Showing posts with label Jamón Ibérico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jamón Ibérico. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Muc Turns Up for Book Launch in Ballymaloe

Muc Turns Up for Book Launch in Ballymaloe
Jamón Ibérico

Muc*, the pig from Buenvino, was in Ballymaloe Cookery School at the weekend. Or at least one of his back legs was. You see, four years back Muc was killed and the long air-drying period began. Before that, he had happily wandered the woods around the big house in the south west of Spain, snouting out the best of nuts, especially those gorgeous acorns, qualifying him for the coveted Ibérico status.

Muc, now a tasty hunk of Jamón Ibérico**, was in Ballymaloe as Buenvino owners, Sam and Jeannie Chesterton, came to have their cookbook, simply named the Buenvino Cookbook, launched by Darina Allen. All the recipes have a Spanish flavour but you can get most if not all the ingredients here.

Quail's eggs
Rory O’Connell certainly did and he and his team cooked up many of the recipes from the book and we were able to enjoy: quails eggs with a pinch of cumin, fresh pickled anchovies, toasted almonds, Almond soup with PX soaked raisins, manchego, spinach with chickpeas, tortillas,  and more, before finishing off with a plate of Paella! All accompanied by Lustau sherry (manzanilla for me) and Vina Herminia wines (a Rueda verdejo and a Rioja red).

Finca Buenvino, a pink washed farm and guesthouse, is in the middle of the Sierra de Aracena nature reserve in Andalusia and the book tells how Jeannie and Sam ended up there and are now regarded as true locals.


Darina, who has visited the Finca, says Jeannie is a wonderful cook (and she does cookery courses there). Jeannie herself emphasizes that while her cooking is influenced by Spanish methods and ingredients, that this is not a “thoroughbred” Spanish cookbook, rather her take on their way of life and the food they share with their guests.

It was Irish "hatched" Sam who persuaded Jeannie to join him in Buenvino about thirty years ago. It is something of a cook's paradise. “We kill and cure our own Jamón Ibérico and bake wholemeal loaves and Moroccan flatbreads from organic flour...Honey comes from the hives above the orchards, organic vegetables and herbs from the garden. In autumn, wild mushrooms spring up in the woods…”

Darina introduces Sam and Jeannie

The book, published by BFP , runs to over two hundred pages and there are all kinds of tantalising recipes from Tapas to full meals, from  Baked Octopus and potatoes to a Lamb with aubergine tagine, from various treatments of anchovies to a Citrus and Honey Cake, from a Stew of Mixed Fish to the Pear and Almond Tart, from Tortillas to Iberian Pork Fillets with red peppers. There are even some pronunciation tips, for Chorizo for example.

Such variety! And all beautifully illustrated. “Have a great time cooking these recipes” wrote Sam as he and his wife signed the book for us. A great time, maybe even a long time. But it is looking very good indeed.

Jeannie gives her seal of approval to Rory O'Connell's paella

Just two recommendations to end with, there are many.
1 I can't wait to buy this book and be transported back to their little corner of paradise. (Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca restaurants).
2 A creative and dedicated cook who understands food with plenty of taste, colour and flair. (Maria Jose Sevilla, Foods and Wines from Spain, Spanish Trade Commission, London).

* Name has been changed!
** Jamón Ibérico puro de bellota is a rare and exclusive air-cured ham. The Ibérico pig is a pure bred, free-ranging animal that feeds mainly on acorns from Holm Oak trees. It is these acorns that give Jamón Ibérico it’s unique smell, taste and feel. The meat is delicate, with a sweet flavour and less salty than Jamón Serrano.