There is quite a bit we’re looking forward to in 2008 (more on that later this afternoon), but the absolute peak of our excitement is reserved for the United States arrival of jamón ibérico de bellotta. This very special ham is made from free-range pigs who roam freely through forests filled with oak trees and, after the first few weeks of their lives, eat only acorns. This special treatment results in a ham unlike any other. We adore jamón serrano, prosciutto, and Kentucky country ham, but jamón ibérico de bellotta blows all other hams (and dare we say, all other cured meats?) right out of the water. True story: when we spent a year studying in London, our dad came to visit. We saw jamón ibérico de bellotta for sale at Harrod’s and spent an unconscionable amount of money for a few grams which we were then unable to resist eating with our hands directly from the package as we walked through one of the nicest stores in the world. It’s just. that. good.
Until a few years ago, jamón ibérico de bellotta was illegal in the United States (why? because our government hates eaters) but in 2005, the ban was lifted and, since the ham is aged for 36 months, the first specimens are just about to be ready for export. The good news: in a few months, it will be possible (if not exactly easy) to get jamón ibérico without flying to Spain. The bad news: it will be tremendously expensive. La Tienda, the excellent Spanish import site, is currently taking pre-orders for the first shipment of the ham, which is scheduled to arrive in July. There’s a $199 deposit required and the ham will cost $96 per pound for a grand total of about $1500. This is a daunting price to be sure, but if you have the means, we very highly recommend it.
Bone-In Jamon Iberico ‘BELLOTA’ Ham [La Tienda]