It’s been a long time coming. We visited Valladolid way back in 2016 and it’s one of those blog posts that got put off time and time again. It’s a shame as this really is a great city to visit, just a couple of hours outside of Madrid in the region of Castile and León. It is justly famous for its award winning tapas restaurants and is within cork-popping distance of three different wine regions.
The reason for our visit was the annual gathering of Writers and Bloggers About Spain, also known as WABAS. Everyone stayed at The Book Factory Hostel which was a great place for such an event and we were very well looked after. There were team building events, talks on the importance of proofreading (yes, by me! Mrs Paella does a fabulous job here!!) amongst other things, and even a demonstration of Flamenco dancing by one of our members, Merilyn, who writes Food and Flamenco, although the site is currently under maintenance.
With three wine regions on its doorstep (Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Cigales) and others (like Toro and Tierra de León) not so far away, it’s hardly surprising that Valladolid has a reputation as a destination for vino. We all had a great night wine tasting at Vinoteca Señorita Malauva where all of our senses were challenged surrounded by some eclectic decor. Cheese and chocolate were on hand to accompany a selection of the region’s wines. Blindfolded tastings were all part of the experience and I’m sure everyone found a new product they loved. I’ve avoided the pictures of friends participating in the sniff tests as they look like they are doing something illegal! There was even blue wine to sample, although this was just some novelty product with silvery bits in it giving an overall psychedelic effect. Somehow I got a reputation for drinking it which has stuck amongst the WABAS crowd! That’s not been helped by the fact that I have since found proper blue wines and written about them. You can read more here. If you think that was weird though, you should have seen the green wine!
We also had a night walking tour in the rain! Valladolid is a very historic city and amongst its notable events is the marriage in 1469 of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon. There is some stunning architecture around too, but that might be better enjoyed on a dry night or a sunny day. Cervantes lived in the city between 1604 and 1606 and may well have put the finishing touches to Don Quixote during his stay. A museum is located in his old house. Our visit was all too brief so we will have to return and learn more about the city another time.
Valladolid is absolutely bursting with tapas bars, so we went out and ate lots of award-winning dishes! Perhaps one of the more famous options is Los Zagales whose creations court both admiration and controversy. Where else could you eat something that looks like a Cuban cigar? And for extreme political incorrectness you just have to try their most celebrated dish, Obama in the White House, which is potatoes, pitch black after being soaked in squid ink then fried, mushroom sauce and egg served in a gleaming white ceramic dish. This was voted the best tapas in Spain in 2009 and was created to celebrate Obama’s arrival in the Oval Office.
Whilst I was busy with WABAS business, Mrs Paella went off with a friend to explore some of the surrounding area. They learned all about Joanna the Mad at the Santa Clara convent in nearby Tordesillas. There wasn’t time to visit the Museum of the Treaty of Tordesillas and discover more about the division of newly discovered territories in the Americas and Africa. The inclement weather prevented a wander around the town. Another reason to go back as it is a destination (and a blog entry) in its own right!