13 Jan2013


We try to have an abundance of food for the holidays, especially for special lunches and dinners at home with family and friends. The selection is usually broader than usual, and while there will be familiar things on offer, we also like to have something extra special, an indulgence that you just wouldn’t see during the rest of the year. Guests typically mill around a relatively small living room sitting area or at the bar/buffet, having a drink or two before sitting down to dinner. These are special events, but guests come dressed casually, and its a very informal kind of thing…


We had some oven-roasted castañas or chestnuts with butter, herbs and a touch of salt and spices. They were surprisingly good, and really easy to open and eat. I was going to roast them over an open fire, literally, as an ode to my favorite Christmas carol, but it all just seemed too much so we did them in the oven. Just score the raw chestnuts with a sharp knife (be careful, they can be jumpy), soak in some water for a few seconds and shake excess liquid off and place in some aluminium foil. Drizzle melted butter all over the nuts, sprinkle with chopped rosemary, and season with some fine sea salt, mix gently. Bring the sides of the foil up but do not seal and place in a hot oven for say 25-35 minutes until cooked. Serve warm. Don’t forget a bowl for the discarded shells and lots of napkins for folks who really indulge… :)


On a small appetizer buffet table nearby, we had a whole jamon serrano reserva. This was the once a year, if not once every several year treat. We would go on to slicing this jamon at at least 7-8 gatherings over the holidays, and had lots left over. So while it is an extravagance (less so than a bellota), it actually was amortized quite nicely…


…the only problem is that I had to slice this jamon myself (guests were timid to do it themselves) so it was just a little time consuming. I learned from the first evening and sliced up a plate’s worth just before guests arrived at future events. Then I only had to slice once more during the appetizer period. This is an incredibly flavorful, salty ham. But addictive. Seriously addictive. :)


If you weren’t into jamon, but wanted some other porcine delight, there was a platter of sliced salami…


…or some iberico bellota chorizo that was wiped out fast!


Some sliced fuet served with some homemade guava jelly.


Some tinned duck pate for guests who couldn’t have pork…


…a platter of homemade salmon gravlax…


…a beautiful crudites platter, with most of the mini-vegetables from Gejo and his Malipayon Farms. The dipping sauce had some dill in it, also from Gejo, and without his delivery of dill, I wouldn’t have been able to make the gravlax either! :)


Finally, we had several portions of tuna tartare come out just before we were ready to sit down to dinner. Actually, for me, if you eat heavily at the appetizer spread, you can probably go straight to dessert! I often like appetizers better than main courses… but those are up next!



  1. Josephine says:

    What does it take to get invited to your dinner parties?

    Jan 13, 2013 | 6:19 am


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  3. PITS, MANILA says:

    it’s a glorious spread!

    Jan 13, 2013 | 6:35 am

  4. GayeN says:

    What a spread! I’m full just by looking at the appetizers lol! I’m looking forward to your post on the main course. ????

    Jan 13, 2013 | 8:16 am

  5. natie says:


    Jan 13, 2013 | 8:24 am

  6. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    OMG!! i am tortured looking and reading through the pictures and description of the appetizer,oh the deliciousness !! i got to go ,buy some water chestnuts & try your recipe.

    Jan 13, 2013 | 10:03 am

  7. Fards says:

    they are all sooo good, MM. Especially the jamon, yum! That is my problem here, don’t know where to get the Spanish jamon or the Spanish chorizo.Can’t wait for the main course. The Christmas tree is beautiful.

    Jan 13, 2013 | 11:01 am

  8. odie says:

    Sir, where and how do you keep the jamon serrano, since it can not be consumed all at once?

    Jan 13, 2013 | 12:18 pm

  9. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Love the carved olive wood you use ,I have affinity to buy them,I cannot put one down,to me they are like beautiful precious stones for me to collect.Cannot wait for next posting..you inspire me,now I have an excuse to throw a little party,so I can use few of my olive wood .

    Jan 13, 2013 | 12:22 pm

  10. EbbaBlue says:

    Yum, yum, yum.

    Jan 13, 2013 | 4:17 pm

  11. Elit says:

    Can’t wait for the next post :)

    Jan 13, 2013 | 7:19 pm

  12. Sam says:

    MM: The tuna tartare presentation was amazing. I am just curious, did you use a vodka glass/chiller set for the tuna tartare service? Quite an awesome, delightful, welcoming and tres soigné holiday spread! Can’t wait to browse the upcoming feature on the main courses and desserts. :)

    Jan 13, 2013 | 9:16 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    Sam, the main courses will seem a letdown after the appetizers… the tuna tartare is presented in classic shrimp cocktail glass servers, which are also perfect for kinilaw or seviche. They are a little glass top that sits on ice in the main glass vessel, so it keeps the dish cold without diluting it… odie, just cover it with a cloth and leave it out. I left it out for 3 weeks total and it was served for say 6-7 meals. Will do a post eventually on how to keep the rest… Sleepless, they were chestnuts, not water chestnuts… :) Josephine, dinners are for friends, family, etc… :)

    Jan 13, 2013 | 9:30 pm

  14. marilen says:

    What a feast!! Happy to feed on this ( would be too ‘stuffed’ to even touch the main course) thanks for the recipe for the castanas, beautiful looking. (Mine comes out with the meat sticking to the shell, would soaking in water briefly have solved that problem?)

    Jan 13, 2013 | 10:34 pm

  15. Anna Banana says:

    Yummy spread! Reminds me how last Christmas, we joined a friend’s family for christmas dinner and they prepared jamon bellota, lomo, pate, and roast poulard prepared my friend’s European husband. My first time eating them all, and though all of them where delicious, my handsdown favorite is the bellota! Even here in Madrid, it’s very expensive but when I go to Pinas for Christmas this year, this will be part of our noche buena. :-)

    Jan 13, 2013 | 10:40 pm

  16. Getter Dragon 1 says:


    Jan 14, 2013 | 12:39 am

  17. KUMAGCOW says:

    Little typo on the “melted butter”

    Jan 14, 2013 | 2:40 am

  18. linda says:

    MM, I give you 5 stars for these awesome and delicious spread ***** :)

    Jan 14, 2013 | 8:36 am

  19. ami says:

    If I were a guest in this dinner, I wouldn’t be shy with the jamon serrano. You probably wouldn’t invite me again after I’m done with it. :)

    Jan 14, 2013 | 8:50 am

  20. al says:

    wow, holiday colors. sarap

    Jan 14, 2013 | 9:02 am

  21. Clarissa says:

    Wow :) I think i fell in love with your appetizers. I would have been happy with just that (although I still have to read your post about the main dishes)! I love cheeses too and was expecting a spread of that actually. Looking forward to the cheese room in Sofitel :D

    I have the habit of having appetizers in between small plates of main dishes whenever I have the chance to enjoy hotel buffets. If it wasn’t for all the salt, I’d live on it :)

    Jan 14, 2013 | 9:57 am

  22. joanie says:

    WOW! I love everything, especially the tuna tartare

    Jan 14, 2013 | 10:49 am

  23. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    MM.. my mind says Chestnuts…:);) I typed water chestnuts :(:( i am roasting them as this moment ,the chestnuts that i got were quite large and a little flatter,they did not look as good as yours!!i am sure they will taste as good!!

    Jan 14, 2013 | 10:51 am

  24. Joy says:

    A major production, indeed! If I were your guest, I wouldn’t have enough space for the main course :)

    Jan 14, 2013 | 11:59 am

  25. Marketman says:

    Joy, everyone seemed to find some space for the main course… :) Sleepless, I find smaller chinese chestnuts have more flavor than large western ones, but either would work well with this recipe. Clarissa, there was a cheese course with four or five cheeses. ami, you could have eaten as much as you desired. Kumagcow, thanks, will edit. Marilen, absolutely, the dip in water helps. Some water gets trapped in the shells, and it essentially steam roasts the nuts, keeping them moist, making them easier to peel, etc.

    Jan 14, 2013 | 3:44 pm

  26. terrey says:

    the quality of the pictures posted have definitely improved over the years…just love the Christmas tree! btw, went to Zubuchon in Escario after Christmas. i guess, people just drive there to eat…still, the eating experience did not disappoint me. kudos to MM and the crew!

    Jan 15, 2013 | 1:01 pm

  27. Karen says:

    That was very nice of you Mr. Marketman to have the castañas or chestnuts scored already and just can be easily open plus bursting with flavor, too.. Yummy :-)

    Jan 17, 2013 | 6:37 am


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