We arrived in Valencia fairly late in the evening and although it wasn’t quite midnight, by the time, we were picked up by Uemura, checked into the hotel and got ready for dinner, it was getting closer and closer to midnight.
By this point though, past experience had already taught us to expect dinner fairly late when in Spain so pre-dinner prep involved pretty much just relaxing with a bottle of wine and getting ready for the evening’s plans.
Oh, before I carry on – probably best to mention, we were in Valencia to witness the birth of a new artisan in luxury travel – Uemura experiences.
Aptly named after the Japanese explorer Naomi Uemura (who was the first man ever to trek to the North Pole solo, to raft the Amazon solo and to climb Denali solo, amongst other thing), Uemura experiences set out to show us what a bespoke experience in Valencia looks like and thanks to them, we had so many ‘travel firsts’!
Soon after we’d seen to our wine, we headed into Valencia for an evening of culinary delights at Casa Montana. Casa Montana is a Valencian institution. This place has been around since 1836 and is frequented by Prime Ministers, celebrities and locals in equal measure. The locals get their Vermouth and wine from here in their own bottles which they reuse in a tradition that has spanned almost a century.
Its been passed down from generation to generation and the owners source ingredients themselves directly from farms all across Europe.
The dedication they pay to finding say, a good bottle of olive oil (for example), is rather impressive as they actually drive to the farms (doesn’t matter if it’s in Italy – okay, they might not drive to Italy but they do visit it in person) and check everything to make sure its oil that they’d enjoy and know the restaurant patrons will too.
Nothing is taken for granted here and there’s something to be said for a restauranteur who not only knows the exact source of their ingredients but can even tell you a decent story about it!
The wine collection here is pretty amazing too and some of the bottle here go as high as £5,000 (which I had no idea up until that point that wine could ever cost that much).
This is also the place that ruined me when it comes to ham! I’ve never had ham as good as this place and I can never look at a ham platter the same again. As it turns out, (and most foodies might know this already), Iberian ham is quite special – especially the ones from pigs fed with acorn but it’s not quite as special as having it almost immediately after its been shaved.
Seriously, it melts in your mouth like butter – none of that stringy, chewy taste we’ve all kinda grown accustomed to thanks to store-bought cured ham.
Before dinner though, we started off with an excellent wine tasting which honestly, prior to this, I’d always left drunk (or at least sufficiently sozzled) but none-the-wiser about wine. This time was very different though as he highlight in very relatable (idiot-proof) ways, how to do wine tasting properly.
The funny thing is, the guy who did the wine tasting didn’t even speak any English, just Spanish, and despite the language barrier (my Spanish is awful), he still managed to pass on what to look out for wine and how to actually taste the wine properly.
*Turns out, just chugging the wine is NOT the way to go. 😉 Whoops!
Wine tasting left us nice and merry and ready for dinner at Casa Montana – dinner being a whole plethora of delicious Spanish tapas meals (HUGE shout-out to the steak, beans and patatas bravas!).
I could seriously go on and on about how amazing dinner here was but seeing as I mentioned earlier how attention was paid to every single ingredient used in the cooking here, I’m guessing it comes as no surprise that dinner here is pretty special.
The rest of the evening was spent quaffing delicious wines and dessert… understandably my absolute favourite activity!
By the time we left, the streets were empty and our tummies, quite the opposite.
This was just our first evening in Valencia with Uemura (they’re located in more locations than just Valencia) and I went to best eagerly and excitedly looking forward to what the next few days had to offer!