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Spain is the kind of place that sticks with you.
It’s the kind of place that, as soon as you leave, you find yourself yearning to come back to. In the meantime, you’ll likely find yourself scouring your local wine shop for bottles of Rioja, attempting to recreate some of your favorite tapas recipes at home, and browsing through dreamy Spain-related Instagram accounts to fuel your wanderlust.
But it’s also the kind of place that’s too magical not to share. And chances are that if you have loved ones who have been equally captivated by Spain, they’ll be able to relate to all of the above as well.
We know that 2020 brought an unprecedented halt to travel plans for millions of people, and if you weren’t able to make it here, it can feel like Spain is further away than ever. But the truth is that you and the fellow Spain lovers in your life can still experience the magic of this incredible destination—you might just have to get a little creative.
In this Spain gift guide, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite items and experiences that will hopefully bring some Spanish magic to you and your loved ones this holiday season. Nothing will ever compare to the hustle and bustle of a Seville tapas crawl or a morning spent browsing a Madrid market, but we hope these ideas will hold you over until you’re able to make it back to Spain again—whenever that may be.
The best foodie gifts from Spain
If you know us, you’ll know that our favorite thing about Spain is the food. Luckily, it’s also one of the easiest Spanish products to access no matter where you are in the world thanks to numerous online options.
In the list below, we’ve included a few links to our favorite products at La Tienda, a family-run business specializing in Spanish food and kitchen products that ships within the US. However, even if you’re not stateside, we hope these ideas inspire you to keep an eye out for similar products wherever you may be!
Jamón ibérico (and other cured meats)
If you know, you know—anyone who has been to Spain (and includes meat in their diet) can attest to the pure glory that is devouring slice after paper-thin slice of acorn-fed Iberian ham. It’s hands down the best thing you’ll eat in Spain—and maybe even in the world.
Jamón ibérico is the most sought-out dish at wedding cocktail hours and the crown jewel of any holiday appetizer spread in Spain. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s absolutely worth the splurge when it’s time to celebrate.
But it’s not the end-all-be-all of Spanish cured meats. From chorizo to salchichón and everything in between, you’re spoiled for choice. Whether you use them to put together a charcuterie board your guests won’t be able to stop talking about, or buy some of your favorites as a gift for the Spain-loving foodie in your life, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without some Spanish embutidos.
While often overshadowed by our European neighbors Italy and France, our cheese game is strong here in Spain, too. From popular Manchego to lesser-known (at least outside of Spain) varieties like Mahón and Idiazábal, any Spanish queso would be a welcome addition to a festive cheese plate!
Extra virgin olive oil
There’s olive oil, and then there’s true liquid gold: Spanish extra virgin olive oil.
There are two key factors that set it apart. The “extra virgin” part is important, because that way you’re guaranteed to be getting the highest quality oil with the most health benefits. And with Spain being the world’s largest producer of olive oil, it’s safe to say we know what we’re doing when it comes to aceite.
There’s no shortage of ways to use what may just be the most important ingredient in Spanish cuisines. Drizzle it over a toasted baguette for breakfast, use it as a base for salad dressings, pour some into the pan whenever you’re frying or sautéing…you can even bake with olive oil! The possibilities are endless, and a bottle of Spanish EVOO is sure to be a hit with any gourmand on your list.
Every festive celebration calls for a bottle of fantastic wine to mark the occasion. Luckily, Spanish wine provides great value for money, and there’s no need to shell out a good portion of your monthly salary just for a decent bottle.
While our first recommendation for buying Spanish wine will always be your local wine shop, there are plenty of great options online as well. Check out Lafuente for an excellent selection of wines from around Spain and Europe, including some great sherries and vermouths.
Chocolate and candies
Let’s face it: the holidays bring out everyone’s sweet tooth. This year, why not satisfy it with artisanal sweets straight from Spain?
One of our all-time favorite Spanish confectioners is La Violeta in Madrid. Though famous for their namesake violet candies, they also make some seriously good chocolates, candied nuts and fruits, and so much more.
One thing we hear a lot from visitors to Spain is that Spanish food, while delicious, seems to be pretty light on the spices. But in fact, many traditional Spanish dishes incorporate spices such as saffron and paprika, both of which are very highly regarded in Spain. Either or both would be a welcome addition to any home cook’s spice rack.
Yes, you read that right! Far from your average supermarket canned tuna, Spanish conservas are among the highest quality tinned products in the world. From tender anchovy fillets conserved in olive oil, to mussels in piquant escabeche and even pickled banderilla skewers, even the most die-hard foodie on your list will be pleasantly surprised that food this good comes out of a can.
All rice varieties are not created equal—at least not when it comes to paella. To get perfect results every time you make Spain’s most famous rice dish, you’ll need arroz bomba, a special variety of Spanish short-grain rice. Many paella recipes written by non-Spaniards claim that arborio rice can be substituted for bomba, but trust us—it can’t.
So what’s the so great about bomba rice, anyway? Its absorbency.
Bomba rice soaks up a whopping three parts liquid per one part of rice, meaning that your paella is guaranteed to be packed with flavor. It also allows for a perfect socarrat—that caramelized layer of crispy rice on the bottom.
Spanish Christmas sweets
Mantecados and polvorones are Spain’s answer to Christmas cookies: crumbly shortbread cookies that come in a variety of delicious flavors such as almond, lemon, and chocolate. Turrón, on the other hand, is akin to a large candy bar—the most traditional varieties are almond-based, but today you’ll find dozens of delicious flavors.
Online cooking classes
If you’re going to spend more time than ever before on Zoom, you might as well have fun with it. And in our book, there’s no better way to do so than with an online cooking class.
Start with the classics, like paella and tapas, then work your way up to lesser-known but equally delicious options. You can even make your own vermouth at home—no need to wait until your next trip to Spain to enjoy our most iconic aperitif!
Food tour gift certificates
If you’ve ever taken a food tour, you’ve (hopefully) supported a small business in some way.
Many food tour operators are small, often locally owned businesses. And if you’ve chosen correctly, you’ll visit even more small, locally owned businesses throughout the tour itself—the kinds of bars, restaurants, and gourmet shops that locals know and love, rather than tourist traps or chain eateries.
That’s right—when done right, food tours are a way for small businesses to support other small businesses!
With a light slowly but surely starting to appear at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel that is 2020, it’s time to start turning travel dreams into reality again. Buying a gift certificate for a food tour that a loved one can use on their next trip gives them a fun and delicious experience to look forward to. But it also helps ensure that a small business is even more likely to survive through these trying times—it’s win-win.
Not sure when you’ll be able to take the trip of your dreams? Our gift cards never expire, so no matter when you can safely travel, you’ll have a foodie experience ready and waiting for you.
Other great foodie products from Spain
There’s nothing like a beautiful, hand-painted ceramic gift from Spain to brighten up a kitchen (or any area of a home!). The ceramics tradition in Spain dates back centuries and has lasted for good reason—these products are true works of art.
The beauty of Spanish food is its simplicity. But sometimes, having a few specific tools on hand can help you make the best—and most authentic—version of a dish.
We’re talking shallow, wide paella pans, individual clay ramekins to make perfect servings of crema catalana…all those things that are must-haves in a Spanish kitchen. Give your favorite budding chef the tools they need to up their Spanish cooking game (you can thank us when they’re serving you homemade paella out of the aforementioned pan!).
A digital cookbook
Here in Spain, food brings us together. That’s especially true around the holidays, when we share no less than five extravagant meals with our loved ones during the nearly two-week period between Christmas Eve and Three Kings’ Day on January 6. In regions such as Catalonia, which also observes the Feast of St. Stephen on December 26, that number is even higher!
The food you’ll find as part of these holiday meals can vary by region, but there’s one thing it all has in common. These dishes are what truly make the season memorable and bring families together. And since we know that the latter might not be as possible this year as it has been in the past, we wanted to do our part to keep these delicious traditions alive.
The result: Spanish Feasts from the Devour Tours Kitchen, a digital cookbook featuring more than 50 festive recipes from around Spain. These are the dishes that have won the hearts (and tastebuds!) of generations of Spanish families, and we hope they’ll find a special place on your table this year, too.
You can download the cookbook for yourself, or purchase a copy to send to a food-loving friend or family member as a gift.
While this year is far from what any of us expected it to be, all of us here at Devour Tours sincerely wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season—from our family to yours.