A couple months ago, the idea of receiving a home-delivered hamper of locally made chorizo, Gran Reserva jamon, premium paprika and a whole bunch of other hard to find Spanish goods would have felt very luxurious.
But now is a different time, and you can get superb hampers from La Boqueria, an award-wining deli in Frenchs Forest. It’s run by Emile Gomez, a Spanish-Australian who learnt the cured-meat trade from an expert butcher in the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia. Before the coronavirus hit, he and his team were supplying chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage) and tocino (sweet, cured pork), as well as some of the best Spanish cheese, spices, Pedro Ximenez vinegars, anchovies and deli goods to Sydney’s best restaurants and grocers, including Mercado, Continental Deli, Simon Johnson, Nomad, Firedoor and Tapavino.
Gomez uses Australian free-range pork mixed with Spanish spices and the same old-school method he learnt in a small town just outside Barcelona almost 20 years ago. “[I had] strong memories and a longing for the flavours and aromas, which I remembered from my childhood in Spain. You just couldn’t find that here. I wanted to bring that nostalgia to Australia,” he says.
When many of the venues he used to supply were forced to shut, La Boqueria had to find a new audience, and that’s how the deli-to-the-door idea came about.
There are four boxes available. The dinner box has all the ingredients you need to make a paella, as well as a premium jamon that’s been aged for 18 months, a pack of fennel sausages and some chorizo.
The cheese pack comes with four artisanal Spanish cheeses (a Manchego, a blue, a semi-firm goat-milk cheese and a wash rind cheese), a pack of mini breadsticks called campesinos and a trio of quince pastes. The meat box has the works: chorizo, Frankfurters, fennel sausage, sliced jamon, ham, streaky bacon and shortcut bacon. For those who can’t decide, there’s a hamper with a mix of everything.
If you want Spanish tinned white anchovies, an extra wedge of Manchego or even 2.5 kilograms of confit suckling pig, that can be thrown in as well.
“We’ll also be doing a partner box at some stage with local producers in the northern beaches,” says Stuart Webber, head of sales at Nomad, which distributes and imports La Boqueria products. “We’ll do something with Mrs Jones Bakery; we’ll do a small box with maybe a sourdough and croissants, and some bacon and chorizo. All delivered for locals.”
Who knows what our dining scene will look like when this is all over, but one thing that looks certain is more delivery from La Boqueria. “Yes I think we will continue. Even if we don’t continue with the exact same concept, we would love our customers to keep getting their hands on the products that usually only restaurants use,” says Webber.