Feeding a jamon addiction at Oliver

Photos by: Martha Cheng

Jamon hanging in Madrid's Mercado de San Miguel

A recent trip to Spain has me addicted to jamon, Spain’s version of prosciutto, in which the hind leg of pig is salted and cured for up to 36 months. The finest of Spain’s jamon, the jamon iberico bellota, is made from a Spanish breed of black pig, raised on acorns. It is streaked with fat, almost maroon in color, and is a gastronomic experience on par with bluefin toro (minus the eco-guilt). It’s usually hand-sliced right off the leg when you order it.

Inside Oliver

But where to get jamon in Honolulu? Searching around to feed my addiction, I discovered that Oliver, the bodega next Olive Tree Cafe, is more than a convenient place to grab wine or beer, it also imports jamon serrano. The jamon here is from run-of-the-mill white pigs, not forest-foraging heritage pigs, and is aged only 6 months, so while the flavor is not as intense, it’s almost silky, not too salty and most importantly to me, recaptures Spain’s romance.

Oliver also carries such Spanish cheeses as Manchego; Idiazabal, a smoked sheep cheese; Iberico curado, a hard cheese made with a blend of cow, goat and sheep milk; and queso azul de Posada, a blue cheese.

Of course, since Savas Mojarrad owns both Oliver and Olive Tree, there are plenty of Greek goodies as well: the best pita on the island, more like a flatbread than the usual dry pita, and tarama salata, a jarred version of one of Mojarrad’s favorite Greek dishes.

Now if only someone would open a Spanish restaurant in Hawaii!

Oliver, 4614 Kilauea Avenue # 107, 737-0303