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You can find some of the world's best Spanish ham off the beaten path at this Metro Vancouver hidden gem

Where to find one of Spain's "national treasure" foods...without taking a flight
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Cinco Jotas produces some of the finest jamon Iberico - black-label 100% Iberico Spanish ham - in the world. Here's where to find it in Metro Vancouver.

Your navigation system is telling you to make a right, but this can't possibly be the place. It's an industrial area in South Richmond, definitely not where you thought you'd be sitting down to drink some wine or sherry and eat top-tier Spanish foods.

ARC Iberico Imports' tasting room and retail space is the very definition of a hidden gem, but more so, the business happens to be the key link between premium Spanish ingredients and the Vancouver market - and they're the ones responsible for bringing some of the finest Spanish ham - jamon Iberico - in the world to our city.

Considered a "national treasure" of Spain, the jamon Iberico from Cinco Jotas is acorn-fed and cured in a tradition that dates back to the late 1800s when the business began. The ham comes from 100 per cent Iberian pigs - a designation only available to pigs that have an Iberian mother and father. 

Much like any food from around the world with a pedigree, Cinco Jotas jamon comes with all the top certifications and labelling designation. It's a "black-label" product, and represents the uppermost tier of Iberico ham products. 

A small portion of what Cinco Jotas produces each year is earmarked for the Canadian market, and within the nation, Vancouver is a major hub for the distinguished jamon. In fact, ARC Imports employs Canada's only Cinco Jotas Master Carver - yes, that's a job you can train for - tasked with expertly slicing the jamon. Slices taken from different sections of the cured jamon each have a slightly different composition and balance of meat to fat - but let's face it, since we're talking seriously premium ham, any way they slice it the end result is stellar.

At ARC you can not only purchase packaged Cinco Jotas ham to take your home charcuterie board, gift basket, or Spanish tapas feast to the next level, but you can also experience the delicacy in one of the importer's tasting room sandwiches. The "bocadillo" experience is all about Spanish sandwiches, filled with meat, cheese, and spreads, and ARC features one such bocadillo with Cinco Jotas ham. You can pop into ARC's tasting room to order up a sandwich, or call ahead and order for pick-up, and even order online via third-party food delivery apps.

Additionally, ARC's Jamoneria is a tapas menu available every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Alongside Spanish seafood, nibbles, and wines you can order up jamon Iberico to enjoy at your table. On Sundays, it's all about jamon, conservas (tinned seafood), and vermut (vermouth), for another taste of Spain right here in Metro Vancouver. 

For those sticking within the city who want to get a taste of this rare and acclaimed jamon, several Vancouver restaurants feature Cinco Jotas on their menus, including Bodega on Main, Como Taperia, and Boulevard. 

However, if you are up for a food adventure off the beaten path, it's worth the excursion to Richmond to visit ARC. You'll find them at 1020-12471 Horseshoe Way.