Its Excellent Seafood
This year, surprisingly, is the first year that a coastal city has been chosen for the title, and the jury, headed by José María Rubio, president of the FEHR (Federación Española de Hostelería), gave particular weight to the city’s excellent seafood. Brought in fresh from the sea to Huelva’s markets each morning, this city is all about sea-to-table. Because Huelva sits on the Atlantic coast, it has access to a wider variety of food from the sea, including fish such as sole, red mullet, sea bass, sea bream, tuna and mackerel. It’s also known for its shellfish, such as wedge clams, fine clams, razor shells and Venus clams. One of the city’s best loved seafood though is the cuttlefish, as seen by its most famous dish: cuttlefish with broad beans. Special mention has to go to Huelva’s white prawns, hailed by top chefs from around the world.
Its Famous Jamón
From the sea to the mountains, Huelva’s cured ham is award-winning and renowned for its excellent quality. The ham here comes from pure Iberian pigs or crosses with Duroc Jersey that have matured in the Sierra de Huelva mountains. The ham is classified as Ibérico de bellota (from pigs raised exclusively on acorns and grass), Ibérico de Recebo (from pigs raised on acorns and authorized feed), and Ibérico de Pienso (from pigs raised on feed only). Huelva is also home to the most expensive cured ham in the world – from a rare breed of pig called Manchado de Jabugo Ibérico Puro, taking a whopping six years to cure. Head to the nearby towns of Aracena or Jabugo for some of the best cured hams around.
The 525th Anniversary of Columbus’ Voyage to America
This may seem like an odd reason as to why Huelva was chosen as Gastronomic Capital of Spain 2017, but actually it was Huelva that played an important role in this event, and even helped shape the cuisine of both countries. Huelva was an active protagonist in Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America and it was from here, specifically the Port of Palos de la Frontera, that he set sail in 1492. Vegetables such as potatoes and tomatoes were brought back to Huelva from the New World and introduced into Spanish cuisine, and in return Huelva exported back many products such as pork, chicken and rice, now integral parts of American diets.
Its Wine and Vinegar
Not only is Huelva famous for its food, but it’s also a region famous for its wines as well. The Condado de Huelva wine region lies in the southeast of the province on the Atlantic coast and covers over 5,000 hectares of land. There are over 40 bodegas there, producing around 28 million liters of wine per year, mostly using the Zalema white grape variety that is indigenous to the region. There are also specialized wines grown in the area, such as the Vino Naranja del Condado de Huelva, flavored with bitter orange peel, and Raigal, Andalusia’s only sparkling wine. The same wine region is also known for its excellent vinegar, Vinagre del Condado de Huelva, which is a result of the acetic fermentation of the wine.
Its Delicious Strawberries
From main courses to wines and now desserts – Huelva is famous for its succulent strawberries. In fact 95% of all strawberry production in Spain comes from Huelva, and Spain is the world’s largest exporter of fresh strawberries. Go to the supermarket anywhere in Europe, pick up a punnet of strawberries and chances are they will have been grown in Huelva. Approximately 7,000 hectares are dedicated to strawberry growing in the Huelva province, which also grows other berries such as raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. Be sure to look out for delicious strawberry jams, cheesecakes and pastries when you visit.