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A delicious guide to the food of Castellón, Spain

Read about the food of Castellon in Spain

When it comes to food, sometimes the simple things are best. In the Castellón region of Spain, a plate of the freshest giant prawns is served with just a squeeze of lemon within sight of the fishing boats in the port. Perhaps you’ll be offered a chilled glass of fruity Sangria accompanied by local jamon and queso, to build up an appetite for the paella that’s cooked over a wood fire by a group of friends with much chatting and laughter.

The food of Castellón is bound up with the landscape; the fertile coastal plain covered by orange groves, the bountiful sea that offers up the freshest of fish and the wooded hills where sheep graze and truffles hide among the trees roots. If you visit Castellón you won’t go home hungry and may well bring back a suitcase stuffed with olive oil and honey. When you visit here are some of the delicious dishes to look out for and where to find them;

Puerto Mar restaurant in Peniscola, Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Puerto Mar restaurant in Peniscola, Castellon, Spain

Seafood by the port in Peñiscola

If you’re on the coast in Spain, you’re never far from a great seafood restaurant – the Spanish LOVE their seafood! You can spend a relaxing morning on the beach, then as it gets too hot, retire for a long, lazy lunch in a shady beach bar with a view of the port or the sand between your toes. The seafood is normally served without any fuss, giving all due respect to the freshness of the fish which probably came off the boat within the last 24 hours.

Puerto Mar restaurant in Peniscola, Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Puerto Mar restaurant in Peniscola, Castellon, Spain

By the old port of Peñiscola, we stopped for lunch at Puerto Mar, with a view of the port where the fishermen bring their catch to be auctioned every afternoon. The decor is plain, with simple wooden tables and stone flooring and we were thankful for a table inside the restaurant where it was a lot cooler. The seafood was brought in a succession of plates to share – we tried giant prawns, steamed mussels, battered octopus rings, and crunchy grilled sardines, all cooked very simply with little in the way of sauces or dressings. If you’re visiting Peñiscola, I’d definitely recommend this restaurant as it’s in a great location to watch the comings and goings in the port, even if you just sit at the tables outside with a drink.

Read More: 10 fabulous things to do in Castellón

Puerto Mar restaurant in Peniscola, Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Puerto Mar restaurant in Peniscola, Castellon, Spain

If you go: Puerto Mar website – They have a hotel that is in a different part of Peñiscola but their cafe and restaurant is beside the port area of Peñiscola old town by the fish market. Example prices per sharing plate: Squid in batter €10, Grilled Shrimps €30, Steamed mussels €8, Grilled Sardines €8, Salad €5, Chips €5

Read more: Discovering Peniscola in Castellon

A glass of Sangria in Castellón

Sangria has become something of a cliché as the tourist’s drink in Spain, but when made properly it’s the perfect aperitif for a hot summer’s day. Sangria is made by mixing red wine with orange juice, lemonade or sparkling water and some chunks of fruit such as peaches, oranges or lemons. You can also add sugar to taste and a slug of brandy, but the key is to let the mixture marinade for a few hours in the fridge to let the Sangria chill and the flavours mingle. If you don’t have time on your side then be sure to add lots of ice to make it extra chilled. We enjoyed our Sangria at Mas del Doblons near Castellón, served with a snack of tortilla, a thick omlette with chunks of cooked potato which is another favourite Spanish tapas. Sometimes the simple things are best!

Read More: 10 fabulous things to do in Castellón

Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Sangria and tortilla at Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain

A plate of Jamon and Queso in Castellón

Another simple appetiser that’s often served with a drink, is local sausage or jamon arranged on a plate with cheese. In every town you’ll find a deli or covered market where you can ask the stallholder to cut you a few slices – if your Spanish is limited it’s easy to see everything on display and point to the ones that look most appetising. In the hot climate of Castellón, it’s most common to find hard cheeses made from the milk of sheep or goats that may have a strong, cured flavour.

Market at Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Local sausages and cheese at Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain

Shopping in the market at Castellón de la Plana

Covered markets selling fresh fruit and veg are found in every Spainish city and we stopped at the Mercado Centrale in the regional capital of Castellón de la Plana to see what was on sale. Because of the quick turnover in the markets, the fruit and veg are always super-fresh, looking plump and polished as each stallholder vies with the next to make their display look the most enticing. The fertile coastal plain around Castellón de la Plana grows lots of local varieties of onions, beans, salads and peppers that you might not see at home. I also love shopping at markets like this for local specialities to take home; look out for olive oil, biscuits or sweets as they are likely to be cheaper here than in the gift shops.

Read More: 10 fabulous things to do in Castellón

Market at Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Market at Castellon, Spain

A taste of authentic Paella in Castellón

After visiting the market, we arrived at Mas del Doblons, an old farm near Castellón de la Plana which has been made into a living museum and restaurant, with the original olive press and water wheel that would have been used in the old days. This is where we learned how to cook an authentic Castellón Paella, the popular rice dish that’s often served at weekends with family and friends. It’s a dish that takes a while to make, so friends will often gather for a few hours, chatting over a beer or glass of wine and working up an appetite as they make the paella together.

Watch this video: How to cook Paella the Spanish Way

Paella at Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Paella at Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Paella at Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain

In a huge metal pan, over a wood fire, the chef at Mas del Doblons browned pieces of rabbit, chicken and pork, then added the green beans and red peppers, some white beans and saffron for colour. Once these were cooked he added plenty of water to almost cover everything and then the rice, giving it all a good stir and leaving it to bubble and absorb for around 20 minutes. We learned that the seafood that is often added to paella when you eat it in a seaside restaurant is a recent invention, as traditionally only meat would be used. We were all allowed to help the chef by giving the paella a stir, before it was left to rest off the heat, to ensure all the liquid had been absorbed. I can’t claim much credit other than the stiring, but when we finally sat down to eat the paella after much chatting and drinking, it tasted delicious.

Read More: How to make the best Paella in Castellon

Paella at Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Paella at Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain

If you go:  Mas del Doblons is located around 20 minutes drive from Castellón de la Plana and is open by appointment for visits to their living farm museum and gastronomic experiences such as Paella making. Reser Tours, a local travel agency based in Castellón can also arrange group or individual visits to this and other places in the area.

The oranges of Castellón

During our visit to Mas del Doblons we walked through the orange groves that surround the farmhouse. The coastal plain of Castellón has a warm, temperate climate that’s ideal for growing oranges and if you’d eaten one in Europe in the 1920s and 30s, chances are it would have come from Castellón. The farmers of this region grew rich on their monopoly of the orange production, until refrigeration and improved transport enabled oranges from other parts of the world to undercut the orange prices and production declined.

Read More: 10 fabulous things to do in Castellón

Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Orange groves at Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain

At the farm, we were shown how the strong root stock of a bitter orange tree would be grafted with different varieties of sweet orange – it’s even possible to have lemons and different orange varieties all on the same tree. If you’re looking for a foodie souvenir to take home, look out for the products made from local oranges, such as orange marmalade and orange liqueur which makes a delicious flavouring for cakes and deserts.

Mas del doblons in Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Orange liqueur from Castellon, Spain

Olive oil of Castellón

Olive oil is another major product of Castellón, with olive trees planted by the Romans wherever they established a road or villa. You can still see olive trees with thick, twisted trunks that are 1000 years old in the fields of Castellón and there are many co-operatives and olive factories dotted around the region. At Mas del Doublons, we saw the old mill stones that were used to grind the olives into a pulp, which was then pressed to release all the liquid. Once this was left to settle, the water and oil would separate and the oil could be skimmed off and bottled, with the oil from the first pressing being the richest and most full of flavour.

Read More: Highlights of Castellón, Spain

Olive trees in Castellon photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Olive trees in Castellon

Artizan food in Morella

Our tour took us to the walled hilltop town of Morella, a mecca for foodies since every other shop seemed to be selling dried sausages, pastries or local cheese. At the Guimera shop we found an Aladin’s cave of local produce such as nuts soaked in golden honey, artisan chorizo sausages and cheese studded with truffles that are found in the area.

Guimera shop in Morella selling local produce Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com
Guimera shop in Morella selling local produce Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Guimera shop in Morella selling local produce Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Guimera shop in Morella selling local produce

There’s lots of honey produced locally and there was a display of the cork hives that are traditionally used by beekeepers in the mountains. Truffles are also a big thing here, so it might be the place to treat yourself to a bottle of truffle oil, truffle paste or even cheese flavoured with truffles, all of which will give your plate of pasta that heavenly aroma somewhere between mushrooms and damp earth, although a lot more seductive than it sounds!

Read More: 10 fabulous things to do in Castellón

Guimera shop in Morella selling local produce Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Guimera shop in Morella selling local produce

As you pass the bakeries, pop in to buy some of the well known Flaon of Morella, a crescent shaped pastry that’s stuffed with a sweet mixture of soft cheese and ground almonds, then dusted with sugar and cinnamon.

Morella, Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Flaon of Morella, Castellon, Spain

Dinner at Hotel Cardenal Ram in Morella

If you’d like to try some of the local specialities of the region, book a table at Hotel Cardenal Ram in the heart of the walled town of Morella, where we had dinner. The hotel is set in a 16th century mansion, which as the name suggests was the family home of Cardenal Ram and ornamented with his coat of arms and wooden decoration under the roof line to indicate his status. In the elegant dining room, surrounded by artwork, we were served dishes from the tasting menu, starting with smooth foie pâté with an apple sauce and carpaccio of beef marinaded in nuts and olive oil. There were crepes filled with mushrooms and my main course was meltingly tender milk-fed lamb with truffles. The restaurant also organises gastronomic events that put the spotlight on local delicacies such as autumn mushrooms and truffles.

Read more: Discovering Morella in Castellon

Hotel Cardenal Ram in Morella, Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com
Hotel Cardenal Ram in Morella, Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Cardenal Ram in Morella, Castellon, Spain Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Cardenal Ram in Morella, Castellon, Spain

If you go: Visit the Hotel Cardenal Ram website and find more information about visiting Morella and things to see on the Morella tourism website

Dinner overlooking the beach in Benicassim

For a delightful end to our tour of the Castellón region, we arrived at Benicàssim for dinner at Club Palasiet. This stylish bar and restaurant, which had only opened this summer, with an enviable position overlooking the beach and the Via Verde, a path for cyclists and walkers that runs for 5.5km along the old railway line to Orpesa. With a view like this, the restaurant is the perfect choice for sitting outside on sunny days or summer evenings, although it also had an inside area for when the weather cools down.

Read More: An accessible guide to Castellón

Dinner at Club Palasiet in Benicassim Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dinner at Club Palasiet in Benicassim

We tried a selection of dishes including a starters of Ensaladilla Casamayor, a kind of Russian salad and the squid presented in elegant curls on a long plate. The lamb was served with a fruity sauce of apricot and we finished with a desert of syrup soaked sponge with a green tea ice cream, with all the dishes beautifully presented. There are good value set menus and a separate bar terrace where you can sit and enjoy the evening air with a drink. The location overlooking the sea provided a wonderful ambiance as the sun went down, a perfect place to try gourmet dishes for a great taste of Castellón.

Read More: 10 fabulous things to do in Castellón

Dinner at Club Palasiet in Benicassim Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com
Dinner at Club Palasiet in Benicassim Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dinner at Club Palasiet in Benicassim Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Dinner at Club Palasiet in Benicassim

If you go: More information on the Club Palasiet website. Terrace open for drinks from 8.30am, restaurant for lunch and dinner. Set menus €25 and €35 per person as well as a la carte dishes.

Visitor information for Castellón

For more information to plan your holiday in Castellón, visit the Turismo de Castellón website and follow them on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram – for holidays in Spain visit the Spain Tourism website.

Getting to Castellón

There are direct flights with Ryanair to Castellón Airport from Bristol (twice a week Wednesday and Sunday) and Stanstead (3 times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) and from there you can easily hire a car or get a bus transfer to the places mentioned. Alternative airports are Valencia to the south (50 mins), Alicante (2 hrs 30 mins) and Barcelona to the north (2 hrs 30 mins).

Click to see more photos from Castellon

Where we stayed in Peñiscola

At Peniscola we stayed at Gran Hotel Peñiscola, set right on the seafront promenade in front of a broad sandy beach that stretches right up to the old town peninsula which you can see in the distance and is 15 minutes drive away. My room overlooked the sea and pool area which had a paved sunbathing area and a second pool within a glass covered area which would be ideal outside the hot summer months. My bedroom was comfortable with a balcony and breakfast was served buffet style in the large ground floor restaurant with plenty of choice for different tastes. This is a large 437 room holiday hotel with a full animation programme of activities for all ages and is especially popular with families in the summer.

Gran Hotel Peniscola in Castellon

Gran Hotel Peniscola in Peniscola, Castellon

Find out more at Gran Hotel Peñiscola website | Check prices and book for hotels in Peñiscola

Read this review of Gran Hotel Peniscola from Traveltorecovery

Where we stayed in Morella

In Morella we stayed at Hotel Rey Don Jaume, a rustic 3 star hotel with 44 rooms in the heart of the walled town, full of authentic Spanish character. My room was charmingly decorated with colourful walls and traditional handwoven throws in a style that is typical of Morella, the striped woollen textiles being originally used as blankets to keep shepherds warm at night in the mountains. I had a fabulous view overlooking the rooftops of Morella and the surrounding countryside and even saw a rainbow when the sun returned after a late afternoon thunderstorm. Since the hotel is set into the hillside, there are quite a lot of stairs to reach the different levels including the breakfast served on a lower ground floor, but there is a lift for full accessibility. If you are touring by car you can’t park outside the hotel, as is the case everywhere in the walled town, but you can drop off luggage and then leave your car nearby in one of the car parks outside the town walls.

Hotel Rey don Jaume in Morella Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Hotel Rey don Jaume in Morella

Find out more at Hotel Rey don Jaume website | Check prices and book for hotels in Morella

Read this review of Hotel Rey don Jaume from Traveltorecovery

Another great hotel option in Morella is Hotel Cardenal Ram, set in a 16th century Renaissance palace that was the home of a cardinal of the same name. Rooms are elegantly furnished with antique furniture, some with views over the countryside and there’s a lovely restaurant serving local specialities where we ate.

Where we stayed in Benicàssim

In Benicàssim we stayed at Hotel Intur Orange, a large 4 star hotel with 413 rooms and nicely landscaped gardens and pool area. The hotel is the ideal choice if you are going to the FIB Benicàssim festival in July as it’s just 10 minutes walk away and it’s also a 10 minute walk from Benicàssim’s broad, sandy beach. This is a busy holiday hotel with lots of entertainment laid on by the enthusiastic young Animation team and will suit families, couples and groups of friends who want a fun holiday in the sun, with easy access to the  beach. My room on one of the upper floors had a clean, modern style in simple white decor and wood-look floor and a balcony overlooking the well kept pool area. Breakfast was served in the 1st floor restaurant overlooking the pool and there were a wide range of options to suit all tastes from the buffet stations.

Hotel Intur Orange in Benicassim

Hotel Intur Orange in Benicassim

Find out more at Hotel Intur Orange website | Check prices and book for hotels in Benicàssim

For those looking for an elegant spa hotel I’d suggest Termas Marinas El Palasiet Hotel which is set on higher ground with views of the beach, or for a smaller hotel with prime beach location look at Hotel Voramar, which also has a popular beach restaurant. (Note: we visited or passed by both hotels although I did not stay there)

Thanks to Castellón Tourism for hosting this trip with a group from Bristol Bloggers and Influencers. Some of the experiences described were provided on a complimentary basis.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Mellissa Williams
    August 23, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    I think Castellon is such an amazing area for food, it’s really a foodies paradise, isn’t it? The dinner at Hotel Cardenal Ram was scrumptious and the presentation at Club Palasiet was exceptional.
    Mellissa Williams´s last blog post ..Cauliflower Pizza, Von Shef 750W Food Processor Review And Competition Ends 16/09

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      August 24, 2017 at 10:32 am

      @Mel It was a fun trip and so much food to enjoy

  • Reply
    Jane Batt
    August 23, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    Even though it’s not long since I had dinner, this article is making me feel hungry. I particularly loved the seafood at Puerto Mar. Yum! Thanks for linking to my paella making video.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      August 24, 2017 at 10:31 am

      @jane Me too! I’d love to go back and have some more paella

  • Reply
    Zascha
    August 24, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    The seafood looks truly delicious, I love the photos as well. I’d love to go someday!

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      August 28, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      @Zascha Seafood is definitely one of my favouite things to eat in Spain

  • Reply
    Izy Berry
    August 24, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Sangria, jamon, paella, and seafood? Sign me up! I’ve never heard of flaon though but it looks good too!

  • Reply
    Stephany Steve
    August 27, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Yummm. Mouth watering photos. There should be a ban on posting these food images. Lol. The hotel and the surrounding environment seemed lovely to me as well. Pretty! 🙂

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      August 28, 2017 at 5:19 pm

      @Stephany Thanks, I did feel a bit hungry for some Paella myself

  • Reply
    Evan Kristine
    September 17, 2017 at 4:18 am

    I love this blog! Thanks for sharing this! Every food looks mouth watering! I want to taste the authentic paella! And the seafoods!

  • Reply
    Susan
    September 19, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    The photos are just superb. I would like to sample the food some day myself. Great post and thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Emma | Ladies What Travel
    September 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    What a great round up of all of the delicious things to eat in Castellon. It should definitely be on any foodie’s list to visit if they are in Spain.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      September 21, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      @Emma Definitely, I loved the food we ate!

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