School days may be long gone but it is time to become a teachers pet again. Brindisa has opened a ham school in London. Held after hours in Brindisa’s store at Borough Market, the class includes copious amounts of ham and sherry whilst learning to carve the ham like a professional. Well, almost. No-one can carve ham like Mario Hiralod Regaldo, the head teacher at ham school and Brindisa’s “master carver”.
|My classmates at Brindisa ham school|
Our class started with a tasting of the different hams to learn to differentiate between the flavours and breeds. We discovered that the Jamón de Monroyo Reserva had thicker, whiter strips of fat with a more buttery taste while the Iberico Brindisa Bellota was the sweetest and most creamy.
Mario explained the importance of all the different environmental factors in making the finished piggy product. “If you take care of the breed and the diet of the pigs you can get the most amazing ham”.
|Comparing the different hams|
As we ruminated on the importance of acorn consumption in pigs we discovered how to pair the hams with Spanish wines from Laithwaites before the main event, the carving. Unbelievably, after a demonstration from Mario, each person was let loose on their own leg of ham. Yes Brindisa entrusted us, a group of complete amateurs with this most expensive and highly prized of products.
Mario instructed us to carve from the punta towards the hoof of the ham and to aim for slices so thin and translucent that the brand of the knife could be read through them. My confidence grew with practice but I don’t think Brindisa will be employing me to carve their ham anytime soon after witnessing my pile of tiny shreds rather than the long, wide ribbons of ham deployed so gracefully by Mario.
|Sherry and olives help the ham carving along|
I loved the ham class and would highly recommend it to all lovers of the pig and aficiondos of Spanish food and drink. If you don’t have the cash or time to invest in a class the easy thing to do is to visit one of Brindisa’s restaurants instead.
Details: Brindisa Shop at Borough Market, The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, Southwark SE1 9AF (Ph 0207 407 1036) Tube: London Bridge
Damage: £75 for the class which includes tuition, ham, wine and a goody bag.
Tapas Brindisa Soho
I am a fairly regular visitor to the Borough Market Brindisa but recently tried out the Soho Brindisa for the first time which has just been revamped. There is a bar and seating area at the front of the restaurant while the back opens up into a more traditional looking standing-room-only kind of tapas place.
|Summer tomato salad|
The jamon is, of course, unparalleled while tapas plates of a summer tomato salad (£4.75) and monte enebro (£7.60) also impressed. The sweet tomatoes were teamed with crisp, fried red onions and slathered in a cabernet dressing while goats cheese known as monte enebro was deep fried and drizzled with orange blossom honey and flakes of dried beetroot.
The patatas bravas (£4) could have been crisper but the Presa Iberica, a thick slice of the top shoulder of Iberian pork, was tender perfection itself.
Details: Tapas Soho, 46 Broadwick street, Soho W1F 7AF (Ph 020 7534 1690) Tube: Oxford Circus
Category: Cooking class, Restaurants - Spanish, SE1, W1