Category Archives: Products

Culinary collective: 15 years offering Spanish gourmet food all around the US

Elena F. Guiral 

Catalonians have always been great traders thanks to their geographical position in the NE of Spain in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. From one coast to another Pere Selles arrived to the Pacific NW more than 15 years ago to bring a piece from Spain to the US.

He began his company, today Culinary Collective, as many things happen in life, in an informal and adventurouos way. “A friend asked me if I could sell his olive oil here in Seattle so I began to see chefs all around the city with all my warehouse in the trunk of the car,” remembers.

One of his first clients was Tom Douglas, who loved his olive oil and his romantic way of working with a high dedication to an artisanal and high quality product. Soon the chefs asked for more products for their restaurants and Pere decided to incorporate more gourmet foods to his portfolio and to rent his first warehouse.

Today Culinary Collective is the most important Spanish gourmet food importer, with more than 150 references, and they deliver delicacies all around the US. Here in Seattle you can find their products at PCC, Metropolitan Market, Whole Foods, The Spanish Table and De Laurenti in Pike Place Market. But La Tienda.com, the most important on line Spanish food seller make them available to every corner in the country too.

When Pere looks for new products his criteria is clear: small-scale production of flavorful heritage food using traditional and environmentally friendly techniques and high quality.

Pere SellesThat´s why wandering through his Lynwood warehouse was something similar to walking in heaven for a Spaniard food lover like me: piles of paella rice bags, chicken broth, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, chocolate, canned vegetables and fish, Sherry Vinegar… and anchovies stuffed olives from L´Escala, one of the most beautiful towns in Catalonia, a flavor really difficult to find here in the US. And It´s fun to realize how The Culinary Collective is based in Seattle, the paradise of local, fresh and sustainable ingredients in the US.

Some of the products keep the original brand as in Spain, others are gathered by the brand “Matiz” created by the company. “We wanted not only to offer high quality but a beautiful package customized for the US consumers”.

A few years ago the company began to work with the Andean Region to bring diferent flavors mainly grains and flours know for being healthy, flavorful and gluten free, offering an amazing carbs alternative to people with gluten intolerance. These products are reunited under the label Zocalo.

One of the new brands that Culinary Collective are working with is Aneto 100% natural, a Spanish Company who is specialized in offering chicken and paella artisanal broths. They participated as sponsors in the International Food Bloggers Conference celebrated in Seattle last September to show how to prepare a tasty paella saving time and effort.

In fact, this is the main challenge for Pere Selles, co-founder of the company. “Our main clients are US citizens who have visited Spain and love our food and our traditions, but sometimes they don´t have the knowledge or experience to take full advantage of our products because there is nobody in the aisle of the supermarket to help them,”, explains.

The lack or Spaniard´s restaurants in the city, compared to French and Italian ones, don´t help to make seattlelites feel more familiar with our country´s cuisine too. “As I have experience working in restaurants in Chicago, sometimes I think I should go on that direction one day”, concludes Pere with a mysterious smile. I have to say It wouldn´t be a bad idea at all.

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Almudena de Llaguno: the story of a Spaniard wines importer pioneer

Elena Fernandez 

Almudena de Llaguno is not only another Spanish wines importer. She was the aunthentic pioneer when she founded  Classical Wines from Spain, 30 years ago.

She moved from Spain to Seattle to build a common dream with her partner Steve, who had been graduated at UW and loved the Pacific Northwest. Three decades later, Almudena has found in this city her second home altought “I miss the bright light of Spain,” she smiles.

At first, not everybody believed in their adventure. “People asked if I think I could make money selling Spanish wines in the US. But we were young, adventurous and we had nothing to lose, so we followed our heart,”, says.

Every succesful company arrives sooner or later to the tipping point, and for Almudena was the collaboration with Bodegas Pesquera from DO Ribera de Duero, one of the flagships of this wine region.

tarjeta Classical wines of Spain“Spanish wines were totally unknown in the 80s. That´s why we decided to include the map of Spain in our business cards” Almudena explains. “All of this changed afte the 1992 Olympic Games and other Spanish wines importers began to work in the US”. She discovered soon that all this buzz was not a threat but a big push to her business. “Spaniard wines moved from a hidden corner in the stores to a more relevant space”.

Today Classical Wines from Spain works all around the country but the biggest markets are New York, Chicago and Florida, where the latin american population is really faithful to great value classic wines.

California, Washington and Oregon are good markets too altough they´re the first wine producers in the country. “Consumers breath the wine culture and they become more receptive to new varieties too,” explains Almudena.

 

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Many things have changed since Almudena founded Classical Wines from Spain 30 years ago. Spain produces today more wine than ever, but “It´s more difficult to find now an unique and authentic wine, the market is really even, following the directions of some gurus like Robert Parker,” explains. “Finding these special wines is our work and It´s the work that we enjoy the most”.

Since the beginning of Classical Wines from Spain,  Almudena have always promoted the original grape varieties of each area, like moristel in Somontano, a region situated in the NE of Spain. Luckily, Spanish local varieties are more appreciated now than ever.

The wine culture is blooming in the U.S., where a more healthy lifestyle and mediterranean diet is gaining supporters day by day. “The influence of the media in the american society  is huge , with publications as Wine Spectator , Wine Enthusiast , and the weekly column of Asimov in The New York Times,” says de Llaguno. “And luckily the influencers love Spanish wines”.

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Sherry vinegar: a vinegar with the essence of Jerez

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Just a few drops of sherry vinegar can provide great personality to a plate  But … why is this vinegar so special?

With a first deep aroma and a powerful and balanced flavor, reflecting its long aging in the cellars of Jerez, Sherry vinegar is made of varieties of  Palomino , Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel grapes . Its origin is what determines its quality and personality and make it an irreplaceable condiment. Sherry vinegar is aged following a unique method called “solera” and “criadera”

The older vinegars are extracted  for being bottled  from the closest to the ground barrels . The amount of extracted vinegar is replaced by an equivalent amount from the upper row of barrels, called first criadera,  containing younger vinegar , and this mix is cooled by younger vinegar from the second row of barrels (  second criadera ) , and so on.

Its this aging process which allows  to provide us with an exceptional quality product. Some sherry vinegars are 10 or 20 years old. Moreover, this long aging explains the great complexity of flavors and above all , the high concentration that characterizes these vinegars and that becomes a stimulus for the senses.

Sherry vinegars are classified based on two factors: the degree of aging and the degree of sweetness. In the first case , The different age is classified in three varieties :  Sherry Vinegar Sherry Vinegar Reserva and Sherry Vinegar Gran Reserva. Based on the sweetness sherry vinegar can be classified as Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel sherry vinegar.

DO Sherry Vinegar was created in 1995.  It was a real milestone as it was the creation of the First Appellation of Origin of Vinegar in Spain . There are currently only three designations of origin for such products in Europe: Sherry Vinegar, Modena (Italy) and Condado de Huelva (Spain).

The history of these vinegars goes back to Sherry ‘s own history , around 3000 BC , when the Phoenicians arrived in this Andalusian region and planted the first vines. Some of these wines acidity level began to rise above desired for a wine. In some wineries , this extra acid wine was  confined to not hurt the pride of the producer.

However, they soon began to use the same system that was used for making wines with these barrels of vinegar and what began as a fault of nature , soon became one of the finest products of the wineries that had kept them in secret as a condiment for the family.

In the nineteenth century , many French merchants who had tried these vinegars began exporting them to France where their reputation grew stronger. Today is a unique dressing , acclaimed by top chefs from around the world .

Etiqueta vinagre de JerezIf you want to buy authentic Sherry Vinegar you´ll need to find the DO Jerez label in the bottle as shown.

Tasting Notes
Sherry Vinegar : Its features come from a breeding between six months and two years in wooden barrels. This variety has an intense taste and scent suggests acetic fine brushstrokes reminiscent of nuts. It has a mahogany amber tones splashed .

Sherry Vinegar Reserva: mahogany amber with bright reflections are closely related to its aging in wood, which is between two and ten years. It Emphasizes its powerful nuanced of great diversity, such as vanilla , nuts and wood  aroma . The palate also has a blotter acid and flavor that recalls its origin from Jerez .

Gran Reserva Sherry Vinegar : Its more than ten years in wood barrels gives it a distinctive aroma of deep acidity also contains notes of old wine . It is a very round , large , dry and well balanced , with a post- acid taste and prolonged and notes of dried fruits and spices flavor. Its color is a deep mahogany and It has very silky texture.

•  Pedro Ximenez Sherry Vinegar : This is a semi – sweet, smooth and creamy vinegar flavor. Its aroma of sherry from which it inherits its name , featuring the evocation of dried fruits , licorice and roasted . It has a deep dark mahogany color that accentuates your body and density.

Moscatel Sherry Vinegar : From the variety of Moscatel wine , this is also a semi – sweet vinegar with a vivid mahogany color. Like the previous variety , aroma recalls its origin Muscat, scented dried fruits . It is very sweet and has a velvety texture.

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Madrid Fusión 2014: The European Culinary Summit highlights

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Madrid Fusión is one of the great gastronomic events in Spain that brings together national and international chefs, journalists and food companies. It is one of the most important conferences in the world about cooking and food.

Madrid Fusion was held from 27 to 29 January at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos in Madrid. Some congressional figures give an idea of its importance and international projection: Madrid Fusion has had 3,500 visitors daily, of which 150 were foreign journalists in addition to another 500 professionals of national press. There have been 57 international speakers from 15 countries, more than 100 domestic and foreign chefs in total.

These are the highlights of what has been Madrid Fusion 2014 and trends in food that will arrive:

1 – The importance of local products and the binomial restaurant-small producers in the area. This is a growing trend worldwide. This was demonstrated by the chefs from Peru, Bolivia and Chile, which explained their agreements with market gardeners and farmers.

2 – Products of the orchard: a trend in the world of gastronomy, green, healthy and natural cuisine with products consumed directly, without going through cold rooms.

3-: Congress, as usual, held a charity auction of two specimens of black truffle from Soria. Were acquired by Andrea Tumbarello (restaurant Don Giovanni) and the Iberostar group in 3.000 to 5,000 euros each. In addition, the chef from Soria, Óscar García Marina, gave a presentation about the truffle and the soul of the mushrooms.

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4 – Great chefs in action. Every big name in Spanish cuisine went through Madrid Fusion to showcase their latest creations: David Muñoz, Quique Dacosta, Arzak, Joan Roca, Eneko Atxa or Ángel León, among others, who dazzled attendees with their edible luminescent bacteria.

5.- Winners: Madrid Fusion holds various competitions, such as the Revelation Restaurant, which went to Montia, (El Escorial) with Daniel Ochoa and Luis Moreno. David Muñoz and Gert de Mangeleer (three Michelin stars each) were chosen as the best chefs in Europe.

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6. – Vanguard and Tradition: Madrid Fusion is a showcase of the culinary art, but this year has combined the most advanced talks with a tribute to the tradition in the kitchen. At Madrid Fusion presentations have been added to the Taste of Spain, where great chefs have praised products such as legumes, hunting or cod.

7 – The Bullipedia: Ferrán Adriá and his team presented the Bullipedia, which is guessed as a key instrument for the work of young chefs like a virtual culinary encyclopedia.

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8 – Tapas: another trend that is consolidated in the world. One of the clearest examples, the chef José Andrés and his group Think Food Group, who said: “We have to celebrate and be proud of where we come from”, claiming the Spanish cuisine in miniature.

9 – Design and communication: food processing companies have to be distinguished in order to gain a foothold in the market. This requires not only enough to have a good product: the design and how to position it are vital.

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10 – Enofusión. Parallel to Madrid Fusion, where winemakers, restaurateurs, distributors, sommeliers, journalists and fans of the wine culture have shared during these three days is celebrated unforgettable experiences. One of the highlights was the tasting of three wines in the Parker 100 points list.

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Jump into the legumes lovers club with PNW Farmers Co-op

Legumbres modificada

Elena F. Guiral 

January, legumes time. Anyway, every month of the year. Legumes are a essential ingredient of Spain culinary heritage, due to their high content in proteins and carbs and to their affordability.

Legumes were associated in my country during a long time with fat, high cholesterol and unhealthy meals due to their traditional association with pork ingredients as tocino, chorizo and morcilla. Luckily this myth is down nowadays and bean, garbanzo beans and lentils are recovering their role in our cooking dishes again as a realy vesatile ingredient that will fuel you for hours.

I´m happy to see that legumes are more common nowadays into the American diet too although I see them most of the time in Hummus and Lentil Soup.

Luckily a few months ago I found through Twitter PNW Farmers Co-op Specialty Foods, a  cooperative based in Spokane that sells Eastern Washington and North Idaho production. Legumes are winter crops, resistant to ice and drought, so they are perfect to that area agricultural idiosyncrasy

I´ve always thought that the best way to be respectful with Mother Nature is to eat less meat, more veggies and local production. PNW Farmers Co-op mission fits perfectly with my idea, as Kim and me have discussed many times.

So I´m proud to share with you our particular collaboration with this cooperative. They will provide me ingredients to play in my kitchen and I will provide them new recipes most of them from our traditional Spanish heritage. And both of us will show you that preparing new dishes from dry legumes is easy, fun and healthy.

Ironically, many of the products that PNW Farmers Co-op has sent are new to me, like caviar lentils, so It´s going to be a trip full of discoveries for everybody. Do you want to join me?

Where you can buy PNW Farmers Co-op legumes 

Truffle from Soria: the Spanish black diamond

IMG_4250The black truffle, or Tuber melanosporum , is a winter fungus appreciated in restaurants for its special aroma and flavor it brings to all kinds of dishes, bringing nuances that reflect the essence of the land and forest. Despite its scarcity and high price, the demand for truffle growing every day.

Soria is one of the three major Spanish producing provinces of black truffle, along with Huesca and Teruel. Has 1,700 hectares for planting, whose production accounts for over 30 % of the national market.

The quality of the truffle from Soria has transcended borders and much of the production is sold in England, Germany or United States. The experts emphasize that the altitude of the province and its climatic conditions give the black truffle and special aroma and remarkable texture over other truffles.

The rains this year and good early autumn temperatures have favored a campaign that could reach a total number of  5,000 kilos (11,000 pounds). Calculate the cost-effectiveness of the province is always difficult, because the market is not regulated.  the Truffle Soria Association estimate is around  $9 million.

The price per pound , which last year was around $680 , could lower this season , which runs from 1 December to mid- March. In fact, the first prices are handled are around $480 per pound.

Soria Truffle association continues to work to achieve a quality mark that distinguishes the Tuber melanosporum from Soria in the most important international markets.

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Great Spanish chefs as Pepe Rodríguez (El Bohio), Luis Alberto Lera ( Mesón El Labrador) , Óscar Perez and Pedro Mario (El Ermitaño), Víctor Martin (Trigo) or Mario Sandoval (Coque) , among others, exalt the special aroma of the black truffle from Soria and use it fresh in season to prepare their dishes. Even one of the most successful chefs, Martín Berasategui, says that Soria black truffle is “the Rolls Royce of truffles from Spain .”

One of the chefs who has worked and extolled the great potential of the black truffle from Soria is Óscar García, from his restaurant Baluarte. The Academy of Gastronomy and Food of Castilla y León recognized their work recently. IMG_4258

The menu of the day dedicated to the black truffle from Soria included the following courses:

– Our trufal
– Seasonal vegetables with truffle, prawn and mushroom soup
-Potato – truffle with candied rib
-Squid ragout, truffles, chestnuts and walnuts
-Truffled – egg
– Octopus , cabbage, truffle and dashi soup
– Bresse Pigeon with rice and mushrooms
– Ice cream with chocolate truffle

The black truffle can praise all kinds of dishes . It can be taken raw laminated or can be added to a stew or soup. It is also used for flavoring eggs , oils and cheeses.

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Spain´s Great Match in Miami: the Yummy Chronicles

 Elena Fernandez

D.O. Rueda white Wine booth

D.O. Rueda white Wine booth

Last week, the Yummy Bull had the opportunity to attend to a Spain’s Great Match tour stop in Miami. The event took place at the The Moore Building in the Miami Design District. The Great Match is a celebration of the wines and food from Spain.

American importers and distributors of Spanish wines presented their finest products, to wine industry professionals, media, and consumers. More than 200 Spanish wines were featured in a walk-around tasting informal format.

The tasting was complemented with a seminar presented by Grandes Pagos de España, an association of Spanish wine producers dedicated to promote Spain’s estate wines, was held for select trade and media. Attendees tasted through 24 of the 27 prestigious winery estates that belong to Grandes Pagos de España including the finest examples of winemakers, including Carlos Falco, Víctor de la Serna and Mariano García.

As Spaniard and wine lover you can imagine I felt in heaven for a few hours… It was difficult for me to find a place to start my particular wine tasting tour, so I decided to begin with Las Rocas from Bodegas San Alejandro. This wine comes for a winery placed in Calatayud one hour driving away from my home town, Zaragoza. Garnacha Borja and Calatayud wine are my day to day wine options at home, so I wanted to test what is new.

Matarromera Ribera de DueroMy favorite was Garnacha 2009, 90 points rated by The wine Advocate. I love garnacha grape because has enough body to fulfill my Spanish taste but It´s fruity and affordable enough to pair with my daily meals. But I made room for Ribera del Duero wines, other of my favorites. I had the opportunity to taste Abadía Retuerta last releases, this winery belongs to Grandes Pagos de España association, and another really good Ribera, Matarromera Crianza 2008. A classic wine with a modern touch.

Whites are in my top list of wines too so I was happy to find a representation of Consejo Regulador DO Ruedain the Match. All  Verdejos were great and you could find a list who looks for distributor in the US too. I love the bitter spicy touch in mouth of Rueda wine, great for any kind of fish and seafood.

Another Spanish white best seller was in Miami last week: Albariño. Every of them where great but I found particularly special the wines from Paco & Lola, a boutique winery from Pontevedra with a really cool  and brave branding design too.

After 15 sips of wine aprox. I decided It would be a great idea to refuel so I visited Cheese from Spain booth, full of an amazing array of varieties. Cheese and wine are close brothers, you know. Olives were present too. I loved the small cheesecakes made with black olive tapenade on top. Unexpected combination!

In Spain we finish our celebrations with Cava, our particular sparkling wine sweet as champaigne, so I wanted to do the same. I could see the release of the new Anna de Codorniu bottles, girlie style! And I tasted Jaume Serra cava rosé, MMM so delicious!

Guests also had  the opportunity to visit: Tapas: Spanish Design for Food, an exhibition organized by Accion Cultural Española (AC/E) with the collaboration of SPAIN Arts & Culture, La Fundación España-Florida 500 Años and the Centro Cultural Español de Miami, in recognition of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the first European, Spaniard Ponce de León, to the shores of Florida.

This exhibition, who traces a fascinating path of Spanish design related to food  will visit Washington DC and many others US cities all around 2014.

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Torrezno, a tasty indulgence from the soul of Spain

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This snack is a typical Spanish tapa , especially in some inland areas. Torreznos are obtained from pork belly, marinated and once dried, cut into strips and fried in olive oil. The result is a very tasty and crunchy appetizer, just depending  on the way it should  be fried.

It’s a simple dish, but it has its tricks. The proper frying method is as it follows: the bacon has to be at room temperature and cut into slices 1.5 to 2 cm wide. In a pan with a little extra virgin olive (only cover the bottom) and before heating it, lay the slices always with the crust down. Heat the pan at very  low temperature, let them frying for 30-40 minutes. Then, take them out of the pan and let cool . Finally , heat the same pan with the same oil and fat at a high temperature and brown the Torrezno until the crust gets crispy.

In a province of Castilla-León , Soria, where torreznos are so typical , ten producers have joined to achieve a quality certification mark . Torrezno de Soria ensures that the pork belly is obtained , cut and treated according to traditional standards to offer its  best flavor and taste. Traditionally , the part of the pig from which the bacon is chosen  was called ‘ the soul ‘. Today, that ‘soul ‘ has become a gastronomic flag thet coul arrive soon to the Pacific NW.

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Although it is very tasty snack , has a high fat content. However, many of these are unsaturated fatty acids , especially if fried in olive oil . In any case , we recommend a responsible consumption, within a balanced diet.

Welcoming Fall: cranberry and smoked salmon salad


Elena Fernandez

As I work at home alone, I usually prepare a huge seasonal salad for lunch. And when I say seasonal,  It means with everything I find in my fridge. That´s why I love salads. You can pair everything with everything and the result is always healthy and tasteful.

This week I wanted to try with fresh cranberries, which are in season now and full of antioxidants and healthy properties, so I thought maybe their particular bitter taste could fit with romaine lettuce, smoked salmon, and the last tomatoes of the season. I added balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, dill and my eternal feta cheese ( I need to finish my Costco familiar package). And voilà! A refreshing salad to say hello to fall season and to keep you strong against the change of the weather.

Cranberries are one of the three original native fruits from North America. According to The Cranberry Institute, their super antioxidant properties are great to avoid urinary tract infections and protect against heart conditions and certain types of cancer related to the digestive organs.

Crop season begins in September and ends in October, but you can find fresh cranberries until December. Besides, their crispy and bitter flavour adds an interesting notch to any dish. Try them!

Ensalada de cranberries

@Paradisos del sol melón con jamón: last summer gift

@Paradisosdelsol melon with spanish serrano ham

@Paradisosdelsol melon with spanish serrano ham