Let’s play a quick game….which kind of ham do you think is the more expensive? The plate of the left or the right? After I give you a quick recap of what I learned, I’ll reveal the winner!
There are two main types of ham, Jamón York, like Canadian bacon, and Jamón Serrano, the real stuff. Both are incredibly prominent in the cuisine of Spain, but especially in the southern region of Andalusia. The special breed of Iberico pigs are fed with only acorns for the last 6 months of their life…quite the diet, huh?! Apparently the acorns give the ham a sweet, salty and buttery flavor, which should be prominent in the high quality jamón. The less expensive versions lack the complexity of flavor and simply taste like salty meat.
Scroll back up to the top quickly and compare the distribution ham. The ham on the right has swirling veins of fat running through it, while the ham on the left only has chunks of fat on the sides. What do you notice about the color? Pinkish, almost transparent on the left and rich, deep red on the right. All these signs lead to the right plate winning the award for best quality. One leg of this meat sells for about 250-300 euro! The flavors were incomparable–I could really tell how the acorns impact the flavor of the meat. It truly was buttery, salty and a bit sweet!
Next came the wine tasting. I took vigorous notes again to retain all the information. We tried 4 Spanish wines: one wine and three reds, all varying in age and price. I need to learn the official techniques of the swirl, smell and tasting process (this was much more informal), but I loved pretending I knew what I was doing ;)
My favorite was the Hacienda Zorita, made with grapes from Northern Spain and aged for 6 months. The best part – a bottle only costs 6 euro! I could see myself having girlfriends over for an evening of fruit, cheese, bruschetta and this wine. Splendid.
I loved the experience of sampling locally produced jamón and wine from Spain. I have such an enriched appreciation for the food and drink that makes Sevilla the culinary hub that it is! I only scratched the surface of all there is to learn. Now I’m excited to visit Napa, California in the upcoming years!
Love food, love self, love life.