Made from the cured meat of Iberian black pigs that have grazed freely in the mountain forests of southern and western Spain, Pata Negra de Bellota is no ordinary ham
One of the most expensive foods in the world, ranked alongside Kobe beef, oysters, foie gras and caviar, Pata Negra de Bellota is no ordinary ham. Made from the cured meat of Iberian black pigs that have grazed freely in the mountain forests of southern and western Spain, it is agreed, as a matter of fact, that Pata Negra is the finest ham in the world.
You’ll be able to tell the difference the moment you lay eyes on the delicately carved wafer-thin slices. From the deeper pink, and sometimes red, colour of the flesh to the glistening silkiness of the ribbons of fat that wrap along its side. The scent is soft, with hints of sweetness, while the taste and texture are a combination of honeyed, nutty richness from the meat and creamy silk from the fat. It is a sublime combination that deserves your full attention.
And how do they create something so magical? The black-hoofed (“pata negra”) Iberian black pig grazes freely in the dry, warm oak-filled mountain forests of Spain. There they gorge on acorns, the fruit of the oak trees called bellota, which help to infuse their meat and fat with sweet, nutty flavours. But this little pig has its own special talents too, as it lays down fat slightly differently from other pigs. Not only do they develop a rich layer of fat along their haunches, but the meat itself is riven with tiny slivers of that fat where the deepest wells of flavour are found.
The ham comes from the hind legs which are salted and hung to cure for as long as three to four years. Because the black Iberian pig lays down so much fat, the hams can be cured for longer than other hams resulting in a deeper concentration of flavours that create the intense experience for which Pata Negra is so rightly famed.
The traditions that brought us Pata Negra de Belllota go back thousands of years and are steeped in reverence. This ham is the pride of Spain, the jewel in its culinary crown, and one single ham can sell for as much as $4,000.
To really enjoy your Pata Negra at Topaz, we recommend pairing it up with a glass of Champagne, which offers a nice balance to the sweet, fattiness of the ham. Alternatively, wines from the Loire Valley are always highly recommended, such as a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé. Cleansing the palate with each sip will prepare you for a fresh new flavour explosion with your next bite.