Three Reasons to Check Out Conserva, the New Specialty Market from Viridian Farms
Late last year, Eat Beat broke the news that Manuel and Leslie Recio, Portland’s ambassadors to the rare produce and spices of Spain and France, were giving up their lauded Viridian farm stand for a retail space. Their new project on Northwest Lovejoy, Conserva (Spanish for preserve), is now open, bringing their deep knowledge of the Western European pantry to the forefront.
The diminutive retail space is all Ikea shelves, stocked high with everything from hard-to-find vermouths to “sea spaghetti”—a type of edible seaweed from Northwest Spain. This is one of the only places in the country to find regal pink biscuits from Reims (a three century-old brand enjoyed by King Charles X), or Kas Limon, a Spanish soda that sent Ataula’s Jose Chesa, a Barcelona native, into a nostalgic tailspin.
Viridian may have sold the farm, but they aren’t finished with the farmers market quite yet. The Viridian stand, launching at the PSU farmers market on April 17, will bring together their coveted imports with fresh produce from local farmers to craft bites like Yukon Gold potatoes with octopus, Piment d’Espelette and honey or a little montadito sandwich with romesco sauce, fresh asparagus and olive oil caviar.
For a taste of what’s in stock at the just-opened Conserva, check out these three finds:
After two years of R & D, Spanish modernist legend Ferran Adria (El Bulli) and his team discovered a way to make caviar olive oil: tiny, glistening orbs popping with olive oil flavor. The collection, which includes black sesame, basil, and smoked paprika, is already making waves; Toro Bravo, Natural Selection, and Harvest Vine in Seattle are using them at their restaurants. Best of all? It’s vegan caviar!
“Canned seafood means a totally different thing in the United States,” explains Manuel Recio. “In Spain, it’s more desirable (and expensive) than the freshest fish.” Conserva’s stock of premium, olive oil-packed sea life includes cockles (tiny mollusks), octopus, mussels, and scallops from Galician waters.
Two massive pig haunches hang in the corner of Conserva, the crème de la crème of Spanish jamon. Made with black Iberian pigs or “pata negra,” this ancient breed is found exclusively in Southern Spain. The premium line, an Iberico ham fed on acorns and aged for four years, can cost in the thousands of dollars for an entire leg—more statement piece than appetizer.
1720 NW Lovejoy St., #107
Tues – Sat, 11 am to 7 pm