LA MASIA DEL VINO: The Church of Good eating

La Masia Del Vino makes quite a visual impression when you slip inside from the pedestrian street where it is situated just behind Valencia’s MUVIM Museum and the main library, which was once Europe’s first mental asylum I believe, and usually stuffed to the gills with stressed out students; so not much has changed.

La Masia has the appearance of an old reformed church or theatre consisting of a single long narrow room with an elevated area at the end where superior diners used gaze down over the balustrade upon the plebeian masses and at the waiters panting and wheezing up the stairs, although it’s recently been abandoned, along with the mysterious semi-cellar below it, when dark, satanic acts may quite possibly take place, a fantasy that is encouraged by a single candle burning up upon a raised shelf.

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It also has an upstairs room which looks like a kind of gallery from which you can look down even further upon the rest of humanity and at the waiters who have to ascend roped together in teams.

The stained glass windows in the ceiling also give a sacred or classical effect, as do the colourful lanterns and oil paintings on the walls, which apparently are changed on a monthly basis, not to mention the ceramics, the wooden beams and panelling and the red stone floors (even though I just did).

One of the paintings especially catches the eye; that of a woman breast feeding, which is quite disturbing from the point of view of perspective.

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There are tasting menus for 2, 3 or 4 people at reasonable prices, 16.50€ the last time I looked, and the more of you there are the more sustenance in proportion goes onto the menu.

All the food is of high quality with an eye for detail and presentation and the quality of the service is excellent; brandy is served in warmed glasses as it should be, and vinegar comes in a spray, as it always should have done.

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Right opposite the restaurant is a very interesting historical building; the 15th century Silk Art College. In the 18th century there were 3,000 silk workshops in Valencia, employing half the population until in 1865 a disease killed off all the silkworms. Even today many Valencian children keep silkworms and feed them (or forget to) with the leaves of the mulberry trees which can still be found in many parts of the city.

The restaurant also has a bar area should you just want to pop in for a snack and a glass of their excellent Valencian wine, which is bottled especially for them.

The restaurant toilets are also worthy of mention, not because you will need to use them after eating here nor because you will make new and interesting friends if you hang around in there long enough, but because of the unusual, colourful, ceramic washbasins, which encourage even the most unhygienic of us to wash our hands, if only for the sense of sophistication and luxury thus imbued.

Should sophistication not be part of your nature, you could always order the meal of the day for 12.90 euros.

La Masia (farmhouse) del Vino (divine sustenance) is located in Calle Hospital 16 (Telephone 96-3921566). It closes on Sundays (or maybe they hold church services!)

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