We went out with some friends last night for the First Friday Art Walk and started at the Bodega Bar above Agrario. I really liked the Bodega Bar — I’ve been there for a few events and private parties in the past, but never just to drink. It’s swanky, has good and relatively cheap appetizers and a real drink menu (they have both an old fashioned and a Manhattan on the menu). It’s the kind of bar that might hopefully slow the death of skilled bartenders to crappy malt beverages.
My only complaint is the serrano ham appetizer is not serrano ham. I’m not saying that it wasn’t a good — it was very good, but I was very disappointed by the lack of real serrano ham. Serrano ham is the country ham of Spain. It is cured in salt and very rarely (almost never) smoked. The ham is cured for at least a year, often longer. Most people in the US have never had serrano ham, but have had Italian prosciutto, which is probably the closest comparison. Serrano has a much deeper flavor than prosciutto and is also firmer and less fatty. Unlike country hams in the US it does not need to be soaked and cooked. It is sliced straight from the bone. Had the Bodega Bar been in Spain there would be no question about the legitimacy of the ham — dozens of cured pig legs would be hanging from the rafters of the bar (hoof and all). So Eric, I say buy yourself a couple of pig legs for the bar. There are even ham storage and service tips — note that the method of storing is hung from the ceiling, never refrigerated.
As a normal consumer in Springfield you can buy serrano ham at the Wine Center, but it is grossly overpriced. A better option is to get it from Tienda.com. My suggestion would be to buy a few slices from the Wine Center to see if you like it then order a piece (or a whole) pig leg from Tienda.com — it’s always better to slice your own ham.