>> Friday, February 24, 2012
This is the third post in the series Winter in London. Other posts include Bob, Bob, Ricard and Kitchen W8.
Fernandez & Wells has only been open since 2007, but they already have four locations and a loyal following. It comes down to their simple yet effective philosophy:
"To provide freshly made, well-sourced food and drink in a space that is uncluttered, where the aromas are enticing and the service is friendly."
The menu items at Fernandez & Wells mostly hail from Spain - everything from chorizo sandwiches and morcilla (Spain's version of blood sausage) to one of Spain's most highly prized offerings, jamon Ibérico (Spanish Iberian ham).
One my last day in London right before my flight back to Boston, I met up with fellow food blogger Jackie for a fun-filled Spanish-focused lunch. Luckily, Jackie grew up spending her summers in Spain. She not only speaks Spanish, she also knows a ton about their food.
It was tough to decide what to order, as everything looks so fresh and delicious! We finally decided we would start by sharing a few Spanish appetizers, and order more food if necessary.
Black pudding is typically associated with English food. Interestingly, the Spanish have their own version, called morcilla. Morcilla is Spanish blood sausage that's typically filled with blood, meat, and spices. Some versions have starch as a filler, such as rice or potato.
I totally thought these looked like olives, but they are actually blood sausages!
spreading some morcilla goodness on a piece of toast
Jackie is very familiar with Spanish food and instantly started telling me how much she loved morcilla. Though I had never tried it before, I was happy to give it a shot.
I guess I learned I just don't really like blood sausage. The iron-laced, blood flavor along with the fatty, paste-like meat was just not my favorite thing. Jackie thought it was great, and I was happy to let her eat most of it!
The chorizo was smoky, deeply flavorful, and all around delicious.
My favorite part of the meal was the incredible 36-month cured jamon Ibérico de Bellota (Spanish Iberian Ham). Spanish Iberian cured ham is prized for its rich savory flavor. The pigs roam freely in oak forests and are fed a diet of only acorns at the last stage of their lives. Because of this diet, the fat in these pigs is mostly monounsaturated, "healthy" fat (oleic acid). The Bellota breed is the finest because it eats purely acorns during this last stage (as opposed to a mixture of acorns and grain, or grain only).
It was a bit weird, but the entire leg was just hanging out in the corner. Once you order some jamon, the server just cuts a few slices straight from the leg and hands it to you.
It's hard to put into words how good this jamon was. Let me just say that it was intensely flavored with deep, porky, savory goodness. The fat added richness to the salty meat, and it tasted fantastic with bread. Seriously, it's one of the best cured meats I've ever had in my life.
And what better accompaniment than a cold glass of sparkling white wine? I almost never do this, but I actually ordered two glasses of the bubbly stuff since it just went so well with everything.
Afterward, we stopped by one of the other Fernandez & Wells. This one focuses more on coffee, another one of their specialties (in fact, they started out as a coffee focused shop!).
Beautiful "latte" art? The cappuccino was delicious, and exactly what I needed as a pick-me-up in the afternoon.
Fernandez & Wells is really the perfect place to sit down with a friend and just chill. Jackie and I sat at two barstools at the counter and just chatted for a couple of hours. We slowly picked at the various small plates while sipping on sparkling wines.
I would definitely go back, if nothing else just to have another taste of that jamon Ibérico de Bellota.
Fernandez & Wells
43 Lexington St
Soho, UK W1F 9
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