Food Review: Iberica's ham masterclass
Iberica, Canary Wharf
IN A NUTSHELL
With the fee for the masterclass knocked off your bill, this offering proves the perfect entree.
We're packed round the mezzanine's extremity, some squeezed into leather armchairs; others standing.
Worshippers circling an idol clamped by stainless steel thorns; it awaits slicing.
We haven't climbed a Mayan pyramid to watch the destruction of a virgin to honour the Sun God via the medium of obsidian blades.
Instead the adulation is focused on a single ingredient. It's a ham and we're upstairs at Iberica.
This experience is £20 a head (knocked off your bill if dining afterwards and consequently wins my endorsement as the best deal on the Wharf; soon to be repeated in variation).
Sherry-fuelled (Tio Pepe, for those counting), the main man, in a natty shirt and latex gloves, deftly slices information and the cured meat it concerns.
It's invigorating, peppery when laid on the tongue for a minute and unashamedly decadent.
The PR will want me to mention Domecq's product is £75 per kg and made from pigs that are 100 per cent Iberico (mum and dad) even though this isn't required by its foodie designation.
It's also the perfect, informative starter, so we stay for dinner.
And group head chef Cesar Garcia's selection (we place ourselves in his hands) is stupendous.
Bold, assured and beautifully crafted (one chap in Garcia's kitchen just spends his days whipping filling for the cloud-light croquettes), there are few places to match Iberica for comfort eating on the Wharf.
Delicious plate after delicious plate assaults our senses. Honourable mentions go to a squid ink risotto (pure darkness) and the gossamer croquettes.
Whoever's doing that soul-destroying job backstage is enriching Wharfers' lives.
Throw in a rosemary and thyme Gin Mare and tonic (currently Spain's hottest drink) and you've got an alchemy that succeeds.
With an educative and functional foodie entree, perfectly tapping into diners' increasing appetite for provenance and explanation, it's a combination that converts the acorns munched by the pigs to pure gold for the participants.
Although we ate all the ham, there are a number of similar events coming up on the estate.
Wharfers can learn to make pinchos (tapas on bread) with Garcia on October 15 from 6pm or taste Castillo de Canena extra virgin olive oil on November 4 at the same time.
Reserve your spot by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iberica, 12 Cabot Square, London,
E14 4QQ, 020 7636 8650,