I recently moved into an area in Barcelona called the Born. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods, with gorgeous cobblestone streets, lively bars, a simply awe-inspiring church, and my favorite part, the most decadent delicatessen and wine shop. Whatever I am saving on rent from my previous apartment, I am spending it in here! And you can also have lunch, or a snack in the store, and sample all the gorgeous cheeses, “jamones” and just about anything else they have in stock……which is a lot.
Recently I went in and grabbed a bite, ok a big bite, to eat. And I was in heaven. The menu is basically a list of cheeses, cured meats, some seafood (all canned, but the best quality) and a few salads. I can never decide on the cheese, so I always ask for the 5 cheese sampler.
But I also wanted something fresh, so we asked for a plate of their tomatoes and tuna belly (ventresca)
In Spain, the canned tuna is exceptional. It is nothing, I mean nothing compared to what I used to get in the USA when I lived there, that was this dry, sand-papery kind of thing that you had to add mayonnaise to it. And the tomatoes!!! Look at them, my mouth waters just from thinking about it. It was a plate of “Corazon de Buey” or Bull’s heart due to their shape, which is large and full of ridges, and Kumato tomatoes. The bull’s heart are a fleshier, jucier more delicate type of tomato, whereas the Kumato is round, small, and has a greenish-brown tint, and has a more pronounced flavor. I prefer the Kumato. All drizzled with some extremely high quality extra-virgin olive oil, and sprinkled with some salt from Ibiza, you can see it in the background in the light blue tin.
Then, of course we had some ham, “Joselito” ham to be exact.
This is not your normal Iberian ham. It is truly a gift from the Gods, or from some very delicious piggies. If you aren’t familiar with “Jamon de Bellota”, it is ham made from Black pigs, that are only fed acorns. And it produces this beautiful dark red hue, with just the perfect amount of fat on it. When you put it in your mouth, it basically melts and delivers an incredible “umami” sensation. It is best eaten with “pa amb tomaquet” which is country bread spread with tomato, olive oil and salt.
Then on to our cheese plate…..EUREKA!!!!! I love cheese. If I were stuck on a desert island, I hope there are some goats or sheep or cows, cause I need to have my cheese. As I said, we chose the 5 sampler plate.
Tou de Tillers – A mild and creamy (delishhhhhhhh) cow’s milk cheese from the Catalan Pyrenees
Tome des Coucherins – a firm, mild cow’s milk cheese from France. This one was just ok, but hey, they all can’t be stars!
Comte- a strong, firm cow’s milk cheese, aged from 2009, from France. I really liked this one, but you can’t have too much, it really has a pronounced flavor.
Tome de Savoie- this was a semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese. I really enjoyed this one, it had a more pronounced flavor than the first one, and it paired really well with the jam that they gave us, which I will tell you about later.
And last but not least, or basically my favorite,
Shropshire Blue- This is the king of all cheeses. The big kahuna. The bees to my knees. Ok, it’s a cheddary-blue cheese from England, reminiscent of Stilton, but softer, more melt in your mouth feel. This is my go-to cheese. I absolutely could eat this everyday.
And all of this accompanied by this incredible violet jelly. I was a bit unconvinced at first. I have tried cheese with rose petal jelly, but never violet. It was delicious. It wasn’t as “perfumey” as I thought it would be. It was a very delicate taste, and it combined perfectly with the fattier cheeses, giving it a completely balanced taste, none of the flavors overpowering the others. And it was so beautiful to look at too, it’s pinkish-lavender hue looked extremely beautiful on the white cheeses.
If you are ever in Barcelona, and you want a fabulous glass of wine to wash down all this food glory, or just do some shopping to take back home, you need to make your way to Vila Viniteca. It’s just perfect.
Carrer de Agullers, 7
+34 902 32 77 77