Great cheese shop in Madrid
Anyone have a favorite cheese shop in Madrid? There are some varieties that I've been reading about that I have never had and can not wait to try, ie San Simon and Ahumado de Aliva. Any other recommendations? Also, what is a fair price for a 100 grams of jamon iberico in a market or store? Cheers, prizat
For cheese, your best bet is to go straight to a market. The vendors will let you taste the cheese before you buy. Some of my favourites are Mercado de los Mostenses (near Gran Via) and Mercado de Chamartin (metro Colombia).
A really good iberico will probably be close to 100 Euros/ kilo. However, if you ask for "paleta iberica", it's quite a bit cheaper (more like 60-70 Euros/kilo) and has less fat. I personally love the fat around the jamon, but a lot of people don't like the texture of the fat in their mouth. Most importantly, make sure the jamon is cut "a cuchillo", or by hand, instead of machine-sliced. It makes all the difference.
If you haven't already discovered it, I recommend the newly renovated (May 2009) Mercado de San Miguel just off the Plaza Mayor. The cheese shop near the center tables, across from the olive bar, is always hopping with long queues. Take your number there before you get the first glass of wine from across the way! They have many French cheeses but also do a good business in a Spanish cheese sampler for on-site consumption and are very knowledgeable about regional specialties. The market prices are no higher here than at neighborhood markets, either!
Also echo recommendation for La Paz in Barrio Salamanca.
All of the above-mentioned places are good, but there is also an amazing cheese shop just north of the Chueca neighborhood with an amazing selection of cheeses from around the world, including lots and lots of Spanish cheeses. It's called Poncelet and it's at C/ Argensola 27. Some interesting ones to try are cabrales (triple-milk, aged in mountain caves, very very blue, almost spicy - from Asturias), tetilla (mild and soft, from Galicia), afuega'l pitu (a fresh cheese spiked with paprika, from Asturias), payoyo (amazing Andalusian goat's cheese), and idiazabal or roncal (sheep's cheeses from Navarra).
As for jamón, it depends on what you get. Iberico can range from 50 euros to 150 euros per kilo. Just look for "de bellota" (acorn fed) on the label and choose a price you like (anything in the 60-90 euro/kilo range will probably be good). The place in Mercado San Miguel is pricey; any of the Museos de Jamón are fine, or there's a place just a couple doors down from González, mentioned above, that specializes in ibérico.