Is it possible to go to Spain without trying churros and hot chocolate?
Well actually yes, because that’s exactly what happened when I went to Barcelona several years ago. However this trip I was determined not to repeat this oversight, despite my current commitment to weight-loss, healthy eating and generally looking after my body. Being a Spanish institution churros and hot chocolate is available everywhere. Knowing that I would only participate in this indulgence once on my trip I took some time to look around the different options. My eventual choice of the Chocolaterià Valor was based on the fact that it is a derivative of a well known quality chocolate manufacturer, which suggested they probably know what they’re doing. Also, it appeared to have the thickest and richest looking hot chocolate available. Whether my choice was the best is of course debatable, but it was utterly decadent, which was sufficient for me.
Presented with a menu of various chocolate beverages I was salivating before I even submitted my order. I selected the small version of the traditional “Chocolate a la Taza”. Service was efficient, despite the business of the café. To say that I was served with a cup of hot chocolate and four churros would be factual, but mis-representative. This was the thickest, richest, and glossiest hot chocolate I have had since my university days when a very good friend introduced me to Italian-style hot chocolate at Brunetti.
What I really enjoyed about the hot chocolate at Valor was the lack of sugar. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t sweet, more that this was more subtle than I’ve had previously. This allowed the flavour of the actual chocolate to dominate, which I actually found preferable. The churros looked and tasted amazing. They were beautifully golden and, despite having been deep fried, not at all greasy. It was so indulgent that, even though I enjoyed every moment of consumption, I couldn’t finish the entire portion. I’m not sure whether it was the richness or my diet-conscience that prevented me from doing so. Either way, a full portion of hot chocolate and churros definitely requires commitment!
I can also attest to the quality of their coffee. Really strong and richly flavoured. My café con lêche was served to me black and then warm milk was added in front of me to my tastes. It also came with a small Valor chocolate which was delicious. However, fans of herbal tea may be well advised to try somewhere else. My camomile tea left much to be desired.
Incidentally, my trips to Valor proved to be highly informative. Three years ago on a trip to Mexico I purchased what I have always referred to as a “wooden curiosity”, as pictured below.
I bought it having no idea of its purpose, I just thought it was beautiful and interesting. When I went to purchase some hot chocolate mix from the sales section in the Valor café, I noticed one of these on display. Through a sequence of my appalling spoken pseudo-Spainish, a degree of pantomime and some subsequent research I now know that it is a molinillo, which is a utensil used to mix and froth hot chocolate.