A Christmas Gift Guide for Spanish Gastronomy Lovers
The holidays are approaching fast. Fortunately the joy of giving has never been easier, especially thanks to specialty shops and platforms like the online Foods and Wines from Spain Amazon store, which puts these products only a click away. Yes, Spanish gastronomy can enchant the palates of novice foodies and expert gastronomes alike, offering something for everyone – even that person who's impossible to shop for. This is particularly true thanks to this country's huge range of quality, gourmet products and ingredients, which come in every size, shape and delightful design.
Text: Adrienne Smith/@ICEX.
Gold, frankincense and... Spanish olive oil!
Spanish extra virgin olive oil is an easy and always-welcome gift for any occasion and recipient. A boss, a co-worker, a friend, a loved-one – there's no such thing as having too much quality extra virgin olive oil from Spain. This is especially true when it comes to one of these fantastic products.
Award winning Málaga olive mill Finca La Torre has released a special "One Twins Pack" featuring two, single-variety extra virgin olive oils: Hojiblanca and Arbequina, each made from the very best olives that were gathered by hand on the first day of the 2017 harvest. Apart from the unbeatable quality of the product, these limited-edition (only 1,000 units produced) olive oils come in specially designed, 200-milliliter bottles with wood stoppers, which evoke the elegance of a luxury perfume.
In addition to being organic, eco-sustainable and biodynamic, the "One Organic Arbequina" and "One Organic Hojiblanca" olive oils are also wonderfully fruity, with notes of freshly cut grass, apple and banana, imbued with the freshness that only early-harvest, green olives can provide.
For another show-stopping olive oil, try L'Estornell Quincentenary extra virgin olive oil from the Lleida-based company Veá. This superb, limited edition product is made from over 500-year-old trees whose age has been authenticated through local records and family archives. The oil is sold in handcrafted decanters with glass stoppers, in the style of those used throughout Spain during the explorer’s lifetime. The numbered decanters come in elegant gift boxes made from Galician pine.
Bring on the bubbly: cava sparkling wine
Cava is another sure bet for a holiday gift, and this year is a particularly exciting one for giving Cava as this denomination has just premiered the new category of "Qualified Single Estate Cava" for the most premium of these Spanish sparkling wines. Currently only nine Spanish wineries can use this new classification for certain wines sourced from specific estates. One of these is Codorníu, which boasts three Qualified Single Estate Cavas: La Fideuera 2009, El Tros Nou 2009 and La Pleta 2009. These three, single-variety wines are available as part of the winery's fantastic Ars Collecta collection, which also includes the emblematic Jaume Codorníu 2012 and 467 (2007) – the latter an exquisite blend of the three Qualified Single Estate Cavas.
Juvé & Camps is another iconic Cava winery that has presented a Qualified Single Estate Cava this year. La Capella 2007 is made from Xarel-lo grapes and aged for 108 months on the fine lees, yielding a deeply complex, yet delightfully crisp Cava, with intense notes of stone fruits layered with aromas of brioche and walnuts. The other Spanish wineries to debut the Cava de Paraje Calificado, or Qualified Single Estate Cava classification this year are Alta Alella (AA Mirgin Exeo 2013), Torelló (Gran Torelló and 225); Recaredo (Turó d’en Mota 2005 and Serral del Vell 2006); Freixenet (Can Sala 2007); Vins el Cep (Claror 2012); Gramona (Celler Batlle 2006); and Castellroig (Sabaté i Coca 2010). Needless to say, any one of these special sparkling wines would make an excellent gift.
Creative mixology from Spain
For creative chefs and mixologists alike, the line of dehydrated fruits from spice experts Toque, makes the perfect tasty and decorative gift. Presented in a festive glass jar with a wide metal lid, this limited-edition holiday product is packed to the brim with a mixture of quality, 100% natural, dried citrus fruits. The mixture is a combination of pink grapefruit, blood orange, bergamot and lime slices; the company also sells separate packs of kumquat rind, whole Persian lemons, and strips of yuzu, lemon and Valencian orange.
These colorful and aromatic fruits are not only nice to look at and smell, but they also make the perfect addition to drinks, holiday desserts and other recipes, as well as more exotic options. For cocktail lovers, the company also sells a range of fantastic and attractive mixology-themed gift boxes, perfect for jazzing-up a vermouth, gin and tonic, vodka, rum, etc. with a range of dried "botanicals" and spices like orange blossoms, cardamom, hibiscus flower, ginger, tonka bean, star anise, mace, cubeb pepper, yellow roses, and liquorice.
And if you prefer to leave your "mixologing" to the experts, Galician winery Pazo de Señorans has released a lovely new design for its Aguardiente de Orujo and Aguardiente de Hierbas liqueurs, the former of which forms part of Denomination of Origin Orujo de Galicia. The elegant half-liter bottles are a nod to the traditional and artisanal nature of these brandies, with their glass stoppers and vintage labels. But the contents of these attractive bottles are also a testament to the quality and craftsmanship that goes into them. The silky and intensely aromatic Aguardiente de Orujo is made from 100% Albariño grapes from the Rías Baixas wine region, while the Hierbas version is made using dry herbs and seeds; the sweet and bitter chamomile notes with nuances of anis and coriander seeds lend it a distinct crispness. Both products are double-distilled according to the traditional elaboration process, using copper stills over a direct flame.
Palate-pleasing variety; cheese, canned fish and shellfish...
If you want to be absolutely sure that your gifts will hit the holiday spot, so to speak, you can always opt for a variety pack that offers a range of gourmet items in the same attractive package. Spanish company Dehesa de los Llanos is also known for its cheeses, including the Gran Reserva PDO Manchego Cheese, which became the only Spanish cheese to ever be named the all-around "Champion" of the prestigious World Cheese Awards in 2012. And what could be better than a gift of wine and cheese, you may ask? Nothing, unless it is accompanied by a tin of house-made, pickled partridge; and a jar of aromatic lavender honey. Combined into three different gift packs and elegantly presented in the company's signature black and gold boxes, any of these are bound to win stomachs and hearts.
For those who love the flavors of the sea, Frinsa has created a beautiful line of four gift packs containing different selections of their quality, canned and bottled fish and shellfish from the Rías Gallegas. The "VIP Sálvora" pack is the most complete in terms of variety, featuring seven different canned products: mussels in escabeche, cockles in brine, albacore tuna belly in olive oil, razor clams in brine, bay scallops in scallop sauce, octopus in olive oil, and albacore tuna in olive oil. In keeping with the company's dedication to using excellent raw materials and sustainable fishing practices, these selections offer a wonderful way to sample the flavors of northern Spanish waters and this country's age old fish and shellfish preserving traditions.
A sweet twist: turrón
We've left sweets until last on our list, as the holidays are, by nature, packed with chocolates, pastries, special desserts and breads, candies, and confections of all types. But here is a sweet suggestion that combines the best of tradition and innovation into one of Spain's most beloved holiday confections: turrón – but this time with a twist. La Chinata’s Turrón de Chocolate con aceite de oliva virgen extra is chocolate nougat made using extra virgin olive oil with a crunchy layer of Marcona almond praline, and a touch of cinnamon and lemon zest.
Taking things one step further, famed Spanish chef Albert Adrià offers a line of fantastically creative nougats created annually in collaboration with venerated Catalán company Torrons Vicens. Try the "Lunar Tread Nougat" made with rosemary truffle with crunchy hazelnut and raspberry – another twist on a holiday tradition that is sure to bring a smile to anyone's face this season.
Spanish gastronomy can enchant the palates of novice foodies and expert gastronomes alike, offering something for everyone – even that person who's impossible to shop for