Huelva – Shopping for Food

Due to its position between the mountains and the sea, Huelva province has a wealth of ingredients, which find their way to the table via the many excellent food shops around the city.

I love to wander around markets so my first stop was the Nuevo Mercado del Carmen at 2 Avenida Italia, www.mercadodelcarmen.com

Google map here.

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The market is very modern and spacious as the current building it occupies was only opened in 2010. There are over one hundred stalls, many of which specialise in just one thing.

A few stalls sold only fresh tuna and nothing else.

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Thankfully the stocks of locally caught Atún Rojo (Atlantic Bluefin tuna) have been recovering in recent years so you don’t need to feel bad when you eat it.

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Gambas blancas de Huelva (Huelva white prawns) are considered to be some of the best in Europe. They are fantastic just simply char-grilled and scattered with sea salt.

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Coquinas (wedge clams) are also very popular.

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The local variety of cuttlefish is known as a ‘choco’. People from Huelva like them so much that they are themselves known as ‘choceros’. A typical preparation is Chocos con Habas, cuttlefish with broad beans. They are much more photogenic when they are in the sea.

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Huelva province, particularly the area around the town of Lepe, is famous for its strawberries which are exported all over Europe. In fact Spain is the world’s largest exporter of fresh strawberries and Huelva is responsible for 95% of national strawberry production.

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In the autumn mushrooms are readily available. Common varieties are the Gurumelo (amanita ponderosa), or the Níscalo (lactarius deliciosus). The variety in the picture are called Angula de Monte (cantahrellus lutescens) a kind of Chanterelle which are great fried with garlic.

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Another very famous product from the Sierra de Huelva, particularly the towns of Aracena and Jabugo, is cured ham. Consequently there are many shops specialising in ham dotted around Huelva. I went to Carnicería Juanma on Calle Méndez Núñez carniceriajuanma.com to stock up on some Ibérico de Bellota to take home.

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There are three main classifications of ham; Ibérico de Bellota (from pigs fed only on acorns and grass), Ibérico de Recebo (from pigs raised on acorns and authorised feed), and Ibérico de Pienso (from pigs raised on feed only).

The world’s most expensive ham (€500 a kilo), from a rare breed of pig called Manchado de Jabugo Ibérico Puro, is from Huelva province. The high price tag is due to the ham having to be cured for six years.

The best deli in town is just around the corner from the ham shop. Los Angeles at 17 Calle Concepcion is a wonderland of top quality ingredients. I picked up a bag of Fabes de la Granja (butter beans), some tins of Ventresca de Atun (belly tuna), Membrillo (quince jelly for cheese) and some Aciete Virgen Ybarra (an olive oil from Seville province). They also stock Jamon Cinco Jotas which is one of the best cured ham brands around.

I was in Huelva just before Christmas so Los Angeles had a lot of hampers on display. If anyone is wondering what present to get me, I’ll have one of these please!

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