Alicante’s ancient secrets and culinary stars unveiled

Castle of Sax. 

Castle of Sax. Image: Ayuntamiento de Sax

Step into the past

The Province of Alicante has a fascinating history with lots of ancient buildings to explore, like castles, watchtowers, and other defensive structures.

There are about 230 of these structures scattered around, telling stories that go back 1,500 years.

They’ve seen epic battles, treaties, and the constant threat of invasion.

The castles in the Vinalopó Valley are pretty impressive and give you a real sense of history.

They’re reminders of a time when there were a lot of conflicts and agreements, like the Treaty of Almizra in 1244, which was signed by important people from Aragon and Castile.

These areas used to be bustling with armies, warriors, settlers, and people converting to different beliefs.

But now, they’re famous for their wine and grapes, making them great spots for walkers.

Over the years, famous people like Juan Fernández Pacheco, the first Marquess of Villena, and the Marshal of Castile, have made their mark here through brave acts and victories.

You can still see their influence in places like La Atalaya of Villena, Meseta Path, and the routes of Sax, Castalla, Biar, and Novelda.

There’s also the grand Alcázar de la Señoría in Elche, also known as the Palace of Altamira.

Nowadays, it’s a museum preserving the stories of its past glory.

Michelin Stars

Alicante’s culinary scene is much more than just rice dishes and seafood.

It’s deeply rooted in the Mediterranean diet, featuring plenty of veggies, fruits, exquisite flavours, and a commitment to tradition and professionalism.

This is evident in the impressive fifteen Michelin stars awarded to eleven restaurants in the province.

Leading the pack are renowned chefs like Quique Dacosta, who has three Michelin stars for his restaurant in Denia, and Kiko Moya of L’Escaleta in Cocentaina and Alberto Ferruz of Bon Amb in Javea, each with two stars.

Other talented chefs like Pepa Romans of Casa Pepa in Ondara, Susi Díaz of La Finca in Elche, Cristina Figueira of El Xato in La Nucía, Joaquín Baeza Rufete of Baeza & Rufete in Alicante, Rafa Soler of Audrey’s in Calpe, José Manuel Miguel of Beat Restaurant in Calpe, José Manuel López of Peix & Brases in Dènia, and Borja Susilla and Clara Puis of Tula Restaurante in Javea, each have one Michelin star.

These chefs are not only masters of their craft but also dedicated to culinary innovation, which complements the diverse range of traditional dishes found in the province’s mountains and valleys.

From extraordinary rice dishes like caldero (cooked in a cauldron) to comforting stews like olleta (made with vegetables, legumes, bones, and meats), pericana (a typical cooking sauce), gazpacho (a cold soup made from tomatoes and peppers), and cocido con pelotas (a stew with meatballs), these dishes showcase the province’s unique ingredients and culinary heritage.

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Written by

Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 19 years. She is passionate about her animal family including four dogs and four horses, musicals and cooking.