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...A teacher at school once predicted that Spanish cuisine was going to be the next big thing and that prediction has really come true in the last few years. ...

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Amazing to read all of this, to realize how far Spain has come in the past 30 years since the transition to democracy. I lived in Asturias in the late '70's and there had consistently eye-opening food experiences which still nurture my imagination: steamed percebes (goose barnacles), angulas (real ones - baby eels) lightly fried with one chile in a clay cacerola stovetop, skate ten minutes from the water, fabada Asturiana made with home-made chorizo and onion morcilla. I learned how to do a sofrito and how to use a mortar and pestle. Bay laurel was growing on a tree outside the kitchen window. And everyone was dirt poor.

When the dictatorship ended with Franco's death, the Spanish managed to prevent civil war while allowing a pent-up creative explosion to take place. The ripples have reached our shores, tienda.com is taking orders for jamon serrano a year in advance, and I'm hoping my son at the CIA will do his pastry externship in Spain, just to be in the ambiente. Got any ideas or connections for him? :-)

Lonnie

"It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all of the answers." --James Thurber

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Voyage into Creativity, part three

Friday Morning

gallery_29805_3926_13786.jpgBy John Sconzo

The CIA/Greystone is located in St. Helena, in the beautiful Napa Valley. The bucolic scenery and a cultural climate devoted to the pleasures of wine and food provide good reason for participants of the annual World of Flavors Conference to return year after year; however, the consistent quality of the topics, the professional organization and the luminescence of the presenters would be more than enough reason to return regardless of the location.

Day Two of the conference opened with a bountiful Spanish-themed breakfast. Spanish tortillas, eggs with chorizo, cheeses, fruit and pastries were amongst the offerings. A very popular Illy espresso station (a touch of Italy) caffeinated the groggy participants.

The pork-rich breakfast was a natural segue into the morning’s initial topic, “Spanish Ways with Pork and Lamb: of Wood-Fired Ovens and the Fine Art of Curing,” moderated by eGullet Society member and author, Anya Von Bremzen.

Peter Kaminsky, author of Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine and Some Great Ways to Cook Them, talked about finding “the perfect ham” in the region of Extremadura in southwest Spain -- the so called jamon iberico de bellota (hams from the acorn-fed iberico pig). According to Kaminsky, “jamon iberico is like a good pinot noir” with subtlety, complexity and textural lushness. He stated that “pigs raised in nature’s way always lead to the best product.” Kaminsky described efforts in the U.S., including a farm in South Carolina that is farming iberico-related pigs in a fashion similar to the way they are raised in Extremadura. Kaminsky asserted that there is “no better example of long-term sustainable agriculture,” providing photos and data to support his assertion.

Santiago Martin of Embutidos Fermin in Spain, trained as a family physician but now running the family pork business, was brought up to the stage by Jose Andres. Together, they have been instrumental bringing these famous hams to American plates. Martin has made USFDA-mandated changes in his production methods, which will finally allow this legendary product to be imported into the United States. He gave a presentation that laid out the different grades of Spanish ham, the production process, and a description of the iberico pig -- the source of the most prized of hams. In order to qualify as iberico -- a descendant of the Iberian wild boar -- the pig must be at least three-quarters iberico bred, and have a 100% iberico mother. The animal has a long snout, medium-sized ears and slender legs. Initially they are fed upon cereals and grains, but at 8 or 9 months of age, the fattening begins. It is usually slaughtered at 14 to 18 months, at a weight of about 170 kilos. Those pigs who continue to feed on cereals and grains ultimately become jamon iberico, while those ranging in the oak forests and feeding on acorns become what many consider the “kings of ham": the jamon iberico de bellota, described by Anya Von Bremzen as “like a pleasure inducing drug!” (Jamon Serrano, basic Spanish ham and a good product in its own right, does not come from the iberico breed.)

The basic product of pork now duly described and presented, it was time for some demonstrations of culinary prowess. Joan Roca, of El Celler de Can Roca in Gerona, and author of what many consider the definitive book on sous vide cooking (called simply, Sous Vide Cuisine, cooked a rib section of iberico pork sous vide at a temperature of 78*C -- bone-in because he feels that the gelatin provides an important component to the process. After easily removing the bones, he toasted the pork skin-side down in a pan until it became crunchy. The juices collected from the sous vide process were used in a sauce. Roca prepared two other pork dishes: pork jowl cooked sous vide for 12 hours at 70*C then coated with thin-sliced bread and pan-toasted, and a final plate of trotters and esperdenyas (sea cucumbers) for a traditional Catalan “Mar y Montana” presentation. At the end of Roca’s demonstration, Von Bremzen noted that the modern techniques used “are all about bringing out inherent characteristics of the product” and applauded “the constant dialogue between old and new” in Spain.

The scene shifted from Roca’s use of new techniques to traditional preparations and techniques such as those from the asadores of Central Spain. Von Bremzen described the preparation and eating of lechal -- baby lamb roasted whole -- as “a cult-like thing.” Marco Antonio Garcia of Restaurant Mannix in Valladolid described and demonstrated the process. The lamb, from a special breed, is 21 days of age at slaughter. It is quartered and cooked in a special earthenware pot for 2.5 hours at 200*C.

Candido Lopez Cuerdo from Horno de Asar in Segovia took on one of the other classic roasts of Spain, cochinillo or roast suckling pig. Of particular note, Cuerdo explained that every suckling pig served in Spain is individually marked on the farm, then labeled with an identification number and sacrifice date at the slaughterhouse. Though he demonstrated several different pork preparations, his centerpiece was the cochinillo: ultimately, he cut it with a plate, a gleam in his eye and a proud grin on his face.

Nando Jubany of Can Jubany in Vic, a chef whose approach to cooking bridges the gap between tradition and avant-garde, used cuts such as trotters and Catalan charcuterie, butifarra negra, to prepare novel dishes based squarely on Catalan tradition.

gallery_29805_3926_2344.jpgRice, an integral component to much Spanish cooking, is often overlooked as such in this country, even given the relative fame of paella. eGullet Society member, writer, photographer and educator Gerry Dawes moderated this set of presentations entitled “Rice Traditions of Spain: Preserving, Adapting and Re-imagining..

Ca Sento, a small eight-table restaurant in Valencia has received much praise in the press as well as from Gerry Dawes, who in his introduction called several meals there amongst the best of his life. The restaurant is run by a mother-and-son team. The son, Raul Aleixandre, was unable to attend the conference, but his mother (and co-founder of the restaurant) Maria Muria Lloret offered her insights into the Valencian staple. The rice most often used for paella and other Spanish rice dishes is bomba, a medium-short-grain rice. Senia and bahia varieties are also popularly used for specific preparations. The term paella itself actually refers to the pan in which the dish is cooked: round and flat with a short, sloping rim. Classically, paella is cooked over an open fire fueled by grape vines. Maria Muria did not make paella though. Leaving that for others to do, she prepared an arroz meloso, or semi-dry rice in a cast iron pot. She made a marinero style rice dish with chipirones (tiny squid) , Alicante shrimp, rockfish stock and senia rice. I tasted it later on, during one of the Marketplace meals. It was marvelous.

Carles Gaig, the dean of traditional Catalan cooking in Barcelona at his restaurant Can Gaig, and Maria Carmen Velez, chef of the Alicante restaurant La Sirena contributed, too. Gaig adapted his preparation from traditional rice dishes, making a “soupy” rice with line-caught squid and esperdenyas. His stock used “trash” shellfish, which, though adding little usable meat, gave great flavor to the base. Also served later on at the Marketplace, this too was delicious. Velez “re-imagined” the traditional paellas of her area in a dish with vegetables and tuna, using the less fatty central part of the tuna. In the meantime, to whet our appetites, we were shown live video from the “paella cam” outside, where Llorenz Petras was grilling traditional calcots (Catalan large green onions) and Rafael Vidal was making a battery of paellas for our upcoming lunch.

“The Olive Groves of Spain:World Heritage of Flavor, Platform for Innovation,” led by Clara Maria Gonzalez de Amezua, founder of the El Alambique gourmet store and culinary school in Madrid, followed. We had already been introduced to Spanish olive oil in the opening sessions; this was to be a more detailed presentation.

Spain is the largest producer of olive oil in the world, but it is not just about quantity. Quality is of utmost importance and Spain’s olive oils can compete with anyone’s, according to Santiago Botas, a free-lance consultant and specialist in olive oils who has conducted tastings in 25 different countries. From Botas we learned that 80% of Spanish olive oil production comes from Andalucia, with Castilla La Mancha the second largest producer at 7%, followed by Extremadura (5%) and Catalunya (3.5%).

gallery_29805_3926_3855.jpgManolo de la Osa, chef at Las Rejas in Las Pedroñeras, an eight-table restaurant specializing in traditional regional cuisine, highlighted the use of olive oils as a base for carrying other flavors. Using these various flavored olive oils he prepared escabeche of rabbit.

Oriol Balaguer, Barcelonan pastry chef and chocolatier, used olive oil in desserts and chocolate bon-bons. One dessert he made was based on a classic Cordoban dish using orange, olive oil and Pedro Ximenez. We were promised an additional treat after lunch.

The morning’s sessions, educational and interesting, served as an appetite stimulating prelude to an exceptional lunch that was held both outside and in. Coursing through the food preparation areas, smelling the aromas from the paellas, watching the dancing flames and the ministrations of the paella masters intoxicated my senses as did passing by and chatting with these legends of the Spanish Cocina as they pulled the outer char from their calcots, dipped them in romesco sauce, tipped back their heads and slid the steamy onions down into their waiting mouths. It was a particular pleasure to have grillmaster Llorenz Petras himself show me the technique for gracefully and successfully eating a calcot. Though messy, they were tasty. Spanish wines flowed freely. The paella was well worth waiting for. The tapas/pintxos prepared under the direction of Patxi Bergara of Bar Bergara in San Sebastien were also superb.

From here it was on to another intensive afternoon.

+ + + + +


All photos by the author.
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Over the weekend I received my first shipment of Iberico from tienda.com. Last night we ate the iberico salchichon "longaniza" from Emburtidos Fermin. It was delicious!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Thank you again for writing and sharing with us.

I'm not sure if you have made me more aware, or if I'm spotting an actual 'trend', but there seems to be a bloom of Spanish restaurants in lower Manhattan. You have certainly intrigued me as well as done some apetite whetting.

Do you happen to know the name of the most prominent Spanish olive variety?

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Thank you again for writing and sharing with us.

I'm not sure if you have made me more aware, or if I'm spotting an actual 'trend', but there seems to be a bloom of Spanish restaurants in lower Manhattan. You have certainly intrigued me as well as done some apetite whetting.

Do you happen to know the name of the most prominent Spanish olive variety?

Hi Judith. I agree that there is a major upsurge in Manhatten alone. I stopped in at Tia Pol over the weekend and it was packed. In addition to the restaurants that are clearly "Spanish" themed, many more are filling their menus with Spanish influenced dishes with the influence in the form of ingredients, style or both.

As for the olives, here is a photo taken from a video presentation at the Conference on the major olive varieties in Spain.

gallery_8158_4008_31199.jpg

The arbequina is the most prominent olive in catalunya and the one that I am most personally well acquainted. I particularly like the olive oil made by Dauro that is predominantly made with arbequina olives. The picual is the most widely grown olive in Spain, representing, I believe, about 50% of production.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Here are some photos taken while waiting for the shuttle from the parking area to the conference:

gallery_8158_4008_104292.jpg

gallery_8158_4008_173039.jpg

gallery_8158_4008_150478.jpg

gallery_8158_4008_265384.jpg

...one of the main hall of CIA/Greystone:

gallery_8158_4008_114930.jpg

...and one of the breakfast being put out:

gallery_8158_4008_110590.jpg

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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A few photos from Spanish Ways with Pork and Lamb:

gallery_8158_4008_845.jpg

Marco Antonio Garcia carrying lechal for his demonstration.

gallery_8158_4008_155674.jpg

Peter Kaminsky discussing his love affair with Spanish pork.

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Jose Andres and Santiago Martin of Embutidos Fermin.

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Joan Roca working with pork.

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Garcia working with the "lechal" or suckling lamb.

gallery_8158_4008_61463.jpg

Roasted "cochinillo" or suckling pig.

gallery_8158_4008_163244.jpg

Candido Lopez Cuerdo cutting the cochinillo with a plate.

gallery_8158_4008_216177.jpg

Nando Jubany working with pig trotters

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Photos from Rice Traditions in Spain: Preserving, Adapting and Re-imagining.

gallery_8158_4008_86842.jpg

Gerry Dawes and Carles Gaig. Rafa Morales is in the background.

gallery_8158_4008_46618.jpg

Mari Carmen Velez and Lola Velez from la Sirena.

gallery_8158_4008_102459.jpg

Rafa Morales and Maria Muria Lloret

gallery_8158_4008_120650.jpg

Carles Gaig finishing a dish.

gallery_8158_4008_49925.jpg

Maria Carmen Velez cooking her paella with Gerry Dawes looking on.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Docs,

Thanks, thanks, thanks for your wonderful reviews. I've been salivating profusely while reading them...

Just two side notes: Whereas the most famed Serrano and Ibérico area is Extremadura, I'd say that for Teruel ham is just as good...

And as for calçots: Now you know what a wonderful feast they are... Going to a "calçotada" in winter is as much as social event as a food feast, pretty similar in significance to what barbecue might be in the South of USA. There is an annual Calçots fair in Valls (in the Tarragona area of Catalonia) which is so much fun -there's even a calçot eating contest-, and it takes place at the end of January. Can't wait till the calçots season begins...

Mar

Middlebrow Catalan gastronomy??????

http://baixagastronomia.blogspot.com/

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Docs,

Thanks, thanks, thanks for your wonderful reviews. I've been salivating profusely while reading them...

Just two side notes: Whereas the most famed Serrano and Ibérico area is Extremadura, I'd say that for Teruel ham is just as good...

And as for calçots: Now you know what a wonderful feast they are... Going to a "calçotada" in winter is as much as social event as a food feast, pretty similar in significance to what barbecue might be in the South of USA. There is an annual Calçots fair in Valls (in the Tarragona area of Catalonia) which is so much fun -there's even a calçot eating contest-, and it takes place at the end of January. Can't wait till the calçots season begins...

Mar

Thanks Mar. I haven't knowingly had Teruel ham and I don't recall anything being said about it at the conference. Do you know what breed(s) of pig it comes from? How is it priced relative to the hams from Extremadura?

Speaking of Calcots...

gallery_8158_4008_87800.jpg

Llorenc Petras peeling a calcot.

gallery_8158_4008_8923.jpg

Carles Gaig eating one.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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There's a web page (in Spanish) about

Jamón de Teruel

Funnily enough, they mention they were the first Ham D.O. (Denominación de Origen) to be approved in the country, but they do not mention breeds. It's usually on the expensive side of the spectrum (I'd probably put this down to their production being smaller) but still cheaper than Jabugo. And if you ask me, there's a better quality/price rate.

However, I've found some info somewhere else and they say:

El tipo de ganado a emplear será el procedente de cruces entre las razas Landrace (tipo estándar) y Large White, en lo que respecta a la línea madre; y Duroc para la línea padre

Which means: The breeds to employ will a cross between Landrace (standard type) and Large White, on the motherly line, and Duroc for the father one.

Hope this helps,

Mar

Middlebrow Catalan gastronomy??????

http://baixagastronomia.blogspot.com/

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Doc,

Did they have multiple presentation occuring at the same time or one at a time? Did you get a feel as to the make up of the audience..."foodies", professionals or a combination. After attending both the New York and Napa conferences, do you have any new restaurants that you want to try on your next trip to Spain?

Molto E

Eliot Wexler aka "Molto E"

MoltoE@restaurantnoca.com

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Doc, you've now invaded my dream world. I had a long complicated dream about eating roast Iberico pork. It was an absolutely massive slice, and I had to share it. Apparently, your descriptions are very, very evocative! :laugh::laugh:

Thanks for the info on the olives. I wish olive oil producers would list the varieties, in the same manner as wine labels. There is a huge flavor difference and it would be nice to know the names of what you like, or don't like. It's such a crap shoot now, unless the shop has a bottle open for tasting.

Your photos are beautiful, thanks.

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Doc,

        Did they have multiple presentation occuring at the same time or one at a time? Did you get a feel as to the make up of the audience..."foodies", professionals or a combination. After attending both the New York and Napa conferences, do you have any new restaurants that you want to try on your next trip to Spain?

Molto E

Hi Eliot,

The Conference consisted mostly of general sessions with one presentation at a time and four periods of concurrent small group sessions that took place over Friday and Saturday. I will be describing the ones I attended in upcoming reports.

The audience was by a large margin professional consisting of chefs, educators, media, producers and corporate development personnel and executives. My wife and I were amongst the few non-professionals there. I suppose that I am media though I am certainly no professional in that regard. :biggrin:

Funny that you ask that last question. Prior to the conference I had no plans to return to Spain in the near future. As a direct result of the conference though, I am now planning a return trip to Catalunya and a first vist to Valencia and Alicante this spring. Among the restaurants I have yet to experience I hope to visit El Celler de Can Roca, Can Jubany, Can Gaig, Comerc24 and others in Catalunya as well as Ca Sento, La Sirena, Monastrell and Levante in the Valencia/Alicante region. Of course there are plenty of restaurants from other areas of Spain that were represented that I would love to experience. I have to make a point of getting to Madrid one of these days as well as Galicia, Asturias, Navarra and the Basque Country. How could I not want to return to Andalucia? There is simply not enough time nor money in my world to do what I want to do and eat all that I want to eat and I am quite fortunate in that I am already better off than most. Mind you, I am not complaining. :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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gallery_8158_4008_121929.jpg

The tapas or pintxos plate prepared by Patxi Bergara and his crew consisted of (from the bottom and moving clockwise) Tortilla de Patatas, Aceitunas Verdes Rellenas de Pimiento y Anchoa (pepper and anchovy stuffed green olives), a cup of Romesco sauce for the calcots, Escalivada Catalana (roasted red pepper and eggplant), Mejillones en Escabeche (mussels in Escabeche sauce), Ensalada de Naranjas con Granadas (salad of Valencia oranges and pomegranates), Coca de Cebolla con Pimientos, Anchoas y Queso Manchego (Catalan bread with onion, peppers, anchovies and Manchego cheese), Queso Cabrales, Jamon Serrano and Falsa Lasana de Anchoas (I'm not sure what makes this a "false lasagna", but it is a signature pintxo of Bergara) A piece of bread was in the middle of the tray.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Doc, you've now invaded my dream world. I had a long complicated dream about eating roast Iberico pork. It was an absolutely massive slice, and I had to share it.  Apparently, your descriptions are very, very evocative!  :laugh:  :laugh:

Thanks for the info on the olives. I wish olive oil producers would list the varieties, in the same manner as wine labels. There is a huge flavor difference and it would be nice to know the names of what you like, or don't like. It's such a crap shoot now, unless the shop has a bottle open for tasting.

Your photos are beautiful, thanks.

Thank you, Judith. We just opened a jar of Ybarra brand "alta seleccion" piquillo pepper stuffed manzanilla olives that I bought from tienda.com. They are marvellous and exactly what we remember eating at various tapas bars in Barcelona. I could easily eat a jar in a sitting.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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There's a web page (in Spanish) about

Jamón de Teruel

Funnily enough, they mention they were the first Ham D.O. (Denominación de Origen) to be approved in the country, but they do not mention breeds. It's usually on the expensive side of the spectrum (I'd probably put this down to their production being smaller) but still cheaper than Jabugo. And if you ask me, there's a better quality/price rate.

However, I've found some info somewhere else and they say:

El tipo de ganado a emplear será el procedente de cruces entre las razas Landrace (tipo estándar) y Large White, en lo que respecta a la línea madre; y Duroc para la línea padre

Which means: The breeds to employ will a cross between Landrace (standard type) and Large White, on the motherly line, and Duroc for the father one.

Hope this helps,

Mar

Thanks for the info, Mar. This is very interesting. I suppose that one reason I didn't see any of this or hear much about it at the conference is because it probably is not currently being exported to the US. I will have to keep an eye out for it next time I am there.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Voyage into Creativity, part four

Friday afternoon

gallery_29805_3926_9150.jpgBy John Sconzo

The individual perhaps most responsible for the resurgence in artisan cheese making in Spain is Enric Canut. He launched the evening’s general session: Spanish Cheese: Revival of a Craft, Inspiration for Chefs,” led by American master fromager Max McCalman, who stated that “cheese puts an exclamation point on a meal.” Canut recounted the recent history of cheese in Spain, a longstanding tradition that was decimated during the Franco years: the government drove the country towards large-scale cultural homogenization and de-emphasized regional artisanal traditions. The situation was exacerbated as the country slipped further into poverty. Canut blamed the demise of the cheese traditions on the Catholic organization Opus Dei, which persuaded the Franco government to stress the efficiencies and economics of large-scale production. It was actually illegal to produce cheese below certain high volume production standards. The 1968 catalogue of the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture described 42 different cheeses of Spanish origin; at that time, more than 30 were being produced illegally by artisanal producers.

After Franco’s death, Spain slowly relaxed many of the limitations, sparking a revival of cheese production and artisanal craftsmanship. Despite that, some restrictions remained on the books; as recently as 1979, most cheeses produced and sold within the country were still illegal. It wasn’t until 1980 that Spain had its first classified DOC cheese – Roncal. Finally, in 1984, the “Decree on Industrial Minimums” was repealed, regulations for the development of crafted cheeses were promulgated, and assistance money was made available to small-scale cheese makers. The first Cheese Fair was held in Trujillo in 1986; it has since become Spain’s biggest. By 1990 the official roster of Spanish cheeses had increased to 82 distinct varieties -- all legal -- and by 1996, Spain was able to bill itself as “the land of 100 cheeses.” These days, Spanish cheese producers are emphasizing re-incorporation of the domestic product in both professional and home kitchens. To demonstrate this point, Pedro and Marcos Moran from Casa Gerardo in Asturias highlighted their local Cabrales Cheese in several recipes including one, “Crispy Bocadillo de Cabrales,” that I was able to enjoy later on in the Market Place. Also, Oriol Balaguer used different cheeses for sweet and savory combinations.

Spain has a rich history as a seafaring nation, so it should be no surprise that it is a country that relies heavily on seafood. David Rosengarten and Maria Jose Sevilla, a London-based authority on Spanish food, moderated “Out of the Sea: Three Spanish Chefs’ Approaches to Fish and Shellfish” with presentations by Joan Roca, Andoni Luis Aduriz and Joaquin Felipe.

gallery_29805_3926_1605.jpgThough Roca did two demonstrations, the first was the one that had everyone buzzing: Roca presented a video of the preparation of the much-discussed “Earth and oyster.” This dish, which gives “surf and turf” a literal manifestation, comprises a single briny oyster and a distillation of “earth.” In the video, Roca collected samples from his local forest floor, took them back to his lab and distilled the essence, which was applied to the briny oyster. I discussed this dish with Jose Andres, who told me that the genesis of Roca’s idea came from pairing oysters with wine. The best pairings, he said, were with mineral-filled wines like Chablis. In that case, why not add the mineral sensibility directly to the wine from its source? Though the dish is not intuitive, Jose’s explanation made sense to me. I would also imagine that this dish would be very much driven by terroir -- both from the “earth” and the oyster (though in that case one could hardly call it “terroir”), and that it would taste quite different depending on the specific characteristics of the soil and the oyster.

Aduriz made a crustacean soup and an untraditional ceviche without citric acid, using instead roots and leaves with lemony qualities and tannins.

I had never heard of Chef Joaquin Felipe prior to this conference; however, he delivered one of its more interesting demonstrations. His subject was tuna and he showed ways of preparing practically every part of the large pelagic fish. For Felipe, chef at the Europa Deco restaurant in Madrid, the liver is the most difficult part to cook.

Finishing the session was Dani Garcia who concocted a dish with oysters, using his “popcorn” as an accent.

By the time the General Sessions were over, many an appetite had been rekindled -- just in time for the abundant marketplace. A live Flamenco show accompanied a cornucopia of culinary highlights. Unfortunately I was barely able to make a dent in the offerings. Some I did get to enjoy included:

  • Cabrales Bocaditos from Pedro and Marcos Moran;
  • Broad Beans with Clams from Amado Alonso Heria of Asturiasa;
  • Fantastic ajo blanco from Jose Andres;
  • Crushed Potatoes, Broken Eggs and Vegetable Coal with Casein Dressing from Andoni Aduriz;
  • Salt cod “Bunyols” from Nando Jubany;
  • “Slightly sweet seafood rice” from Maria Muria Lloret;
  • Red tuna bites from Joaquin Felipe (pictured above);
  • McFoie burgers (foie gras and beef) and “kindereggs” from Carles Abellan and Caneloni tradicional with truffle sauce from Carles Gaig;
  • Our share of fine wines from all over Spain.

My wife and I stumbled towards the bus stuffed and exhausted. Tomorrow was coming soon.

+ + + + +


All photos by the author.
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Actually the food was prepared by the Napa Culinary Institute, and they did a great job serving over 900 people, following my cookbook recipes, plus a pintxo from Patxi Bergara with Boquerones..................

Thank you for the clarification, Jose. They certainly did do a wonderful job. The food was fabulous. It didn't hurt that they had some pretty good recipes to begin with. :wink: I was amazed at the quality of the food that was prepared for so many people - not just at the Tapas lunch, but throughout the conference.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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A few photos from the late afternoon session:

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Max McCalman and Enric Canut talking Spanish cheese.

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Pedro and Marcos Moran from Casa Gerardo in Prendes (Asturias), Spain working with cheese.

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Oriol Balaguer putting the finishing touches on his "Concept" cheesecake. Yes, that is arugula and it was quite delicious.

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Joan Roca using smoke in a dish with seafood.

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Joaquin Felipe chef at Europa Deco in Madrid works with all parts of tuna.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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A few photos from the Friday evening Marketplace:

gallery_8158_4021_65405.jpg

The team from Jaleo making superb tapas.

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Marcos Moran serving "crispy bocadillo of Cabrales" to the cheesemaster Enric Canut. These were full of cheesy goodness - creative comfort food.

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"Tartare of Tomato with Crayfish and White Garlic" from Francis Paniego.

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Maricel Presilla of Cucharamama in Hoboken, N.J. serving her "Cucharamama Slab Bacon in Panca Pepper-Brown Sugar Loaf Adobo with Oloroso Sherry."

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"Lamb Antichucos with Papa Seca Puree and Pickled Yacon" and "Suspira de Umena" from Marilu Madueno and Andrea Massaro Debernardi of Lima, Peru's Huaca Pullana with an overview of a segment of the World Marketplace.

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Joaquin Felipe with his "Red Tuna Bites."

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Carles Abellan filling his "kindereggs." Nando Jubany is in the foreground serving Abellan's decadent "McFoie Burgers."

These dishes were all wonderful. I had a number of other great dishes, bites and wines, but what is sad is the number of wonderful sounding dishes that I missed either because I was too full or I simply did not get to them. As a World Marketplace rookie, I didn't know enough to study the menu that was handed out on entry into the room. If I had done so I wouldn't have missed Marco Antonio Garcia's "Asado de Cordero Lechal!" Actually, I can't complain. I just wish that I had a bigger stomach in order to sample all of the delights presented. :wink:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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