Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Las Ventas: Spanish Pork, Cheese & Much More

When I visited Spain, I quickly learned of their love for pork in all of its forms. At each breakfast buffet, there had to have been ten different types of pork available. And all of them were delicious! You can stop by the Museo del Jamon, the "ham museum" where you can purchase and eat many different types of ham, whether on their own or in bocadillos, sandwiches. You can find roast suckling pigs in many places and I even ate a pig's tail at one meal.

Locally, you can find a few Spanish ham and pork products at certain places such as South End Formaggio or Savenor's Market. But there is now a market where you can find lots of different Spanish hams and pork products, as well as many other Spanish products including a couple dozen cheeses. And this place is likely going to become the prime destination for any local foodie seeking Spanish foods.

The Las Ventas market is owned and operated by two brothers from Madrid, Luis and Julio de Haro. They are also the owners of Estragon, the new Spanish tapas restaurant located next door to Las Ventas. Julio used to run Taberna de Haro, a tapas restaurant in Brookline, where his ex wife, Deborah Hansen, continues there as Chef and owner. On my visits to Las Ventas, Luis was always working there, being both personable and accomodating.

Las Ventas sells a wide variety of Spanish food products including: Olives, Olive Oils, Turron, Spanish Chocolate, Gazpacho, Cured Meats & Jamones, Spanish Cheeses, Canned and Jarred Foods, Spices and much more. Besides the food items, you can also find kitchen supplies such as Paella Pans, Sangria Pitchers and Porrones. One stop shopping for almost any Spanish need.

Above, you can see part of the wall where the canned and jarred item are displayed. There is certainly much diversity to be found there. Maybe you want some Mojo sauce, or sardines, or piquillo peppers. If you have a Spanish recipe and need certain ingredients, then you are likely to find them here.

If you love cheese, then Las Ventas has you covered. The case above displays over 25 Spanish cheeses, some of which may not be available anywhere else in the local area. It is certainly compelling that you can find unique cheeses here. Though I previously had plans to check out Las Ventas, the Leather District Gourmet's post about the Spanish cheeses she found there helped to accelerate my plans for a visit.

You will find well known Spanish such as Manchego and Idiazabal, and lesser known ones too such as Ahumado de Pareao. You'll find items from goat cheese, such as Drunken Goat, to blue cheese, such as Cabrales. For a cheese lover like me, this is a smorgasbord of delights. Prices are compatabile to other local cheese shops.

To accompany your cheese, why not have some ham or other pork products? The case above has a couple dozen different items, from various types of chorizo to Serrano ham to morcilla. Some of the items are spicy, especially a few of the chorizo. Everything I have tasted so far has been excellent. Why not try some sliced chorizo on your pizza? Or add some to your salad.

You can even find the renowned Jamon Iberico de Bellota, considered by some to be the best ham in the world. This ham comes from the black Iberian pig, which generally eats only acorns. I ate some of that ham in Spain and it is superb, silky smooth with a delicious nutty flavor. Be warned though that this ham is very pricey, about $135 a pound! Yet even in Spain, this ham is extremely pricey. Luckily though you don't need to order a pound to enjoy it. Cut thin, a quarter of a pound, or even less, will still provide plenty of delectable ham.

If you don't want to wait until you get home to enjoy their cheese and ham, you can always order one of their Bocadillos, a Spanish sandwich, and eat it there. There are over 10 different Bocadillos available, ranging from $7.50-$8.50 each. For example, you can try the Dona Mes with butifarra, manchego, cheese, arugula, and alioli de jerex, the Las Ventas with tortilla espanola, caramelized cubanelle peppers, and alioli de jerez or the Del Campo with portabello, mushrooms, pesto, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and baby arugula. You can get them on a fresh baguette, which has a nice crispy exterior and soft interior. The sandwiches are good-sized with plenty of fresh fillings. They make for a great lunch or light dinner.

I heartily recommend that you check out Las Ventas! They sell an exceptional selection of Spanish products, especially their pork and cheese items. It is also cool that you can get a delicious sandwich there for under $10. Las Ventas is a welcome addition to Boston and the South End and I will surely return time and time again.

Las Ventas
700 Harrison Ave.
Boston, MA
Phone: 617-266-0905

Las Ventas on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

JLibbey said...

Lucky Bostonians, to have a store like this!