• Edible thistles?


    Did you know that artichokes are actually a variety of the thistle family? This beautiful, but intimidating, olive green and purple hued 'vegetable' is especially prized in Spain, for its health giving properties as well as its looks. Artichokes are full of fibre, with one artichoke providing a quarter of your daily fibre needs, and 4g of protein per unit, unusual for a vegetable. They're full of vitamins and contain cynarine, which is good for your liver and soothing upset stomachs. No wonder they are a favourite vegetable in Spain! They are a staple of Mediterranean cuisine in the spring, when they are in season.

    What do they taste like? The edible part of the artichoke is the bud of the flower before it blooms, and the flavour of this bud is herbaceous and sweet. The petals have a crunchier texture, and the heart is the most tender part. The taste is similar to asparagus, brussel sprouts and celeriac, with a mild nutty flavour. Once you've discovered the delicious taste of artichoke there is no going back!

    The best way to cook them is to trim the outer leaves and slice off the top, then boil them for about 45 minutes. If you want a sociable snack, share the petals for dipping in aioli. The flesh is scooped out of the petal with the tongue, and then the delicious 'choke' in the heart of the artichoke can be spooned out and enjoyed. 

    Sounds complicated? A quick Google search will turn up loads of ways to prepare and eat artichokes, but for an easy introduction we recommend trying Botularium's crema di alcachofa. This mild, sweet and slightly nutty flavoured artichoke cream is a perfect dip or spread, or can be used as a sauce to accompany meat and fish, it could be stirred into pasta, or you could even posh up a sandwich with it. Head to our Aperitif Drinks and Nibbles collection and grab yourself a jar now!

  • Goodbye gin, vermouth is the new kid in the bar!

    Goodbye gin, vermouth is the new kid in the bar!

    Vermouth? Hmmmm .... Is that the dusty old bottle at the back of your parents' drinks cabinet? Well not any more. Vermouth is making a comeback, and some of the most exciting new vermouths on the scene are from Spain. In Barcelona's vermuterias (vermouth bars), this fortified wine, aromatized with botanicals like chamomile, coriander, gentian, juniper, saffron and sage in what is usually a very closely guarded process, is served very simply, in a tumbler glass with a slice of orange or lemon, and perhaps an olive. The Spanish drink mainly red vermouth which is infused with orange and Mediterranean herbs. It's sweet, but not as intensely sweet as sweet liqueurs like amaretto. The flavours of red vermouth are dark fruits, spice, vanilla, caramel, cocoa, and herbs. Vermouth is an ideal aperitif, as its herbal profile aids in the stomach's digestion of food. It's delicious served with small bites of spicy sausage, dry and salty cheeses, or a selection of gourmet tinned fish appetizers. With an inviting aroma of Mediterranean herbs,vermouth is an easy to drink aperitif that is the perfect way to start a relaxed evening of sharing food and conversation with good friends. Head to Saporista's Spanish collection to get involved and discover the delights of vermouth for yourself! 

  • A Very Catalan Christmas

    A Very Catalan Christmas


    If Christmas is about embracing your inner child, the Catalans have well and truly achieved this. For what could be more childish than taking delight in everything to do with poo. Most young children go through the poo phase, giggling over the word and using it as often as they possibly can. In Catalonia this is taken to the next level as Christmas here in Barcelona is all about pooing logs and, excuse my Catalan, little shitters (caganers). 

    Traditional nativity scenes contain Mary, Joseph, Jesus and all the usual suspects. But look a little more closely and you will spot a man squatting with a pile of poo beneath him. This is the caganer. In recent times it has become popular to see US Presidents, the Pope, Spanish Prime Ministers and all kinds of celebrities made into caganers, but the original figure is a man in a traditional red cap (barretina), white shirt and black trousers.  And he is every bit as important as Jesus in the Catalan nativity scene, not least because it is believed that if you don’t include him, it will be something of a plague upon your houses, as he is believed to bring good luck.

    And the fun doesn’t stop there. One of the most popular traditions is the ‘crapping log’, the ‘Tió Nadal’ (Christmas log). In Catalonia the log arrives into the house on 8th December, the date of the Virgin Mary’s conception. Children then feed and care for the log until 24th December, the day upon which Christmas is celebrated on the continent. On Christmas day the children smack the log with sticks, akin to striking the Mexican piñata and along with singing the below, they shout out”Caga, tió, caga” (Poo log, poo!).  They then check under his blanket to see if the log has indeed pooed out presents. These presents were traditionally things such as nougat, but nowadays can include all manner of gifts. The song they sing is:

    Caga tió, Caga torró, Avellanes i mató, Si no cagues bé, Et daré un cop de bastó, Caga tió!

    Which can be translated into English as:

    Poo log, Poo nougats (turrón),Hazlenuts and mató cheese,If you don’t poo well, I’ll hit you with a stick, Poo, log!

     All that remains for me to do therefore, is to wish you, from the heart of Barcelona, a very crappy Christmas!

  • Attention all Nutella lovers!

    Attention all Nutella lovers!

    Did you know that the scrumptious chocolate and hazelnut taste combination, made famous world over by Ferrero's Nutella spread, has its roots in Italian carnivals?

    Back in 1806, Napoleon imposed restrictions on British goods entering all European ports under French control, which led to a strain on cocoa supplies. A struggling chocolatier in Turin, Michel Prochet, decided to try and eke out the little chocolate he had left by mixing it with hazelnuts. He used hazelnuts grown on Piedmont's indigenous hazelnut trees (now known as Nocciola del Piemonte IGP), which produce a particularly sweet and delicate variety. His experiment was an instant hit with the locals, and the creamy paste of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar and finely ground hazelnuts became known as gianduja, which is also the Italian word for a carnival mask. The language of chocolate and carnival became entwined when Prochet and a fellow chocolatier, Caffarel (whose company is still famous for its chocolate and is now part of the Lindt & Sprungli group!), invented tiny, foil wrapped chocolates made from the sweet hazelnut paste. They called their new product gianduiotti, and launched it at the Turin carnival in 1865, where gianduiotti were handed out by men in gianduja masks.

    Saporista's Italian scout, Cristina, has discovered two wonderful pasticceria continuing the delicious gianduja traditions in Piedmont, where the best hazelnuts in the world are grownIn La Morra, in the province of Cuneo, Cristina found Giovanni Cogno, and fell head over heels for his Tartufi Neri, exquisite truffles that combine intense dark chocolate with the intriguing flavour of IGP Piedmont hazelnuts. In Cortemilia, in the Langhe region, Cristina found Stefano and Isabella Barroero who grow hazelnuts and turn them into the delectable treats. Their Biscotti Gianduja mini cookies will melt in your mouth. To try the traditional Piedmont gianduja  flavour and the delicate taste of unique Piedmont hazelnuts, head over to Saporista's Christmas Collection now!