We had many amazing experiences during our family trip to Spain. However, there were few that we enjoyed as much as we did at Barraca Toni Montoliu. Coming here is much more than visiting a restaurant to eat paella. In here you get to harvest the ingredients you will use, then cook and go for a tour of the farm while the food is being prepared. Even my five year old son was included while cooking.
In December my family and I had an epic trip to Spain that lasted over six weeks. During that time I can say that I found less than a handful of things that are so amazing that I would recommend to absolutely everyone as MUST DO things to do for families.
Visiting Barraca Toni Montoliu was without a doubt the best one of them all.
I worked with Valencia Tourism to get ideas of things I could do with my sons. Maximo was the one who took care of all my questions. He highly recommended this as one of the most traditional experiences you can have in Valencia. At first I was really excited but when I checked out their website, I couldn’t understand what we would be doing there.
We went anyway because Maximo had been awesome at giving us suggestions so I decided to trust him.
What To Expect When Visiting Barraca Toni Montoliu
Barraca Toni Montoliu is a farm and restaurant. It is located about fifteen minutes from Valencia center. You can easily get here by public bus or taxi.
It is right on one of the most important agricultural areas around Valencia City. Their number one product is oranges. However, artichoke, olive and bean farms are also quite common here.
The owner and chef, Toni Montoliu, was a farmer before he decided to open up the restaurant. For anyone born and raised in one of the farms around Valencia, making paella becomes part of your blood. However, just as it happens everywhere else, some people do it better than others, and such was the case for Toni.
He finally decided to open a restaurant on his farm at 40 years old. This is a place where locals can spend the day with the family.
What I loved the most about this place is that it is much more than a place to eat paella. Here, you also get to cook it with Toni.
FUN FACT – Toni was invited to be part of the Italian version of the show Master Chef for his paella mastery.
Our Day’s Activities
1. Cooking paella – We experienced cooking it outside on a wood burning stove top or grill.
2. Ingredients and the wait – When we arrived Toni was arranging the stove. While we waited for him to finish, we were given drinks and lots of peanuts. When it was ready Tony took us to the farm so we could pick some of the ingredients ourselves.
3. Farm animals – After picking veggies and before the cooking action started, we were able to see the farm’s barn. It’s tiny and the animals he has are mainly goats for the milk and cheese. There are also donkeys that you can ride.
4. Preparing the paella – This was the most fun! Toni started cooking paella at the age of four so we was thrilled to include my five year old son in the cooking process.
5. Horse carriage ride – The main thing that we learned about paella was that the broth is the most important part. It is important to prepare it well and can’t be rushed. This process is usually 45 minutes or more. So, as we waited Toni took us on a horse carriage ride down memory lane.
What is a Barraca? Barraca is the name of the original types of homes that were in rural Valencia and where paella was first cooked.
Toni owns an authentic Barraca. The design of the house is still as it once was.
The family lived downstairs. The upstairs was the storage area for food. These houses were built around the 18th and 19th centuries. There was no refrigeration back then. They took advantage of hat cold part of the house as their refrigerator.
Unique fact – The Barraca also had something like a garage area attached to the home where animals lived.
Our next stop was a huge orange grove. Gratefully, we happened to be there at the end of the orange and mandarin season. This allowed us to pick tons and tons of the sweetest mandarins.
6. Time to eat – When the ride ended our paella was almost ready. So we were taken to the restaurant. But before our paella, we got some other dishes. First we got tapas. This is part of a tradition throughout Spain.
Our tapas consisted of four different, traditional Valencia dishes.
Then we got some salad. Paella is never served without salad! Plus it was made with ingredients from Toni’s farm.
Finally! The paella. We were stuffed by the time they served it but we ended up devouring our creation.
It was by far the best meal I’ve had during our entire Spanish trip! The best part was that my sons, who are extremely picky when it comes to food, agreed with me the whole time.
7. Donkey ride – By the time we finished eating we had already spent four hours at the farm. But we still weren’t ready to leave. So we decided to go on a donkey ride.
8. Sad to go –The only reason we left was that we made plans to visit another attraction.
Leaving the city for a day ended up being one of the absolute best family travel experiences we have had in a long time.
Even if you only have two or three days to explore Valencia. I recommend you make an effort to come here.