Two things that the Spanish do best are paella and jamón ibérico – I was lucky enough to find both these in the Andalusian village of La Herradura during my stay there recently.
My quest for Ibérico ham was actually for my Mum as a little souvenir from my travels – plus I knew if I got some really good stuff I’d get mega brownie points. First, however, I headed to a chiringuito recommended to me by a pal for lunch with only one thing on my mind – paella.
Lunchtime: La Gaviota
It was a still, beautiful day – perfect weather for eating al fresco in such stunning surroundings. La Gaviota sits just on the beach after you cross the bridge heading west along the seafront. As the paella is made fresh, you need to order about 90 minutes in advance – so a little forward planning is required but it really is worth it.
When my paella arrived I was delighted – it was absolutely brimming with seafood including enormous prawns, muscles and squid. There’s nothing worse then when a paella is all rice but that was certainly not the case here. What struck me most was how succulent everything was – you could really tell it had been made fresh to order and all the different flavours came through to form what can only be described as an absolute party in your mouth.
Washed down with a couple of cold Tintos de Verano in the sun it was as close to a spiritual experience as you can get. And just look at that view!
Cost: Paella for two and four Tintos came to around 30 euros. The pan might look slightly on the small side in the picture but it was perfect adequate for two hungry people.
If you want to find out more about La Gaviota give them a follow on Facebook, you’ll be glad you did. As well as their standout paella they also do brunch and tapas.
The next morning I set off on my mission for jamón, and only the finest ibéricon would do. La Herradura hosts a small selection of markets, one of them being the a fresh food and flower market Monday – Saturday from 9am until 2pm. The Municipal Market is hosted in a traditional, almost church-like building on the seafront.
Straight away I found the vendor I was looking for, and he kindly pointed me in the direction of some jamón ibérico. I decided to go for the already vacuum-packed stuff as I was taking it back to the UK with me. A 100g packet cost 10 euros which seems pricey, but is a fraction of what you’d pay for premium charcuterie like this back home. Plus this variety was jamón ibérico de bellota – where the pigs are fed on acorns – which is considered the finest and most desirable grade.
Needless to say, my Mum was beyond pleased with her souvenir – she has a taste for the finer things in life so she knew it was the real deal. I was also extremely tempted to bring back some cheese but resisted (my last cross-Europe cheese run via hand luggage ended quite badly). However I did take a cheeky snap, how could I not?
I wish I had a little more time to look around the market when more stalls were open – I arrived bang on 9am and the only others ones trading at that hour were a wine vendor and a butchers. It would’ve been fantastic to see some fishmongers, especially right next to the sea – although as I strolled along the seafront it looked like a lot of locals fish themselves. Can’t say I blame them on mornings like this!
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