The NOTEBOOK Madrid.comExpert facts from local expats since 2001
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Ham - Cheese

What about Ham?
Ham is part of Spanish culture and a real tradition for Spanish families. Living in Spain will definitely make you into a ham addict and you will probably soon have a ham leg in your kitchen.
A whole ham leg costs between € 50 and 200. Cut into slices, it costs from € 15 to 90 per kg. You can buy it from all the hypermarket and supermarket chains or from the small jamón stalls you will find in shopping malls or wet markets. 

Cured ham: a gourmet treat
Produced using methods similar to those employed in Italy for making “Parma ham”, or in France to produce “jambon cru”, the Spanish variety offers a unique taste experience, with its own special flavour, texture and aroma.
Cured hams are a key component in Spanish cuisine, and recent changes in import legislation have begun to make them available in Europe and other parts of the world. Served in thin slices, it makes an exquisite snack; and small amounts add a delightful flavour to a wide variety of dishes such as soups, vegetables, or pasta. Such is the variety and complexity in flavour, aroma and texture, that experts regularly organize tastings in much the same way as with wine.

“Ibéricos” ham
Feeding conditions are an important factor in both production and quality. The best hams are produced from the long legged Iberian hogs, range fed and fattened on acorns in the cork-oak groves along the southern half of the border between Spain and Portugal. While range fed, Iberian hogs produce without a doubt the “creme de la creme” of Spanish hams, this method is costly, slow and not particularly productive. As a result, prices are quite high ranging fron 50 € per kilo up to 120 € depending on quality. One of the most famous ham is definitely the “Real Iberico de Bellota” but we also recommend the hams that come from “Jabugo” and “Guijuelo”.

 “Serrano” hams
They represent the large majority of hams in the marketplace and are derived from “white hogs”. “Serrano” literally means jam from the mountains, where the drying methods originated. It is not smoked, but cured with salt, and then dried out for at least half a year if not more, in secaderos. This ham is wonderful when thinly sliced in sandwiches or appetisers.
When buying a whole ham leg, the best is also to buy the appropiate material: a ham knife and a wooden ham holder. This should help to avoid a bad cut...
There are two distinct cuts: the hind leg or “jamón” (ham), and the foreleg or “paleta” (shoulder).

Don’t miss the “lacón” variety: the whole leg is cooked (it is not a cured ham) and then cut into small slices: delicious!

Bon Fromage

This little store only sells cheese! You’ll find an excellent variety of Spanish cheese and also some French and Swiss specialties. The owner is very nice.


 

Poncelet

All the main French top quality cheeses are available. You will not forget the visit! Very expensive.

 

La Boulette

All the main French cheeses are available together with the Spanish specialities. They also have a wide range of Spanish delicatessen goods (ham, chorizo, lomo, patés, etc.).

Los Quesos de L’Amélie

This shop offers an exclusive choice of farmhouse cheeses from artisan producers,  carefully selected and matured by the best experts. You will find a wide array of cheeses from France, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and other corners of Europe.  Our favourite shop in Madrid.