I came, I saw, I drank wine and I ate Jamon Iberico! Club Gourmet as further explained here is a “trade show” dedicated to the finest wines and foods of Spain. I say in quotes “trade show” because while you need a pass to prove your legitimacy in the trade, these passes are handed out like Halloween candy and getting one is about as hard as finding a glass of Sangria in Plaza Mayor – the favorite tourist attraction in Madrid. Consequently, your left with a lot of professionals with their friends and family, forcing me to quickly develop my own personal philosophy for these types of shows, “get there early and get out by lunch.”
The enticing word “free” is a pleasant sound to just about anyone’s ears, and when paired with “100 euro a Kilo Jamon”, everyone on the peninsula comes running. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jamon Iberico, it is a cured ham that rivals anything that has ever come out of Italy. The famous black-footed Iberian pigs are raised on “bellotas”, or acorns, that come from the same family of Oak trees that we get cork from. From birth to “sacrifice”(as the Spanish say it), these famous animals are treated like kings.
Free range and able to consume almost 2 pounds of acorns per day, the hams are nothing short of incredible. In fact, the meat is so sweet and sumptuous that occassionaly, I don’t even desire wine while eating it – so as not to lose the sweet flavor that lingers in my mouth as I swallow each bite. Ask most ex-pats here what they would miss in Spain if they should leave, and Jamon Iberico will inevitably be on the top of their list. On the other hand, one of my favorite wine-food combinations is fresh sliced Jamon with a cool glass of Sherry. For me, the salty air flavors of a Palo Cortado mingle nicely with the sweet nutty meat of the Jamon.
Over the past couple of days, I not only had the fortune of eating a considerable amount of this tasty treat, but also had my first experience of Jamon made from horse! Typically, I don’t separate my animals into the “do” and “do not” eat camps – it seems hypocritical, and being that it’s a tradition which has been around for as long as humans have raised cows to eat, I figured, why not give it a try? What I found was that the meat was both richer and leaner than cow! Although I doubt I will actively seek it out due to it’s rarity, I am proud to be able put another notch in my “new flavors” cap.
As far as wine goes, I think I’ve found a few winners. From DO Jumilla, I discovered a sweet wine made from 100% Monastrell, and two different sets of wines from the little known DO Méntrida. Ever heard of DO Méntrida? Expect more information on this region in the near future on our new website which will be launched soon! I also found an organic wine that uses the grape Bobal in an effective way to fruiten (can I say that?) a traditional Bordeaux blend. Hopefully, in the next month, I can even pay a visit to this Bodega and see what else they’re creating!
Stay tuned to see our new site coming in the next week. We hope you like it!