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May 21, 2008 08:04 AM

Best canned food of Spain

I was reading a Mark Bittman piece on Barcelona which said:

"Spain produces what is probably the highest quality and most expensive canned food in the world, and many tapas bars rely on it."

I was hoping to do a bit of food shopping this weekend in Barcelona and wanted to get some feedback from you. What are some of the best tinned foods you can buy (preferably from a good supermarket) in Spain?

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  1. I like quail in escabeche (I got this in Avila o Segovia), berberechos, navajas, ventresca de atun (tuna belly)

    1. I really like the brand CUCA. In terms of the quality-price ratio, it is hard to beat. For example, in their escabeche marinades you can actually see the whole spices that are used. Olive oil, not vegetable oil, is used. There is never sand or grit in their shell-fish products. I'm just saying this because you'll be confronted with millions of choices.

      Things I love are: tuna in olive oil, muscles and sardines in escabeche, beberechos (don't really like the canned navajas), alemjas, canned baby artichoke hearts

      Corte Ingles has a huge selection, I am sure. Also every local market, like the Boqueria, has stalls that sell pickled goods (look for the vast assortment of olives). These places also specialize in canned goods.

      Also you might want to pick up a small bottle of Espinaler sauce to mix in with your canned shellfish. It is pretty traditional to put a spoonful of this stuff on beberechos, alemjas and navajas.

      1. Try Colmado Murria, on c/Roger de Lluria 85 , and Colmado Quilez on Rambla de Catalunya 63.

        9 Replies
        1. re: SillyDisciple

          These all sound quite nice! I'm taking notes because I wanted to bring a few things back to the UK so suggestions are very welcome!

          mielmato - I'll keep an eye out for CUCA. Brand suggestions are very useful as I can only imagine how wide the selection will be.

          1. re: isabelle94

            Berberechos! Put them in a dish with a little of their own juice, drizzle with a mild red wine vinegar and sprinkle a bit of pimenton dulce on top...this is the way the locals do it. Enjoy!

            1. re: shiromaguro

              Thank you :-) Eating these as we speak.

              1. re: fame da lupo

                I LOVE the 'mejillones en escabeche' CUCA (marinated mussels).

                1. re: JuanDoe

                  Can you give us some ideas for the best places to shop for these items in Madrid, apart from Corte Ingles?

                  What would be the best covered food market for a visitor to explore, in Madrid?

                  1. re: erica

                    * SERVI at Calle Fernandez de los Rios 53. Nearest Metro: Argüelles (exit Guzman el Bueno). Wide array of canned food.
                    * Mercado de Maravillas at Calle Bravo Murillo 122. Nearest Metro: Cuatro Caminos. Open Mon-Fri from 9am to 2pm & 5pm to 8pm. Saturday: 9am to 2pm. Best time to go around noon.

                    1. re: erica

                      My favorite covered food market is Mercado La Paz, entrances on Lagasca and Ayala 28 in the very upmarket Salamanca quarter. No tourists to speak of here, just well-heeled locals doing their daily morning grocery shopping.

                      High quality items-good assortment of cheeses, artisan breads and Iberian ham at La Boulette. One can buy the ibérico sliced in 200 gram packages, handy for a picnic. And La Boulette often runs 3 for 2 specials (three packages for the price of two). Recently they were running a special on Joselito Gran Reserva paleta, 200 gram package, 23 euros, or 3 for 2,
                      and 200 grams of lomo, 8 euros or 3 for 2.

                      La Alacena in La Paz market also sells canned goods (conservas).

                      For great browsing for all sorts of delicacies, also go around the corner to Mantequerías Bravo, a beautiful shop on Ayala 24, founded in 1931. High prices in tune with the posh neighborhood, but beautiful presentations. One of this neighborhood's classic stores. Then gaze at the beautifully presented fresh fruit across the street at Fruterías Vázquez across the street at Ayala 11.

                      For Asturian, Galician and Cantabrian canned goods in Madrid, if you do find yourself in the Salamanca quarter, you might want to head up to Casa Méndez on Ayala 65, at the corner of General Díaz Porlier (metro-Lista). Open from 10:00-2:30 and 5-8 pm.

                      If you like anchovies, Don Bocarte, anchoas en aceite de oliva virgen, from Santoña (Cantabria), is a well regarded brand. Don Bocarte also sells ventresca de atún rojo.
                      Certainly not cheap, but they do sell Don Bocarte products at De Gusto on don Ramón de la Cruz 69, which is a block north of Casa Méndez.

                      For canned berberechos & clams, I like the Peperetes label from Carril, (Pontevedra) Galicia.

                      1. re: Maribel

                        Your tips are really the very best stuff but, sadly, are usually very expensive too.

                        1. re: Maribel

                          Maribel, Yet again, I am in your debt! I just noticed that you responded here and to my lechazo thread. A million thanks for all of the fabulous information. I will respond to that thread when I have a chance to do some more reading and return with intelligent(??) questions!

                          A big thank you, also, to Juan Doe, for all his help so far..

            2. For tuna you should buy "ventresca". I had a fantastic tapa in Madrid and the ventresca was unlike any canned tuna I have tried before. My Spanish friend took me to El Corte Ingles and suggested I purchase the Palacio del Oriente brand ventresca in olive oil. It was expensive, about USD8-10, and it is sold in a locked plastic container that the person at the register needs to unlock for you. Here's more on ventresca:

              2 Replies
              1. re: Mari

                Ortiz brand ventresca de bonito del norte is fantastic as well. 8 euro for a small tin in El Corte I. in Madrid, $10-15 on Amazon back in the States.

                1. re: fame da lupo

                  Note that Ortiz cans different types of ventresca...the red box--bonito del norte-- is different than the yellow box, which is yellowfin.

              2. As recommended from the above post, go to Colmado Murria or Colmado Quilez. Both are large emporiums of canned and preserved product at very good price, also very good wine selection. I always pick up a big bag of giant Asturian white beans. Even with the weak $, they are about half of what I pay for them in the states. Another good though smaller shop (great prices) is on beginning of c/del Comerc, across from the Mercat del Born. The shop's name escapes me right now.

                2 Replies
                1. re: PBSF

                  The place you're referring to I think is La Ribera, on Plaça Comercial 11.