Stepping into Donostia’s “Zapore Jai” fine food store, Sylvain met me with a smile and a warm handshake, characteristic of his way in the shop. I had seen the store’s name on products in San Sebastián Food’s shop, and Jon Warren had mentioned that I should drop in to the store to meet husband and wife co-owners, Sylvain and Aurkene. They offer the world’s best Iberian cured ham (jamón serrano), sausages and cheeses to experienced and novice palates alike, transporting them to the arid terrain of acorn trees and wild-roaming black-footed pigs.
Sylvain flowed seamlessly from English to Basque to French, always attentive to his clientele, as he told me his story. Himself French-born, he met his wife in 1996 in her hometown of Ondarroa, Bizkaia, when he was export manager of the renowned Conservas Ortiz. Later, they were trained in the art of jamón-carving from Spanish master carvers in Paris where they were part of the first and very successful Jamoneria in Paris that opened in 1999 in rue Clément Marot close to Champs-Elysées.
Now here in the Parte Vieja of Donostia, he opened embutido after embutido for me to try. Though others have much more refined tastes than I in the delicate experience of jamón, the Valle de los Pedroches (Córdoba) Jamón Iberico de Bellota was a delight to the taste buds!
Check out Sylvain Foucaud & Aurkene Etxaniz Ituarte’s website here, or if you’re nearby, drop in and let your boca explore their store.
*I’m learning Basque and only realized after I had left the store that “Zapore Jai” means “Flavour Festival”. An appropriate name!