La Española is not only an importer, distributor, retailer, and wholesaler of fine Spanish foods, but it is also a manufacturer of premium Spanish-style artisan sausages and or cured meat products. Then ‘charcuterie’ is made in the company’s U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved plant with the same fine ingredients and cherished recipes that are used by the best producers in Spain.
The company can turn out about 1,000 pounds of sausage a day, which it distributes to restaurants and stores across the country. That is quite a jump from what the company was producing when Faraone purchased it from an old Spanish couple eight years ago. Faraone trained at La Española for a month before the owners turned their formulations over to her. But the first batches of Sausage she made on her own were a disaster. “My Sobrasada, which should always be a beautiful, deep red, developed white spots and I couldn’t figure out why,” she remembers. Faraone consulted a family friend, Father Miguel, a priest from Majorca who had been in charge of hog butchering and traditional sausage making at a Nevada monastery. Together they prepared La Espanola’s first successful batch of Sobrasada Mallorquina. Father Miguel counseled Faraone on a few fine points of sausage making: the correct temperature for the meat before it is ground, how to watch for rancidity in sausages as they cure. Faraone then traveled throughout Spain to observe sausage-making techniques firsthand. Back in the United States she attended professional seminars and eventually obtained her USDA status. Spanish food has vivid, earthy flavors and Mediterranean accents that seem natural for California. But it has only recently been finding a following here. You can prepare Spanish food without the authentic ingredients you find at La Espanola, of course, but your cazuelas, egg tortillas and Iberian bean dishes will be missing that essentially “Spanish” taste. And unless paella is prepared with the sort of soft-grain Valencia rice sold in La Espanola’s deli, it won’t have the chewy texture that reminds you you’re eating the genuine item.
Personal attention and utmost care are lavished upon each lot of chorizo. For an aficionado of Spain’s cured meats, chorizo Bilbao, Butifarra Catalana, chorizo Pamplona, chorizo Cantimpalo, chorizo Soria, Salchichón de Vic, Sobrasada Mallorquina, Morcillas de Arroz, Morcillas de Cebolla, jamón Serrano, Lomo Embuchado, and much more can all be found at La Española Meats. As U.S. restrictions on the importation of meats have softened, the company has been selling Redondo Iglesias Jamón Serrano, Fermin Jamón Iberico and 5J Jamón Iberico de Bellota. The famed Black Hoofed Pig.
In addition to those Spanish Sausages, La Espanola carries about a dozen more varieties. All the sausages are made on the premises, in a USDA inspected sausage-making kitchen that is also the only one of its kind in the area. La Espanola produces Spanish-style hams and sausages, some of which remain up to 18 months in the plant’s curing rooms. La Española also occupies a special place in the world of food importing. As one of the pioneer marketers of Spanish products in the U.S., and the sole distributor of many of them, La Española’s position in this area of Spanish-American commerce has been growing. Olive oil, olives, rice, cheeses, canned fish, canned foods, saffron, spices, turron, cookies, candy, chocolates, tea, coffee, and paella pans are just a few of the specialty food imports that La Española is actively marketing in the U.S. La Española’s products are purchased by a wide variety of retail and wholesale clients. La Española boasts of clients in all fifty United States, as well as Puerto Rico, Mexico, Honduras,Nicaragua, and the Philippines.
Included among their clients are many four-star restaurants, specialty food delis and markets, and various hotels. The company has distributors in Miami, Seattle,San Antonio, San Francisco, New York, and Puerto Rico.
Created in 1982 in a small suburb of Los Angeles, La Española Meats, Inc., was founded by Juana Gimeno Faraone, a native of Valencia, Spain, and her husband, Frank Faraone, of Martinsferry, Ohio. After the couple was married in Spain, they relocated to California to raise their family. Eventually, the couple’s entrepreneurial spirit and their love of Spain and Spanish culture prompted them to purchase a small plant and reform it into a thriving enterprise which has won the respect of the gourmet food industry. “When I was a housewife, I was a customer here,” says Juana Faraone, proprietor of La Espanola Deli in Lomita. “When the owners wanted to sell, I thought it would be the perfect business for me because I love to cook.”
La Española Meats is the house that pork built
Twenty years ago, Juana and Frank Faraone bought a tiny Spanish deli in Lomita. Juana, a native of Valencia, Spain, and an enthusiastic cook, started making Spanish-style sausages. She went back to Spain and traveled around the country swapping recipes with small-town butchers, and her product line expanded. Over the years, Juana and her American–born husband brought their two daughters into the business.
In 1995, La Española moved into a USDA-inspected meat-processing plant built to its specifications in nearby Harbor City. In less than two decades it had gone from a local shop taking in $40,000 a year to a $2-million business supplying restaurants and Spanish-food lovers around the country. A lot of that comes from cheeses, wines and other imports, but Spain’s love affair with pig is the foundation.
This is obvious the moment you step into the shop, from the hams hanging in the corner and the big deli counter selling nearly two dozen kinds of sausage, most of them deep crimson with Spanish red pepper (pimentón). You can also find dry-cured pork loin (lomo embuchado), ham hocks (lacón codillo) and even bones for sale.
The meat plant, which occupies most of the building, features specialized Spanish pork-handling equipment. One odd-looking device is a sort of workshop bench jig designed for holding a whole aged ham at any angle you choose for convenience in boning out the meat.
The most impressive item is the computer-controlled meat mixer, which looks like a muscle-bound stainless-steel cement mixer- it can hold 400 pounds of sausage meat. When it’s turned on, a lid automatically seals the top so mixing can take place in a partial vacuum, to compact the meat by keeping pockets of air from forming in the mix.
La Española Meats guided tour
General Manager Alex Motamedi, offers personal behind the scenes guided tours of their plant by appointment. As he passes out hairnets for guests to wear during the tour he gives a brief background history of the company's origins.
Motamedi, a family member by marriage to Maria del Carmen, the eldest daughter of the owner of the company explains how La Espanola Meats opened their doors 30 years ago on November 15, 1982, by founder Juana Gimeno Faraone, a native of Valencia, Spain and her Italian-American husband Frank Faraone of Martinsferry, Ohio.
"The couple met and married in Spain before relocating to California to raise their family. With a strong entrepreneurial spirit and their love for Spanish culture, the Faraone family purchased a small plant in Los Angeles and started their own business enterprise in the gourmet food industry", says Motamedi.
"Over the years La Espanola Meats, Inc. has prospered and grown to what it is today. Not only as an importer, distributor, retailer and wholesaler of fine Spanish foods and products, but also a manufacturer of premium Spanish-style sausages and 'Charcuterie' cured meats."
With the manufacturing plant and retail store conveniently located in one building, Motamedi leads the tour group through a back door to a temperature controlled production plant that is a constant 67-70 degrees to prevent airborne pathogens.
The tour is approximately one hour long with Motamedi offering a fascinating and entertaining lecture on curing meats of beef, pork and duck the Spanish way.
Cured duck sausage, a specialty item, is not available to the general public and is processed specifically for a well-known French Chef in Beverly Hills, which Motamedi is not at liberty to name due to contractual agreements.
"The entire plant is hygienically cleaned and sanitized daily to meet USDA requirements and operates like a well oiled machine", Motamedi said. A video has been created showing segments of the tour.
The Faraones’ two daughters, Mari Carmen and Bianca, plan to lead the company for years to come and expand its operations even more. Adding new selections of products to their existing line ofproducts and satisfying consumers and enhance business and strengthen the company’s position in the cross-Atlantic trade. But most of all, they desire to continue following the founders’ mission of committing and upholding the food culture and heritage of Spain and of opening the U.S. market to the wonderful world of Spanish cuisine.