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10 Gifts for People Passionate about Spain

1) One of the first things thought of when thinking about Spain is sangria. Sangria is traditionally made with chilled red wine and a variet of chopped fresh fruit. Most of Spain's bars and restaurants have outdoor patios where you can sip sangria and people watch. Spaniards love to meet up and socialize, so the bars, plazas and outdoor meeting areas are always bustling with people. An authentic handmade sangria pitcher will bring back fond memories of Spain's social atmosphere. You can add a sangria recipe book and you're sure to be invited to share a glass...

Authentic Sangria Pitcher from Spain
Authentic Sangria Pitcher
Sangria Recipe Book. 101 Sangria & Pitcher Drinks
Sangria Recipe Book               

2) While we are on the topic of Spain's affection for socializing, a cool glass of sangria wouldn't be complete without a plate of tapas, small plates of food that are Spain's equivalent of picking food. A great gift alone or included with a sangria pitcher is a hand painted ceramic tapas plate and a tapas recipe book.

Tapas Gift Set from Spain

3) One of Spain's most well-know dishes is paella, a one pan rice dish. To prepare a good paella it is essential to have a good paella pan. Depending on your spending limit, you can gift the pan alone, the pan with a paella recipe book or a paella gift set which includes the paella pan, paella rice, saffron and olive oil.

15 inch Carbon Steel Paella Pan
Carbon Steel Paella Pan
Paella Gift Set with Spanish Ingredients
Paella Gift Set with Paella Ingredients

4) One of Spain's most delicious treats is a cured ham known as Jamon Ibérico. It is a true delicacy, especially when it is jamon iberico de bellota, a ham that is made from pigs that have only fed on acorns giving the jamon a wonderful flavor. Most special events in Spain, such as a wedding or party, have a jamon server who is hired specifically to hand slice and serve jamon. A great gift is a package of hand sliced jamon iberico.

Jamon Iberico de Bellota
Jamon Iberico de Bellota

5) Many of Spain´s narrow streets are lined with planters and windowboxes of flowers. A gift to reminisce the beauty of these streets is a hand painted flower pot which you can give filled with flowers.

6 inch Flower Pot from Spain
6 inch Flower Pot from Spain

6) Saffron is frequently used in Spanish cooking and adds flavor and color to many a recipe. Spain grows it´s own high-quality saffron that is laborously hand picked and prepared. From Spain offers Bealar saffron that has won “Best Saffron in Spain” several years in a row. A box of saffron is a generous gift, yet small enough to mail or include as a stocking stuffer.

Award Winning Saffron from Spain
Saffron from Spain

7) Gifting a silk manton from Spain is giving a gift of art. It is a silk shawl that is hand embroidered with motifs such as flowers and birds. The silk manton is tradionally associated with flamenco dancers, but many Spanish women wear it over the shoulders as a casual or formal accessory. This would make a great gift for woman for a birthday or Mother´s Day.

Red Embroidered Silk Manton from Spain
Spanish Silk Manton

8) Spain produces more olive oil than any other country and olive trees can be seen just about everywhere you travel. A bottle of high-quality extra-virgin Spanish olive oil will make an appreciated gift. It is even more generous when combined with a flavorful bottle of balsamic vinegar made from sweet Spanish Pedro-Ximenez grapes.

Sotaroni Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain
Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain
Pedro Ximenez Vinegar from Spain
Pedro Ximenez Vinegar from Spain

9) Talking about olive trees, Spain uses the wood from these trees to make exquisite olive wood kitchen utensils and serving pieces. A practical and beautiful gift would be an olive wood mortar and pestle, a traditonal utensil used to make sauces such as a Spanish alioli. Another olive wood gift that would be greatly appreciated and would last for years, would be an olive wood salad bowl, with our without olive wood salad serving utensils.

Olive Wood Mortar and Pestle
Olive Wood Mortar and Pestle
Olive Wood Salad Bowl Spain
Olive Wood Salad Bowl

10) Spanish food frequently includes garlic and a fun gift is a handmade ceramic garlic keeper. It is handmade in Spain, famous for it´s ceramics, and keeps garlic fresher longer. You can also include a recipe book about garlic for a complete gift set.

Ceramic Garlic Jar from Spain
Ceramic Garlic Keeper from Spain
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How Ceramics from Toledo, Spain are Made

Spain is famous for it’s handmade ceramics, mostly for the pieces that come from Toledo such as the ones that we offer here on our website, fromspain.com.  We are happy to share with you the true artisan process that takes place just to create one single plate, bowl, mug or decorative item….

First the clay is extracted from the shoreline of the Tajo River.  It is taken back to the artists workshop where it is cleaned of impurities and then mixed with water to make the clay suitable for ceramic making.

Clay retrieved from the Tajo river shoreline

With the artisans bare hands and the help of a potter’s wheel, the clay is molded until it has the desired shape… A pitcher, a vase, a plate….

Making Ceramics in Spain

These clay objects require extra care during the drying process. The clay is left to air dry. If the weather is good, the ceramic dries more quickly. If it is damp, the drying process is exceptionally slow. Either way, the process needs to be done slowly to avoid cracks in the ceramic.

Ceramics Drying in the Spanish Sun

When the ceramic is sufficiently dried, it is placed in an 1100 degrees Celsius oven for the first of several kiln firings.

First Firing in Kiln

This first cooking results in a ceramic that is hard enough to easily handle. The ceramic has passed from a raw piece of ceramic to what is called “bizcochada” or bisque ceramic.  At this point the ceramic can receive it’s first glazing by placing it into a large bath which varies depending on the finish that is desired. Some bathes are white, some cream colored, etc..

First Ceramic Glazing

When this glaze is dry to the touch, the artists are able to being decorating it, completely by hand, using paint brushes and lead-free metallic oxide glazes. Here is where the painter can be creative and make each piece of ceramic completely unique.

Hand-Painting the Ceramics

The next step is to fire the decorated ceramic at a temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius, more or less, depending upon the type of glaze used.

Painted Ceramics in the Kiln

After the firing, we can see that the colors have changed. Lilac becomes blue, brown is now green…

Final Product Spanish Ceramics

The result is a beautiful piece of ceramic that can be enjoyed in our home, equally as decoration as on a table.

 

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Suggestions When Visiting Madrid

There are so many wonderful things about Spain that make it an exciting and worthwhile place to visit. Spain has an extensive history that can been appreciated through it’s art, architecture and culture and. I am not an expert on all the places to see, but I am happy to give a general idea of where I suggest one visit.  I spend most of my year living in a suburb of Madrid, so this is the area that I am most familiar with and where I feel comfortable enough to comment on.

I always recommend making Madrid your first stop and home base. You can find reasonably priced flights to Madrid from most major cities, depending on the time of year you decide to visit. Madrid is a sophisticated city with excellent museums such as the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen (my particular favorite). Make sure not to miss the parque del Retiro, a beautiful park in the center of the city that is a perfect spot to take a break from Madrid’s hustle and bustle. There is sophisticated shopping and superb restaurants, one of my preferred is Oter Restaurant in calle Claudio Coello. Spain has some of the best quality food I’ve tried. The variety of fish available is impressive and not to be missed. If you’re a foodie, you may enjoy eating tapas in the Mercado de San Miguel, walking distance from the Plaza Mayor. Another fun place to get a feeling of how fresh the food is in Spain is by visiting the supermarket at Spain’s largest department store, The Corte Ingles. This is an ideal place to shop for clothes and gifts and the supermarket, the Hipercor, is fantastic.

After spending a couple of days in Madrid I would suggest renting a car and driving to Toledo for a day trip. Toledo is only about an hour’s drive from Madrid and it is a beautiful city full of Christian, Muslim and especially Jewish heritage. A great place to lunch is at the Parador de Toledo. The food is quality, but the best part about the hotel is that it has a patio with a superb view of the city. You can easily walk the city.

Segovia is another great place for a day trip and an easy one hour drive from Madrid. Segovia is famous for it’s Roman aqueduct that remains intact and can be viewed from all angles of the city. You may enjoy taking a walk through the Alcazar, Segovia’s royal palace, and then taking a break to have lunch. Segovia is known for having incredible suckling pig. I recommend two restaurants for this, Candido or Restaurante Jose Maria. Both are excellent choices for eating suckling pig.

Another interesting place to visit close to Madrid (a little more than 35 minutes outside the city) is Alcala de Henares, the city where Cervantes was born. You can take a walk through the center of town, visit the Alcala de Henares university and take a tour of Cervantes natal home. An excellent place to have lunch is Restaurante El Casino. The food is beautifully prepared and delicious.

An easy drive from Madrid’s center is El Escorial, famous for the Monasterio de San Lorenzo. Take a tour of the Monastery and then have lunch at Charloles. Definitely order the Rabo de Toro, oxtail that is perfectly prepared and is a typical dish from Spain.

There are other wonderful places outside of Madrid that are close enough to drive and worth a visit. Such as Salamanca, about a two hour drive from Madrid and famous as being one of the biggest university cities in Spain.

Madrid is full of culture and creativity. Definitely check the internet before you go to see what concerts are offered at the Teatro Real (Royal Theater) and do a search for temporary art exhibits. On Sunday mornings it is fun to walk through El Rastro, Madrid’s flea market, that is full of unusual finds. While Madrid as a whole is very safe, make sure to watch your wallet and handbag from pickpockets when you go to any crowded spaces, such as the Rastro market.

Please keep in mind that I am basing my suggestions off my own experiences. Please share your own Madrid experiences with me and with others who read this blog.