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La Tienda. Spain in America. The source.

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

A new category debuts, Uncommon Sources, that will showcase sources and suppliers that may not be local, but certainly are important. At least to some of us!

La Tienda is more than just an essential source for hard-to-find
Spanish ingredients, it’s an outpost of Spanish culture in America.

There was no Spanish food to speak of in this country until Asturian chef José Andrés opened Jaleo in Washington, D.C. Before, paella was the only familiar Spanish dish, and that was probably a sorry mishmash of gummy rice, chicken, shrimp, and sausage (authentic paellas never mix seafood with land food). Andrés transformed the idea of tapas into the now-ubiqutous “small plates” that Americans could easily grasp, and Spanish food was here to stay.

There were no Spanish ingredients in those days either. La Tienda was founded by an American family that had lived in Spain for many years. They began by importing items for their own use in 1996, and happily the business has grown to a national level with over 500 products available.

La Tienda was instrumental in bringing legal Jamón Ibérico to this country, and a complete range of ham is available from mere serrano to Jamón Ibérico Bellota Paleta, thought by many to be the finest ham in the world. Also available are difficult-to-find Spanish sausages, including chorizo, buttifara, morcilla, and a wide variety of essential pantry ingredients: smoked pimentón paprika, roasted piquillo and guindillas peppers, paella rice, and a wide range of unsurpassed oil-packed tunas.