The Best of Spanish – Autumn 2021

On Sunday 14th November our Head of Brand and Innovation Leigh Myers and Senior Buyer Miguel Perez enjoyed their first trip to Spain since before the pandemic. Visiting some new exciting producers, as well as some of our existing relationships. Here’s what Leigh and Miguel got up to during their time in Spain.

Flying into Seville on late Sunday evening, Leigh and Miguel were ready for an action packed adventure starting the following morning. After a quick breakfast and a walk around the Plaza de España, their first stop of the day was to meet Eduardo Sousa, owner of an ethical geese farm, in the remote area of Extremadura. Since 1812, Eduardo Sousa has been offering their customers Foie Gras, bred in absolute freedom, without force feeding and in a completely ecological way. The love for the birds was amazing to see, as they freely roam around the 150 hectares of land, naturally grazing on grasses, figs, acorns, organic corn and wild lupin seeds which helps develop the superbly delicate flavour of their foie natural gras. Not only does the farm produce foie natural gras it also produces a goose ham. This is a truly amazing product that Leigh very much enjoyed tasting, which can come as a breast that is vac packed or in a pre sliced format. After a fantastic tour of the farm including lunch with Eduardo and his team, it was time to leave for our 3 hour journey to Madrid!

Our next visit was to meet Beher, a four generation Spanish Ham producer who has kept the essence and respect for the tradition for Iberian products alive for almost a century. Their passion and dedication for their products is incredible, recognised by the number of International awards they have achieved including the IFFA “Best Ham in the world” in 2007, 2010 and 2013. Tasting their products was a mouthwatering experience which Leigh could only describe as ‘wow –  these are some of the most amazing flavoured hams, chorizo and salami I have ever experienced and I’ve tried a few! I’m very much looking forward to stocking there products in the not too distant future.”  We look forward to building a long term relationship with Beher, with the opportunity to collaborate and offer exclusive tastings and workshops for our customers to experience their products, and learn about the skillful processes that are undertaken to produce such high quality products.

The next day it was an early wake up call to drive to Manjares Truffles in Teruel, Valencia, it made it a very easy alarm clock knowing the morning would bring a truffle hunt!! And who doesn’t love truffles!? It was wonderful to arrive at Manjares to a lovely smile from the family, this was the first time we had visited since the start of the pandemic. After a quick coffee, it was off to meet Marius in the open fields. November is very early for Winter Truffles, developing a stronger flavour by the end of December.

As always you never quite know what to expect and how well Pancho (the dog) will perform! Pancho certainly delivered, with plenty of truffles in all shapes and sizes. What an amazing job these dogs do on a daily basis to bring Wellocks the finest truffles they have to offer. Both Leigh and Miguel had a go at extracting the truffles from the ground once Pancho found them and that truly in itself is an unforgettable experience. Stay tuned for our next trip, as we will have some exclusive places available for chefs to join us.

It wouldn’t be a trip to Manjares without a quick truffle lunch at the office. The food was absolutely superb, as always, with many new products in discussion and on the way in the new year including; their truffle cheese with 10% fresh truffle, truffle juice and oils which all bring an incredible flavour and dimension to your cooking. We’re delighted to continue our close relationship with Manjares and look forward to expanding the range of products we offer from them. It’s fair to say Leigh and Miguel were all truffled out as they made their way to their next stop, the citrus farms.

We’ve been very excited this year by the arrival of clementines from our Spanish office, so it was fantastic to visit the producers and experience the orchards first hand. On arrival at the farm it was incredible to drive through the orchard seeing the beautiful clementines on the trees. We met with our growers Vicente, Salvador and Enrique on their family farm, where they started with just a few orange and clementine trees over 50 years ago. Since then they have developed fantastic citrus varieties and focus on the best eating quality. They use the traditional root stocks to enhance the traditional flavor and aromas. We had the opportunity to try the clementines and oranges we will have available for our customers during the Christmas period, but also the varieties that will be at their best during January and February. Both Leigh and Miguel’s favourite was Orri, because of its perfect balance of sugar, juice and aroma…we can’t wait to start receiving them in our warehouse. Working closely with our growers, we have moved over to our sustainable paper bag packaging for our oranges and clementines which you will have also seen in our range of jalapenos, chillies and grapes.

During our action packed trip it was brilliant to see lots of new products, build new relationships and meet new friends. One of the biggest things Leigh always takes away from these trips is the passion our producers have for their products which is truly outstanding.