Just about every time I’m in the cheese aisle, I pick up a container of marcona almonds. There's a delicate dance: I look at the price, feel guilty, then put them back on the shelf. Then I toss them in my cart. Maybe I abandon the package in the cereal aisle and then five minutes later go back and rescue it. I always leave with the almonds, inevitably eating them out of the container before I even get out of the store.
Marcona almonds are the squat, round, Spanish variety that are related to the teardrop-shaped, skin-on, likely California-grown variety you usually find in a snack mix. Marcona almonds are buttery in flavor, with a texture somewhere between a classic almond and macadamia nut. They are wonderful and you should treat yourself to them.
Blanched and often fried or roasted in olive oil and tossed with salt or another seasoning, marcona almonds are sold at most grocery stores. Unlike traditional roasted or raw almonds, however, you probably won’t find marconas in the bulk bin or near the granola. They’re significantly more expensive than traditional almonds: A one-pound bag of whole roasted salted almonds from Nuts.com is $9.99, while a one-pound bag of roasted salted marcona almonds is $17.99. They are often sold in the cheese aisle near the fancy seeded crackers and oil-packed mushrooms. It's sort of a silent indicator that these nuts should be reserved for an elegant cheese and meat platter, not sprinkled onto your oatmeal.
It may seem outrageous to spend almost double the money on the same amount of nuts, and it is, sort of. Yet from where I’m standing, life is short, and if you get as much satisfaction from marcona almonds as I do, they’re well worth the money. I’m not saying you should grind $20 of marconas into the most luxe nut butter around, but I would strongly suggest you try a handful your next granola bowl. Since marcona almonds are so creamy and delicate, especially compared to the vague woodiness of a traditional almond, you’ll actually need fewer nuts. I find that when snacking on marconas (especially the fried and salted ones), my craving is satisfied after far fewer nuts than when I'm eating traditional almonds.