It's hard to believe that it's Christmas in two days time...
I just can't get my head around how quickly December has gone! However, I'm so ready for 2015 and a good Christmas rest/feast/lounging around - I'm welcoming it all with open arms.
Anyway, today's post is something I'm very excited about, and as you may be able to tell from the title, it's Spanish themed! I'm sure the majority of you are aware of my love of Spain and all things Spanish, so when I was contacted by the International Currency Exchange to get involved with their Christmas 'challenge' I was super excited to get involved.
The task was to spend £100* on items related to your given country. Luckily enough, I was given Spain - so of course I was thrilled. It could be any products that remind you of that place or how they traditionally celebrate Christmas. Even though I lived in Spain for a year, I never actually got to spend Christmas Day there, but I did experience the amazing build up to it all, so I was very overly excited at getting to indulge in a few Spanish items to reminisce over that festive period. So here's what I chose...
I think for most people, when you visit a foreign country, the first thing you really notice is the difference in food items. I absolutely love Spanish food, so it really was a no-brainer to find a mixture of tradional items.
First up is cheese. Spain is famous for all kinds of different cheeses, mainly Manchego, however I came across an award winning blue cheese called Picos de Europa Valdeon, that I couldn't resist picking up - tis the season to indulge, after all. My boyfriend is the cheese fiend of us both, and he was definitely impressed with its flavour and not too creamy' texture.
Secondly, olives. But not just any olives... Andalusian olives. My favourite part of Spain and my favourite snack combined together. I have never been more excited about a jar of olives in my life. They just take me straight back to my little Estepa village and the beautiful garlic & pickle infused crushed olives that they produce there. Even if you're not an olive fan, I seriously recommend you give these a go - they're so, so good!
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without going crazy on the sweet stuff. Funnily enough, the village I lived in was actually the national producer of Spanish Christmas sweets, called Mantecados and Polvorones. A typical, floury, cinnamon infused biscuit that is a must have festive treat. Our landlord at the time actually owned a mantecado factory and so when we gave him the rent, he would give us a bag of sweets... Win, win! Just the smell of these gives me the warm fuzzies in my heart...
Another favourite of mine was Cola Coa. A drink I had every morning, in a small cafe, while on our break at school. It's such a tasty hot chocolate and I had my nose in it within seconds of it arrived. I'm sure to Spanish people it's nothing special, but even the smell of it brings back such great memories for me, and, lets face it, warm drinks are always welcomed in the colder months.
The final sweet treat that I decided to pick is a Tarta de Santiago. A very dense, moist almond based cake that takes me straight back to a cold New Year in Galicia. If I'm not mistaken, it's a traditional dish of theirs that is popular throughout the year but even more so at Christmas. The almonds give it such a lovely flavour and it will be perfect for snacking on (with a cup of cola coa) on Christmas Day.
Winter Warmers & Sparkle
Finally, a little treat for myself. When I moved to Spain I (stupidly) didn't pack any winter clothes... Just let that sink in for a second... Come November I was kicking myself. It doesn't quite get to snow temperature in the South of Spain (although it has been known) but a concrete walled, tile floor piso gets cold - quick - so warm items are a must! As Zara is a famously well know Spanish brand, it felt right to have a browse of their cosy offerings. This beautiful red printed scarf is so, so soft and snuggly. It's perfect (I wish I had it in Winter 2012).
Last but not least, a pretty little headband, again from Zara. The gold gems are just so festive, I couldn't resist. Perfect to add a little sparkle to Christmas Day. I don't own many headbands but I think this would look lovely with an up-do throughout December!
And there you have it! I can't thank ICE enough for involving me in this challenge as it has taken me back to such a happy time in my life and it has really made this Christmas extra special. I hope you enjoyed reading about a couple of traditional Spanish Christmas items and that you're ready for the big day yourselves. And in case you too, have a love of Spanish food, I bought all the edible items from the Tapas Lunch Company, which I will definitely use again in future.
If I don't speak to you before, have a wonderful day. I hope it's full of love, excitement and eating too much.