Bold claims: the best seafood in Spain
Vinaros has a lofty reputation: it’s argued they have the best langoustines in Spain. This seems like a bold claim until you order lunch at Restaurante Bergantin, where plump, juicy langoustines are served up whole and grilled (a la plancha) with slices of lemon, as well as in any number of paella-style rice dishes. Try the rossejat con espardenyes, which comes with a Mediterranean sea cucumber that melts into the rice, and don’t leave without posing next to the giant langoustine in the square behind the bull ring.
More creative seafood dishes are found on the menu of Casa Jaime in Peniscola, where beach and castle views accompany lunches served on the terrace and as much of the produce as possible is local. The chef here is an ex-fisherman and so he knows his stuff, cooking up galera (mantis shrimp) in croquettes and carpaccio of red prawns with three types of local olive oil.
For cheaper prices and only a slight diminishment in quality head to Benicarlo, where the strip of portside terraces serve up succulent squid, grilled razor clams and fideoa, a paella-type dish made with noodles instead of rice.
Castles in the sand
Forts and castles tend to enjoy lofty positions, but the one in Peniscola affords more beautiful views than most: down over the sandy isthmus that attaches the fortified old town to the coast.
It also offers shady respite from hot summer days, its sturdy stone walls dividing church from great hall, stables from courtyard. Continue up onto the roof where smooth marble stretches off towards brilliant blue sea or sky in all directions.
Look out to sea and see if you can spot the volcanic Columbretes Islands, a semi circle of inhabited islets some 30 miles offshore. As you make your way back to beach level, stroll through the lush castle gardens and your nose will tell you why this coast deserves its name.
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