Sunday, October 06, 2013

Cinco Jotas Jamon Iberico

One of the most iconic and exceptional specialty foods of Spain is jamon de bellota, Iberian cured ham from acorn fed pure bred pigs, pata negra. It's intensely flavored and served in thin slices that are glossy, deep red, silky tender and wonderfully sweet and savory. It is simply the best jamon you will ever eat. The first time I tried it was in Seville at Casa Roman, a well-known tapas bar that specialized in it. The next time I ate it was in Barcelona, where I ordered it every chance I got. But I don't think I fully appreciated it until I went to the Basque region of Spain. 

In San Sebastian the tradition of tapas and pintxos is almost an art form. People eat small exquisite bites of food at bars all day and all night. Each little nibble is more delicious and amazing than the next, often made with traditional ingredients like jamon, Cantabrian anchovies and Guindilla pickled peppers. Spain is one of the leaders in innovative and modern cuisine, and while jamon Iberico is revered in Spain, it's also used in unconventional ways, like in a tapa with mango, foie gras and a coca cola reduction. Competitions abound to discover the best new tapa, including the Cinco Jotas International Award.

Cinco Jotas is a leading producer of Jamon Iberico, since 1879 and is currently promoting their product in the United States after a successful introduction earlier this year. I recently received sliced samples of the product and highly recommend it. Of crucial importance to enjoyment of Jamon Iberico is the way it is sliced. Cinco Jotas will be bringing a master carver to San Francisco in January and I look forward to learning more about his craft.

Disclaimer: I am not paid by Cinco Jotas, though I did receive product samples.