Brindisa & euskal txerria ham

On a recent chorizo expedition I ventured to Brindisa in Exmouth Market, home of the finest cooking chorizo in the land in my limited, eating-meat-for-less-than-one-year experience. I love it, the texture is soft, moist and spongy and the flavour rich. I eat far too much of it, in salads, with eggs for brunches, in pastas, on it’s own, wherever really! They sell mini chorizo and larger ones. I usually go for the mini chorizo, they’re less intimidating and if I got one of the big packets I would just have to eat the lot. Not a good idea!

So, off I went to Brindisa. I really like Exmouth Market. It’s got that village-y feel that places like Marylebone and Primrose Hill have. Lots of gorgeous places to eat like Moro and the Ambassador (I have yet to try but I have heard such good things from reliable sources) and the food market is on at the weekends. I wandered in to Brindisa and had a look around. My eye was taken by the ham. Four legs of ham in the window ready to be sliced. I was feeling carnivorous. I asked for some information on the hams, what pigs were they from, where were they from, annoying questions that were patiently answered. Two grabbed my attention – the one that moro use and the euskal txerria ham. I decided on the euskal txerria one. The euskal txerria pig is a rare breed recently saved from extinction in the Basque region in 1997 when only a few sows were left. It seems a mad concept, save a breed from extinction to kill and eat it. I had never heard of it before so asked that they write it down on the packet so that I could do my research after.

The pigs diet is regulated in the two months before slaughter when they are fed on corn, broad beans and bran. There’s more information available on the slow food foundation website. Househoulds in Spain, like Ireland, used to raise a pig for slaughter, up until the 1900’s or so in Spain. To my great shame I don’t know when the practice stopped in Ireland. Alot of people are familiar with this via that image commonly seen in old stage-irish films of a half door with a pig peering out. Some people actually expect to see that when they come to Ireland too. At least they did when I grew up there in the 70’s/80’s, bus loads of elderly tourists used to deposit in the small town I grew up in and ask us kids about what we considered to be bizarre things like this. Of course we played up to it. Anyway, back to the pig! The euskal txerria pig would have been the breed commonly found in households in Spain. I must research the Irish equivalent, I wonder if we retained the breed as they have?

So, I had to have some. Just a little bit. I asked the price. £15 per 100g. Yikes! Just a little taste then. Cue the elderly eccentric gentleman walking past the shop pausing to view the legs of ham. And in he came.

elderly gentleman: How much is that ham, darling?

me: {argh!} mumble£15per100gmumble

elderly gentleman: sorry?

me: I think it’s £15 per 100g

elderly gentleman: surely you must be mistaken, that must be £15 per kilo!

me: I’m afraid not but you could always confirm with the guy behind the counter

elderly gentleman to the shop assistant(in disbelief): How much is that ham?

shop assistant: £15 per 100g

elderly gentleman: surely that’s per kilo!

shop assistant: I am afraid not, it’s a rare organic ham from Spain

elderly gentleman to me: well, darling, I hope that ham gives you the most enormous high!

me: chuckle, me too

So, did it? It was absolutely delicious but I fear my palette isn’t developed enough yet. After an 11 year abstinence I have only been eating meat since last November. I would recommend a trip to Brindisa to try their wares though. Particularly to Borough Market where you can get a great chorizo and rocket sandwich in the market, purchase in the shop or have tapas in their restaurant.

Brindisa stall at Covent Garden Night Market



Written by Niamh
Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.