JoselitoLab’s trip to Germany

In Koln, Joachim Wissler gave his take on the great Spanish ham. Before that, a test with a ham matured 8 years


José father and José son, Gomez is their family name, are known to all as Joselito, the producers of the best ham in the world in Guijuelo (Salamanca). You never get tired of tasting it, and each slice, each morsel, has different notes and sensations. These are not just empty words, but the result of a personal experience only a few days ago, on Thursday 26th October.

José Gomez and Joachim Wissler

José Gomez and Joachim Wissler

For the fifth year in a row, the Gomez family asked a chef to give his take on their product. Five chefs from five different countries, starting from Ferran Adrià in Spain, then Massimiliano Alajmo in Italy, Jonnie Boer in the Netherlands, Seiji Yamamoto in Japan and now Joachim Wissler in Koln, Germany. They chose the patron-chef at Vendome, restaurant on two floors of a building next to the Althoff Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg, because, compared to one of his colleagues in Berlin who ignores it, he’s been cooking pork, and for a while too.

Before the cooking, a tasting of a prosciutto made in 2009 and before that a conference with Wissler and Gomez Sr. The latter recalled how he wondered what to include in the menu for 10 days, charmed by the unique fat and inspired by the confrontation with the chef who preceded him but also by the knowledge that few people think of Germany as a fine dining place. And José easily added that you can buy cars in Germany, but Germans are the first to go to France, Italy, Spain, when they want good food.

Joachim is a very unique exception, in terms of prices, surely, but also because his classic and refined offer is not accessible to all. One number one chef after the other, JoselitoLab arrived at his restaurant. First in the cellar, then in the dining room. First came seven delicious morsels, each with their note, given by Joselito pigs. Among these, the Gillardeau oyster with pancetta and melon stood out.

And before the dinner began, a table was laid with a ham matured eight years. The very first slices were basically fat, then came the red meat and everyone was helping themselves. They were excellent, but not the best slices because the beginning is always too thin. It was best to wait for wider and longer slices. At that point, most people had moved their attention and that’s when my turn arrived, all the more appreciated as I adore this kind of product. Each slice is a different world, with lovely and dreamy nuances.

Joselito is turning 150 next year. Who knows what ideas and delicacies await us. Josè senior said: «If I think of the new century, 2005 was the best year, 2008, 2009 and 2011 were very good. The ideal proportion, is one animal per hectare, but it’s almost impossible. Pigs eat grass and acorns and they might not find plenty of them each summer. So two hectares are better, and when there’s drought even three or four on a very bad year. And if it needs two pastures, the first year is for the pigs to grow, the second is for sacrifice. A third summer would make no sense».

Then they served the dishes made by Wissler: Mackerel, pancetta and caviar; Marbled mascarpone ravioli, a dish in the menu for 12 years, reinterpreted for the occasion, not real ravioli made with pasta, but wrapped in a gelatine of Joselito, a sort of raviolo aperto that reminds one of Gualtiero Marchesi. Then Egg cooked at low (too low) temperature, white truffle and cream of ham. Finally Barbecued Joselito pluma, cooked masterfully, too bad for the vegetables which where lovely to look at but added little to the overall taste. A triumph of desserts and good manners, which are always welcome.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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