Horchata: a Valencian specialty

Let’s face it: most tourists who visit Spain head for Barcelona, Madrid, or Seville. These three beautiful cities have a lot to offer, including a lot of great food and drink.

But Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, is likewise a great place to visit. For starters, it’s now connected to Madrid with the high-speed AVE train, cutting the travel time down to well under two hours. It’s on the Mediterranean coast, with a compact “old city” downtown, surrounded by a huge ring of colorful neighborhoods and attractions such as the modern City of Arts and Sciences. Farther out of town you’ll find la albufera, a watery reserve where rice for the famous paella valenciana grows – and where you can spend several hours in one of the local restaurants enjoying one of the best rice dishes you’ll ever taste.

Besides paella, Valencia is known for another specialty: horchata. This sweet and milky drink is made from the chufa, or “tiger nut,” and is definitely worth trying. Tucked away in the Plaza Santa Catalina in the city center are a couple of establishments which specialize in the drink. My favorite – both for atmosphere and taste – is the Horchateria Santa Catalina. Small marble tables dot both the downstairs and upstairs, and colorful blue and white tiles decorate the walls, making it the perfect place to take a break from shopping and sightseeing.

Along with your horchata, be sure to order a plate of fartóns. Not only is the word a lot of fun to say, these soft bread sticks covered in powdered sugar are the perfect complement to your milky beverage.

¡Buen provecho!

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