I always like to take a full suitcase home with me and these are my favourite places to stock up on my Spanish ingredients…
The old Mercado de San Anton used to be really quiet with only a handful of unexciting vendors. Now there are several modern artisanal stalls including a fishmonger’s…
…a bacalao seller…
…and a greengrocer’s.
And my favourite…
Octavio (Advanced A), Second Floor, Mercado de San Anton, Calle Augusto Figueroa 24, Tel. 91 593 0241, www.lacharcuteriadeoctavio.com
They have fantastic Bellota (acorn fed) ham here, some of the best I’ve ever eaten (A+), along with some great Iberico (B), all vacuum packed (‘embassado’) and ready to travel.
From the same stall, I like to get a quarter wheel of Manchego Curado and some Membrillo (quince jelly) to go with it. A lot of other gourmet specialities are available too.
On the next level of the market there are several innovative tapas stalls which are filled with throngs of people every night, making it a great new place to go in the already vibrant Chuecan food scene.
Reserva y Cata, 13 Calle del Conde de Xiquena, www.reservaycata.com
A wine shop specializing in top quality local wines. I’ve always found them very friendly and they’ll let you taste wines if there’s a bottle open.
I usually get a bottle of my favourite red; Juan Gil 12 meses, a Monastrell from the Jumilla DO.
Patrimonio Communal Olivarero, 1 Calle Mejia Lequerica, www.pco.es
A cooperative with a huge selection of olive oils from every region of Spain. Given that Spain is the biggest producer of olive oil in the world and produces more than second place Italy and third place Greece put together, there is a lot to choose from (over 150 brands).
A lot of the oil here is available in two or five litre cans but most of it comes in litre or half litre bottles, and there are also presentation packs with several varieties of strange shaped bottles which would make nice presents.
Most brands proclaim their oil is made using artisanal methods, in particular first cold pressed cold-extraction. Prices range from €3 to €30 for 500 ml.
The shelves in the shop correspond to the regions the oils are from, but you also need to know your olive varieties and which ones you like. Here are some of the most common types:
Arbequina is very common and is grown in Aragon and Catalonia. The olives are small and are also good for eating.
Cornicabra is from Toledo and makes up 12% of Spanish production.
Empeltre, grown in Aragon and the Balearics, is also good for eating.
Hojiblanca, my favourite, is from Cordoba and is famed for its slightly bitter taste.
Manzanillo or Manzanilla aka ‘little apples’, is from Seville. It’s a prolific bearer of larger fruit and is grown worldwide.
Picual from Jaen has strong but sweet fruit. It’s good for eating and is responsible for 50% of Spanish production and 20% worldwide.
I got some bitter cloudy (unfiltered) Hojiblanca ‘Cortijo la Muralla’ from Ruen in Cordoba which was delicious drizzled on good bread.
The building it’s in is called the Casa de los Lagartos. If you look up at the roof you’ll see why. After you’ve seen this next place you could pop down the road to see Palacio Longoria on the corner of Calle Fernando VI and Calle Pelayo. Architecture post here.
La Duquesita, 2 Calle de Fernando VI, www.laduquesita.es
This picturesque pasteleria is just a few doors down from the olive oil shop above.
‘The Little Duchess’ has been selling great cakes and chocolates and other baked goods, since 1914.
The staff are very friendly and will let you take pictures inside when asked.
Several scenes from Spanish period movies have been shot in here.
Horno San Onofre, 9 Calle de Hortaleza, pasteleriasanonofre.com
Their window displays of unusual breads are quite photogenic.
La Vieja Castilla, 3 Calle Gravina, www.laviejacastilla.com
A cool little deli where they often have food and wine samples for customers to try.
Cacao Sampaka, Calle Orellana, www.cacaosampaka.com
This modern shop is a gourmet chocolateria with a big selection of flavor combinations that I find very difficult to resist. Their café is supposed to be good too according to Lonely Planet.
Poncelet, 27 Calle Argensola, www.poncelet.es
A cheese shop with more than 300 varieties of cheese, over 80 of which are Spanish. This is a rival for La Boulette in the Mercado de la Paz in Barrio Salamanca which also has over 300 cheeses in its range. Open from 10.30 Monday to Saturday.
Aldaba, 4 Calle Belén
A homewares shop with a big selection of kitchenalia. I always find something to add to my collection.
Isolée, 19 Calle Infantas, www.isolee.com
This is a very cool deli, clothes and home wares shop. I have to stay away from here or I’ll blow all my wages.
Not food related I know but while we’re on clothes Calle Fuencarrel has lots of fashion stores. In particular I like Mercado de Fuencarrel, which has several great little shops stocking independent designers. I also drop in to Carhartt at 3 Calle Augusto Figueroa nearby.