Take a lesson from us, don’t assume “How easy is this “, when after a 28-hour journey you stagger off the plane, see an Uber sign, and then bang in the address you have for your Airbnb. When a huge €79 displays on your screen, you go with it without questioning the driver and hop in. About an hour later we did indeed arrive at a Calle Mayor – but not the one where we were staying, the fare to our accommodation should have only cost €30! Apparently, every small town has Calle Mayor and some Uber drivers only see the lucrative fare. To add further insult to injury, it cost us a further €20 to finally arrive at our intended destination!

The following morning, we headed to the trade show looking forward to a long-awaited reunion with some of our suppliers and to see what else might excite us. Crowded would be the most accurate description. We were also amazed by the sheer number of beer stands. If you consider New Zealanders to be keen on beer, then we are very much in sync with the Spanish – though they are also huge fans of vermouth, cider, wine, gin, potato chips, jamon, beef and pork rind.

Fittingly, shortly after arriving, we came across our potato chip supplier, Torres, makers of the very popular truffle, smoked paprika and extra virgin olive oil chips. They have added a couple of new flavours, one of which is fried egg. You might think it couldn’t possibly translate into something edible, however, we can assure you it does, and Phil was particularly enthusiastic. We will order some to arrive later in the year, and we are sure you will like them as much as we did.

We were busy sampling many products as we wandered around and a memorable hour was spent with Vicens, our confectionery supplier, tasting their new releases. We have no idea how they continue to innovate so deliciously year-after-year, but we promise you won’t lack for variety in the almond and pistachio department this coming Christmas.

A little later in the day, we discovered our quince paste supplier has added an appealing variation with orange – fabulous.

Jamon de Bellota (acorn-fed cured black pig meat from the Iberian peninsula) is always on offer. There is considerable variation even at that high level, so it is always interesting to taste, and we continued this research in the restaurants we visited noting the same.

Naughtily, as we did keep passing a few pork- rind stands we eventually gave into temptation. There is something extremely moreish about chunks of crunchy pork rind when you’ve been on your feet for a few hours. We’ve now tried many more than we should have (so that you won’t have to) and thankfully, the shelf life is short, so importing them is not an option. The food counter at the famous department store El Cortes Inglès offers a huge compartment of pork-rind loose, alongside an equally huge selection of loose potato chips. Making it possible for you to readily purchase your own weight of these two equally beloved Spanish passions.

A far healthier focus for us was some of the delicious El Navarrico range of beans and vegetables. Expect to enjoy more of these as soon as our order arrives.

The brothers from La Chinata paprika are always a delight to catch up with, and this year they have made a spicy sauce. They have the challenge of a reduced harvest alongside the increasing demand and popularity of their wonderful smoked paprika.

We also heard that like so many producers Ortiz sometimes finds supply of raw materials are a challenge, combined with the escalating price of olive oil. Drought has been a big issue for many of our producers.

Orders have been placed and new and exciting artisan gourmet discoveries will be revealed, as the year unfolds.

We departed Madrid for France to enjoy the fabulous launch of the en primeur 2022 Bordeaux and an education in Cognac along with the sophisticates of Bordeaux (think Château Petrus), courtesy of our friend Liz Wheadon of Glengarry – but you can follow her for those wonderful stories and wines.


Sold Out