The best thing I have ever put in my mouth, hands down. Needs absolutely nothing with it; it is just perfect on its own. Another name for Iberico is Pata Negra—named for the pigs with black hooves. These pigs are really good at storing fat, which allows the hams to cure much longer than most and through aging they develop a truly incomparable complex flavor, mixing salty and sweet. If you want the absolute best Jamon Iberico in the world, get the Jamon Iberico de Bellota, which is mainly fed acorns, which intensifies the marbling in the meat.
The meat is sliced very thin and eaten on its own; place it on your tongue, it will just melt away!
Where to get it: Look online for authentic Jamon Iberico from Spain.
Pairing advice: My favorite wine pairing for Jamon Iberico is Manzanilla or Fino Jerez.
Of course this is a common ingredient but some of the best olive oil comes from the Andalucia Region of Spain. My favorite variety is Arbequina, which is somewhat delicate, fruity, and has a really wonderful aroma to it. You can use these oils in so many different ways.
I love using it to finish dishes like fresh grilled or raw fish, salads, with my favorite salads of fresh tomatoes and cheeses. This oil can also finish sauces, being used instead of butter.
Where to get it: Found in specialty and gourmet shops, and usually pretty costly.
OK, so don’t get grossed out; these are not the anchovies that you remember from your youth. These are white anchovies, marinated in vinegar and then placed in oil. They are really delicate, not fishy at all. We love to rinse them gently in cold water and place them in our really good quality extra virgin olive oil. Then we place them either on crispy warm toast rubbed with fresh tomatoes and garlic, or on their own with olives and a little chili oil.
Where to get ’em: You can easily find boquerones online, on gourmet food websites or at Spanish specialty stores.
Pairing Advice: I love Txakoli wine with boquerones, so fresh and clean!
WOW, you have to try these; they are awesome. I have tried to make these so many times and come close, but I just can’t do it like the Spanish can. From Spain, these handpicked garlic cloves are pickled in heavily salted water. They are pure white, crispy, and don’t have any of that strong garlic flavor. It is truly the most amazing garnish on sautéed or grilled fish, soups, lamb, veal, or on their own to nosh on. Put them in a bowl with pickles and olives, next to a bowl of marcona almonds, and your guests and family members will be enthralled.
Where to get ’em: These little gems can be found online, on any good gourmet website or at any good Spanish store.
Pairing Advice: Beer, definitely beer!
- Jamon Iberico
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
To me, these are the best almonds I have ever experienced. They are a bit shorter, more round, more rich, and subtle than other varieties of almonds. Marconas come from Spain already roasted in olive oil and sprinkled with salt. I have actually never seen them any other way. My absolute favorite way of using them is pureed with grapes, cucumbers, olive oil, sherry, and vegetable broth; it makes a white gazpacho that when pureed completely smooth, turns into an addictive combination. These almonds are healthy, delicious, and great sprinkled on top of cooked vegetables, lamb, fish, and salads.
Where to get ’em: These almonds can literally be found everywhere, even at Costco!
Pairing Advice: My favorite is paired again with Amontillado Jerez or Albarino wine from Spain.
- Pickled Garlic Cloves
Tell us which other Spanish ingredients you use in the comments.