Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Valencia, Day 1 - Not quite Michelin

The drive from Granada to Valencia was long, SO LONG!!  We left shortly after 2pm and arrived around 8:30pm -- by then I was more than ready to be done driving.  Not that it wasn't a fun road trip, as road trips go:  We traveled through picturesque countryside, with mountains, valleys and little plaines.  Castles and forts in various states of disrepair perched on hilltops, each one tickling that American part of me that just can't get enough of castles.  And of course for quite a bit of the time we were singing at the top of our lungs to an array of fun and ridiculous pop, Broadway and rock tunes (think Britney Spears, The Secret Garden, and ABBA).

Our regrets at leaving our hotel in Granada were soon chased by our delight at finding that our new hotel -- the Ad Hoc Hotel -- was even better:  A spacious and comfortable room in an excellent location and at a reasonable price.  This was our first foray into Michelin-recommended hotels, and it turned out well (once we convinced them to put us in a room with two beds).

View from the balcony

View the other direction -- toward the park that lies where
the river used to run
In addition to comfortable accommodations, an advantage of booking a Michelin-recommended hotel was its proximity to several Michelin-starred restaurants.  According to our guide, one restaurant was just next door; another two blocks down the street.  Naturally, we were out the door about ten minutes after making this discovery, on our way to find some dinner.  Alas, no luck.  We found dinner, but not the Michelin grade that we had hoped for.  The next-door restaurant had closed, and the down-the-block restaurant had changed management and names.  The ambiance and presentation at Alma del Temple were superb, but the food just wasn't good enough to be Michelin.  Delicious, yes, but without that added "wow" factor.  It was disappointing (only because we'd set our hopes so high) and we resolved to rectify the situation tomorrow by finding another Michelin-starred restaurant for lunch.

Tuna amuse-bouches with olives and banana chips
Calamari with pesto
Slow roasted lamb with croquettes and carrot balls
Berries with sorbet

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