Going nuts for these almonds

The Charlotte Obeserver


August 25, 2004

Kathleen Purvis

At first, you may not even recognize them as almonds. Spain's Marconas are flatter and rounder, almost heart-shaped, and golden in color. Grown in the Valencia region of Spain, where they're called "the queen of almonds," they have a soft crunch and rich flavor.

We've been addicted for months, after discovering them at a cheese shop in Manhattan, but we had almost given up on indulging our habit in Charlotte. But we've finally started finding them locally.

The Mitica brand from Forever Cheese in New York is $5.99 for a small tub at Pasta & Provisions and $11 a pound at Dean & Deluca, and Total Wines stocks a vacuum-sealed 20-ounce can from The Peanut Shop of Williamsburg for $9.99. The Peanut Shop version is drier and less salty; the Mitica version is oilier and saltier, but also truer to the authentic taste. You can also find them online in fried and raw versions at www.tienda.com. (Watch out: Much of this year's crop was lost to drought and a late freeze, so prices will go up.)

Raw ones should be put in a skillet with just a smidgen of olive oil and slowly toasted, to preserve their delicate flavor. The other versions can be eaten as they are.

Now that we can find them in the area, there's only one problem: How do we stop eating them?

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