Barcelona - what food to buy for bringing back to the USA
I am going to be in Barcelona next month and aside from eating in local restaurants, I always like buying local specialties, that are not available where I live.
I am also wondering if anybody has experience in bringing legally Spanish hams for personal consumption? Is that possible at all? Does it have to be vacuum packed, bought only at certain approved locations?
So what would you buy that can withstand transatlantic trip in a suitcase?
All pork products, in whatever form, cannot be legally brought into the U.S. Read this thread for information on what can and cannot be legally brought into the U.S.-- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/353902.
But there are a lot of good things that can be legally imported--
Apparently all seafood is ok and Spain has a lot of high quality canned goods. For example, good quality canned tuna packed in olive oil and jars of bonito also perserved in olive oil. Beberechos (baby clams), muscles in escabeche, Navajas (razar clams). Cuca is the brand I like best and can be purchased in most grocery stores. Cans of piquillo peppers--small, sweet roast red peppers that are delicious stuffed with goat cheese or on a cracker by itself.
All hard cheeses are legal so you can bring back Manchego cheese or other local cheeses that you like. Manchego cheese is great with Membrillo=which is fruit paste made from quince.
On calle Porta d'Angels, there are many turron shops (during th holiday season) and find all sorts of delicious turrones==chocolate, marzapan, yemas (made with egg yolks), etc.
I went to Spain this past October and I brought back with me a couple of different pork products (a must!!), amazing olive oil, and saffron...oh and you can never go wrong w/ a great bottle of spanish wine...ENJOY!
If you try to bring ham or chorizo or morcilla, you will be screwed when you come through
customs at the airport. That thread linked above (remove the . from the end if your
browser gets a 404) is extremely accurate about the possible troubles, in my experience.
My last trip I brought back a big pack of piment d'espelette (which is about 1/10 the
price over there) a variety of dried beans (if you happen to travel to one of the bean eating
regions in Spain, you'll see why), a few pounds of cabrales and picon cheese, and lots
of turrón. I intended to bring back a pack of pimientos de padrón to use for seeds
to grown my own, but I forgot.
If you visit the main market in Barcelona you will need an extra bag for the wealth of great products available. For an amazing experience get there around 5am and have "breakfast' with the vendors. Fish never tasted so good at 5am!
Great aged sherry vinegar is a must. Think great balsmic but with more nuance and layers of flavor. You'll get what you pay for.
Another item is mojido which is air-cured loin of tuna. Think Italian/Swiss braeseola but with the taste of the sea. It's pricy but when sliced paper thin it is a great first course. Try some at a tapas bar first, it runs about 40E a kilo.
Remember the restictions on bottles of fluid on the return flight. Wev'e always brought back olive oil but refuse to pack it in luggage in case it breaks. We'll be in Madrid in March but I'm hesitant to bring anything in carryon.
If you can find some of the artisianal rice from Valencia that's another item you won't find here.
As stated above: saffron is 1/5 the cost there and the canned/packed fish can be extraordinary (again, you get what you pay for)
Good dining. . .
I've always brought back cana de lomo which is the cured loin of pork and the cute beagles at the airport were none the wiser. Don't know if I'll risk it this time.