ImageSpaniards love marisco – shellfish, and anyone spending time in Spain will also want to yield to the temptation to enjoy the huge variety of crustaceans and molluscs on offer. Spain’s water bound location with the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Cantabrian Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the east, assures that there is a large and varied selection of seafood to sample. What may come as a surprise however is the quality and freshness of seafood in cities such as Madrid which are nowhere near a port. Each night the catch comes off the boats and is transported by road to be in the cities’ markets by daybreak.November, and all the colder months with an ‘r’ in them, are when you’ll find the best seafood. In the weeks running up to Christmas you’ll see shoppers stocking up on frozen supplies – particularly langostinos – giant prawns, vieiras – scallops and cigalas– Dublin bay prawns, to have on hand over the festive period. That said, when it comes to seafood, fresh is best. Freezing may be convenient, but it changes the texture of the food making it mushy and less appetizing when defrosted.ImageFinding opportunities to sample fresh seafood is easy and, depending on the location and the produce, it doesn’t have to be an expensive meal. For a delicious tapa at a nice price dive in and order a serve of paella topped with langostinos – giant prawns and mejillones – mussels. For a popular lunchtime dish, which is sure to please the taste buds and won’t break the bank, order a pot of Mejillones al vapor– steamed mussels. This popular light meal sees the bright orange molluscs steamed in their shells and served with a sauce made from garlic, parsley and white wine. The plump mussels are delicious and the sauce when mopped up with fresh crusty bread is simply sinful.For a special occasion Spain’s many marisquerias – specialty seafood restaurants – are a perfect treat. Highlights are always the huge platters filled to overflowing with cangrejos – crabs, vieiras – scallops, ostras – oysters, navajas – razor clams, percebes – gooseneck barnacles and cigalas – Dublin bay prawns.Image

In Madrid head to Mercado San Miguel, www.mercadodesanmiguel.es near Plaza Mayor, to sample a plate of freshly shucked oysters with a glass of albariño white wine. For an all out seafood banquet you can’t beat the two restaurants Combarro and Sanxenso www.combarro.com . Across in Barcelona, Rias de Galicia www.riasdegalicia.com offers spectacularly presented seafood tapas. In Valencia Marisqueria Santa Cruz www.marisqueriasantacruz.com serves fabulous seafood platters and in A Coruña try either Suso 1 or 2  www.marisqueriasuso.es.