I have a confession: I might have a small obsession with jamón ibérico – AKA Iberian ham. Trust me though, after one bite I am pretty confident you’ll understand why. However, given that it is virtually impossible to get your hands on the stuff in the United States, you can appreciate why I hopped at the chance to take the Madrid Wine Tasting with Iberian Ham and Tapas Tour with Madrid Tapas Trip.
Before we get to the good stuff, my usual disclaimer that I have been no way compensated for my opinions here – there are purely mine.
Whew, okay, let’s get to the ham….
I booked the tour via Viator for a colleague and myself because I’ve had Iberian ham before and I wanted more. Iberian ham is from a lovely little black hoofed pig that comes from only a few regions in Spain and Portugal. There are different grades of Iberian ham, but the créme de la créme is the ham that comes from the acorn fed pigs – I’ll never take an acorn for granted again.
Our host Pedro was a rock star. We met him at the Opera metro stop and learned that we were actually the only two people booked for the tour that day. This tour had two stops: La Cruzada where we would get a little snack and ham lesson, and then Mercado Jamon Iberico for the main event.
La Cruzada has been around since 1827 which should tell you something about the food they turn out: it is good. They are known for el cocido Madrileño which is a slow cooked stew type dish. With meats, cabbage, chickpeas, and a croquette for good measure, it just made you feel good inside. Chatting with Pedro and learning more about Spain over this dish was a bit like having Sunday dinner with a good friend.
Armed with some solid Iberian ham knowledge, a new friend, and our appetites ready, it was off to a family owned establishment to taste what had brought us out in the first place: jamón ibérico.
Being here was like hanging out with friends….friends who happened to have the best ham on the planet, great wine, and were more than willing to share it all with you. We actually started by doing a little olive oil tasting – each with a completely different taste. Then came the cheeses and various forms of the lovely Iberian ham: loin, chorizo (amazing doesn’t even touch it), and salami. Then we got to see how the actual pig leg is prepared to go on the cutting rack. Pedro only give you the best; we were going to be tasting the highest grade Iberian ham. A leg of this ham was selling for €690…. let that settle in for a minute. This stuff is good and this stuff is rare – you are going to pay a pretty penny for it.
Seeing that price-tag and counting how many glasses of wine I had consumed, I was not especially confident when they handed me the giant knife to cut off a slide of ham. Frankly I thought maybe they were the ones who had been drinking. Luckily Raul was there to fix my horrible botch of a cut, and I can confirm, it still tastes phenomenal even when cut by me. 😉
It was a perfect way to see a little of central Madrid, learn about the city, feel just a little local, and eat some seriously tasty things. If you happen to be in Madrid, definitely make the time for one of Pedro’s tours, and definitely make time (and room) for some jamón ibérico. You won’t regret either one.