La Boqueria at the Abergavenny Food Festival
This September we will be hosting a visit from La Boqueria in Barcelona – one of Europe’s great city markets. Alongside produce from Wales, the Marches and elsewhere in the UK you will also have the opportunity to buy some top Spanish produce. La Boqueria was established 170 years ago and today has nearly 250 traders. The turnover of stalls is very small with many stalls handed on from one generation to another. It is a gastronomic hub. Its focus is on specialisation, customer service and professionalism. As well as servicing its retail customers and city restaurants, it is visited by around 25,000 tourists a day.
This year La Boqueria will be bringing products from three of their stallholders:
This stall was first set up in 1864. Eduard Soley belongs to the fifth family generation and his son represents the sixth. The Soley family sold fruit and vegetables to the inhabitants of Barcelona, and at the age of seventeen, Eduard had to take over the business. He was able to succeed with the help of Ramon Cabau and now has one of the best establishments in he Boqueria and in all Barcelona.
The stall offers a wide range of exotic fruit and vegetables of the best quality: aromatic herbs, mixtures, mini vegetables, edible flowers, He also has delicatessen products, including truffles, but only when in season. Eduard is forever observing market trends through travelling abroad and studying, in order to surprise his clients with new products.
Oleum Flumen – specialists in oils and vinegars
The origin of the brand’s name comes from the time when the Romans established the Iberian Peninsula. When they crossed Ebro River and saw the olive trees fields, they called the region Oleum Flumen – river of oil.
They have always thought that oil has had some very good fellow travellers, but a very special one is vinegar. Their own vinegar is called Acetum. They have dressed it with herbs and garlic, which give it a special fragrance but does not transform its special taste.
Fromatgeria Elisa – Elisa Gimenez is a cheese-monger selling cheeses from all over Spain and particularly from the Catalan region
This stall carries over two hundred different types of cheese. However, this was not always the case, and Elisa Gímenez, the stall owner, remembers the time when she first set up, forty-five years ago, and had to go to the market archway for ice to preserve the four types of cheese they sold in her mother’s stall. Her son Albert keeps abreast of new trends and offers customers advice and recipes as well as recommending the perfect wine for each type of cheese.
They have a large number of Spanish cheeses, and are now also offering catalan cheese made with unprocessed milk. Their latest additions include a cheese from Zamora made with unprocessed milk that is absolutely delicious. They also have an important range of French, Italian and Greek products, and the famous English Stilton.
Apart from cheese, they also have a fantastic range of oils, vinegars and rice and their latest novelties are products with gold particles, such as oils, jams, cava or as accompaniment to other delicacies. Formatgeria Elisa has taken part in many Boqueria samplings events organized in London, Budapest, Marseilles or Tuscany in Italy, where the cheeses from the Boqueria have been highly praised by all those who have tasted them.
Can Vila Boqueria – Speciality hams and pork products from different Spanish pig breeds
Juli Vila started working at the Boqueria in 1963. After several years, in 1980 he bought his first stall and set up on his own. Since then he has bought more stalls and in 2000, he opened his present stall on one of the corners of the market.
Ham is Can Vila’s star product. They sell hams from all the different Spanish pig breeds which they consider to be of the highest quality (Avila, Salamanca or Teruel) However, Álex, Juli’s son, who currently owns the store, highlights the designations of Güijuelo, Jabugo and Dehesa de Extremadura. Álex says that although these are the best ham designations, many breeders often add their personal touch to each product.
Apart from ham, Can Vila also sells pork sausages and fresh pork products of the best quality made by a small farm in Montseny which has supplied the stall since it was first set up.
Among the many tales that Álex has to tell is a very curious one which he often repeats. His clients ask whether the cuts they buy are from the right or the left leg – because according to a popular saying (which has little truth), the pig tends to rest on one leg, and this is the one with the best quality!