Marcona Almonds from Spain
Dense, meaty, sweet and about ten times more flavorful than almonds we grow in the States. Naturally sweeter than American almonds, the Spaniards kick up the flavor of marconas by skinning the almonds, lightly frying them in oil and then sprinkling with sea salt.
Artisanal Manchego from Spain
Manchega milk is very fatty, which results in a rich, full flavored, fragrant cheese with a subtle, salty, tang on the finish.
Manchego is delicious simply cut into wedges and eaten as is. It's also a plus in the kitchen. You can grate it on to casseroles, soups or salads. It will bring a taste of the Spanish heartland and a swirl of Spain's colorful cuisine to your table.
The wheels we're currently cutting into are very buttery and rich, with a meaty-rich finish. An excellent sheep's milk cheese.
Galician Cockles--berberechos, in Spanish—are tiny, coveted clams, hand shucked and tinned in simple brine. The amount of handwork to get this done is extraordinary, and the care taken is evident as soon as you open the tin. The placement of each clam, the wonderful sweet sea aroma and the flavor and texture—ocean sweet, meaty, tender and succulent—are clearly a labor of love. Just open the tin and serve, like it's done at the best Barcelona tapas bars.
Smooth, sweet, with wonderful fruity high notes, this is an easy cheese to like. It's great if you're looking for something simple to set against a bunch of complex, intense foods. Big and fruity flavors. There's a srong umami-like savoriness in the finish.
This is spicy, rich, smoky salami. It's made with natural casing, pure pork and plenty of Spanish paprika and garlic. It's hung from rafters to cure in a room dried by the smoke of a smoldering fire. Try it as is, with some good cheese. Slice some in a paella. Add chunks to a pan of roasted potatoes. One of my favorite dishes is an omelet made by softly scrambling a few eggs with a handful of diced chorizo sweated in the sauté pan.
Fruity, flaky and distinctly nutty, Zamorano has a slight saltiness in the finish that leaves your lips smacking for more. It's the kind of cheese you want to flank with complements. I recommend a dry Fino sherry and some exceptional Portuguese quince spread. The wheels we are currently cutting into have a juicy mouth feel with big, buttery, tangy notes and a smooth creamy finish.
Tuna Stuffed Piquillo Peppers
The Ortiz family's great bonito tuna, stuffed in smoked piquillo peppers, doused in a bit of tomato sauce. A classic Catalan tapa, as delicious as you’re imagining right now, ready to eat right out of the tin.
Traditional peppers of the Basque region, piparras are yellowish green in color with a mild, half-pickled flavor. They look a little like almost-ripe string beans but they taste like a slightly spicy sour pepper. My favorite way to eat them is like they do at pinxos tapas bars in Basque country, skewered in a U shape with an anchovy. They're great as a Spanish antipasto with olives, cheese and some chorizo. You can also sneak them into martinis or Bloody Marys.
Rustic Bakery Sourdough Flatbreads
Rustic Bakery's flatbreads look like crackers—flat, crispy, crackly—but the comparisons stop when it comes to flavor. Made from sourdough bread leavened with wild yeasts for eight hours, a practice rarely taken with most crackers, they are far more flavorful. Olive oil & sel gris (grey salt) are the simpler crackers, seasoned with sea salt. Two-seed lavosh is sprinkled with white and black sesame seeds and has nutty tones.
And for dessert...
Barcelona Chocolate Bar from Vosges
Here’s your ticket to Spain. Not literally—this chocolate bar is made in Chicago—but it’s about as close as I’ve come recently.
Milk chocolate, hickory smoked almonds, a bit of sea salt. Each bite is slightly salty, a little crunchy and ends, achingly, with a long, silky smooth finish as it melts its way across your tongue.