29 Jul2015

Bellota-Bellota, Paris

by Marketman

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Literally “acorn-acorn”. Jamon Iberico de Bellota refers a specific kind of spanish ham, made from hind legs of black pigs, that feed extensively on fallen acorns. The pigs roam freely in these idyllic rolling hills that are chockfull of oak trees that produce the acorns that feed the pigs. The hams are then carefully aged and produce the most amazing, deep red, intensely flavored ham. This shop, in Paris, seemed a bit out of place, but if you had a hankering for a bit of jamon with a glass of wine, this was the perfect little pit-stop…

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Their chilled cabinets displayed all kinds of nibbles, from bits of ham, sausages, foie gras, pate, lard, sardines and wine/champagne.

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They also had smoked salmon and several kinds of caviar.

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A sturdy looking ham stand.

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But the most interesting discovery for me that night was a custom-made “jamon serving platter” that looks a bit like a ceramic volcano partially seen in the photo above. Designed specifically by Bellota-Bellota and produced by Bernardaud no less, it was Euro 149 for a normal sized one. And they make a single serve size, for those who want to indulge alone. It’s purpose? You place it in the in center of your table, and it has a candle within, so that the ceramic surface warms up just slightly, enough to transfer heat to thin slices of jamon draped on its side… the warming gently releases the aroma and enhances the flavor of the jamon. So superfluous, you think, but if you’re going to spring for a whole damon iberico (they cost a MINT), why not spring for the little ceramic volcano as well and think of it as having tis serve your caviar with mother-of-pearl spoons. And before I get a fishpan-like bashing from some of you for this single use item, I DID NOT buy it. But I really wanted to. :)



  1. Kasseopeia says:

    Maybe our local ceramic artisans can replicate it for you at a fraction of the cost, MM.
    Reminds me of those terracotta “oil warmers” that use a candle to heat the oil+water mixture so the volatile oils will perfume your room.

    Jul 29, 2015 | 3:31 pm


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  3. Betchay says:

    Looks like a tagine pot to me! Ceramic platters with candle below can be a good substitute.

    Jul 29, 2015 | 4:04 pm

  4. Marketman says:

    Kass and Betchay, that’s right, I should ask my cousin who is a potter to custom make one or a few for me… thanks.

    Jul 29, 2015 | 5:04 pm

  5. Josephine says:

    MM you’d never need one of those in the Philippines! They’re only useful in the European winters when the hams are a bit cold, bellota ham being best eaten at blood temperature or thereabouts. When in France I live within walking distance of that shop and it’s certainly interesting but wildly overpriced. They do, however, have professional ham slicers with some sort of degree in the craft who write their name and qualifications on your little pack of the stuff. Did you actually buy any? There are much cheaper sources, especially online who’ll deliver even to your hotel or rented apartment within days.

    Jul 29, 2015 | 11:39 pm

  6. Khew says:

    Actually, if it’s going to be single-use, try getting one replicated in non-glazed clay. Rub garlic or aromatics before draping any smoked/cured/air-dried meat. Over time, the more seasoned the clay, the tastier the warmed meat. I guess cleaning would have to be with just hot water.

    Jul 29, 2015 | 11:51 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    Khew, wouldn’t the fat start to saturate the clay? But I like the idea of using this for all kinds of charcuterie…

    Josephine, nice neighborhood thereabouts. I agree they are useful in cooler countries, they just looked so cool in use. I noticed the prices were expensive, and we didn’t buy anything, just admired on our way to Semilla nearby, post on that dinner up soon… I buy our spanish hams from an importer in Manila and get a very good deal, though I have to admit I only spring for serrano riservas, not a bellota that can run three times the price.

    Jul 30, 2015 | 5:33 am

  8. Lee says:

    This comment is way off topic but this is just to tell everyone that my go to pork recipe guide is MarketManila and my favorite downtime activity is browsing archived posts.

    I am assigned to cook something on our Friday day off here in camp, and with the promise that pork belly is available, this is what I will try my best to replicate:


    On hindsight, my comment above reads like a template for SPAM comments :)

    Jul 30, 2015 | 1:20 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    Lee, I hope it works for you. Westerner’s won’t find this so odd if they have eaten at an Oriental or Chinese restaurant before. And pair it with some steamed or sautéed greens… The clay pot helps, but I think this will work in a regular steel pot as well…

    Jul 30, 2015 | 2:00 pm

  10. Khew says:

    Saturation of the clay is the whole idea ;) Clean it with baking soda apart from hot water to be on the safe side. Once in a while, you might want to burn away any rancidity in a very hot oven.

    Jul 30, 2015 | 3:17 pm

  11. Footloose says:

    It might have made sense in cold climes before central heating. Same as the conceit of heating snifter of brandy that I have only witnessed actually done in a Portuguese restaurant in Toronto. It made their agüa ardiente even harsher. Left a welt on my throat.

    @Lee, you are sure to earn points cooking pork on a Friday in a place, I assume, is predominantly muslim.

    Jul 30, 2015 | 5:42 pm

  12. Jane says:

    Thank you for sharing your Paris jaunts, might follow your trails one of these days, or soon!

    Jul 30, 2015 | 9:58 pm

  13. Lee says:

    @Footloose It will be cooked and consumed by Pinoys inside the confines of our camp :)

    Jul 31, 2015 | 12:25 am

  14. Monty says:

    Acorns are high in unsaturated oleic fatty acids that make the fat of Iberico pigs soft and creamy, with a low melting temperature that creates a melt in the mouth effect. You know that there is another nut that’s high in oleic fatty acids and is found in abundance in the Philippines- the coconut. We also have a small black native pig variety that when bred with certain commercial breeds, can probably approximate the Iberico pigs. Bellota Bellota? Maybe, hopefully Buko Buko. Now where to find someone with a keen interest in pigs who could take this on as an experiment? Hmmm.

    Aug 1, 2015 | 8:14 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Monty, I think I have an answer for you. Backyard-raised pigs fed with coconut refuse (either from making coconut cream or milk) or copra remnants yield the most AWFUL pork ever. We occasionally (say 1 in 2,000 pigs) get such pigs from unscrupulous suppliers and once cooked, the smell and the meat is not pleasant at all. We have to pull the lechon from the line and it goes to waste. We trace such suppliers back to the backyard and they are blacklisted from our suppliers list. So perhaps not all oleic acid yields the best pork… I wonder if pili or cashew nuts instead might do the job…

    Aug 1, 2015 | 9:55 am

  16. Monty says:

    If the copra has already been pressed and the oil extracted, doesn’t that take away the oleic acid as well? Maybe fresh or dried coconut meat would work better, but that’s just conjecture on my part.

    Aug 1, 2015 | 10:46 am

  17. Footloose says:

    I actually handled pork raised on copra (copraphagous swine?) years ago. I initially suspected it was the result of double death because the fat looked congealed, very much like tallow, unusual and alarming to see in cuts of “healthy” pork.

    Aug 1, 2015 | 5:35 pm

  18. Monty says:

    Well there might be something to that unusual fat. It shows that copra does have an effect on the fat of the pig, but too much of it may be a bad thing. I talked to some Iberico ham producers before and they mentioned having different grades of ham based on the feed the pig was given, from pure grain, part grain part acorn, then pure acorn. So maybe a proper feeding regimen using copra and other feeds, plus the right breed (or crossbreed) of pig might yield a perfect ham pig for our conditions.

    If you google La Quercia, you’ll see that the Americans are also producing acorn fed heritage pigs to make some great hams. We’ve tasted some of their regular (non-acorn) fed Berkshire prociuttos and they were good, though I can’t remember how they compared to Italian ones.

    Aug 1, 2015 | 9:46 pm

  19. mgr says:

    Coconut oil is approximately 85% saturated fatty acids (lauric, myristic and palmitic acids) and only 7% oleic acid. This is the reason it can harden even at slightly cool temperature of supermarket shelves. Olive oil is 80% oleic and palm oil is 40% oleic. Feeding coconut meat to pigs will most likely result in solid fats.

    Aug 2, 2015 | 4:00 pm

  20. Lou says:

    For jamon iberico, what I do is just heat a ceramic plate on the microwave and then just serve the jamon slices on the heated plate. It releases the flavor and aroma, without cooking the ham.

    Aug 3, 2015 | 12:39 pm


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