TASTES OF XÀTIVA
“The sea will bubble like a stew in the oven,
changing colour and natural form…”
– Ausiàs March (Veles e vents)
Xàtiva’s gastronomy is rich, varied and very good for you: classically Mediterranean cuisine brimming with fruit (such as the delicious oranges of La Costera) and vegetables (like the local green garlic currently in the process of being granted Designation of Origin status). Rice is the main ingredient in many of the local dishes, such as arròs al forn (oven-baked rice), arròs caldós (rice stew), arròs en fesols i naps (rice with beans and turnips), arròs blanquet (rice with onion sausage) and, of course, paella which in Xátiva is cooked with lots of meat and vegetables. The legacy of the Moors who populated these lands for centuries is still evident both in the local main courses – and how they are prepared – and in the desserts.
Arròs al forn is a dish born of the city’s history and, of course, its geographical and economic circumstances, making for slight differences in how it is cooked from one area to another.
Travelling back in time we would see the women moving to and fro, carrying clay casserole dishes to and from the wood-fired ovens in movements that gave this dish its nickname of arròs passejat: walked rice. It was possibly in the 18th century that arròs al forn took its current form – chickpeas, onion sausage, garlic, ribs, pig’s snout and trotters – though a lighter version with potato and tomato can be found at certain times of the year.
Green Garlic: Denomination of Origin
Green garlic – ajos tiernos – is a local product currently in the process of acquiring protected geographical status (Denomination of Origin). Also known as spring garlic, young garlic or baby garlic, it is garlic that is harvested before it has fully ripened, giving a milder and more delicate flavour to the dishes in which it is used. While available all year round, it is in March that the green garlic is at its very best, enjoyed in a whole variety of dishes or simply just griddled – delicious!
Xàtiva’s classic local dessert is arnadí, a recipe made with pumpkin and almonds that has been passed down through the ages from generation to generation. Its Andalusian heritage is evident in its highly elaborate and striking presentation, evocative of the typical Moroccan stew known as a tagine. Another sweet of Moorish origin is almoixàvena, a simple confection of eggs, flour, sugar, cinnamon and animal fat.
La Costera Wines
Between the districts of La Costera and La Vall d’Albaida, in the triangle formed by Moixent, La Font de la Figuera and Fontanars dels Alforins, lies a land adorned with picturesque vineyards that produce some of the best wines to be had under the Denominación de Origen Valencia label.
A Restaurant Guide
We highly recommend you try the local cuisine, made using natural produce and traditional recipes. In Xàtiva you can sample a wide range of different styles of cooking, from traditional to signature cuisine, Mediterranean food, dishes typical of the districts of central Valencia, cuisine fresh from the day’s market… Check out our Restaurant Guide for more details.