In 2014 the team at S. Wallace Edwards & Sons invited us to co-host a tasting of exquisite long aged prosciutto style hams. The kind of hams Parma, Italy has made famous, but these hams were not from Europe. They came from all over the US, from producers who have been practicing traditional curing techniques for many generations.
The goal of the tasting was not to pick a winner– we were not ranking hams. Instead we were developing a vocabulary or lexicon to better describe the subtle nuances of American dry cured, long aged hams. A tradition with a long, rich history, but one that has been eschewed in favor of European hams.
The 1st Great Artisanal Ham Tasting took place under a veil of discretion in our private Brooklyn warehouse. The evening was MCed by outspoken ham evangelist Dave Arnold and food science expert Harold McGee. Chefs from the finest restaurants in New York, top curemasters, and passionate ham enthusiast joined us to taste almost 30 hams side by side.
The event was a huge success and we immediately began planning a tasting for the West Coast.
The Great Artisanal Ham Tasting 2015 was divided into two events. The first was held in San Francisco at artist Angelo Garro’s legendary art studio, The Renaissance Forge. The second was hosted by Chef Stephen Barber of Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, an idyllic vineyard and farm in the heart of the Napa Valley. Once again we invited top chefs, this time from the Bay Area and Napa Valley, along with expert curemasters, butchers and local gastronomes to assist us in defining and identifying the subtle flavors which result from differences in cure method, breed, diet, terroir, and aging conditions.
The long history of American Country Ham is one rich in tradition. We look forward to continuing to celebrate the expert craft of the American curemaster.
Check out the gallery bellow to see the results from all 3 tastings side by side along with photographs from the events.
Interested in hosting your own tasting? Let us know in the comments and we’ll help you arrange your own personal tasting!