Following my posts on Spanish and Latin American drinks, in this series I’ll talk about Spanish food. In this first post, I’ll recommend four food products that I love.
Let’s start with a very Spanish product: olive oil.
Puerto de Las Villas Extra Virgin Olive Oil
23310 Mogón, Villacarrillo (Jaén)
Puerta de las Villas is the commercial brand of the Andalusian cooperative San Vicente de Mogón in Jaén, home to some of the most prestigious olive oils in the country. Started In 1966 by 100 farmers this become a leading cooperative with more than 1,300 members.
Its flagship product is Early Picual Extra Virgin olive oil and I think it’s a joy to even the most exacting palates. The design of the bottle, like all its products, is very good. The olive oil itself has many green aromas, and is slightly bitter, spicy and astringent. It is very elegant and harmonious.
Pack of 6 bottles: 75 euros.
I usually buy the pack with an assortment of six oils and sometimes during a meal with friends enjoy a spontaneous oil tasting. The variety is impressive. Early Picual, Early Picual Organic, EVOO Picual de envero, Picual organic, EVOO Frantoio Ecológico and Coupage.. They have a 12 bottle special too.
Double pack of 12 bottles: 88 euros.
In any list of Spanish delicacies there has to be a place for cheese. The other day I tried this very lightly cured goat cheese and oh my word! (Thanks Ana and Antonio).
10710 Zarza de Granadilla, Cáceres (Extremadura)
Quesos de Granadilla is a family project that was conceived 10 years ago in Zarza de Granadilla, a small village between Hervás and Plasencia.
Here, following the family tradition, they transform the milk of their goats into cheeses of high nutritional value.
My two favorites are these two soft goat cheeses: carbonero cheese (with charcoal) and paprika cheese (with paprika from La Vera).
I know that many people think that the combination of a good red wine and cheese is an unbeatable pairing. But since these are raw goat’s milk cheeses with a short maturation period, I recommend pairing them with a good cava or a glass of champagne. Or if you prefer white wine, a Verdejo would be a good choice. For dessert this cheese would go fantastically well with a Vi de Gel (ice wine) from Somontano.
Price: 7.80 euro.
Monte Nevado, 40270 Carbonero el Mayor, Segovia
You might think to yourself, how can he think of recommending a Mangalica Ham, if Spain is home to the most exquisite ham from traditional acorn-fed pigs?
Well, firstly, it is well-worth tasting. The aromas of nuts is a blast!
And the pig itself is appealing, I doubt you’ve seen one before. The most salient characteristic of the Mangalica pig is that its entire body is covered with abundant thick blond hair, which is why it is colloquially known as “the pig-sheep”.
The breed was in danger of extinction in its native Hungary where the number of sows had dwindled to about 30. But in Spring 1991 Spanish businessman Juan Vicente Olmos came across the breed and since that year its survival has not only been guaranteed, but its reproduction has expanded to meet demand from Spanish customers.
Mangalica Ham Price: 7 euros; 85 grams.
Calçots with Romesco Sauce
Calçots online, 43204 Reus, Tarragona
A week ago we enjoyed a Calçotada, a typical Catalonian food event, in Salamanca. I ordered the calçots online and we made the romesco sauce ourselves.
The calçot is a white onion that is cultivated in a special way so that it is elongated. The calçots are roasted over a live flame and when they are burnt on the outside they are wrapped in newspaper and placed on a tile. The most traditional way of eating them is by removing the burnt outer layer and dipping the edible part in a sauce called “romesco”. made with roasted vegetables and nuts. Here’s the recipe:
In Spain the ready-made sauce can be bought online together with the calçots.
Allow for about 12-15 calçots per person. Accompany with a good cava or white wine.
Price: 50 calçots units; 9 euros.
Price: Romesco sauce 1 kg; 13 euros.