This was the second birthday surprise for my mum! Lunch at the famous Casa Julio in Fontanars.
The story goes that it was a traditional restaurant, then got an ambitious chef, they did really well, so well they got a Michelin star at some point, then got really stressed about the implications of having the star, and then gave it up and went back to just serving nice food but without the added stress of being in the Michelin guide.
Star or no star, we did want to go both for the first time and also back again—some of us thought we had been there before in one of the pre-star incarnations. But weren’t really sure, as when restaurants are “traditional” it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between them, specially when that visit was many years ago. Had we been there? Did it really matter? No!
How often do you pack two winery visits in a week? Very rarely, I’d say! But it was really insightful as we still had the previous experience fresh in our minds, and it was easy to compare styles between the two.
There are plenty of similarities: both are based in the Valencia province. Both are inland, in mountainous areas, way above 500 m over sea level. They’re independent (not owned by a big group), and they offer various types of products, from entry level to premium wines.
Judging by that, you could expect the second visit to be predictable, samey, boring… but it couldn’t have been any more different!
After our copious lunch, we walked, rather than taking a taxi, to the next stop in our journey: Pago de Tharsys, a winery.
I had initially tried to book a taxi to drive us there, but the driver that picked us in the morning swore that this would be a really nice and quiet walk, and it would be very good to help with the digestion after lunch.
We visited this small town last summer, and what better time to reminisce about those beautiful days of sun and blue skies than now that it’s so dreadfully dark, grey, cold and windy here in London!? 😩