Ask any holidaymaker what the key ingredients are for their perfect holiday and you’ll probably get a variety of answers from great beaches, lots to do, easy access, but you can bet that all will mention good value restaurants and sampling the local cuisine.

Benidorm happens to have all this and more! The resort is of course one of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations, and prides itself on catering for this large market, but it may surprise you to know that as well as offering some of the Brits’ most popular dishes, that there are more than 350 restaurants in and around the resort boasting a wide range of cuisine from all over the world. The Spanish, and Madrilenos in particular, are Benidorm’s next biggest visitors – many have second homes here and they demand only the best of their national cuisine!

Look past the inevitable pizzas and fastfood you find in every resort, and you will see the rich gastronomic variety of the Valencia region, renowned as one of the finest in Spain and it’s easy to see why. There are so many historic influences on the traditional cuisine from the invading Moors and the seafaring spice merchants to the fishing and agricultural heritage of the area.  Paella was born here, in all it’s many forms, and the excellent range of local rice dishes form the basis of a number of speciality paellas to tempt the taste buds.

Visit Benidorm Tourist Board, in conjunction with various tourism associations, are promoting Benidorm Gastronomico Programme 2013, this was launched last year with a number of events, competitions and promotions keen to showcase the culinary excellence of the resort to visitors and locals alike.

The old town is the historic heart of the resort and the area around Poniente beach is home to many Spaniards’ holiday apartments as well as a number of very authentic established restaurants boasting local and regional specialities, as well as international dishes.

As you would imagine for this former fishing village, the traditions of the sea run deeply so to speak!  Fish is in plentiful supply with local catches daily offering a wide selection of the Mediterranean’s finest from the popular Red Snapper & Pumpkin Rice to succulent stuffed squid.

Many of the best tapas bars are based in the narrow lanes around Santo Domingo in the old town, some offering some of the specialities you may find in San Sebastian. A tapas trail is a great way to spend an evening sampling small dishes of delicious treats washed down with a cold cerveza or two, or some good local wine. Perfect for sharing, it’s an inexpensive and sociable way to eat  – and to try something you might not have tasted before!

The first event in March is a week-long local event promoting the ‘cuchara’ or food you literally eat on spoons, such as soups, stews and rice dishes.  Several restaurants in the resort will create special keenly priced menus to showcase regional dishes.  This is closely followed in mid April by the Tapas & Pinchos competition which encourages local restaurants and some of the region’s best chefs to create the most imaginative dishes to present to a panel of exacting judges and ends with a festival celebrating the rice dishes of the region in October.

•           II Jornadas de la Cuchara: 4-10 marzo III  (‘spoon’ dishes)

•           Concurso de Tapas y Pinchos: 15-21 de abril (competition)

•           IV Jornadas Gastronómicas: 3-9 junio (gastonomic days)

•           Día Mundial del Turismo/Día Mundial de la Tapa: 27 de septiembre (world tapa day)

•           II Jornadas de los Arroces de Benidorm: 14-20 octubre (rice dishes)

For the full programme of events in Benidorm Gastronomico as well as a list of restaurants and bars, see ‘Gastronomy’ at the Visit Benidorm website and the Visit Benidorm Facebook page as well as recipes for a range of delicious regional dishes.

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