet sherry from the porron. A porron is a traditional Catalan glass wine pitcher and is truly a national symbol of Spain. It resembles a cross between a wine bottle and watering can; the top is narrow and ends in a spout. A porron is a very old, traditional way to store wine, as well as to share wine with a group of people. It’s shaped this way so that the wine will have minimal contact with the air, which quickly ruins it. This unique vessel originated in the middle ages and was used when there weren’t enough glasses for the guests. Because, you see, this strange little glass tankard is meant to enjoy wine without your lips touching the bottle in any way.
I am not a fan. I tried drinking wine from a porron and got it all over me. And I am not into alcohol these days, so I will give the sherry a miss. But what was interesting was the dried melon among the dried fruits that came with the sherry. It tasted like Teochew dried winter melon that I used to eat when I was a child. Very nostalgic.
The place has been around for a long time and was highly recommended by local friends for the ultimate paella experience. Not many tourist wandered into the place, and the service staff spoke almost no english. Remember that dinners start very late in Spain, the place only started pack it in around 9pm.
The food was quite good, but definitely not a fine dining place. The overall experience is highly recommended for all who visit Madrid. Come in a big group to experience the whole shazam. Ask your concierge to help book the place and if yo have a big group, I recommend the VIP menus, not expensive – around 50,€ and included house pours.
Casa de Valencia Restaurante
Calle Pintor Rosales, 5828008
Tel : (+34) 91 544 17 47
Date Visited : Jun 2018