Tasting Notes, my forthcoming HappenStance pamphlet, allows the wines that I blend to speak for themselves. More about them in the next few days. However, it also deals with how wine matches with food. In that respect, one of my personal favourites is a glass of decent red from Extremadura with some of the local ham.
Ham from Extremadura is the best in the world. Forget about that Italian stuff (cry your eyes out, Parma!) or even Guijuelo or Jabugo in Spain. An acorn-fed, free range, on-the-bone Ibérico ham from Extremadura is unbeatable. Ibérico is the local breed of pigs, offering up delicious, marbled fat. Cut wafer-thin, it just melts on the tongue!
Fair enough, you might say, but why isn't it world-renowned, sold in the best restaurants and talked up by glossy magazines? Well, it certainly is making a major name for itself among foodies, but marketing has long been one of Extremadura's failings.This is maybe because of the old farmers' mentality in what is one of the poorest and most remote regions in Spain - Extremaduran people were just glad to get a good price for the animals at slaughter, letting companies from other parts of the country cure their hams, create brands and thus an image.
Nevertheless, things are now changing. Ham from Extremadura is now served at some of the top London restaurants. Moreover, it's coming to a poetry reading near you very soon for the price of a chapbook, together with a fair whack of that red wine I mentioned above. This is going to be a launch with a difference!
This, I'm afraid, is utterly depressing and terrifying in equal measure. I'm used, like any other birdwatcher, to reading about worrying declines in all ...