Since Estragon landed in the South End last year, lovers of Spanish food and culture have been thrilled to have an authentic piece of Madrid right on Harrison Ave. Located right next door is Las Ventas, which sells the most thorough amount of Spanish ingredients in Boston, and has been hailed as one of the Best of the New by the Boston Globe. Ideal for a quick sandwich during the work day or to gather the ingredients to prepare a traditional Spanish feast, Las Ventas features meats and cheeses unavailable anywhere else in the city. An example: Jamon Iberico, the ham of the black Iberian pig which was unavailable for sale in the United States until the end of 2007. If you’re interested in paying just until $100 per pound for this pig which is raised on a delectable diet of, wait for it, acorns, you too can enjoy this rare ham this side of the Atlantic.
While Las Ventas is already beloved amongst Bostonians, those who frequent the New York spot Despana see a blatant similarity between the two locations. Also one of the few American sellers of the forest-frolicking, acorn-chomping Iberian pig, Despana looks like a pretty clear precursor to Las Ventas. Dios Mio! This wouldn’t be the first time a Boston location was criticized for taking its cues from a New York spot. (Flashback: Remember when Gaslight’s website looked eerily similar to New York’s Balthazar?) While the two locations do resemble each other, patrons of Las Ventas clearly seem to be uninterested in its inspiration because they’re flocking to the South End in droves to grab an authentic taste of Spain.
[Photo: Boston Herald]