Top 10 Regional Dishes

1. Paella

Spain is famous for its paella and the best ones are made with the quality rice grown in the Costa Blanca and Valencia areas. There are many varieties of this tasty rice dish and it could contain special Valencian white beans, snails, rabbit, shellfish or fish. The sticky toasted rice at the bottom of the pan is considered to be the best bit. Also, like barbecues, paellas are traditionally cooked by men and is traditionally eaten at lunchtime.

2. Turron

Turron is a type of nougat which was believed to have been invented by the Moors in Jijona. Jijona is now world famous for its soft nougat which comes in a variety of flavours including nuts, dried fruit and chocolate. The Alicante nougat is harder. It is made with almonds and honey. It is traditionally eaten at Christmas but can also be made into delicious ice-cream.

3. Denia Prawns

The succulent red prawn from Denia is considered by many to be the best prawn in the world. It can be fried with a little olive oil and garlic to bring out the flavour or it can be transformed into an even greater gourmet delight in the hands of top chefs like Quique Dacosta, who has a restaurant in Denia. They can be a bit pricey, particularly at Christmas time. But you could get a small taste of the perfect prawn in one of the Costa Blanca tapas bars.

4. Arroz a banda

Another fine rice dish from the Costa Blanca. It is cooked in fish stock with a little fish, peppers and garlic. The secret is in the stock and the quality of the rice. Many people prefer this to paella and you can start an interesting debate over which is best.

5. Bunuelo

Also known as bunyols in Valenciano, these are basically fried dough balls like doughnuts or fritters. They can be sweet or savoury. On the Costa Blanca, they are traditionally sweet and smothered in sugar. They are best dunked in thick hot chocolate before eating.

6. Olla Churra

Olla Churra is a delicious and hearty stew made with beans, vegetables, meats and sausages. It is cooked slowly to bring out the full flavour of the meats. Sometimes it may contain rice or potato.

7. Salazones

Salazones are another important part of Alicante's cuisine. They are basically salted fish dishes and could include tuna, cod, octopus or anchovies. If you are new to salazones, it may be better to try them as part of a tapas meal. You are sure to get hooked on to this seafood sensation.

8. All i pebre

The dish takes its name from garlic and paprika but the real star is the baby eel or elver. It is turned into a thick tasty stew. It is delicious but has a strong flavour.

9. Esgarrat

Another popular fish dish where the sweetness of the red peppers contrasts with the cod. These ingredients are combined with olive oil and garlic to make a tasty tapas or starter. Be sure to ask for plenty of bread to mop up the delicious juices.

10. Alcachofas de Almoradi

On your travels around the Costa Blanca, you are sure to have seen artichokes growing in the fields. Almoradi is famous for its artichokes, which are considered to be particularly fine. The town hosts an annual fiesta featuring traditional and new recipes in honour of their artichokes.