While we were in Valencia we stayed in an apartment just 50 metres from the mercat central, the main market hall for the city. It was a fantastic place to wander around and to buy food.
Some of the stalls where I couldn’t resist buying included this wonderful one selling olives and pickled vegetables.
Notice the almagro aubergines just right of centre above? There’ll be more about these at the end of this post. There were huge sacks of paprika from Murcia:
beautiful tomatoes (we saved some seeds from this variety so we hope to grow them next year)
There were snails – I didn’t buy any of these.
and a few cured hams:
A lot of pumpkins, raw and already roasted – more about these in a later post.
We bought a lot of ready made charcuterie, olives and pickled vegetables to take back to our apartment for supper (on the nights when we weren’t going out to some of the many tapas bars nearby), but I only actually cooked one dish while we were there and that was with almagro aubergines. I’d seen them at the pickled vegetable stall but then a few minutes later saw a stall holder arranging fresh ones from a sack to display on her stall. I just had to buy some – they looked so beautiful.
I invented a dish based on what I’d seen on the stall and a quick internet search, leaving the aubergines with their stalks as they are here, cutting a slit in the ‘fat’ end and putting half a clove of garlic and a piece of red pepper into it. I then laid them all on a bed of sliced tomato in an oven-proof dish, added salt and pepper and poured a lot of olive oil over them. I put them in a slow oven for about an hour and a half while we went out for drinks in a nearby bar. I had Agua de Valencia, a mix of fresh orange juice, Cava and vodka – tasty and quite potent!
When we came back the aubergines were cooked and they were ready to eat. The ones we didn’t eat straight away tasted even better cold the next day.