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Jamon Iberico at Surfas

I got to try this stuff this weekend and it's amazing. Surfas is selling it for $60 a pound and the quarter pound I got was worth every penny. The super friendly guy who sliced it for us said that the Cheese Store of Silver Lake and Cheese Store of BH are both selling it as well, but for closer to $90 a pound. I also got the duck hash breakfast sandwich and one of the Vosges chocolate bacon bars. So delicious. I can't say enough about the friendliness of the Surfas employees and the prices relative to a lot of the other sources of gourmet ingredients around town. They also definitely have the best deal on epoisses of any place I've seen in LA.

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  1. Just a note, you can also get real jamon iberico (at similar prices) at La Espanola Meats in Harbor City.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Yeah, but even the jamon from La Espanola is not truly jamon iberico de bellota pata negra... Mrs. J.L. is highly selective about her jamon jabugo...

      We'll go take a look at the offerings from Surfas. Thanks for the heads-up!

      1. re: J.L.

        It's at the charcuterie counter in the Cafe. I may have to go back this weekend for more!

        1. re: J.L.

          Please report back, as per Mrs. J.L.'s evaluation.
          I haven't had my pata negra fix in a long time, my head is spinning!

          1. re: J.L.

            Really? They have a few jamon domesticos but they had imported stuff there too. I only make it out there when my need for their insanely good brandada and fuet override my need to stay off the @$#%ing 91.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Though they don't carry jamon Jabugo, La Espanola still gets our undying love for having the best paella to be found for sale in all of SoCal. Their fuet is quite good, and occasionally they'll "smuggle in" a few bottles of actual Chufi brand horchata from Spain!

            2. re: J.L.

              Trust me - at $60 a pound, Surfas isn't selling bellota pata negro either - even in Spain, that stuff costs close to 200 euros per kilo, which is to say more than $150 per pound. And the bellota jamon won't start coming into the U.S. until later this year. (The shoulder, which has a shorter cure, is available by mail order.) But iberico, which comes from the same breed in the same place but fed grain instead of foraging for acorns, is plenty good.

          2. Oooo hopefully they'll still have it this coming weekend :) -- I, too, was very excited when they got the Vosges bacon bars (though I think the gianduja is still my all time fave).

            I think Surfas is a pretty good deal as a one-stop place for rarer foodstuffs, many CHers, however, will argue there are much better bargains around town.


            1. Now precisely what is a Vosges chocolate bacon bar? I hope it's not what it sounds like it is. I know this is veering away from the LA board, but sign me up as a firm Vosges hater, whether consumed in LA or elsewhere.

              4 Replies
                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  you people need to stop buying the bacon bars. they are MINE!! they are always out when i go and you know a bacon addict in the throes of withdraw groveling on the floor of surfas while normal people are trying to shop is not pretty.

                  1. re: tastycakes

                    don't blame me - i haven't tried them...yet ;)

                2. re: Dylan

                  LOL - they make other, less edgy varieties too (like the gianduja I mentioned above, which is dark milk chocolate with almond-hazelnut paste). The bacon bar is surprisingly good, though.


                3. greetings mollyomo, thanks for the news. Did that friendly chap slice by hand, I hope? The hand carving to proper thinness is an art, whereas the speed of the mechanical slicer raises the temperature of the meat. The machines are considered verboten in places that take the product seriously, but maybe that's a euro/brit thing that gets sacrificed on the altar of commerce and efficiency over here?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: moto

                    He did indeed slice it all by hand and even let us each sample a piece as he worked!

                  2. Went by today for lunch... saw the big leg on the counter of the cafe... didn't ask for any because my boss is a vegetarian and somehow me drooling over shaved meat from what clearly is an animal's foot (hoof and all!) would have changed his view of me forever...

                    It looks exactly like the one LaTienda is offering...


                    But both aren't as dark or 'cured looking" as the Pata Negra I've seen on Shows or sold at European On-line shops like this...


                    So I am guessing there might be different grades of 'Pata Negra'...

                    Well... what ever it is, I do plan to get back soon and get some. :



                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Dommy

                      I think you're exactly right that there are grades, Dommy! Wikipedia confirms it and wikipedia is always right ;).


                      Looks like the jamon iberico de bellota (the highest grade) will become available in July 2008. I hope Surfas has access to that as well as the basic jamon iberico that's availble there now...

                      1. re: mollyomormon

                        Unless my knowledge of pig anatomy is way off, what they were slicing up yesterday was not even ham, but paleta, the foreleg. Not that it stopped me...

                    2. As already pointed out several times now, there are indeed several grades of Jamon Iberico, and in the U.S. we aren't even seeing the tip of the premium iceberg yet.

                      When the meat does start to flow (er, uh something like that), you can count on places like La Tienda and La Espanola to be at the top of the distributor list. They've been around the longest, and they can throw their weight around...


                      Edited to add my favorite ham link of the moment: http://ijam.es

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Joe Blowe

                        What flavors/characteristics should one look for in the premium grade Jamon Iberico? I got the most expensive stuff from La Espanola meats a few months back and didn't find it any better than the best proscuitto I can get (I know it's from different country, etc and it's probably blasphemy to say this). Can someone please give a mini-education or point me to the right place and tell me what I am missing? ;)

                        1. re: notmartha

                          "As we held a slice in our palms, the fat began to melt. We then tasted the first pieces by warming them on the tongue to release the nutty aroma. The taste was incredibly delicious, intense and concentrated, not salty or sweet, but more like umami. We alternated tastes of Iberico with bread dipped into the olive oil and sips of local red wine. The trio of flavors resonated on the palate. It was unforgettable bliss.

                          That melt-in-the-mouth fat consists of 55 percent oleic acid, the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. These pigs' fat is much more like vegetable oil than animal fat.

                          "I've been told by growers like this one that the acorn-fattened Iberico pig is like an olive tree on four legs," said our friend Janet Mendel. Ms. Mendel, an American writer who has lived in Spain for many years, is the author of six books on Spanish cooking, including "Cooking From the Heart of Spain" (Morrow, 2006). "About 90 percent of what makes this a superior ham has already been accomplished before the pig is even slaughtered. This is the real deal. It never gets better than Bellota."


                          1. re: RicRios

                            Thanks for the pointer! Sounds quite yummy. I can't believe I walked through El Corte Ingles in Barcelona 2 years ago w/o a clue to even try these. Ugh.

                        2. re: Joe Blowe

                          Like most purveyors of Jamon Iberico in the U.S., even La Espanola has trouble procuring the truly best hams from Spain.

                          Agree with notmartha on the issue of the most expensive ham from La Espanola being only mediocre at this time.

                          The best stuff in Spain, when evenly cut into almost transparent slices, will simply melt in your mouth. The taste is subjective, and having had the "real thing" (premium quality Jamon Jabugo de bellotas pata negra in Madrid), I personally feel that it puts the best prosciutto to shame (and I've had some darned good prosciutto in my time also).

                        3. One thing I always wondered about these black-footed, acorn-crunching piggies is why do you only ever hear about the Jamon Iberico and it's different grades. Surely every part of these pampered pigs must be delicious. Where's the ultra bacon? Where's the SUPER BOLOGNA????

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: SaltCod

                            Ferran Adria gets the rest of it and turns it into foam with artichoke juice and smoked wheatgrass sorbet.

                            1. re: SaltCod

                              There are all kinds of chorizos, coppa, lomo, etc, as well as roasts, made with the remainder in Spain. Here, there will soon be, at least by mail order from La Tienda if not at La Espanola, cured lomo, longaniza, salchichon, sarta-style sausage, and other things made from the friendly black-footed pigs.

                              1. re: condiment

                                "as well as roasts..."

                                Can this be true? The varieties of cured loin and sausage I understand, but an Iberico roast? I have not dared to think of this fine meat other than cured.

                                Now, I'm imagining Zeus and Apollo fighting over a marble crock-pot.

                            2. FYI...

                              Southern California has its Jamón Ibérico
                              March 5, 2008

                              [...] American importers including Harbor City's La Española Meats Inc. -- so far the **only California distributor** -- and La Tienda in Virginia (the first U.S. recipient) all get their jamón ibérico from Fermín, the **only company approved to export to the U.S.** [...]

                              As I said above, when the meat begins to arrive you'll know who was responsible. And to address a few posters above, La Española has only been selling Jamon Serrano through their retail storefront until recently -- you cannot compare serrano to iberico...

                              P.S. If you're interested in the intracies of meat importation and USDA compliance, do stop by La Española and talk to Juana, the owner. She's very nice, and loves to talk about all types of food!

                              1. They have the Iberico and also Bellota at Cube (Melrose and LaBrea)--they cut to order too, which is handy.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: voracious eater

                                  No way José, bellota is not being imported yet!

                                  1. re: RicRios

                                    Whoops--you're absolutely right. I think it's the bellota paleta that they have--I heard the word bellota and got way to excited. Good catch.

                                2. bellota dosent come til june i believe.

                                  1. In the O/C - Laguna Beach is a placed called the Sapphire Pantry - at the old Pottery Shack location - it carries Jamon Iberico @ $100/lb. After all the buzz - bought some - it is smooth and wonderful. Fortunately a little goes a long way and this shop carries a variety of cheeses from the Cheese Shop of BH.

                                    1. Hi all. This is Rachael from Cube. We do have Paleta Iberico Bellota. That's the shoulder, not the leg. We actually go it in right before Christmas.

                                      The Iberico Bellota Ham (leg) comes in July 08, the Choizo Iberico Bellota is in soon. We hope.

                                      It is expensive. But to be honest, it's also very rich. I few slices will do you.

                                      Hope this helps. . .


                                      1. if people want to try a ham that's acorn fed, the van nuys german deli has austrian nussschinken.
                                        i think jamon serrano is plenty tasty.

                                        i would like to get some more brands/types of mojama. i can only find it at la espanola and i love it but wonder if there's another supplier.

                                        1. Well, was at Beverly Hills this past weekend and got some of the Jamon Iberico at Cheese Store to try out.

                                          Truthfully, I can't tell the difference between that and the ones I got at La Espanola, and I still prefer the proscuitto I got from Roma Market. So I guess I can save myself some $$$ until the 'real' good stuff arrives in summer and check that out again.