Spanish Hams Head for US

SPAIN - The first world-renowned Cinco Jotas Ibérico de Bellota hams are to be delivered to the US this year.
calendar icon 19 January 2010
clock icon 4 minute read has announced that it will deliver the legendary Cinco Jotas Jamón Ibérico de Bellota to customers in the United States in 2010. Cinco Jotas (5J) is the elite label of Spain's Sánchez Romero Carvajal, the world-recognised leader in Ibérico ham. Produced in limited quantities, these rare, high-end hams are usually spoken for in Spain years before the curing process has completed. However, a limited number of 5J hams will be available for the first time in the US by pre-order exclusively through La Tienda, the leading online retailer of Spanish gourmet food, with delivery anticipated later this year.

Like Beluga caviar or Kobe beef, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota is one of the luxuries of the meat world, and the 5J brand is unquestionably the Rolls-Royce of its class.

Tradition and quality are the essence of Sánchez Romero Carvajal, Spain's oldest producer of Jamón Ibérico de Bellota.

Don Harris, owner and founder of La Tienda, said: "Like Beluga caviar or Kobe beef, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota is one of the luxuries of the meat world, and the 5J brand is unquestionably the Rolls-Royce of its class."

Carvajal is based in the mountain village of Jabugo, located in the province of Huelva in south-western Spain. "Many people around the world now simply refer to Jamón Ibérico de Bellota as 'Jabugo' due to the quality and reputation of their ham," added co-owner Jonathan Harris.

Unlike most Ibérico producers, Carvajal's 5J brand uses only 100 per cent Cerdo Ibérico pigs. This unique breed is descended from the prehistoric Mediterranean boar and distinguished by its black hooves (pata negra). Once weaned, these privileged animals spend their entire lives freely roaming the Dehesa woodlands, eating a diet that culminates in an abundance of acorns (bellota). The resulting hams not only have a distinctive rich and nutty flavour, but also have a surprising number of health benefits. Because of the acorns, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota contains more antioxidants than other hams, as well as more oleic acid (the same 'healthy' fat found in olive oil) than any other meat.

The 5J hams are hung to dry in a curing facility with windows open to the mountain air. The pig's harmonious development of fat and muscle from its time in the Dehesa allows the ham to cure for as much as two years longer than other traditional hams, enabling chemical changes that result in a unique marbling and flavor coveted by connoisseurs in Spain and abroad.

La Tienda is the leader in introducing artisan Spanish ham to the United States. Owner Tim Harris remarked: "Our family is delighted to be once again the very first to deliver an extraordinary jamón from Spain to America!" In 1998, La Tienda began offering Jamón Serrano, Spain's most popular cured ham, made from normal pork. Beginning in 2002, the company offered customers the opportunity to place deposits in anticipation of the arrival of the first exquisite Ibérico hams to arrive on American shores.

The response from those investing in Jamón Ibérico de Bellota 'futures' was enthusiastic, with hundreds of customers placing deposits. Imported by Jamones Fermín USA, La Tienda delivered the first hams to these select customers in 2008. Demand has continued to grow with La Tienda sales of Fermín Bellota ham increasing more than 150 per cent since last year.

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