Friday, March 4, 2011
a field guide to spanish junk food. part 1: caramel family
Ah, the chuchería. These junk food meccas are found all over this fine peninsula. The moment you step inside, you realize how much America in fact has to learn in the snacking department. Upwards of 20 varieties of puffed rice snack; gummy and sour treats beyond what you had previously even imagined; caramels with beautiful down-home looking labels. A first visit to one of these places can be daunting - where do you even begin?
Fear not: "A Field Guide to Spanish Junk Food" is here to help you navigate the snacking wonderland you've just discovered. Today, Part 1: the caramel and coffee candy family.
I rounded up some of the more common caramel and coffee flavored candies (OK, common in the Bilbao area), did a tasting (hey, it's educational) and came up with my top 3 most absolutely special and delicious local caramel treats to be found in your local chuchería.
Third Place: La Cafetera, Café con Leche (Pastillas Aroma)
Where it's from: Pamplona
Why it's awesome: Rich, creamy coffee flavor. And check out that label - this one definitely has the coolest label.
Second Place: Caramelos con Piñones, El Caserío
Flavor: Caramel and pine nuts
Where it's from: Tafalla (Navarra)
Why it's awesome: First flavor you notice: delicate caramel. Second flavor you notice: roasted pine nuts. And there are actual pine nuts in there, so the texture is fun, like a Bit o' Honey if it were hard instead of chewy.
First Place: Caramelos de Malavisco, Confiteria de Santiaguito.
Where it's from: Bilbao
Why it's awesome: Whoa, look at that amber color! The "Santiaguito" is perfectly simple: just pure caramel flavor, in that amazing "crust on top of a creme brulee" kind of way. Simple things done right, y'all. These are the ones my dad devours when I bring them home to NC.
Go forth and devour caramels.