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Restaurateur Monika Linton on Alicante

Restaurateur Monika Linton on Alicante

April 06
20:46 2018

I first visited Alicante as a child in the 1960s, when its coastal bays were dotted with fishermen’s boats and a skyline of low-rise seaside cottages backed on to the hills.

— In the late 1990s, I rediscovered the port as a gastronomic jewel after becoming friends with María José San Román (aka the Queen of Saffron), whose Michelin-starred restaurant Monastrell uses up to 20 varieties of locally grown rice. It is an essential destination, along with La Taberna del Gourmet, one of Spain’s best tapas bars (run by San Román’s daughter) and found along the waterfront.

— On arrival, my first port of call is Vicente Leal’s cured fish shop in the Mercado Central. I indulge in a few purchases of mojama de Almadraba (the ultimate cured tuna loin), salted sardines and hueva de mújol (grey mullet roe) — the Spanish answer to the Black Sea’s caviar. After a browse through the rest of the market, I will have a morning coffee and snack at the waterside bar of the Taberna del Gourmet.

La Taberna del Gourmet

— Over the hills, the town of Jijona hides the delights of the treasured bakery Forn del Raval de la Peñita. Owner María Teresa’s recipes span five generations, including rollitos de anis (anise-flavoured doughnuts), madalenas and los cuatro iguales biscuits. It’s worth trekking up the steep streets of the old Moorish quarter to revel in her creations and stories alike.

— For lunch, head to the town of Pinoso to eat the ultimate rice at Paco Gandía — this is a true celebration in the art of rice cooking, harmonising ancient Iberian ingredients with Moorish flavours. Alicante’s culinary heritage lives on, as long as you know where to look.

Monika Linton is the founder of Brindisa, London;

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