Euro-Toques Assembly 2018: A tour of the bodegas of Cinco Jotas jamón ibérico and lunch in Jabugo, Spain
Euro-Toques, an invaluable institution in Spain and beyond that is dedicated to preservation and defense of gastronomic cultural heritage, has once again joined with Cinco Jotas to celebrate the 11th edition of the Euro-Toques Assembly. The celebration took place this year in the heart Andalusia, at the Cinco Jotas Bodegas in the famous village of Jabugo. Jabugo is legendary in the world of jamón ibérico de bellota (acorn-fed Iberian ham), and Cinco Jotas is the local name of reference, a name that has been synonymous with exceptional quality since the brand’s birth in 1879, nearly 140 years ago.
Cinco Jotas jamón, made from 100% pure-bred Iberian pork, is now available for sale in 35 countries around the world, but nothing compares to visiting the source of this unique and legendary product. The town of Jabugo is located inside of the Sierra de Aracena nature park and the Picos de Aroche mountains, which have been declared a biosphere reserve. The microclimate here, and bounty of wild grass and acorns on which these special pigs feast, is the reason why, within the Denomination of Origin region of Huelva for jamón, the town of Jabugo is the crown jewel.
This edition of Euro-Toques in Jabugo was led by iconic chef and personality Pedro Subijana, of Michelin three-star restaurant Akelarre, for the last time. Chef Subijana, who is an official Cinco Jotas brand ambassador, also served over the last 12 years as the President of the Euro-Toques Assembly. After this year’s festivities came to a close, Subijana stepped aside to welcome Andoni Luis Aduriz as the new president, who is sure to carry on the important culinary respect and tradition of the asamblea.
The final day of the assembly was a true immersion in the epicurean world of Cinco Jotas. Nearly 100 chefs from around Spain, with a total of 13 Michelin stars among them including honored chef Juan Mari Arzak of Michelin three-star Restaurante Arzak, gathered in the late morning at the Cinco Jotas Bodegas in Jabugo for a private tour of the curing cellars and breakfast. The chefs donned the sterile white overcoats and protective hard hats required during a bodega visit and were lead into the subterranean vaults in which some of the best Spanish ham in the world is produced. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota ages in these cellars for a minimum of three years, and often longer, and the constant, cool and humidity-control environment of these cellars gives the master jamón makers precise control over the final outcome of the culinary treasure.
After the tour, the chefs were led on a unique visit to the dehesa, the characteristic holm oak forest in which the Iberian pigs range free, feeding on wild acorns and gaining flavor-packed fat during the montanera period; the final stage of their growth cycle before slaughter. From the dehesa, we then moved on to the days “main event”; an elaborate and authentic lunch, with live music, at a beautiful rural home in the heart of the dehesa itself.
Sheltered from the sun inside the ancient and cool stone walls of the Molino Fuente Santa, the chefs enjoyed a plentiful array of Cinco Jotas products, from cured jamón and lomo to tender cuts of pork grilled over open flames. The food was classic, uncomplicated, and delicious; just the way chefs prefer to eat on their days off. Wine and laughs were shared between old friends and new, and in true Spanish style, lunch lasted well into the afternoon. As the sun sank low over the seemingly endless oak forest that surrounded the sprawling farmhouse, final glasses on vino de Jerez were sipped and another year of the Euro-Toques Assembly came to a sumptuous close.