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IBERIAN Ham in (or coming to) Toronto?

w
Westfalen Apr 11, 2008 07:37 AM

Hi all - I heard a rumour that a distributor is set to bring Iberian Ham to Canada, which was previously unavailable. Can anyone confirm? If so, does anyone know where/when in Toronto it will be sold?

Thanks.

  1. m
    moh May 19, 2008 07:38 PM

    Greetings all!

    We decided to do a tapas evening in Hamilton, and as we drove through TO we stopped off at Pusateri's for a selection of jamon. Well we couldn't afford to get enough jamon iberico bellota for the entire party, so we decided to get several products and do a taste test. Here are the results, and a photo:

    1. Jamon at 12:00 in the picture: Jamon iberico pata negra bellota

    This is the stuff... $225 per pound, worked out to about $4.50 per slice. You can see the beautiful strip of fat at the edge of the meat. This fat melts in your mouth and leaves your tongue lovingly coated with porky goodness. The meat is rich, nutty, complex, tender and sweet. The depth of flavour is astounding, and the texture is transcendent.

    2. Jamon at 4:00: La Quercia organic heirloom Berkshire proscuitto:

    $39 per pound, about $0.60 per slice. This ham is quite smooth, and the flavour of pork is quite pronounced. It is not as complex as the other two hams, but I liked the strong pork flavour.

    3. Jamon at 8:00: Campofiori jamon serrano.

    $29.99/pound, about $0.40 per slice. Not much fat was left on the slice. The meat is smooth and silky, but less tender than the bellota. The flavour or the pork was somewhat subdued compared to the bellota, less nutty, but still more complex than the Berkshire proscuitto.

    The group felt that all three hams were delicious, but that there was a noticeable complexity and luxuriousness present in the bellota. You can definitely tell the difference. The real debate was whether this difference was worth the significant difference in price. Serrano is still very tasty stuff, after all! This is a subjective issue.

    Personally, I shall continue to indulge in the odd tasting of bellota. I won't be able to gorge on the stuff, but as a nice treat once in a while, I am willing to pay the big bucks. It is quite a unique ham, and as I adore air-cured ham, I think it is well worth the occasional indulgence. Goodness knows I've spent more on wine, truffles and fois gras.

    I've also included a few pics of the tapas and sherry. Oloroso, I love you!

     
     
     
     
    4 Replies
    1. re: moh
      Grazor May 20, 2008 11:17 AM

      That was most excellent Moh. Good looking spread too.

      I had the pleasure of two slices of a bellota a month or so ago, purchased from St. Lawerence Mkt and I must say, that the taste was extarordianry. This was presented to me by a foodie friend, who had popped there at lunchtime and purchased a few slices. We had planned to go to Panagae on Wednesday April 9th to enjoy slices of this prouct with some spanish white ; but then we were informed that there was infact an official launch of the jamon iberica and that was taking place the Friday of that week so it could not be sold prior, so our eagerly awaited trip was cancelled.

      The jamon iberica that i tasted was quite exquisite and infact the fat tasted not unlike cream cheese, and the meat was just a silken texture with some nutiness and was quite sublime.

      Bloody expensisve; but I would certainly buy some everyone once in a blue moon. By the way we met at the bar of Jump in the middle of the afternoon in front of the Easter weekend ordered a glass each of a north Spain ablerino/albuerino white and gosh....quite delish!

      1. re: Grazor
        m
        moh May 20, 2008 11:32 AM

        Spanish Albarino is one of my favorite summer tipples! We had some with our tapas meal, as well as a red from Jumilla.

        1. re: Grazor
          estufarian May 29, 2008 02:02 PM

          When I checked at Scheffler's at St Lawrence they didn't have Bellota - only the 'regular' Iberico. It's still good - but not the same thing.
          Incidentally I just returned from Tokyo and there the Bellota was about $450 per lb, at ¥10500 per 100 gm, while the 'regular' Iberico was exactly half that price.
          Both were available in a tasting bar/deli in the basement of the Isetan in Shinjuku - it's expensive, but so far (for me) the Shangri La of food destinations worldwide!
          I didn't check on the age of the ham - I know we're getting the absolute youngest here in Toronto, but at $225 in Pusateri's that's certainly not a total rip-off.

           
          1. re: estufarian
            c
            crown_24 Jun 2, 2008 07:34 PM

            Hmmm.... coincidentally, we were just at Cava last night for the first time and we ordered the Jamon Serrano and the waiter said that they had just received their first shipment of Iberico this past weekend and offered it to us. We had already ordered 11 other dishes and decided that we would stick to the Serrano. Maybe we should have swapped it out. A plate of the Serrano was $13.50 and the waiter said the Iberian would be double for the same amount.

      2. w
        Westfalen Apr 11, 2008 04:20 PM

        i just went to Scheffler's and bought 100g's of IBERIAN ham... they just got it in - first in Toronto... they told me that a number of places should have it by tomorrow.

        and I'm about to do a taste test...! mmmmm.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Westfalen
          m
          MindGrinder Apr 11, 2008 04:38 PM

          What did that run you? I may be there first thing in the morning if they have any left.

          1. re: MindGrinder
            w
            Westfalen Apr 11, 2008 10:55 PM

            Iberian Ham Prices: $20 /100grams for leg; $25 /100grams for shoulder at Schefflers.

            I think they should still have it if you go early - but hard to say. When i went, it was about 6:45pm, and they had a substantial piece. They told me it literally arrived Friday afternoon, so maybe no one knows yet.

            I also bought Parma (18 Month). and I have to say the difference is substantial. The taste is different first of all, and the consistency and texture of the Iberian is much better. The Parma for example still had some stringy-ness - ie i couldn't chew some of it. But no such issue with the Iberian. The meat was perfect, with subtle flavours and delicate nuttiness. The Parma had an almost meaty-livery taste. Of course this could be because it's 18 Month Parma.

            1. re: Westfalen
              ms. clicquot Apr 12, 2008 12:22 PM

              I was at Schefflers this afternoon (Saturday) at around 12:30 and they had a lot left. They were giving out small samples of it in front of the deli as they were slicing it. I picked up a few slices of the shoulder and will be having it this evening with a chilled cava. It's absolutely delicious but at $25/100g I will be savouring every bite because it's probably not going to become an every day item unless I win the lotto!

        2. w
          Westfalen Apr 11, 2008 12:01 PM

          Okay...there's been plenty of comments, and my mouth is watering...

          WHERE's the best place to get some of the high quality stuff mentioned here in Toronto this Afternoon?

          1. m
            MindGrinder Apr 11, 2008 11:51 AM

            And here I have been asking for Siberian Ham.

            I also learned why people laughed when I said I don't want any chocolate in my dinner.

            1. Kagemusha Apr 11, 2008 09:27 AM

              Plain vanilla serrano and Italian prosciutto have been available for some time through the same importer mentioned in the G&M art. Bill cited. Suspect those are considered too pedestrian now with the artisanal stuff "flooding" the market. Looks like a money-spinner for restos on par with Kobe/Wagyu beef. Too bad the timing didn't synch with the bull market. I'd check with the importer if you have to have it.

              22 Replies
              1. re: Kagemusha
                a
                acd123 Apr 11, 2008 10:33 AM

                I've been buying "plain vanilla" serrano for a while now and it's perfect, so I'm not sure how much better the Iberico can be. But I've read so many amazing things about it that I have to try it. I think Odysseus mentioned that it will between $20.00 to $30.00 for 100g!!! I can guarantee that it won't become a staple in my house at those prices.

                1. re: acd123
                  w
                  Westfalen Apr 11, 2008 10:47 AM

                  This is Scheffler's on Front and Jarvis we are talking about? Odysseus is the proprietor?

                  1. re: Westfalen
                    a
                    acd123 Apr 11, 2008 10:49 AM

                    Yup and yup.

                  2. re: acd123
                    Kagemusha Apr 11, 2008 11:12 AM

                    The everyday Spanish stuff suits me, too, and is widely available. It's just pure fun to watch the herd of independent minds thunder off in search of things like this. Do a blind test and see which one wins?

                    1. re: Kagemusha
                      k
                      kobetobiko Apr 11, 2008 11:28 AM

                      I have done blind testing myself. Serrano is NOT the same, not even close. If you can see the color, the hue of Iberico is so much deeper. If you taste it, the meaty nutty flavor is obviously much stronger and better.

                      I understand why people may think it is an urban myth and that it is all hype and overpriced. I told myself in the past before I had tried the real deal that serrano or prosciutto de parma got to be the best ham in the world. Well, but then when you tasted it, you know it's different.

                      I should make a note that even for jamon iberico de bellota, there are great ones and not so great ones. (You know those really salty prosciutto that have no depth in flavor? Even though they are from Italian there are still bad quality ones) So make sure you can a retailer that has good reputation and will get the good ones.

                      Think of it as Japanese wagyu beef from Japan vs those so-called kobe beef from the States. You probably will think that those US kobe beef have so much marbling that they got to be the best beef I have tried. Then until you try the real deal, you know it's not the same.

                      1. re: kobetobiko
                        w
                        Westfalen Apr 11, 2008 11:31 AM

                        I agree regarding the wagyu beef comparison. :)

                        i'm only asking for novelty reasons. Toronto can be a boring place you know.

                        1. re: Westfalen
                          k
                          kobetobiko Apr 11, 2008 11:41 AM

                          Hi Westfalen,

                          My response wasn't directed to you but to Kagemusha and acd123. As Kagemusha mentioned:

                          "It's just pure fun to watch the herd of independent minds thunder off in search of things like this. Do a blind test and see . which one wins"

                          So I just want to say that blind test or not, you will TASTE the difference. It is pure fun for me to have the best ham while others have doubts about it. More jamon iberico for me!

                          1. re: kobetobiko
                            w
                            Westfalen Apr 11, 2008 11:47 AM

                            no worries. i totally agree with u!

                            for most food items like this i've tried, i've generally tasted the difference - tho whether it's worth the price difference is another question.

                            1. re: Westfalen
                              k
                              kobetobiko Apr 11, 2008 11:53 AM

                              I completely agree with you, Westfalen. Sometime you wonder the if price difference can justify the incremental (sometimes really marginal) satisfaction in your taste buds. But then again, if you have never tried, you can never tell and you will always wonder. So my philosophy is that I will try it and give myself a verdict based on my own judgement and preference. Sometimes there are a certain thing that is very important to other people (like fresh white truffle from Alba) that they are willing to pay gastronomical price and fly to Italy just to have the best. Then I am less enthusiastic about truffle and I am happy to pay a little extra (well, actually a lot extra) in a restaurant once or twice a year.

                              As for jamon iberico goes, I certainly love it, and I will save it as a special treat with loves ones. For my everyday sandwich or just antipasti with melon, I am perfectly happy with my prosciutto di parma. If you have iberico everyday, it will no longer be memorable!

                              1. re: kobetobiko
                                a
                                acd123 Apr 11, 2008 08:19 PM

                                That was my point, Kobetobiko ("As for jamon iberico goes, I certainly love it, and I will save it as a special treat with loves ones").

                                I've been waiting to try Iberico for the past 18 months, and I'm really looking forward to it. I too like the finding the "best" of a certain category, and I'm sure that the Iberico is it. If I could afford to have it all the time, I would. But on a day-to-day basis, plain ol' serrano will have to do.

                              2. re: Westfalen
                                d
                                doctorandchef Apr 11, 2008 11:59 AM

                                Last year I had the privilege of tasting Bellota hams in Paris, in one of the best food supermarkets I've ever seen in the basement of Galleries Lafayette.

                                Attached is a picture of what 35euros got me. I can still remember the pork fat melting in my mouth.

                                Having tasted good serrano ham (at Cava) and quality prosciutto in Parma, I have to say that this Bellota stuff lives up to its hype.

                                I think the Bellota counter at Galleries Lafayette has been there for a while, I think that's the best place to taste various grades of ham. There were about 4 or 5 more different spanish hams on display, and the dude behind the counter gave us a sample of each.

                                Ya, I was in heaven. It was especially good with a flute of spanish sparkling wine.

                                 
                                1. re: doctorandchef
                                  k
                                  kobetobiko Apr 11, 2008 12:09 PM

                                  Hi doctorandchef,

                                  You know when I first tasted bellota, I refused to drink water for an hour because I wanted to keep that intense pork flavor in my mouth / stomach :P

                                  But spanish sparkling wine sounded like a great drink to go with it.

                                  1. re: kobetobiko
                                    e
                                    erly Apr 11, 2008 12:34 PM

                                    I agree that Bellota is the finest of the Spanish hams.
                                    Not available here unfortunately.
                                    I have had some of the Iberico ham in T.O., and I wouldn't waste my money on it.
                                    Just get a decent Parma at a fraction of the price, and you are further ahead.
                                    I recently bought some from Costco, and, to my surprise, it had a lovely creamy texture, and just the right amount of salt...
                                    While drooling over the Bellotta, I would also like to see the Jambon de Bayonne from the Pyrenees brought into the country.At its' best it melts in the mouth.

                                    1. re: erly
                                      w
                                      Westfalen Apr 11, 2008 01:07 PM

                                      so no one can tell me where i can get this stuff for tonight? i don't have a costco membership...

                                      1. re: Westfalen
                                        d
                                        doctorandchef Apr 11, 2008 01:23 PM

                                        The prosciutto from one of the cheese shops at SLM is pretty decent. It's the one on ground floor on the east side of the building, one with all the antipasti tubs. They use a hand cranked slicer.

                                        For tonight? Best bet is to go to Cava or Coca.... ask for the fattiest slices of serano ham they have. Let the fat slowly melt in your mouth, and then keep chewing it like gum.... haha. Wash it down with some Cava and repeat.

                                        Couldn't resist posting another photo of some glorious Ballotta on display. There are definitely various grades from different regions, each exhibiting the "terroir" much like wine does. (the 3 plates I had were vastly different in taste) Don't know what grades they'll be importing, but I guess we don't have a choice!

                                         
                                        1. re: Westfalen
                                          Kagemusha Apr 11, 2008 02:35 PM

                                          Did it ever occur to you how often OK parma will be trotted out as this nut-stuffed Spanish stuff? The scope for fraud is deliciously wide in selling a rare food item to well-heeled foodies with no reference point other than bloggy anecdotal raves. Over-refreshed aesthetes dining in the dark best beware.

                                          1. re: Kagemusha
                                            k
                                            kobetobiko Apr 11, 2008 02:57 PM

                                            Well, like buying anything, you should go to a reputable store that you have confidence in. If you have doubts about authenticity of what the stores have to offer, then you shouldn't be buying from them anyways.

                                            There are also signs and certifications about true jamon iberico. They are also stamped on the leg. Could it be fake? Of course. that's why you don't buy those pre-packaged stuff. Most of the jamon iberico are sold as a whole bone-in / boneless leg, and the ham should definitely be sliced fresh in front of you.

                                            Most importantly, any reputable butcher will allow your taste the ham before purchase. Your tongue and taste bud can't lie. If it tastes like the normal serrano ham to you, then it could be that it is indeed fake. If you don't have the confidence that you can tell the difference, or if you simply don't have the taste bud to tell the difference, then you definitely should save your money elsewhere.

                                            By the way, Kagemusha, have you even tried iberico? I just can't understand why you are so skeptical about the ham and people trying / buying it.

                                            1. re: kobetobiko
                                              Kagemusha Apr 11, 2008 05:50 PM

                                              I'm talking restos. I assume you have a fighting chance at a meat shop if you're literate and sighted. Getting rooked in a resto, though, has little to do with confidence or an educated palate. If you're thoroughly down with what's what, great, but many who go for this item to impress or look smart just might not get the real deal. Pardon the Naderite approach but the cachet amounts to a chum slick capable of attracting shoals of suckers.

                                              1. re: Kagemusha
                                                m
                                                millygirl Apr 12, 2008 12:30 PM

                                                It seems to me that Kagemusha is more skeptical about the people who may decide to try it, rather than the actual ham itself. Strange comments to make on a board dedicated to foodies.

                                                1. re: millygirl
                                                  Kagemusha Apr 12, 2008 02:11 PM

                                                  Hardly. Curiosity and a certain willingness to suspend disbelief are key foodie traits. Let's say they enable enjoyment, OK? I'm concerned, though, that the buzz around this ham can create the culinary equivalent of a Canal Street knock-off handbag sold as the real deal. Pardon my candor, millygirl.

                                                  1. re: Kagemusha
                                                    redearth Apr 12, 2008 07:40 PM

                                                    "Pardon the Naderite approach but the cachet amounts to a chum slick capable of attracting shoals of suckers."

                                                    Well written.

                        2. re: acd123
                          estufarian Apr 14, 2008 09:43 AM

                          Taste the Iberico and Serrano side-by-side. You'll definitely notice the difference.
                          Pricewise the Iberico is generally about double Serrano (although different qualities are available for both).
                          My purported 'supplier' recently told me he won't be bringing in the Iberico - too expensive and wouldn't be able to sell it wholesale.

                      2. w
                        Westfalen Apr 11, 2008 08:43 AM

                        Is it possible to get fresh Iberian pork in TORONTO?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Westfalen
                          a
                          acd123 Apr 11, 2008 09:03 AM

                          I've been asking Odysseus at Scheffler's for weeks when it's coming in. Last weekend, he told me he'll have it in this weekend, but that's what I've heard from him 15 times already.

                        2. s
                          Scary Bill Apr 11, 2008 08:27 AM

                          http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servle...

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