Horseback Riding in Pata Negra Country

Horseback Riding in Pata Negra Country

The Spanish Table Seattle
July 22, 2010

Just over a month ago we were riding horses in Zafra, Spain. Zafra is located in Extremadura, an historically backward and austere region that produced Conquistadors like Hernán Cortés.

Patio in Zafra, Spain

But because Zafra is just a stone’s throw away from Andalucia, delightful Moorish influences can be seen all over town, from the whitewashed buildings to the Mudejar architecture and intricate ironwork. We’d never been to Zafra which was one of the reasons we chose to stop there.

Ironworks on the balcony.

It’s also the center of Pata Negra country and meat shops abound in Zafra, selling the uberunctuous Jamon Iberico de Bellota. These hams are made from the Pata Negra breed of pig that has been fed a diet of acorns, which give it a nutty and delicate flavor. We rode past the grazing fields of the Pata Negra, through oak forests lined with wild asparagus, asppast ancient Arab water mills and farms.

Here, little piggy!

We recommend skipping a restaurant meal or two and picking up some Jamon Iberico de Bellota at Jamonería Quini on Zafra’s Plaza España. Made by local producer Joaquin Luna, the shop offers an incredible number of sausages and jamones made from Pata Negra. Try the Jamon de Bellota “Seleccion” which is a higher grade of iberico ham fed on a diet of acorns.

For those who may shy away from Spanish Iberico jamon, studies have shown that 50 to 60% of the fat in Jamon Bellota is in the form of oleic acid, the same acid found in olive oil which reduces LDL cholestrol. And Jamon Bellota also has 3 to 4 times the level of Omega-3 fatty acids compared to other Jamon products, due to the diet of acorns. It’s not only delicious, but healthy! We carry 4 oz packages of pre sliced Jamon Iberico de Bellota.


Dry cured Revilla brand Chorizo, made in Spain. Excellent for slicing – use it on a charcuterie plate or in sandwiches. Made of pork, garlic, paprika and a touch or rosemary. $6.99/7.9 oz; $46.99 (appx 3 pounds) or sliced to order $15.99 per pound.

Mi Conserva Menestra – contains a medley of white asparagus, beans, peas, carrots – heat and serve!

Mi Conserva Escalivada – the ultimate harvest vegetable dish! Roasted peppers, onions and eggplant.

Dani canned Paella Seasoning: Choose either seafood in squid ink or seafood in vegetable oil.

Massa de Pimentão: Portuguese red pepper sauce

The Olive and The Caper, Adventures in Greek Cooking by Susanna Hoffman ($19.95) This 572 page book covers everything you need to know about Greek cooking. Individual chapters cover drinks, meze, seafood, meat, grains and more with pictures and some Greek history thrown in.


2009 Eterna Flor, Montsant ($21.99)
This is a stellar white wine! Made of 70% old vine Garnatxa Blanca (50% of which is aged in French oak) and 30% Macabeo, it is a perfect balance of freshness and depth. Delicate white peach and citrus notes have a chalky minerality with a backbone of crushed stone. The mid palate is round with a dry and lingering finish. Made by a one man operation from vines over 80 years old, he looks for vineyards with spongy soils that have never been worked by a machine. He uses a donkey to till the soil and produces a mere 200 cases per year.

2008 Shaya Habis Verdejo Old Vines, Rueda ($29.99) Delicate floral aromas with round and lush flavors of melon, apricot and toast. “The 2008 Shaya Habis is a special selection that is also barrel-fermented and aged on its lees in large oak. It displays a nose of toasty baking spices, nutmeg, spring flowers, marzipan, and pit fruits. A bit richer and more complex on the palate than the “regular” cuvee, this vibrant effort could evolve for 1-2 years but is drinking well now.” 92 points Wine Advocate

2009 Aforado Albariño, Rias Baixas ($17.99) Made from a 7 hectare vineyard located 100 meters above sea level, Aforado focuses on quality over quantity. The grapes are organically grown and exhibit all of the mineral character of the region. Fresh and pure, the 2009 Albariño has flavors of lemon-lime with elements of wet stone. Dry and crisp, it is excellent with any shellfish.

NV Valdespino Inocente Fino ($19.99/375 ml) Valdespino is famous as a supplier to the Royal House and is one of the few wineries that continues to be family owned. This unique Fino is from a single vineyard in Jerez, and it is the only fino aged in American oak casks. Intense and complex, Inocente has aromas of yeast and almonds with nutty and characteristic pungent notes. It is delicious with Jamon Iberico! “Delicate and bright, with green olive, iodine and a touch of the seashore. It ends with a crisp finish and saline taste. Drink now. 200 cases imported” 89 points Wine Spectator, 93 points International Wine Review

2007 Crasto Tinto, Douro ($15.99) Crasto is one of the top producers in the Douro region and is well known for their ports and table wines. 2007 was a phenomenal year for red wines, and the Crasto Tinto brims with perfectly ripened dark fruit. Full-bodied with notes of coffee and minerals, it has complexity, lift and elegance. It’s a steal at this price.

2004 Matarromera Reserva, Ribera del Duero ($29.99) The wines from Bodega Matarromera beautifully express the terrunyo of Ribera del Duero, with notes of chocolate, black fruit and graphite. This full-bodied wine is an outstanding value. The Wine Advocate says: ” The 2004 Reserva, aged for 16 months in American oak, is …. expressive aromatically with notes of cedar, scorched earth, espresso, plum, and blackberry. Full-bodied, big, and structured in the mouth, the wine has ample fruit, good balance, and a long, tannic finish. It requires 4-6 years of cellaring and should drink well through 2030″ 91+ points Wine Advocate

Last Sunday’s Seattle Times Pacific Magazine highlighted The Spanish Table and our recipe for Salmon Paella with Cardoons and Pine Nuts. To read the full article, click Paella.

VISIT US ON LINE! Shop our wine website at Spanish Table Wines. For food, cookbooks, paella pans and all non-wine items, go to The Spanish Table website. For the latest product news from Paris Grocery, visit the PG Facebook page.

Thank you for being our customer!


Sharon Baden and Steve Winston, Owners

The Spanish Table
1426 Western Avenue
Seattle WA 98101
SUMMER HOURS: Mon-Sat 9:30 AM – 6:30 PM, Sunday 11 AM – 5 PM.

Paris Grocery
1418 Western Avenue
Seattle WA 98101
HOURS: Monday- Saturday, 10 AM – 6 PM, Sunday 11 AM – 5 PM


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Filed under Food, Jamon, Spain, Travel

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