Gastronomy of the Costa Blanca
Gastronomy and eating out in Benidorm is fantastic. Benidorm and all regions of Costa Blanca has a rich cuisine. The staples of the so-called Mediterranean diet constitute the basic ingredients of Alicante cuisine. Rice, cooked in all manner of ways and styles, is undoubtedly the most frequent dish in the provincial cuisine. On the coast, rice and broth are eaten together with the fish from which both draw their flavour, true to the traditions of the fish stew that local fishermen used to cook up.
Arroz a banda is the name given to the dish in which the rice, drier and dyed the colour of the accompanying dried red peppers or Ã±oras, is served alone. Other variations allow for the rice to be flavoured with squid (calamar) and tunny fish, chicken and fillet of pork, baby squid (chipirones) and garlic shoots, or tunny fish and shrimps (gambas). It just depends on which ingredients are lying to hand.
At the seaside, shellfish and salt-dried fish are on the menus of every restaurant. The dayâ€™s choice might include gilthead bream (dorada), bass baked in salt (lubina a la sal), seafood with a squeeze of lemon, or some delicious sea-fresh red mullet (salmonete) and whiting (pescadilla). Whether steamed or grilled, clams (almejas), King prawns (langostinos), pink and brown shrimps (gambas rojas, quisquillas) are a delight to the palate, as is the dish that combines mojama (salt-dried tunny) with cod (bacalao), mackerel (caballa) and a garnishing of olives.
In the mountain areas, rice forms an integral part of the olleta, a typical dish in which it is mixed with pork, sausage meats, pumpkin, turnip, chard stalks (pencas), chickpeas and string beans. Rice can also be used as a filling in bajoques farcides, an appetising dish of stuffed peppers. As could be expected, the inland areas offer excellent meat dishes, e.g., pork cutlets, rabbit cooked in garlic and tomato, leg of lamb, and local sausage meats.
In the VinalopÃ³ and Segura river valleys, full advantage has been taken of the locally-grown produce to build up a cuisine featuring dishes, such as cocido con pelotas (potage containing balls made of egg and finely diced parsley, crumbed and fried), olla viuda (vegetable stew, with onion, chickpeas, garlic and spinach, eaten during Lent), arroz con costra (rice with sausage meats and chicken or turkey, sometimes coated with a layer of egg and baked in the oven) and the heady pava borracha (roast turkey a la cognac).
The mouthwatering desserts of the Alicante region feature Jijona turrÃ³n, ice-cream, grapes, raisins, dates, almond pastries, pasteles de gloria (a sugared confectionery made with egg yolk and traditionally eaten on Easter Saturday, sabado de gloria) and almojÃ¡benas (sweet, fritter-like pastries, dipped in syrup), not forgetting the coffee liqueur from Alcoi and the herb liqueurs of the Sierra Mariola Range. The finest wines -reds, rosÃ©s and claretes (not a claret but a light-coloured wine midway between red and rosÃ©)- are made in the Alto VinalopÃ³ and Marina Alta districts.