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Sep 8, 2011 05:49 PM

Buying Saffron in Barcelona

We'll be in Barcelona in two weeks and have promised everyone in Boston to bring back saffron. Where's a good place to buy quality saffron threads at a good price? We're staying Gracia, but of course will be running all over the city. Thanks!

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  1. couple of earlier threads on this topic:
    There are couple good mercats in Gracia: Mercat de l'Abaceria Central and Mercat Lessep.

    1. It has probably been mentioned numerous times here, but La Ribera in Born has good prices on saffron and other sought-after foodstuffs. You should be aware of the different qualities before you shop. (All red threads (best); some yellow threads, etc etc; we had a tutorial at a stand in Valencia's Central Market that sells only saffron but I've forgotten most of what I learned)

      Pulverize in your fingers before using; do not add whole threads to liquid, as instructed in many recipes.

      18 Replies
      1. re: erica

        I'll second La Ribera. It's a no-frills shop that seems to do a lot of business with restaurants. They keep their saffron stashed away in the glass-fronted booth where you pay for your purchases. The price was good and the saffron I bought there was really excellent. They also have good smoked paprika in ridiculously large containers. I asked a friend who went to Barcelona about a month ago to bring me a jar and I am now the proud owner of a lifetime supply of the stuff.

        1. re: erica

          La Ribera does a lots of restaurant trade and besides saffron have excellent well priced canned seafood, etc. If you are looking for some excellent and beautifully packaged food gifts, visit the nearby Gispert on c/Sombrerers. Worth just to browse. One of the best and largest food shop in Barcelona is Colmado Quilez on the corner of c/Arago and Ramblas de Catalunya in the Eixample.

          1. re: erica

            Please tell me what else to look for in Spain to buy as souvenirs! Thanks!

            1. re: smilingal

              As above, smoked paprika. Also excellent canned fish products. And if you can get it home, good serrano ham and manchego cheese.

              1. re: Nyleve

                Quite a few lists from various posters on this thread:


                For pimentón, smoked paprika from the La Vera Valley, look for the agridulce variety, as I have never been able to find this in the US. A new find for me a few months ago was jarred "tomato jam." Marcona almonds are easy to find, too.

                1. re: erica

                  Are the La Chinita and La Odalisa brands worth their salt? The former is La Vera origin, the latter looks like Murcia.

                  1. re: Mike R.

                    Oops, I meant to buy smoked and got sweet.

                    1. re: Mike R.

                      Smoked and sweet are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the best smoked pimenton is the sweet kind. I also like the hot kind, but the agri-dulce leaves me cold.

                      As for the La Vera vs. Murcia. The pimenton from La Vera is the famous smoked pimenton everyone talks about. Pimenton from Murcia is not smoked and made from different peppers.

                      And La Chinita is fine. It's the one I buy here in Canada. I don't know anything about La Odalisa brand.

                      1. re: SnackHappy

                        I'm confused - should I be looking for smoked pimenton from La Vera --- but is that one and the same as agriculce?

                        1. re: smilingal

                          Pimenton de la Vera will be smoked paprika. There are three major types of this smoked paprika: hot (picante), agridulce (bittersweet), and dulce (sweet). I say get some of each, though I use my agridulce the least.

                          1. re: debbiel

                            Thanks, debbie, for the lesson. It is now clearer - and I will be looking for the hot and sweet.

                        2. re: SnackHappy

                          La Odalisa is non-smoked pimenton from Murcia; it comes in a can so pretty that I cannot bear to throw them away.

                          When shopping in Spain, I concentrate on the smoked pimenton from the La Vera Valley (a lovely place to visit, with a historic parador in Jarandilla La Vera). I use the dulce most often, followed by the picante and then the agridulce, which is not easy to locate in the US. I have not noticed that the brand makes much difference, but I would check the date, usually printed on the paper label that seals the can.

                          1. re: erica

                            Good to know.

                            The cans are gorgeous and their dates are at least a year out through Spring 2014. I am a stickler for freshness and check the back of the shelf first.

                          2. re: SnackHappy

                            Pimenton de Murcia is made from pimientos ñoras, which are pretty hard to find and always expensive (they're a component of many rices/paellas).
                            I think it's great stuff to have, especially if you don't have time to soak dried ñoras for salsa romesco or xato.

                            1. re: caganer

                              Thanks for that last tip...I never thought of using Murcia pimenton in place of ñoras in Romesco. Noras are, indeed, quite pricey and not always easy to find in the US.

                              1. re: caganer

                                Indeed. I have some pimentón de Murcia in my pantry for exactly that purpose. It's more bitter than the ñora pulp, but it's very convenient.

                              2. re: SnackHappy

                                Hey Snackhappy - I'm headed to Barcelona next week. I'll keep an eye out for the La Vera. Any other recommendations regarding a must buy to bring back home to Montreal?

                                1. re: FrenchPeach

                                  Hello FrenchPeach,

                                  There are tons of great foodstuffs to bring back from Spain. I've brought back loads of canned fish and seafood. It's all very tasty stuff. My favourites are the berbrechos (cockles) which are impossible to find in Montreal. Mejillones (mussels), navajas (razor clams) and ventresca de bonito (tuna belly) are also well worth the added weight to your luggage. You can find some very high quality sardines as well as anchovies from Santona which also well worth it.

                                  If you're not sure about canned seafood, try it in one of the many bars that serve these as tapas. One of my favourites is El Xampanyet is the Born which has a great selection of canned food. It's a touristy place, but it's also very popular with locals. I've posted about it before. You can probably find those posts through the search function. Other worthwhile canned foods are white asparagus from Navarra and Piquillo peppers, although the latter can be found in Montreal at a reasonable price.

                                  Don't forget to get some salsa Espinaler to go with your seafood. It's available in supermarkets and colmados (gourmet shops) throughout the city.

                                  As for Pimenton de La Vera, it's easily found here at decent prices so there's no need to bring back too much of it.

                                  It's a shame we can't bring back jamon iberico or any other cured meats because I surely would bring back a whole ham. You can, however, sample the great hams of Spain while you there. I suggest you go to one of the Enrique Tomas shops and try all the jamon iberico de bellota you can get your grubby little hands on. Have them cut it fresh for you. The staff is very good and generally quite friendly and they'll let you taste before buying. Last time, I was there, I bought ham about twice a day 50g or 100g at a time. It was pure bliss.

                                  I'm not sure if you can bring back cheese or not, but there's some tasty spreadable cheese in jars made from Picon cheese (crema de queso Picon) that will make it through customs for sure.

                                  Enjoy your holiday. Barcelona is a fantastic food city.

                  2. Nothing wrong with La Ribera, in fact, everyone should visit that shop, it's a foodies delight!!! I could spend hours just looking at their olive bar.

                    However, the mother lode for buying Saffron or Pimento in Barcelona (or any other spice) is Angel Jobal, just up the street on C. Comerc 21. Their prices are slightly cheaper too, 5g was 13.20 Euros (vs 15 @ La Rib), you get a 10-15% discount if you buy greater quantities. AJ is an importer / exporter, so you have to buy large quantities... not a problem for me :-).

                    Either way, both shops are within 2 blocks of each other just by the El Born market. Between the two, you should find what you need.

                    When you are done with AJs, head over 1.5 blocks to Garcia de Pou (Passeig Picasso, 12-B) and pick up some nice little glass jars to pack your hoard into. They are a wholesale supplies shop, but if you play nice they might sell you small quantities.

                    When you are done with that, cross the park, take the tram to Glories for Carrefour (its in the mall by the phallic-shaped building) and you can pick up all the other European foodstuff you may need to take back!!!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Plbxx

                      By larger quantities do you mean a kilo?

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