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What to bring back home from SS, Madrid, Barcelona?

I've been lurking around the absorbing each and everyone of your posts and reviews. The postings have been tremendously helpful and in the past week, I've managed to get bookings for most of the recommendations here: Akelarre, El Cellar, Comerc24, Arzak. I am still researching and would love some recommendations in Madrid. They don't need to be star restaurants nor the latest and greatest. I am afraid of over-doing the "moleculars" and not properly experiencing the "purity" of each of the regions' cuisine. Any recommendations from previous posters?

Secondarily, I'd like to enquire about what I should bring home which represents the best that each region has to offer and share with friends and family? Local produce which can either be shipped home or hand carried and won't spoil in days / weeks? Would iove to bring back a leg of jamon but i think its would likely break the bank and would be hard to get through customs in Hong Kong! However, I will be certain to bring back some jamon (trust they keep well). Any gourmet shops / specialty shops in either Barcelona, Madrid or San Sebastian area?

My itinerary is as follows: Arrive in BCN, drive immediately to Girona (2 nights), back to BCN (3 nights), drive back up to Figueras (3 nights), back to BCN and fly out to Bilbao, driving straight to San Sebastien area (4 nights), drive down to Madrid (3 nights). Seems like a strange itinerary but its basically tailored to suit the restaurant bookings. Have yet to find 1 "must have" meal in Madrid and other more down to earth BUT great regional cuisine places.

Many thanks in advance,

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  1. It's been a while since I've been to Spain so hopefully other posters will chime in with recommendations, but here are a few tips.

    First, make sure you can carry meat into HK. In the US, meat (including jamon) is not allowed through customs, regardless of whether it's a large or small packet. That said, I've been successful getting meat by a few times (small packages only!) but I wouldn't count on it.

    Check out La Boqueria market in Barcelona -- lots of tasty goodies there, though many are perishable. For me, easy to bring home items from Spain are saffron, paprika (many different flavors like sweet, bittersweet, etc.), turron, and cookies. An interesting experience for me was to try the horchata sold on the streets -- in Spain it's tiger's eye milk, very different from the rice & milk concoction here in the US.

    1. From San Sebasti√°n: Idiaz√°bal ahumado (smoked cheese). If it goes hard, do cut it into very thin sheets.

      1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/810621

        More than just about Granada: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/740782

        As I wrote before here:

        Saffron (red threads); marcona and other almonds; Pimenton in 3 varieties (hot, agridulce and sweet); Ortiz ventresca tuna and the myriad other tinned seafoods aabilable in any supermarket; Tolosa beans; Bomba rice; terra cotta cazuelas; membrillo; Torta del Casar and other cheeses; Iberian ham; Tortas de Aceite crackers; tinned Navarra piquillo peppers; tinned Navarra asparagus; Espinaler sauce for the tinned cockles and other shellfish; local honeys and jams.

        Here is a partial list I posted for someone else here not long ago; these are just some of the things that I often bring home from Spain; they are not particularly linked to Madrid but are easy to find in that city.

        " My list is more or less the same as yours. I will also look for tinned piquillo peppers from Navarra. Last time I bought cans of asparagus from the same region. In addition to the Cuca brand of seafood, mentioned above, I think, look also for Cabo de Pena brand which has satisfied me in the past. I want to bring home chipirones and almejas, as well as tuna. And also the white anchovies, which I fell in love with only recently at a Spanish wine event..

        And mojama, vaguely similar to bottarga..but usually made from tuna..

        A new revelation to me are the dried beans from Spain. I bought a bag of Tolosa beans from Kalyustan that were so good and creamy, even after a couple of years of languishing in my cupboard! I never have luck with dried beans but these were so good that I plan to bring them home, and also look for other types of beans..

        White beans from the Segovia area, too--Judiones de La Granja.

        I am sure you know these, but Marcona almonds; saffron; and olives will be on my list..... "

        Here is the original thread, with lots of shopping info contained within:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/740782

        In Barcelona I would check out La Ribera in Born, for excellent prices on saffron and canned items, among other things. There are 3 varieties of pimenton de la Vera, or smoked paprika; the agridulce, or sweet-sour is not easy to find outside Spain but I always buy a few cans of each variety.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/806203

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/801190

        2 Replies
        1. re: erica

          Ditto on La Ribera in Born. As Erica says, fantastic prices on saffron, spices, conserves, etc. We brought home a lot of gifts from there on our recent trip.

          1. re: erica

            Casa Gispert is worth a trip, also in Born.

          2. Spanish olive oil is amazing. I came across a street fair of artisan food products and bought 2 500 ml bottles for around 7e. each after tasting it. I was looking around El Norte food grocery and found a brand a normally buy in the US for less than 1/3 of what I pay (and I bet it is fresher too). Tinned bamboo clams in natural broth were very good but I wasn't fond of some octopus in oil - but it was very cheap and other brands might be better. In general I tried a variety and found the ones "au natureal" most satisfactory for my taste.

            1 Reply
            1. re: estnet

              When flying out of Barcelona, at the last minute I bought a bottle of olive oil at the airport's duty free shop. (Silly of me, I know.) It still tastes better than any other olive oil that I buy at my local stores, and I kick myself for not buying any before that.

              If you are buying anything from La Boqueria, make sure to price shop. The places deeper inside the market are often cheaper than the ones closer to the doors.

              I ended up bringing back chocolate for most of my friends. Had some beautiful chocolate dipped candied oranges from a little store and some fun bars from Xocoa.

              1. re: JuanDoe

                The map EXTREMELY helpful. Will save to my android phone which I can see when I am in situ!

                Great resource JuanDoe!

                1. re: JuanDoe

                  What a great resource - I've bookmarked it so I can use it when I go to Madrid! thanks