Christmas gifts, Stephie's tips and ideas
Yesterday, I received a nice link from one of my friend María José in Spain for a delicate Spanish product she´s promoting. Actually, she bought a small bakery a couple of years ago and let keep alive a 140 years brand, famous in the Vasc country as well as the whole Spain: Mantecados Salinas.
I thought, that is a very good gift idea for this Christmas. Something different, personal and unforgettable.
There is so much wonderful hand made products still made with love and passion throughout Europe. They are the soul of our countries, of our cultures and I think each of us should have the opportunity, one day to taste something exclusive. Christmas is the treat time by excellence, when sharing and caring has also some magic inside!
So here you can find a couple of ideas from places I know in Madrid, Paris, and Haarlem!
San Miguel Market: with the renewed market, it´s just the hit to go, have drink with a tapa, and buy some delicatessen products.
Mantequerias Bravo: In Ayala street, you will find a concentration of the best gourmet shops in Madrid! The Bravo one, is a walk in the past, when grocery stores were also delicatessen providers. This is one of the most typical Spanish shop, where you will find the best products of the world.
Embassy: at the end of Ayala street, already facing the famous Paseo de la Castellana, this shop is also a delicatessen product provider. I do not appreciate so much the shop, but love to go to the restaurant in the back for a light lunch with my friend Paloma. My best choice, the candy and chocolate branch located in the same street in front. This is the only place where I could fine all kind of sweets, candy and chocolates from everywhere! And at the best quality!
El Corte Inglés club gourmet: Paseo de la Castellana or Serrano, an easy spot to find Spanish specialities.
Frutas Vásquez: c/ Ayala, 11. You do not know where to find special fruits, rare flavours or demanded mushrooms? Here you will find all the fruits you can imagine, and above all with the best quality!
La Vinia: this is my reference for wines in Madrid. Of course there is a lot a very good shops in Madrid where to buy wines, but at La Vinia, I found a wide range of good quality wine from outside Spain, and a very good service and attention!
Casa Mira: Carrera de San Jerónimos, 30. This shop is like a holy chapel dedicated to the most famous Christmas treat for Spanish people: Turrón! You will find an no ending list of types of Turrón in this old fashioned shop, where the ladies, prepare your piece of turrón as if it were a treasure,... you go out from there with the eyes senses deeply moved!
Gondiaz: The most impressive Iberico and Serrano shop in Madrid. Enter the sanctuary, walk among the golden hams hanging, ask for advice and bring back some true piece of Ham, chorizo, sausage back to your home.
Oriol Balaguer, in Madrid, you will find it Ortega y Gasset, 44. Oriol offered me 2 unforgettable experiences. The first one, was in the Culinary Institute of America, for the "Spain and the World Table" edition in 2007, in California. I was in the kitchen preparing a presentation, trying to get focused surrounded by chefs running, flavours getting up from the pans,... Then, suddenly, a big tray passed by with small cocoa cock of chocolate,... a guy offered me one. Without realizing what I was putting in my mouth, I had a bite,... and then something incredible happened,... My Oriol experience stayed forever with me. My second memory is his 7 layers of chocolate cake,... something also amazing. Really if you like chocolate and want to be surprised go there!
Okhuysen: situated in Gierstraat, this was my first reference in Haarlem when I arrived! And I had a good eye, as this is the best wine shop in Noord Holland! A nice range of wines, from a lot of countries, some rare and expensive ones, but also cheaper and easier wines are displayed in the entrance of the shop. You will be sure to get a good product. The guys are friendly and will help you to choose the right wine.
Taste of Home: I literally fall in love with this shop! It´s like being in UK, full of these small products that you miss and cannot find anywhere! The 2 guys are absolutely nice and will look for this product that you miss! They will help you to fond it here in Haarlem!
La Maison du Chocolat: I discovered this brand when a Cuisine à Table chief Editor, offered a box of chocolates,... They were so refined, so well balanced,... do I have to say more?
A la mère de famille: Enter to this boutique is like coming back a century ago and loose 20 years,... Natural and traditionnal sweets, delicious and so lovely packed, you will not resist!
La Grande Epicerie: This is like a palace where every cooker from everywhere in the world could find his paradise,...
For this is the best place to find high quality Spanish products, particularly, hams in Paris. The shop is welcoming including for some tapas, the selection of hams is wide, but above all, this is one of the few shop where you can feel the real Spanish culture for gastronomy.
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