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vserna

Madrid Fusión 2004

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Anyone else find it odd that nary a woman's scheduled to appear?


Edited by Elissa (log)

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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Er... sorry, Elissa, but Carme Ruscalleda and Fatéma Hal are, well... women. Not a bad representation in a profession that is still 95% the fiefdom of men.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Carme Ruscalleda

Where does she cook?


Edited by Elissa (log)

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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Carme Ruscalleda cooks at San Pau, her restaurant near Barcelona, in San Pol de Mar.

A first rate place with first rate food. Well, that's not to imply she's the best cook in Spain or that it's the top restaurant in Spain. I just mean to say it's a destination place and probably well worth the two Michelin stars it has. My recollection was that it was a bit expensive, but that was because the other two star restaurant we dined in that week, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, is a real bargain. In fact my only regret of the meal is that I chose the designer cheese course. I always hate those things and as interesting intellectually as this one was, I ate it in complete envy of Mrs. B's luscious pastry.

The name "Carme" was unfamiliar to me and I did nort know the chef was a she until we ran across a feature on her in Spanish magazine. I was taken by the way she described the energy and atmosphere that existed in contemporary Spanish kitchens. She expressed the view that contemporary Spanish chefs were very outgoing with their recipes and trade secrets and that as stagiaires came and went, nueva cocina was spreading rapidly through the country. She was not above cooking traditional food either. I had a rice dish that was a simple Catalan wet rice of great intensity and purity of flavor. It served well as counterpoint to the meal for me.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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The name "Carme" was unfamiliar to me and I did nort know the chef was a she until we ran across a feature on her in Spanish magazine.

The name "Carme" is the catalonian version of the traditional spanish female name "Carmen", that I'm sure at least opera aficionados will easily recognize.

Sadly, I must confess that San Pau is one of my peripheral black holes in spanish cooking scene, along with Atrio, Las Rejas and some others. Tried to went there this summer but was closed (Monday, if I remember well). Geez, what a tough job to keep up with the cooking scene in Spain these days! :wink:


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Geez, what a tough job to keep up with the cooking scene in Spain these days! :wink:

Hard work, but someone has to do it.

Where's Atrio and who is Fatéma Hal, by the way?


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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Atrio is a spectacular restaurant in the lovely medieval town of Cáceres, between Madrid and Lisbon, and a Wine Spectator Grand Award recipient for its mindblowing wine list. Extremely refined modern cooking; just one Michelin star, which again reinforces my point :wacko: that Michelin takes great care of the Basque Country, Catalonia and Spain's seaside resort areas, but neglects or underestimates inland Spain: Atrio is at a similar level with Las Rejas.

Fatéma Hal was an anthropologist before she became a professional cook and opened the very successful Mansouria restaurant in Paris. She is known as the great researcher of the Moroccan culinary heritage. Morocco, our neighbor to the south, is one of the great sources of admiration and inspiration for fusion-minded Spanish chefs along with their – rather less unusual - other sources: Italy, Japan, Thailand, Mexico and of course France.

One of the strong points of José Carlos Capel's Madrid Fusión concept is a powerful international base, which reflects the openness and lack of isolationism in today's culinary scene in Spain. This is both significant and singular - Europe's Latin countries (France, Italy, Portugal) tend to focus on their own bellybuttons when it comes to culinary (and vinous) matters, and Spain has somewhat broken that pattern. José Carlos has one terrific adviser on the international scene, Juan Manuel Bellver, a young journalist who has dined in literally every great restaurant in the world.

Last year they brought in Pierre Gagnaire (France), Marc Veyrat (France), Michel Bras (France), Tetsuya Wakuda (Australia), Alfonso Iaccarino (Italy), Heinz Winkler (Germany), Patricia Quintana (Mexico), Tasanai Phian-o-Pas (Thailand), Gönul Paksoy (Turkey), Hiroo Miki (Japan) and Charlie Trotter (USA). Plus the top Spanish chefs, of course. This year they have, in addition to Fatéma Hal, Heston Blumenthal (UK), Carlo Cracco (Italy), Carlo Cerrato (Italy), Alain Llorca (France), Hervé This (France), Yves Mattagne (Belgium), Nobu Matsuhisa (should we say... The World?), Marcus Samuelsson (USA) and Charles Tjessem (Norway), the winner of the 2003 Bocuse d’Or award.

Last year they honored the founders of ‘nouvelle cuisine’: Paul Bocuse, Michel Guérard and Pierre Troisgros, and this year they have organized a tribute to the greatest of these guys’ pupils since the 1970s: Joël Robuchon (France), Frédy Girardet (Switzerland), Alain Senderens (France), Michel Roux (UK), Gualtiero Marchesi (Italy), Juan Mari Arzak (Spain) and Pedro Subijana (Spain) will all be on hand. I don’t want to miss that – these guys really revealed to me what great cuisine was like, way back when...

Arzak will be doing double duty as a lecturer-demonstrator amid a strong group of Spanish cooks, from the established stars (Ferran Adrià, Hilario Arbelaitz, Martín Berasategui, Ruscalleda) to the newer guys: Carlos Abellán (Comerç 24, Barcelona), Raúl Aleixandre (Ca Sento, Valencia), Alberto Chicote (No-Do, Madrid), Aitor Elizegi (Gamíniz, near Bilbao), Joaquín Felipe (Europa, Madrid), Francis Paniego (Echaurren, La Rioja).

The specialized workshops are also a pretty good Madrid Fusión feature. This year: ‘the future of catering’; ‘the best breakfast in the world’; ‘wine and cheese, harmonies and failures’; ‘computerized restaurant management’; ‘the secrets of Ibérico ham’; ‘the world of chocolate: varieties and textures’; 'Cuban cigars’; ‘rice dishes of the world: the main techniques’; ‘an insight into malt whisky’. Plus a couple of blind wine tastings including one of ‘ world class superstars’; last year, Dominus 1995 beat out Pétrus 1996. The fact that Christian Moueix owns both does not diminish the feat of a Napa wine dominating the best from Bordeaux and the rest of the world!

By the way: I think admission (500 participants was the maximum attendance allowed) is now closed, so this is obviously not spam for them... (Unfortunately, the wine tastings are not open to all participants... :wink:)


Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Atrio is a spectacular restaurant [...] and a Wine Spectator Grand Award recipient for its mindblowing wine list.

Budget blowing also, at least by spanish standards, according to my sources.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Budget blowing also, at least by spanish standards, according to my sources.

An interesting point. I wonder if Michelin doesn't pay any attention to Spanish restaurants because the prices are so low, by French standards. There are many inferences one could draw about restaurant prices in Spain, although as a tourist, I'm really not in a position to judge the relativity of pricing in France or Spain, let alone between the two. At the starred level however, the restaurants seem so much more accessible to the average person, or at least to the average tourist person. Wine too, seems a better value and the entry level to a reasonable bottle of wine is lower in Spain than in France.

I suppose once could say the Spaniards just don't value that kind of food as much as the French do, but I wonder if those three star places in France survive on the French trade or the foreign tourism. I worry that as Spain builds the gastronomic tourism that has thrived in France, a rise in prices may start to exclude more of the local population. I think I've mentioned before that I sense a disconnect between the food of France's famous chefs and the general population. I'm clueless about how the Spaniards really feel about the most creative chefs, but at least I see more of them in the restaurants than I see foreigners.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Victor, thanks for placing Hal and for the info on Atrio. Your comments on Spain's break from isolationism, at least in the realm of culinary matters, is most interesting. Very successful arguments can be made for the ties nueva cocina has to traditional regional Spanish cooking as well as for the creativity and openess. In fact both points have argued here successfully and poorly at different times. I don't think they're opposing views anyway. I don't know Portugal at all and I've never traveled there, but I would certainly say that my impression from my interest and travels in Italy, France and Spain, that Spain was, at one point, the most isolated culturally of the three. They say the only constant is change. Spain has changed the most in this regard, or so it seems. (I think we've also covered this on eGullet.)

I may have subjectivly negative reaction to the term "fusion" in cooking. I tend to associate it will an attempt to place disparate items and flavors on a plate in the name of creativity. That's not what I've seen in Spain. Maybe I've just been lucky, but when my "educated" palate has been assaulted, it's generally been by a new concept or experience in taste, rather than two old ones sparring on my tongue.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Fusion has been with us forever, Bux. Potatoes and tomatoes and beans from the Americas were fused onto our European diets and recipes three or four centuries ago, and France's classic 'canard à l'orange' is a fusion dish because the concept for an orange sauce came from China. Tempura is a fusion element in Japanese cuisine, because coating-and-frying was taught to them by Portuguese and Spanish missionaries 300 years ago; in return, the Japanese taught Basque fishermen how to cook squid in its own 'ink', something that had never been done in Europe or the Mediterranean basin, and squid ink in turn became a strong component in the modern Spanish ways of preparing fish. Modern communication has just facilitated and speeded up things immensely - and made stupid forms of fusion also immensely more frequent. But when well done, I think any combination can work very well, even if half the idea comes from Mexico and the other half from Thailand.

My colleague Rafael García Santos is a rabid enemy of any fusion, but then when faced with a rice dish where the Japanese influence just screams out at you, I've seen him say it's fine, it's not really fusion, it's culinary talent... When Alberto Chicote of No-Do in Madrid does a tataki of barely seared red tuna on a bed of 'ajoblanco', the Andalusian garlic-and-almond 'white gazpacho', he is just making a great dish. Fusion or no fusion.

In general, in Spain we have no prejudice about anything from abroad that may either combine with or accompany one of our traditional staples or raw materials. If it works together, bring it on. Bad cooks will do it badly, but then they're bad cooks, aren't they? :biggrin:


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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When John Mariani wrote in 2000,

this is a man who has the audacity to create a ballotine of foie gras and smoked eel with apples and a jelly made of mead, and to make you wonder why no one ever thought of the combination before

He wasn't talking about Martin Berasategui. Rather, his subject was Heston Blumenthal, a man whose reputation was, arguably, built on purloining dishes from the then internationally obscure Spanish culinary vanguardia.

Now, it seems, Spaniards are 'excited' about Mr Blumenthal's prescence at this gastro-summit. The question is, why?

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LML,

The most interesting thing about Heston Blumenthal must surely be the disfavor with which you regard him


Edited by Elissa (log)

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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Fusion has been with us forever, Bux.

Victor, do you think there is a better appreciation of contemporary "fusion" in Spain because of relatively durable pre-Reconquest culinary traditons? I don't think I am the only one to have seen similarities between North African food and such Spanish staples as patatas bravas. Is there an appreciation of this heritage in Spain today, or is it taken for granted?

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Wow! What a delectable feast this seems! Thanks for the heads-up vsierna - I'm definitely going to try and pull some strings to see if I can get in via my newspaper, the Diário de Notícias. It will be a good opportunity of chipping away at some of my ignorance of contemporary Spanish cuisine - well, that's the best excuse I could come up with... ;)

Btw, the site seems to be down today. Here's the Google cache: http://66.102.11.104/search?q=cache:ISSx4Q...&hl=en&ie=UTF-8.

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Can anyone tell me about the GSR Culinary Congress "BCN Vanguardia-Encuentros de cocinas contemporaneas" included in the Alimentaria 2004 congress about food and beverages ?To be held in Barcelona in March. Does it compare to Madrid Fusion?


--

Grant Achatz

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Victor, do you think there is a better appreciation of contemporary "fusion" in Spain because of relatively durable pre-Reconquest culinary traditons? I don't think I am the only one to have seen similarities between North African food and such Spanish staples as patatas bravas. Is there an appreciation of this heritage in Spain today, or is it taken for granted?

I would rather think that something much more general than that is what applies here: pre-Reconquest traditions, even though they were often decisive (Andalusian and Moroccan cuisines are inextricably intertwined after eight centuries of Muslim rule over all or parts of Spain) in configuring Spanish cuisine (or, more precisely, "Spain's cuisines"), they are not as strong as the impact of the American influences.

Spain was the European gateway for potatoes, tomatoes, maize and capsicums; potatoes (and sweet potatoes) were probably used for human consumption here before Parmentier's celebrated experiments in France.

But what, in the end, is most important is adding the successive influences since the Middle Ages, which were piled upon an older Iberian and Roman foundation: Arab, Jewish (the Sephardic adefina is the immediate predecessor of all of Spain's cocidos, pucheros and other assorted boiled dinners) and American. (Not to mention Japanese in the case of the Basque cuttlefish in its 'ink', or Italian in the development of a Barcelona 'bourgeois' cookery in the 19th century...). The food writer Xavier Domingo used to say that the expression "Mediterranean diet" was incorrect; he liked "Mediterranean-American diet" better.

Fusion thus becomes, not a modern buzzword with dubious connotations, but an inherent, constitutional element of the Spanish way of eating. Spain, more so than other European nations, is the product of successive ethnic and cultural fusions, and this carries over into its cookery. Not to mention the fact that, since Spain had so much to do with the development of the modern cuisines of Latin America and always kept an 'umbilical cord' with its former colonies, it has been considered as very natural here, even in modern times, to go to Argentina, Cuba, Peru or Mexico and bring back techniques or ingredients that could be successful here. So huevos a la cubana (fried eggs with rice, fried sweet bananas [not plantains] and tomato sauce) became a basic staple of the everyday diet, and the Basque meat-grilling techniques - so prevalent today - were picked up by Basque emigrants to Argentina and Uruguay in the first part of the 20th century.

That said, the origin of 'patatas bravas' is less ethnically captivating! They were developed in the 20th century by a Madrid bar that eventually changed its name to Las Bravas and registered the formula of the genuine hot sauce that is liberally doused on just-fried chunky potatoes. (Of course, everyone else copies the sauce with more or less succes, more or less deviations, so that patatas bravas can be found anywhere).

The original sauce's ingredients are onion, garlic, tomato pulp, saffron, sugar, Cayenne pepper, hot 'pimentón' or paprika pepper, a chunk of serrano ham (cooked with the other ingredients for flavor, then discarded while the rest is puréed together), flour, salt, olive oil and vinegar.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Can anyone tell me about the GSR Culinary Congress "BCN Vanguardia-Encuentros de cocinas contemporaneas" included in the Alimentaria 2004 congress about food and beverages ?To be held in Barcelona in March. Does it compare to Madrid Fusion?

If chefg (Grant Achatz of Trio, Chicago) is not known by some of our Spanish contributors, allow me to introduce him and his cuisine via a few noteworthy eGullet threads.

eGullet Q&A with Grant Achatz

Trio Kitchen Table


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I've just looked up their web site. It's much more precisely circumscribed to cooking demonstrations or lectures (how much can one demonstrate in 30 minutes?) by one top chef from each of Spain's autonomous regions, which gives it a somewhat artificial or forced 'political' content. There are two sessions on culinary creativity in the Americas in which Thomas Keller is tentatively announced as a speaker.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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What is this website? I was hoping someone could give a side by side comparison, maybe someone who has been to both events.


Edited by chefg (log)

--

Grant Achatz

Chef/Owner

Alinea

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I doubt seriously if Thomas Keller will be at Alimentaria. He turned down Madrid Fusion because he is opening a new restaurant in NY.

As to Madrid Fusion, I have a block of tickets for Americanos (or I suppose egullet.com members), but I would need a confirmation by early next week. For more information, please e-mail me at gerrydawesªaol.com

In reference to the comment about no women, keep in mind that the board of directors of Madrid Fusion includes two women (out of four people, I believe).

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