1 of 2
Casa Ametller prides itself on its fresh, local products.
2 of 2
Casa Ametller 2
Supermarkets are not, on the whole, Barcelona’s strong point. Nor should they be, since this is a place where we are fortunate enough to have a fresh produce market for nearly every barrio in the city.
But Casa Ametller is different: a family-run food store with a solid set of values that are admirable. The Ametllers started out as farmers in the Penedès in 1824, later selling their produce direct to customers from the Vilafranca del Penedès market, which is about as fine a pedigree as you could hope for in a supermarket. It means they walk the walk—fully understand provenance, produce and seasons—and as an added extra include a friendlier, more knowledgeable style of service in the bill.
Having reached their seventh generation however, brothers Jordi and Josep were itching to do a new kind of supermarket and opened their first shop in 2001, which was all about making the produce grown on their growing network of holistic, integrated farms more accessible. They’ve been growing slowly, quietly and really rather successfully ever since. So much so in fact, that their most recent opening opposite the Sant Antoni market is also one of their most beautiful shops with stylish, coloured concrete floor tiles framed by rustic wooden shelves that offer heaped piles of fruit and vegetables, rice, pasta and other comestibles. To behold you’d expect it to be expensive, but it isn’t. Indeed item-by-item it’s comparable to my local branch of Bon Preu—because they’ve cunningly cut out the middleman, and for you and me that’s a total result because it ensures that what’s in your basket has taken the quickest route possible from farm to fork.
Eighty-five percent of their product comes from their own farms in the Alt Penedès where they have the bulk of their fruit orchards, including excellent peaches, nectarines and paraguayos, and the Maresme for lettuce, greens and brassicas. The rest comes from farms further afield in Murcia (citrus) and Alicante (tomatoes), and they have also now embraced other bona-fide local producers for oil, honey and wine, meat, dairy and chocolate as demand for more diversity has grown.
It may not replace the atmosphere of the old-fashioned market in my heart, but it’s a heartening vision and a most pleasing alternative to the rapacious tentacles of the ‘super’.
Borrell 71, tel. 93 826 4004, www.casaametller.net