I discovered Relish Culinary Center in Healdsburg, California, a unique experience for "foodies." They not only offer cooking classes, but tours and group dinners, using natural and local ingredients from nearby farms.
Owner Donna del Rey teamed up with chef Christopher Greenwald who shares her "local, sustainable and fresh food" thinking. Together they host three-course family-style dinners featuring a whole roasted pig -- a 130-pound pig -- which is served family-style for a group of about 40 or so.
I was in Healdsburg for "Epicurean Winter" and was able to experience one of their dinners, which was nothing short of delicious, fun, eclectic and unique.
Over a starter of Fromage Fort & Bay Laurel house-cured cloverdale olives, they talked us through the process of how they were cooking a whole "La Caja China" pig, which was in a massive roaster just outside the center, where they used mesquite rather than coals.
I met some interesting people at the event including a group of women who are all local sustainable farmers and ranchers in the area. It started out with two women farmers getting together for dinner and the 'idea' turned into a group that meets once a month at different restaurants throughout Sonoma County, Marin County and greater Healdsburg area.
While the people in attendance were interesting, I couldn't wait to get outside and watch them move the big from oven to wooden board to be moved inside.
Below, Chris prepares to move the pig onto the board for preparation.
Chris aka @baylaurelculinary, gets to work carving 'him' up for 35-40 people. (it can apparently serve about 50). There was plenty to go around and we all left with 'doggie' or rather I should say 'piggie' bags.
Condiments they suggested for the pork dinner: a horshradish cream, apricot chutney, chili sauce and winter carrot kimchi.
They served the pork with roasted potatoes and a wild arugula salad which was just simply tossed in olive oil.
They ended the evening with an organic lemon sorbet. I'd give the experience a two thumbs up! Below are two videos I shot so you can get a more in-depth flavor of this culinary experience:
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