If you live in, say, Arcadia or even Tustin (there are six locations in all), it’s wonderful to have a Claro’s in your vicinity. However, if you live in the culinarily desolate Pomona Valley, it’s not wonderful; it’s miraculous. Located in Upland, in a shopping mall on the northwest corner of Mountain and Baseline, Claro’s is a wonderful repository of fine Italian meats, wines, olive oils, vinegars, cheeses, freshly baked breads and equally fresh made sandwiches … and many other southern Mediterranean delights. I was making a Niçoise Salad the other day and needed, of course, some Niçoise oilves for proper adornment. Visits to all other markets in the area, large and small, were fruitless, but it was Claro’s to the rescue once again. It really was brainless of me not to have gone there first. Yes, you can find the likes of Parma prosciutto elsewhere, pre-cut and in little plastic boxes or wrappers, but Claro’s has the whole ham and will cut from it just the thickness you need for the particular dish you happen to be making. Need some sopresatta or guanciale? There it is in that same whole format, awaiting the freshest possible portion. Does that make a difference in both flavor and texture? You bet.
There’s an Italiote sandwich that I like to make for my wife and me, featuring that Claro’s prosciutto I mentioned above. I get some freshly baked 6-inch soft-subs, cut them in half and lightly brush the cut sides with olive oil mixed with a little bit of red wine vinegar. Then, for each sandwich I put several really generous slices of Parma prosciutto. Have the butcher at Claro’s cut it just a hair thicker than you would have it if you were serving something like prosciutto and melon. Top the prosciutto with thin slices of Claro’s Parmigiano Reggiano (the best Parmesan cheese in the world). Just use a good vegetable peeler to cut those slides from a piece of the whole cheese. Top the cheese with halves of artichoke hearts. Use the un-marinated hearts from a can, washed and squeezed dry of the canning brine. Brush the hearts thus arrayed on the sandwich with more of that olive oil mixture, and you’re ready to go.
I’ll have to confess that I have very little sales resistance when I’m at Claro’s, so I don’t go there unless I’ve decided ahead of time to do myself some serious damage.
Oh … all of the Claro’s Italian Markets are open every day of the week except Wednesdays. There are historical reasons for that unusual choice of days’ off, but it’s only important that you keep it in mind.