The Valencian Community, like many other regions in Spain, stands out for its varied and exceptional cuisine, which, unsurprisingly, is best appreciated during celebrations such as Christmas. A wide range of dishes and traditional ingredients are used throughout the region made up of Valencia, Alicante and Castellón.
One of the most important elements to any Christmas spread would have to be the puchero con pelotas. Served on large plates with chorizo, bacon, chicken or veal hock (often accompanied by chickpeas and vegetables such as cardoon or pumpkin), it usually follows a sopa de fideos or noodle soup (rice is the heavier version) with pelotas (a kind of meatball) or perhaps more simply, a broth with pelotas. In the region of Marina Baixa (Alicante), each pelota, made of pork, breadcrumbs, pinenuts, eggs and parsley, is served wrapped in a cabbage leaf.
For dessert, there’s always plenty to choose from wherever you find yourself in the Valencian Community. Pastissets de moniato, in Valencian, a kind of sweet potato cake, carquinyols and rossegons, similar to Italian biscotti, often replace the more Castilian polvorón, a more crumbly biscuit, and of course, the most typical sweets from the Alicante region: turrón de Jijona or turrón de Alicante, a variety of soft nougat, and the peladillas, or sugared almonds from Alcoy, as well as those made in the Valencian town of Casinos.
On the Día de Reyes Magos, or Three Kings day, it is tradition in the Valencian Commuinty to have the Roscón de Reyes for dessert or afternoon tea. This traditional pastry cake is usually made with dried fruits and often filled with cabello de ángel, “angel’s hair”, a kind of jam made of shredded pumpkin. Over the past few years, another type of sweet has taken over the more traditional Roscón. This dessert is made from the most basic of store cupboard ingredients: a mixture of almond, potato and sugar which is later baked in the oven, known as the Casca. The sweets previously mentioned are usually accompanied by dessert wines or liquors, such as the Spanish sweet wine mistela (some of the best come from the Jalón area in Alicante) or one of the superb varieties of vino rancio, another sweet wine from Alicante, which has experienced significant revival over the past few years.