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Spain: Sunny Sunday Paella

September 24, 2012

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We woke to a brilliantly sunny and gorgeous day. And what better way to begin than a glass of freshly squeezed Valencian oranges – the ones we bought in Calpe market yesterday.

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The sweet full flavour of these local oranges can’t be compared to any juice that comes in a carton. I just slowly drank my glass, savouring the taste, much as I would a fine wine, as I looked out across the valley and wonderful view, a clear azure sky and the sun starting to blaze its warmth on the day.

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Sunday should be a lazy day, no need to hurry anywhere. Paella at Raco de l’Arros in Moraira was our destination for lunch. I first went to this lovely paella restaurant in Moraira last year and wrote about it then on the blog. When I met Karena on Tuesday, she mentioned it as one of two restaurants in Moraira she thought good. Paella is a must when I’m in Spain and I suggested we went back to this restaurant I knew and liked a lot. We arrived early enough to be sure of buying an English Sunday Times for George and then had a gentle walk around Moraira before eating.

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We walked through a shaded small park area towards the beach from where we’d parked the car.

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Then on into the marina.

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When we arrived at Raco de l’Arros it was almost empty but all the tables had a reserved sign, so it was as well we’d booked. The Spanish eat later than us and so we’d booked a table for 2pm. Soon after we sat down, it started filling up.

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It’s an attractive traditional restaurant with pretty tiles on the wall. The Spanish only eat paella at lunchtime and it seemed that’s what everyone had come for. It takes a while to cook as it’s all freshly prepared from scratch, so we ordered some prawns and garlic to begin, and they also brought toast and fresh tomato pulp and aioli so we could put together little tostadas too.

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The prawns were superb and perfectly cooked. Full of flavour, they were sweetly tender and absolutely delicious. We asked for glasses of wine as neither of us wanted to drink much at lunchtime. The waiter/manager – who I recognised from last year – suggested bringing a bottle of wine to the table and that we drink what we wanted and he would charge according to how much of the bottle we got through. This was an excellent suggestion as we could see the bottle was just opened and there was no fuss about deciding if we wanted to order a second glass if one glass wasn’t quite enough. In the end we drank a half of the bottle and were charged just €6 for it. Then, it was time for the piece de resistance – or whatever that is in Spanish! Our seafood paella was served.

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It was so good. The prawns and langoustines, the mussels and clams and squid perfectly cooked. You could tell they’d used proper saffron as the paella wasn’t the alarming yellow you’ll find in some places, and a sure indication of colouring. No, this was the real deal. What I particularly like about paella here is that they serve it slightly moist – rather than very dry which you often find – which makes it all the more pleasurable to eat and I think enables the full flavours of the stock and fish and seasonings to come out. I find that often when a paella arrives at the table I look at it and think there’s not a lot there … but then it turns out to be huge and indeed, we were delightfully full by the end, and couldn’t quite manage to finish it all. We ordered coffees.

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Then the manager insisted on giving us glasses of a Moscatel, a local sweet wine.

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By the time we left the restaurant, after a delicious and relaxing lunch, the wind had come up and we were blown up to the ice cream shop where I suggested we bought our ‘dessert’. At which point, Linda teased me about my love of ice cream and how visiting gelaterias often comes up in my blog.

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We took our ice creams down towards the seafront. They were a little too sweet I thought and I preferred the gelateria I found on Tuesday, but it’s good to try different places out. Then, after our lovely Sunday paella, the only thing to do was return home for a lazy Sunday afternoon by the pool.

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