Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Cured ham from Tuddal

Tuddal is a municiplaity in Telemark county. Photo: Trulsh
I belong to those that are convinced that Norwegians can not make high quality cured ham. I pass the shelves with products made from Finsbråthen and Gilde and choose Spanish serrano or Italian parma ham. For someone who shy away from Norwegian ham, I was highly surprised by a cured ham from Tuddal in Telemark served during a tasting session at Fenaknoken a week ago. It was deliriously delicious, surpassing San Daniele, Parma, and the best serranos.....
Italian Parma ham. Photo: Sun Taro 
Spain and Italy have managed to balance quality and mass production of cheese and ham, and sell at high prices in a food market with low prices, overall. I have tasted culatello, parma ham, San Daniele ham, Serrano and Pata Negra ham at ridiculous prices but with a taste and texture to die for. Norwegian mass production can simply not compete on quality, and even though imported delicacies are imposed high customs, many Norwegian choose European quality ham at chocking prices.

I am happy to say that there are exceptions. These high quality products are sold in specialty shops in the bigger cities, and I was invited to a tasting session at one such shop -  Fenaknoken in downtown Oslo. We were served a wide range of dried and cured meats, smoked and gravad fish and cheese. Among products on the table was a sensational ham from Tuddal, a beautiful valley in Telemark county.

What separate these products from the ones you find in the supermarkets. Whereas many cured meats in your shelves may have been injected with salted water, these have been dry salted. In this gentle process salt are absorbed to the meat in exchange with water that is extracted, leaving it drier and with a sweeter taste. Exclusive ham is also allowed to hang and mature the meat and removing even more water. The ham from Tuddal had matured for 3 years.

But beware, specialty products like this, are expensive. The Tuddal ham cost 960 NOK (158 USD / EUR 126) pr. kilo, but it is worth every penny!! These products are for occasions, and I bought 200 grams to bring to enjoy at our summer home the coming weekend.

How is the best way to enjoy such a treat? In Spain we buy a few slices of exceptionally good ham, serving it as it is to nibble with a glass of ice cold cava. At our summer home I served with with freshly boiled with asparagus and Hollandaise sauce, hardly the most healthy option - for the body, that is. For the soul, however, such a meal is a blissful experience.

See the Fenaknoken website here (Norwegian only)

Fenaknoken on Facebook 

Fenaknoken is one of a few specialty food shops in Oslo - more stories: 

View UPDATED: Oslo on Enjoy Food & Travel November 2011 in a larger map

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