Feeling flush, more from birthday week high than from financial windfall, I sprung for three see-through slices of $159/lb bellota jamon iberico at Despaña yesterday. That worked out to approximately 80-cents per bite.
I don’t know that I could immediately discern the difference between this coveted ham and a good quality Serrano. But it’s very distinct and more desirable to me than ordinary prosciutto. Is it unfair to compare Spanish and Italian cured meats? The texture is firmer and overall meatier with substantial stripes of fat, less salty and almost blood-metallic with a strong flavor that’s on the verge of decay. Yet not gross at all. The taste lingers with you and something (I really need to look into this) causes a mild tingly sensation in the mouth, sort of the way some aged cheeses do.
You can get a bocadillo using the pata negra ham for $25 but I opted for the more pedestrian Gallego at $8.50. It uses Serrano ham, chorizon and a cow’s milk cheese I wasn’t familiar with called Arzuea Ullloa. I love ham and cheese, though this is one of those rare sandwiches that could just as strong through the power of meat alone. This is a sandwich worthy of more than a camera phone shot but believe it or not I don't typically carry a camera on me.