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It’ s all about acorns

It’ s all about acorns

10-07-2012 | 10.07

For a true taste of Spain you don’t need to take a plane any more. Just hop on your bike, cycle to TrouwAmsterdam’s restaurant and feel the best cured ham melt on your tongue.

Pimentos de padron.. boquerones en vinagre.. jamón ibérico de bellota.. There is no denying that TrouwAmsterdam’s menu is influenced by the Spanish. The guy behind all this is called José Pozuelo, owner of La Venta, one of the biggest and best importers of Spanish products and delicacies in the Netherlands. Thanks to him we know the taste of real chorizo instead of the cheap stuff they sell as ‘tapas’ in the average pub. And thanks to him TrouwAmsterdam’s restaurant serves the genuine jamón ibérico, the famous cured ham made from the meat of black Iberian pigs, according to foodies the absolute Rolls Royce among the cured hams. Well, € 14,50 per portion is serious money, but in the end it’s worth every single cent.

Where in Spain does Jose find all these culinary gems? ‘Mostly in remote areas up in the mountains or in small villages where food is plain, but really good and tasteful. Every two months or so I travel to Spain, always in search of the best products with true flavours, if possible organically grown and made on a small scale. Most of the time I end up in places like Camporreal, een small village near Toledo, where they produce wonderful olives with a unique fruity flavour. Quite rare and almost nowhere to be seen outside Spain. Also delicious: the arbequina’s from Catalunya. La Venta delivers them all.’ 

Let’s get back to the legendary jamón ibërico. In order to get hold of the best quality José travels all the way to the South West of Spain, to an area near the Portugese border. In a village called Guijuelo José buys what is according to him the best ‘Pata Negra’ in the whole of Spain. ‘The circumstances to produce this kind of ham are just perfect. I buy the hams while they’re still raw. It takes 3 years to get the quality I am looking for. The process itself is quite mysterious. Humidity, microcultures, it’s all crucial. The quality I buy is the highest there is: bellota. It means the pigs have eaten large quantities of acorns during a particular period of time. Hence the ‘nutty’ flavor of the ham. Chefs in upscale restaurants realize how unique this product is. Fortunately the chefs of TrouwAmsterdam have this same awareness. It’s awesome that they are serving jamon Ibérico ‘bellota’ in the club’s restaurant.’
 
Another hidden gem on TrouwAmsterdam’s menu is the exceptional quality of the manchego, the salty sheep cheese. Socuellamos, the village in La Mancha where José Pozuelo was born, brings forth one of the best manchego’s  in the whole of Spain. If you’re lucky Lucas Scholvinck, chef of TrouwAmsterdam’s restaurant, is serving it with homemade membrillo, a jelly made of quinces.
Also really delicious: a summer salad with manchego, poached eggs and beans. These are the Mediterranean flavours chef Lucas adores. And isn’t it nice that José Pozuelo can supply all the necessary ingredients? Like we said: there’s no need to take that plane to Spain, just cycle to the Wibautstraat. Olé!
 
Text: Bonita van Lier, culinary writer. Always in search of true flavours.
Twitter: @CuliLady