12 Months of Gourmet Jewels from Spain
Welcome to The Spanish Food & Wine Festival Calendar 2018. We are proud to give you the definitive guide for Food and Wine Festivals in Spain in 2018, from January to December: seasonal product celebrations, wine tastings, international culinary summits, harvest festivities. This year is set to be another exceptional year for those foodies visiting Spain.
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández / ©ICEX
January: Spain begins the year with the tradition of the pig slaughter, a ritual in its own right that yields flavorful sausages and fresh cuts of either white pork or native Ibérico pork meat. This is the origin of Spain's sublime Ibérico hams. Two more dates for foodies in January: international culinary conference Madrid Fusión and the inauguration of the cider houses in Basque Country, with their classic menu of cod omelet, rib-eye steak and Idiazabal cheese with walnuts.
February: Shellfish reaches its maximum heights of splendor in the winter, and February is one of the best months for eating sea urchins, a treasure from the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Biscay and along the Galician coast. To shore up against the winter cold in Castile-León, head to the Festival Gastronómico del Botillo, a celebration of this singular dish that is made using different cuts of pork and spices. This is also the month for lamprey eel, a prehistoric animal revered in Galicia and the star of unique regional dishes. And in Cádiz you can enjoy flavors from the sea at its Ostionada and Erizada festivals.
March: The month of March arrives with an explosion of vegetables in the Spanish garden, specially in Navarre and La Rioja, including emblematic products like artichokes and asparagus. It also signifies the beginning of the all-too-brief tear pea season in the Basque Country, an exquisite morsel adored by numerous Spanish chefs who know how to play with the minute size, sweetness and singular texture of these garden pearls.
April: is the best month of the year for visiting the Albufera region of Valencia and trying any of the traditional dishes prepared with the slippery and flavorful eel. The most popular of these is anguila all i pebre, a dish made with olive oil, pimentón and garlic. Those who love pintxos should head to the Semana del Pintxo de Navarra this month, when this region's bars and restaurants offer authentic jewels of miniature cuisine. Another must in April is the Alimentaria international trade fair in Barcelona.
May: is the best month for visiting Córdoba to soak up its mixture of Jewish, Arab and Christian cultures; as well as its graceful, flower lined patios; and intensely flavorful dishes like salmorejo (a type of cold tomato soup) and rabo de toro (bull's tail). On the opposite side of Spain, in Basque Country, it is time to celebrate Idiazabal, the most emblematic cheese from this region. Another must in April is the Salón International de Gourmets trade fair in Madrid.
June: Summer has officially begun and with it the season for almadraba bluefin tuna, which are captured using a technique that has been practiced for millennia off the coast of Cádiz. This exemplary product is prepared with more skill in this Andalusian province than anywhere else in the country. June also plays host to an event that occurs simultaneously in numerous other countries around the globe: World Tapas Day. And for those who love Rioja wines, La Cata del Barrio de la Estación de Haro wine tasting event provides an outstanding opportunity to taste the best wines made in this town in La Rioja. And for a taste of one of the most traditional dishes in Castile-León, the lechazo, or roasted suckling lamb, festival is gearing up in Aranda de Duero, Burgos.
July: Summer in northern Spain is synonymous with top-quality fish, including the beloved bonito del Norte, albacore tuna captured using traditional methods that is extremely tasty when grilled. Pay special attention to its juiciest part, la ventresca (tuna belly).
August: Who isn't seduced by the sweet aroma of the fig tree. This is the month for figs along the Spanish Mediterranean coast and in Extremadura, where they become sweeter and sweeter by the day. This month also offers the possibility of sampling a tomato variety known for its important size and aromas, the tomate rosa. For cooler temperatures, make for Galicia, and specifically its Albariño Festival, which pays homage to the grape considered the queen of the white wines made in Denomination of Origin Rías Baixas.
September: is the month for peppers, different varieties of which can be found all over the country. The harvest yields favorites like Piquillo peppers, the extremely delicate crystal peppers and the famous Herbón peppers – more popularly known as Padrón peppers. The wine harvest also gets underway this month and there are regional festivals celebrating this milestone in different parts of the country. The celebration in La Rioja Alavesa, for example, pays homage to wine, pintxos, culture and nature.
October: is all about Spanish spices, thanks to this being the production season for our famous pimentón, and the harvest of the exquisite and limited saffron crop in La Mancha. Both of these spices play key rolls in numerous Spanish recipes, and the saffron flower harvest in particular is accompanied by a singular festival held in the town of Consuegra (Ciudad Real). The finest chefs in Spain come together at international culinary conference San Sebastián Gastronomika, shellfish lovers gather for the Fiesta del Marisco de O Grove (seafood festival) in Galicia, and Cavatast welcomes fans of this Spanish sparkling wine to this annual fair held in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (Catalonia).
November: is the perfect month for scouring the Spanish forests or markets for the season's first wild mushrooms: porcini, chanterelles, red pine mushrooms, black trumpet mushrooms, and others. This is also the best time to start savoring the seductive aromas of Spanish black truffles. Game starts appearing on menus this month in the form of hearty dishes made with partridge, wild boar, venison and more. Also Novemeber is a great month to enjoy olive oil tourism in Spain. The olive harvest kicks off!
December: Christmas in Spain has its own set of flavors and aromas, all of which are closely tied to sweets like marzipan, turrones (Spanish nougat), chestnuts, candied fruit and confections like marron glacé.
Translation: Adrienne Smith/©ICEX