Ibérico Ham: Crazy Good But Worth the Price?


Jamón Ibérico has finally arrived in New York and across the country this week. Washington D.C. chef Jose Andres cut the ceremonial first slice last week.Dean & Deluca is selling it in its stores in New York, Washington, D.C., and St. Helena, California. Just call the individual stores before you make the trip to make sure it's in stock and how they are selling it. In Washington, D.C., for example, D & D is only selling whole bone-in and boneless hams at $87 a pound. The boneless ham will set you back around $400 and the bone-in ham somewhere between $1200-1400.

According to Florence Fabricant, Agata & Valentina currently has the lowest price in New York, $71.96 a pound. And if you want to buy it the way people do in Spain, that is, sliced by hand, Despana Foods in New York's Soho and Jackson Heights will do just that for $99 a pound.

But is it worth it?

I know these prices sound insane for ham, but based on my weeklong Jamón Ibérico binge in Barcelona in March, this ham is well worth it. It's the nuttiest, porkiest ham I've ever had. And this ham is not even the best, most expensive Jamon Iberico there is. Sometime next year the Jamon Iberico Bellotta, made from pigs fed only acorns, will make its way to this country, and I might have to take out a second mortgage to pay for it.

Ask for a taste before you buy any ham this expensive. In fact, ask for a taste of the Jamón Ibérico and then ask for a taste of prosciutto di Parma. This kind of side-by-side tasting will give you some much-needed context for judging Jamón Ibérico. You may decide to stick to prosciutto, but at least you'll know. For lots more info about Jamón Ibérico (maybe more than you want to know), or if you want to buy some online for delivery sometime in 2008), visit Jamon.com.