Departures Magazine - November 01, 2003
Epicurean Cyber Pantry
The new online purveyors now allow you to order and serve everything from Serrano ham and white-truffle oil to a dozen fresh oysters and French turbot.
by David Rosengarten
Tienda,Inc. - Spanish Specialties
Until recently, the wonderful products of Spain were qite difficult to find in the United States. Then, in 1006, along came Tienda.
Today Tienda features some 400 food and cookware items. But as you'll see from the tantalizing photo-studded home page, there's more than food to be had. Click and you get a page of links to articles about Spanish cuisine and ingredients that have appeared in various periodicals; click again and you get virtual tours of "our favorite villages in Spain." Another click brings you to a listing of apartments in Madrid available for short term rentals.
RECENTLY TASTED The ham of Spain, arguably the greatest ham country on earth, was unavailable in the United States for many years. That began to change a few years ago, and Tienda has been in the forefront of the push. Redondo Inglesias slices Serrano ham ($12.95 for half a pound of slices from a ham cured 18 months) is one of the nly Spanish brands currently available here. It is fairly mild in flavor for Spanish jamón, but a good starting off point.
If you want more depth, the best choice is the Redondo Inglesias bone-in jamón Serrano 'Reserva' ($219 for a whole ham cured 18 months). Unfortunately, the créme de la créme of Spanish hans, from the breed of black-hoofed pigs called Iberico, has never been legal here. But, anticipating a change in our government's regulatins, Tienda is taking order on its Web site for whole legs of jamón Iberico when they do become avaioable. If you're serious about this delicacy sign up now -- the waitlist is growing fast. Cured Spanish sausage -- the great chorizo, made from pork, paprika, and other flavorings -- is similarly restricted: The only Spanish-made brand allowed into the country at the moment is teh Palacios chorizo, hot ($9.95 for 9.5 oz), also my favorite. This is a fairly full-flavored chorizo,not especially spicy, meant to be cut in thin slices and consumer at room temperature as a tapa. www.tienda.com