Despaña Brand Foods
86-17 Northern Blvd.
After opening as a manufacturer and distributor of specialty meats (their popular chorizos and blood sausages are made on-site from imported ingredients), Marcos Intriago added a small storefront to the kitchen. Although barely larger than an elevator car, the space is bright and welcoming, with shelves displaying neatly arranged products de España: terra cotta cookware, fruit and vegetable preserves such as asparagus mousse, and the widest variety of turron (a biscotti-esque treat made from almonds and orange-blossom honey) this side of duty-free. A refrigerated counter displays dozens of cheeses that go beyond the usual manchego (e.g. the blander, buttery tetilla) along with Serrano hams of varying ages. Do the congenial staffers offer samples? Claro que sí! Boxed paella mixes are available, but purists are more likely to rejoice over a dizzying array of iron and steel pans, and the sure-beats-Key-Foods selection of rice and saffron. For the aspiring tapas chef, there are frozen and canned delicacies such as octopus, Cornish hen, cockles, and squid in its own ink. Piquillo peppers, fire-roasted for a spicy-sweet taste, are fit to be stuffed with cod (whole, crumbled or filleted), and olives are available pre-stuffed with everything from cheese to anchovies to lemon.