Anvil Ranch & Vineyard Wedding

Recently we had the pleasure of catering a wedding in Western Sonoma County at the Anvil Ranch & Vineyard, this is a 13,000 acre ranch owned by a logging company and is used for retreats, weddings and your personal getaway.

The wedding for Thomas Debiase of Debiase Wines of Healdsburg was an opportunity for us to showcase what we can do with an extreme paella. I will not bother to describe it as the pictures that follow tell the whole story.

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Jamon Serrano

Jamon Serrano (mountain ham) has deep rooted traditions that traverse Spain’s cultural history for hundreds of years. The quality, origin of the pigs and production of this salt cured jamon (ham) is a source of pride to Spanish producers. Unlike Italian prosciutto, jamon serrano is processed whole and with the pig’s hoof hence, ham on the hoof.

Years back it was customary for every family to butcher a pig in the fall and preserve the meat by salting and making an assortment of  cured sausages aged over winter. The cool mountain climate provided ideal conditions to properly cure and age the jamon. Noting that curing jamon used to be a common family occurrence and since I truely enjoy this jamon, I decided to try my hand at making it, my version is called Sonoma Serrano Jamon.

As with any good jamon quality of the pig is important, here are the sides that I’ll be using for the Sonoma Serrano Jamon legs.  The legs do require a special cut to achieve the traditional look of a jamon leg.

Once the legs are properly cut, they are flattened and salted. These particular jamon legs will be salted for two weeks. Here is what they look like during the salt phase.









During the salting period water is extracted and the salt penetrates deeper into the jamon. After two weeks, the salt is rinsed and the legs are hung to rest for 3 months at about 41 degrees and 70-80% humidity. The legs are then  transferred to a room that is 45-48 degree farenheit with a humidity of 40-50%. This slightly warmer less dry environment causes the legs to sweat and extract more water from deeper in the leg. Finally the legs are matured and aged at 55 degrees for 18-24 months. 

The leg that you see here has been aged for 48 months and was absolutely delicious, we’re still working on it. This leg began the curing process in April 2007 and was cut  August of 2011. Normally legs are not stored this long but, when you start with 36 jamones, there’s only so much of the good jamon that you can enjoy. Dennis, holding the leg surely enjoyed the jamon.  

When the jamon is ready to served, it’s cleaned of all the yellow rancid fat. Cutting down to the creamy white fat is desirable until you reach the burgundy colored jamon. The jamon is cut by hand into little bite size slices, the cut is somewhat rustic.

Four years in the making and worth the wait!

A word of caution, this post is not a recipe or intended as a  procedure to make your own jamon. There are many steps that I didn’t talk about regarding sanitation, temperature control, humidity and air circulation. The whole process can be very detailed and some spoilage is expected. Out of 36 jamones, I lost two to bad mold and a spike in temperature during the curing process. The process was not difficult once basic safety procedures where put in place. Now I’m looking forward to the next batch in 24 months. Salud amigos!


Cold Soup Week

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Recently I was invited by my very good friend, Chef Robin White, to attend the second night of her Cold Soup Week at the Avia Hotel in downtown Napa. Robin also known as @canapes45 on twitter is an amazing chef and the “queen” of virtual dinners.

Virtual dinners pair great food, wine and social media in an interactive blogapalooza of people enjoying the wine-soup pairing and tweetting about their experience. On this particular night, Grilled Watermelon Soup was prepared by Chef Chris, using Robin’s recipe,  at the  Avia Hotel paired with a Robert Craig Wine Rose. The evening was also sponsored by Linda Cordair of Cordair Fine Arts also in downtown Napa. To say the least, the soup and rose made a great pairing; the sweet and savory aspects of the watermelon complimented the pronounced berries and acid in the Robert Craig Rose.

The evening was enhanced by a great dinner at Graces Table, @gracestable, within a blocks walk of the Avia Hotel. Next time Robin hosts a virtual dinner, I recommend that you check it out and perhaps participate by buying the wine and making the great recipes to pair with it.

Hope you enjoy the video, it was a lot of fun being at the second night of #ColdSoupWeek, hope to see you at one of these in the future.Cheers!

Traditional Seafood Paella

If you want to pick a fight amongst paella chefs just criticize their method and authenticity of paella recipe. Truth be told it would be extremely difficult to categorize any paella made in the states as truly traditional and authentic. Spaniards specially those from Valencia have a long and rich tradition with paella and by no means do we want to insult that tradition by our attempts at recreating their world famous culinary export. That being said with all due respect to my fellow Spaniards, I present my version of an authentic paella. Along with this recipe please view my previous video post on making a basic paella.

Paella de Mariscos

Seafood Paella with green mussels, clams, prawns & black mussels.

Recipe: Traditional Seafood Paella

Summary: The ultimate Seafood Paella with assorted shell fish.


  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 Thai chiles
  • 30 Threads of saffron
  • 2 Medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 cups of sofrito
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 6-8 cups of seafood stock
  • 2 tbls of Paella Guy seasoning
  • 1/2lb of cubed pork, chicken & chorizo
  • 3 cups of short grain rice
  • 1/2lb of prawns
  • 1 dozen green lip mussels
  • 1 dozen black mussels
  • 1 dozen manila clams
  • 1/2lb of peas
  • 1/2lb roasted bell peppers
  • Lemons for garnish


  1. Saute pork, chicken & chorizo until browned and set aside
  2. Saute bell peppers 3-4 minutes
  3. Pour olive oil into paella pan followed by Thai peppers
  4. After peppers turn color, throw in onions and saute until slightly browned
  5. Throw in garlic and cook 2-3 minutes followed by pork, chicken & chorizo
  6. Add sofrito & wine, cook until wine evaporates
  7. Add the stock and make sure to keep your rice to liquid ratios at 1:2
  8. Place saffron in mortar and grind to fine dust & add to paella pan
  9. Add rice to pan in even layer
  10. Begin placing your seafood starting with shell fish and ending with prawns.
  11. **See my video post to learn how I decorate paella
  12. After paella comes to rolling boil, turn heat down by 25% and maintain until most of the liquid has evaporated
  13. Continue to cook at a slightly lower flame to avoid burning and to build La Soccarat
  14. **Review my video on La Soccarat for more details on how to accomplish the crusty bed of rice at the bottom of the pan
  15. Remove from heat let stand a few minutes and enjoy with a great bottle of vino, salud!

Preparation time: 1 hour(s)

Cooking time: 55 minute(s)

Culinary tradition: Spanish

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)