Since the late 1800s, family-owned Montesierra has been sourcing free range, acorn munching Iberian pigs from the dehesas (wooded scrublands) of the Sierra Morena mountains and curing them without additives or preservatives (just salt and mountain air) in the village of Jabugo and the city of Jerez.
I paid a visit to Montesierra’s Jerez cellars during my Feeling Fino trip for a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the drying and curing rooms, followed by a tasting and an extremely tempting browse in the shop at the end. Fun and enlightening, I enjoyed seeing where and how this estrella del jamòn is produced and learning about what sets quality Spanish hams apart from other varieties. Of course a great food and drink pairing is charcuterie with sherry. A glass of Tio Pepe with a few slices of Montesierra picante chorizo during the tasting proved no exception to that rule – but an exceptional treat nonetheless.
At the end of the tour, I kind of ‘went for it’ at the shop with eyes bigger than my admittedly big belly – and the hope that my eyes weren’t bigger than my wallet. Prices for Montesierra products and other locally produced artisan food were surprisingly low (at least for someone accustomed to food shopping in London). I paid less than €5 for what I know would have cost me probably closer to £20 back home. In the weeks after my trip cooking up the meat delicacies I had purchased, I savoured the memories of what has turned out to be some of the most delicious and thriftiest souvenir shopping I’ve ever done.
Tours of Montesierra in Jerez and in Jabugo are open to the general public. For folks going to Jabugo, tours can include a meal in the traditional Mesòn Montesierra restaurant and an opportunity for an added visit to the pastures to observe the different stages of rearing Iberian pig in the dehesas – something I would have loved to see. Next time!
If you’re Jerez but don’t think you have time (or interest) to tour the facilities, consider dropping in for an affordable shopping spree of quality Iberico hams, sausages and more.
For details go to montesierra.es.
More to come in my series about Feeling Fino in Jerez.