Cuisine and sights of the region of Murcia, Spain
This autumn we headed to southeast Spain, to the Region of Murcia, home to the cities of Lorca, Cartagena and the capital, the city of Murcia. It is probably fair to say that this is a ‘hidden’ corner of Mediterranean Spain, sometimes overlooked in favour of its better known neighbours, Andalucia to the south and Valencia to the north, writes Andrew Forbes (The Luxury Editor).
Yet that is most definitely changing. In recent years the South and Mediterranean coast of Spain is increasingly being recognised for its wealth of culinary traditions, exceptional produce and innovative, sophisticated restaurants.
Spain’s food revolution started in the north, with award-winning Michelin star restaurants emerging in Catalonia and the Basque Country. These have historically been the gastronomic heavyweights of Spain – now it’s the turn of the south.
As Spain’s Capital of Gastronomy for 2021, the region of Murcia is now enthusiastically tempting visitors with a ‘1001 flavours’.
Where To Eat
It’s a fascinating region ranging from the beautiful Mediterranean Costa Cálida coast, through semi-arid landscapes, lush rice fields, abundant orchards to vineyards leading up to pine forests and mountains. Here’s our guide to what to order and where to eat.
Here’s our recommendations of where to eat in the region of Murcia:
Cabaña Buenavista Restaurant
2-star Michelin Chef Pablo González and his team have an extraordinary culinary research lab where they experiment and create new dishes. For guests at Cabaña Buenavista Restaurant, about 15 minute’s drive from Murcia city, that means an extraordinary storytelling experience, where each dish takes you through the region of Murcia, from the aromas and flavours of its pine-clad mountains of the Sierra Espuña across the fertile plains of rice, vineyards, orchards, to the Mar Menor and beyond to the Mediterranean.
This spectacular new dining and entertainment complex, on the edge of Murcia’s capital city, will surprise, and amaze. Odiseo brings together the showmanship of Las Vegas, and the extravagance of Dubai, with the contemporary gastronomy of the region of Murcia. This is where your food desires are promised to be satisfied.
This temple to fun and food includes a notable fine-dining restaurant with Michelin star fine-dining by Chef Nazario Cano. Although the décor is striking and bold, the cuisine can more than standout.
For a more informal and Mediterranean vibe, then head up to the stunning roof terrace for cocktails and gourmet sharing plates.
Then if you’re feeling lucky, maybe head to the glamours casino and try your hand at one of the gaming tables. Hope Lucky Luck will be with you!
What better way to get a taste for the region of Murcia, than through its wines? The boutique winery, Lavia Bodegas, in the Bullas wine area is the place to go for a personalised wine tasting with gourmet cured hams and cheeses – you won’t feel guilty as you’ll have enjoyed a walk through the vineyards, getting plenty of exercise.
Cartagena on the Mediterranean coast is one of the most emblematic cities of the region of Murcia. It’s a favourite now with cruise itineraries as it offers an array of restaurants for foodies, as well as a wealth of history including spectacular Roman ruins.
Universal Restaurant is where you can live the Mediterranean lifestyle, eating al fresco on the terraces, starting your culinary adventure with a local Colinas 5 gin & tonic, or a chilled glass of Juan Gil white wine.
Exploring the region of Murcia is a pleasure. Authentic Spanish villages punctuate the diverse landscape. If you are tempted to head to the fascinating and picturesque holy city of Caravaca de la Cruz (north-west of Murcia capital), then stop off for lunch in the rural hamlet of Cehegín, where you’ll find La Almazara, a charming restaurant, housed in a former olive oil mill. Specialities include home-cooked rice dishes, paellas and Segureño lamb.
What To Eat
Unmissable flavours – here’s what you must order when travelling in the Region of Murcia:
Tapas are an integral part of the food scene in Mediterranean Spain. Typically, they can be rustic and simple. Other times creative and gourmet. Marineras Murcianas is a great example of a small bite that is truly traditional yet prepared with the best ingredients for a culinary treat.
Essentially this is ‘Russian salad’ made from eggs, potato and tuna mixed with olive oil mayonnaise is a Murcia speciality. Here it is truly gourmet, served on a crispy ‘rosquilla’ cracker, in the shape of a loop, and topped with anchovy.
‘Cordero Segureño’ is a rare breed from the region of Murcia. It’s a delicious, tender dish, especially when slow-roasted.
Mediterranean Spain is the place for rice dishes, and in Murcia, the local rice grown in Calasparra has been recognised as amongst the finest in the world. It is often prepared to a traditional fisherman’s recipe, using a flavoursome stock made from rock fish, local, aromatic ñora red peppers, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil.
The ‘ensalada murciana’ is a favourite side dish or tapa made with local peeled tomatoes, large spring onions, tuna, and cuquillo black olives from the region of Murcia.
Chato is a rare breed pig from Murcia. Look out for cured meats like lomo as well as tasty sausages.
Murcia Meat Pie
This small, round ‘pastel del carne’ is the street-food of the region of Murcia. Spiced meat and chato chorizo are wrapped up in swirled, light puff pastry.
Murcia Al Vino Cheese
This soft and creamy Murcia artisan goat cheese has designation of origin protection (PDO). Matured for 45 days, it is macerated in local red wine, giving the rind a distinctive colour and aroma.
This is something I had not come across before in Spain. It seems to be very specific to the region of Murcia. Aromatic leaves from the region’s lemon trees are ‘wrapped’ in a batter of flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and yeast, and fried in olive oil. Once golden brown, they are removed, and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. But remember, don’t eat the leaf! It’s there to add essential oils to the crispy batter.
Fruit & Veg
Long before Andalucia dominated Europe’s growing of fruit and vegetables, Murcia was Spain’s kitchen garden and orchard. Irrigated by the river Segura, these lands have long produced some of the most priced, PDO produce for gourmet chefs, from pears and peppers to rice.
Unique coffee from the ancient port city of Cartagena, a café Asiático is coffee mixed with sweet, condensed milk and the regional Licor 43 liqueur, finished with lemon rind, coffee beans and cinnamon on top.
There is a myriad of small volume wineries across the region of Murcia’s three DO appellation regions of Yecla, Jumilla and Bullas, creating innovative new wines. One of the most popular red wine grapes is Monestrell, and for white, expect Macabeo, Airen and Moscatel.
Estrella de Levante Beer
This is the emblematic beer of the region of Murcia; a refreshing, light Pilsner-type lager with a distinctive malt flavour that dates back to 1963.
What To Do
The Region of Murcia also offers a wealth of activities in nature, from sailing and diving to hiking and cycling.
Find Out More
The Region of Murcia is offering all visitors free travel insurance, including Covid-19 coverage.
For inspiration and more information on where to stay and what to do in the region of Murcia, take a look at their website.