Arcos: Spain's Finest Knives, 300 Years in the Making
April 03, 20193 min read
In the old world, people worked off of the land. Available resources shaped their diets, lifestyles and often their entire career. On a peninsula such as Spain, where seafood and pork are king in the culinary world, it’s no surprise that a knife-maker would emerge that crafts blades perfect for the preparation of both hog and fish. Arcos Hermanos S.A. have existed for nearly 300 years in various forms, and during that entire time has made some of the best knives for butchery that Spain has ever seen.
The brand officially began in 1745 with blacksmith Juan Arcos. Some of the blades forged by Senor Arcos are now found in the National Archeological Museum in Madrid. The craft continued through the family line until 1875, when Gregorio Arcos Aroca turned the small blacksmith forge into a fully mechanized production shop making high-quality Spanish blades. A hundred years down the road, his descendant Gregorio Arcos Villanueva began the expansion of Arcos into the International brand that it is today. From day one, the family has never stopped innovating.
Today, Arcos uses cutting-edge technology to craft a huge array of blades that suit many needs. They pride themselves in a commitment to renewable energy, recycled materials, minimal waste and following as many environmentally-friendly practices as possible. Arcos is truly committed to sustainability.
At Knifewear, we find products to match the craftsmanship and finesse of the Japanese knives we’ve built our reputation on. We needed something not commonly found in Japan: rugged blades for hacking through cartilage and bone. North American cooks are blessed with a huge variety of choice of ingredients, including the many varieties of fish, birds and four-legged creatures that are farmed in and roam Canada. As the popularity of butchery and charcuterie rises, so does the need for the tools of the trade.
While Arcos offers a diverse range, these are a few that we find especially exciting and useful:
The cleaver, the iconic tool of a butcher. Unlike the thin, sexy Nakiri of Japan, which often gets mistaken for a cleaver, a true cleaver is a beefy blade designed for smashing through hard material. And boy is it effective. Unlike the cleaver of olde, Arcos blades take and hold a razor edge incredibly well, and stand up to loads of butchery. 180mm is a good versatile size, especially if you have a bone-saw for larger work.
These cleavers are a little different. These are for the professional (or minimalist) who wants to get more than one job done with a single knife. The curved, pointed blade is designed for both cutting bone and slicing steaks, making this the perfect versatile butchers tool.
Much like the butchers of Spain that hack through bones and slice beautiful steaks with the same knife, fishmongers also use a versatile blade for many jobs. The fishmongers’ knife is designed to take fish fresh out of the water, and turn them into perfect cuts ready to be cooked. The deep blade can fillet larger fish with ease, hack through bones, and portion pieces for frying.
This dagger shaped blade known as a “Tagliagrana” is essential for a good fromagerie, italian restaurant or serious cheese-nerd. The thick blade is used to crack into the hard crust of wheels of hard cheese, such as parmesan and grana-padano. This knife is also perfect for chipping of shards of hard cheese, so you can avoid damaging your beautiful Japanese kitchen knives on them.
In our opinion, ajamon, the beautifully cured leg of pig seen all over Spain, especially in Madrid, isn’t just a necessity at any tapas restaurant, it’s also perfect for serving at a party when you want to make an impression. The ham-slicing knife known as a “cuchillo jamonero” is crucial to achieving paper-thin, textured sliced of the cured meat. When preparing jamon, it is important to have a ham-stand or “jamonera”to secure the leg properly. The flexible knife allows for maximum control when working around any part of the leg.
Whichever odd-job needs doing, Arcos has got you covered in the kitchen. For the professional and aspiring butcher alike, these beasties are an absolute must. The Rosewood Cleaver has become a necessity in my kitchen, and I definitely see one of those big shiny steak cleavers in my near future.
Whichever odd-job needs doing, Arcos has got you covered in the kitchen. For the professional and aspiring butcher alike, a few of these babies are an absolute must. I started with the Rosewood Cleaver, and I see a big shiny one in my near future.
Nathan started at Knifewear in 2013, when he left the restaurant industry to slang knives. Nowadays, he handles our communications, social media, and YouTube channel. If you're reading words on this website or watching one of our videos, Nathan was involved. He spends his spare time growing food, cooking, fermenting food and booze, and enjoying the great outdoors.