From Ferràn Adrià cuisine revolution, media attention on the molecular gastronomy movement has put Spain on the radar of foodies everywhere – not only for the experimental and innovative techniques of Spain’s avant-garde chefs, but also for the traditional cuisine that conforms the background of any good chef. But what makes Spanish cuisine so contrasting and rich? Here we bring you 8 Spanish unique ingredients and among the most coveted in the world.
1. BLACK TRUFFLE, THE BLACK DIAMOND
Spain was home in 2015 to 70% of the world’s production of Tuber Melanosporum. These prized “black diamonds” are nowadays being produced at an increasing rate of about 45 tons per year, tantalizing gourmands with their crinkled black exterior and pungent earthy smell. An excellent way to experience it first hand is traveling across the truffle remote regions in eastern Spain like the lovely Matarranya.
2. JAMON IBÉRICO, HAPPY PIGS
The treasure of Spanish cuisine, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota – with its sweet, nutty, not-too-salty attributes – is wholly Spanish with its wafer thin slices melting in the mouths of foodies everywhere. Global consumption fluctuates around 40 million kilos per year – about one kilo of Ibérico per Spaniard. Don’t miss the opportunity to try it and learn all about Iberian ham.
3. TREASURED BLUEFIN TUNA
Utilizing ancient 3,000 year-old Almadraba techniques in the most venerable fishing method known to man, Spaniards have long been able to catch these prized silver-backed “bulls of the sea.” Considered the best worldwide in terms of quality and taste because of the high fat content and healthy size. To learn every detail and taste some of the bluefin tuna, you could join one of our small group journeys with CÚRATE Trips.
4. LARGEST VINEYARD ACREAGE WORLDWIDE
Spain boasts an industry booming with unprecedented quality, thrill, and value. Robust reds, crisp whites, refreshing rosés, luxe sherries, and sparkling cavas can all be found within the 69 designated Spanish wine appellations, with climates bridging the soggy green vineyards of the north to the sun-baked vines of the south. We craft your customized wine tours across Spain.
5. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL HOMELAND
Spain produces 50% of the world Extra Virgin Olive Oil (aka EVOO). It would be a grave understatement to say that Spain is home to great Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In fact, Spain produces the vast majority of premium olive oils worldwide, with the ranked top four currently all from Andalusia.
6. WORLD’S FINEST SAFFRON
One of the most precious spices, the so-called Red Gold, comes from La Mancha; 250,000 red stigmas from the Crocus sativus L. flower are needed to obtain a kilo of saffron. The price: €2,500 for 2,2 lbs. The care with which the entire process is done – from the manual monda process to the slight controlled toasting – gives as a result one of the most magical spices with a strong and distinct bouquet and the marvellous natural capacity of pigmenting. If you want to firsthand witness the whole process we can make all the arrangements, October is the season (harvest calendar varies from year to year). Get in touch with us to start planning it.
Neither Russian nor Iranian nor wild. 70% of the caviar consumed in the world is produced in fish farms in China. The best caviar is obtained from 18-year old sturgeon females species Acipenser naccari. Practically extinguished from the rivers of southern Europe, this species was introduced in the 1990’s in a fish farm in Spain that today produces one of the best-rated caviar in the world. Located in Riofrío, a small town in Granada province. The farm was built in 1963, in the Guadalquivir basin, for a family trout business. But Riofrío has a similar latitude to the south of the Caspian Sea, the waters run from mountains that exceed 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) of altitude, they enjoy a good temperature and do not need to be artificially heated. The reproduction is totally natural and they are organic certified. The price of Caviar de Riofrío, depending on the style of production and the quantity, varies from €38 to €1,384.
8. ASTURIAS, THE LAND OF CHEESE
There are thousands of caves hidden in the hills in Picos de Europa – the Natural Park between hills and the sea, offering us tempting glimpses in this green northern Spain region -, and for centuries residents have been using them to age cheese. Asturias not only offers the widest ranges of cheeses in all Europe, but an artisan blue Cabrales was considered to be the most expensive cheese ever sold in the world in August 2019 and even listed in the Guinness World Records. A restaurateur paid €20,500 for 2.5 kilos of Cabrales. Once you travel to Asturias, be ready for a perpetual cheese-and-cider festival.
Photograph: Luis de las Alas (Expansión)