One of the key things to living abroad is finding those local shops that become your go-to. It just helps me feel like I’m starting to fit in with the locals and assimilate with the culture. To buy locally connects us personally with where we’re living or, in some cases, where we are visiting. When we first discovered L’Ham del Mercat, it was like stumbling upon hidden treasure. The owners were so welcoming and sharing of their passion for various quality goods from their hometown and throughout Spain.
Meet Fernando and Maite, the owners of L’Ham del Mercat. They are Spaniards from the small Alicante village of Beniarrés. Many of the products in their store are from their town and its surrounding region, not just because they love where they are from, but because they love things that are of great quality – exactly what their part of Spain produces. We love the delicious olive oil produced in their region and are now in the habit of keeping it stocked in our home – a 2 liter bottle for less than 8 Euros!
[mappress mapid=”8″]That’s the other thing – the prices of these artisan products are great. They aren’t expensive and marked up like most other stores in this area. What area is this? It’s the very heart of Valencia, el Barrio del Carmen. The store is just across and down the street from the Mercado Central. Other main sites nearby are the Plaza de Ayuntamiento, Plaza de la Reina, Plaza de la Virgen, and just a block down is the Silk Exchange Building (La Longa de la Seda). When I say these are close by, they really are. It’s the area to be in when visiting Valencia.
L’Ham del Mercat is more than the typical tourist shop. It’s full of handcrafted pottery and cookware, local artisan vermouth, beers, fantastic wines, and boutique liquors. We’ve taken home and enjoyed a couple of the Valencian Vermouth, red wines, and delicious liquors as unique as persimmon cream liquor. They are so good!
One of my favorite items that they have are writing notebooks that feature the incredible street art of Valencia. Fernando has made these with custom-designed covers from photos he has taken himself of the graffiti he sees throughout the city. He’s also created bookmarks in similar fashion.
There is such a mix of items to be discovered in this treasure chest of a store. Behind each item is a wonderful story and personable knowledge from Fernando as to why they believe it to be a good product and worthy of their store and your enjoyment. Not sure if you’ll like something? They’re big fans of sampling and tasting things before you buy them, so when it comes to the food and drink items, simply ask for a taste.
This is more than shopping – it’s an experience and something that you don’t find in many stores. There is such a level of care and interest in where the products come from and how they are made. Each item has great quality…quality that is real and tangible because it originates from a quality-life and adds quality back to life. If it exist for taste, it brings incredible flavor from handcrafted processes and ingredients. If it exist for use by the hands, it cooks, holds, or decorates, accentuating the simple pleasures of life with deep, vibrant colors painted by hand and foods cooked slowly and with love.
So we encourage you, whether you’re looking for yourself or for a gift for another, go and visit L’Ham del Mercat. Get to know Fernando, Maite and their store, and you’ll take home with you much more than a product…you may leave with some Spanish treasures and new friends.