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organic kefir, 3,000 goats, and letur´s dream





To get to the little town of Letur in the southeast of Spain you must travel more than an hour from Albacete, the closest big city along a winding road parallel to the Segura River, which was strangely familiar to me despite being the first time I visited.

Arriving in this town overlooking an imposing ravine, you realize the true miracle that a family business such as El Cantero de Letur has achieved. Which began as a hippie dream of its founder, Paco Cuervo today its lead by the amazing energy of his son Pablo. Today El Cantero de Letur is the first organic yogurt producer in Spain, and it is present on the shelves of the main supermarkets as well as in organic stores and on its online portal. They export their products to Portugal and some Eastern European countries too.

Last week I attended a press trip to visit his new goat farm. This project began three years ago and today occupies 300 hectares. Until now the milk was provided by farmers in the area. Its new facilities, with a capacity for 3,000 goats of the Murcia Granada race, will allow 90% of the goat’s milk used to manufacture its products to come from a radius of 35 kilometers. We could classify it as a goat paradise since, in addition to being in a beautiful pine forest at a height of more than 800 meters, it doubles the areas available for the mobility of goats that are required by ecological regulations.

A trailer leaves day the factory with products from El Cantero de Letur. But 30 years ago, when Paco began his dream, everything was very different. His son, Pablo, tells us his story: “It all started when my parents came here more than 30 years ago. My mother was a teacher, and my father did not have a job at the time. He was always very creative and after receiving a small inheritance he decided to do something productive with it. He bought 20 cows and set up a small cheese factory on an old raft”, explains Pablo.

The first years were difficult because Paco decided that his production would be ecological from day one. Something very rare at that time and he lacked business knowledge too. At first, he distributed his cheese around the nearby towns in a red van that is kept at the entrance of the factory. “When we were already thinking that we finally had to give up in 1995, yogurt came into play. Yogurt provided much more added value per liter of milk since its preparation is simpler,” says Pablo.

And from there to dairy heaven. Because for a company as cutting-edge as El Cantero de Letur, ecology and technology can and should go hand in hand. Nowadays this company has completely transformed the destiny of Letur, a small town of 400 inhabitants in the middle of nowhere and whose landscape only allowed small agriculture fields and subsistence livestock. Today more than 100 people work directly or indirectly for the company.

For a company as cutting edge as El Cantero de Letur, ecology and technology can and should go hand in hand

But its director still wants to continue creating a present and a future for this beautiful town in Albacete. For this reason, Letur Repuebla project is underway. The company has built 10 homes that will be rented at a very reasonable price to people willing to start a new life there thanks to remote working, preferably with a family.

Collaborative projects

El Cantero de Letur dedicates 10% of its income to cooperation projects. “We believe that it is fair to give back to developing countries part of what the West is taking from them,” explains its director. They always choose NGOs with less structure and very specific projects to “be able to directly see the result of our work. In fact, at the beginning of 2020, I went with a film crew to one of our projects in Ethiopia to shoot the documentary Las 75, in which 75 women from the village of Meki received two goats to produce milk and increase the family income”.

Future perspectives

The year 2020 represented a significant 20% increase in sales for El Cantero de Letur. In 2021 they have managed to stabilize and even rise this figure by 3%, but now they face the challenge of the skyrocketing price increase of energy and fuels. They are absorbing the cost for now, but this increase will possibly have an impact on the final price at the beginning of next year. Even though the consumer is more and more informed, for Pablo Cuervo, it is important not to lose credibility and make the consumer aware that it is worth paying a little more for a high-quality product, respectful with the environment and with the people. “Large corporations have seen the trend of organic food and are launching new product lines, but for us, it was never a matter of marketing but values,” concludes.

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Rice from Aragon, a high-altitude product

Not many know that Aragon, the Northeast under the radar Spanish region, has been producing rice since the 19th century. Although, indeed, its cultivation is quite a testimonial. Around 4,500 hectares compared to other communities such as Delta del Ebro, Valencia, Extremadura, and Andalusia.

Arrocera del Pirineo is one of its main producers. It is a second-degree cooperative made up of three other cooperatives in Aragon: Virgen de la Oliva, in Ejea de los Caballeros, San José in Sadaba, and Osca in Alcolea del Cinca. It is precisely in Alcolea where they have the mill that processes and packages the rice produced by the farmers of the cooperative exclusively.

70% of this rice is distributed in bulk, containers such as a big pack of 1,200 kilos or sacks of 25 kilos. This year it has been commercialized only in Spain, although normally a significant percentage is exported mainly to Middle Eastern countries: Palestine, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. “We produce a variety called Guadiamar, of crystalline semi-long rice that is highly appreciated in these countries,” explains Susana Hernández, director of the cooperative.

But the jewel in the crown is its own brand, Brazal, sold directly to consumers. It currently accounts for 30% of the production, although the cooperative’s objective is that in the future it will be the major form of distribution and sale. Brazal is a well-known brand in Aragon, but it can also be found in supermarkets in other cities such as El Corte Ingles and Alcampo.

We asked Susana Hernández what is special about Brazal rice and why the people that taste it become faithful followers: “Mainly the growing conditions. We are 500 meters above sea level. This creates challenges when it comes to cultivating because we are in a limit zone, we can only cultivate two or three varieties as we only count on 150 days from sowing to harvest”, she explains. “But this makes the maturation of our rice take place in September slowly, and this gives it a lot of quality. It absorbs the flavor a lot and it holds up very well without costing the consumer as much as Bomba rice, a variety that is widely used to cook paella”.

That´s why this product is highly valued by the hospitality industry and by a loyal public who, if they try it, don´t buy anything different. But it is difficult for this brand to make itself known outside of Aragon because Arrocera del Pirineo continues to have the limitations of a medium-sized entity to promote its product. “There have been promotional campaigns for Alimentos de Aragon in generic terms, but that does not mean a direct benefit to us,” she complains.

Another difficult challenge is the sharp decrease in cultivated hectares in recent years. According to official data, 4,500 hectares were cultivated last season. Ten years ago, the figure was around 12,000. One of the main causes is that younger farmers are not attracted to this crop, which requires more pampering and care than other cereals, especially during the summer.

The maduration of our rice take place in September slowly, and this gives it a lot of quality because it absorbs the flavor very well. Our rice is perfect to make paella

Another problem according to the director of Arrocera del Pirineo is that every year phytosanitary products disappear from the list of allowed products, without finding too many viable alternatives. Susana Hernández thinks that the rural and urban world continue to mutually turn their backs on many, despite what might seem a change of perception after the arrival of urbanites to the countryside after the Covid confinement. “Agriculture has to continue to be the main economic engine for the small villages, and our farms need to be economically viable. Add to this the bad reputation of rice for being a crop that consumes a lot of water. But this is not the case, because it is planted in clay fields. You put the water in, and it won’t go away”. On the other hand, rice crops take advantage of land that would be unviable for other crops, because they are very saline areas. “If there were no rice, it would be desert, with the consequent damage to the native fauna,” she says.

For her, the future is not particularly optimistic, but at least she does believe that the hectares cultivated today can be maintained. What her main objective is to grow the volume of their own brand. “It is a slow and continuous work, but we trust that consumers will continue to believe in the quality of our product”.

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Teruel: The High Desert Magic of Spain

Elena F. Guiral 

Teruel has a millenary agri-food culture developed in an arid, cold and hard land with the particular characteristics of the High Desert: heights estimated between 2,000 and 4,000 ft (600 and 1,300 meters) with short and very hot summers and summers cold and sunny but with presence of snowfall. This climate gives its cuisine a very particular personality reflecting those its inhabitants and their extraordinary ability to adapt to the territory.

In recent decades, farmers and producers in the province, mostly small farmes, are struggling day by day to preserve this millenary tradition. This is also the best way to fix population in a desertified territory, with 9 inhabitants per square kilometer, and to protect and care for the environment against the threat of climate change.

On the occasion of the XXV Teruel Cured Ham Fair, the Chamber of Commerce of the city organized a conference and a press visit last week to publicize the most representative food products of this area of ​​Spain in which I was fortunate to participate .

Here a review of its star products to interest your palate.

Cured ham

Eclipsed outside Spain by the famous Iberian ham, Teruel ham also has much to offer the most exquisite palates. Teruel ham is produced from the Duroc pig variety, native to the province, at 800 meters of altitude and after a curing and drying process that always exceeds 14 months. All the pieces keep the hoof of the pig, a numbered label and the Mudejar star engraved on fire as a guarantee of quality and distinction.

The first museum in the world of Ham of Teruel, Aire Sano Experience in Puebla de Valverde, has been recently open to inform the general public about the process of making such a special product. It gives you the opportunity to enjoy an interactive experience around this product thanks to the latest technologies, learn to cut ham virtually and finish your tour in the Museum store and restaurant that stands out for its careful preparation of local products such as cured ham, trout, peach and saffron.

Foto Jamon aire sano

Bajo Aragon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Centennial olive groves spread out through the province of Teruel, especially in the area of Bajo Aragón, Bajo Martín and Matarraña regions accustomed to the hard and generous winters in their production of local Empeltre, Arbequina and Royal olive varieties. More than 8,000 families are dedicated to grow it since it is a Denomination of Origin: its production has to meet a series of criteria established by the European Union. In fact, their producers are small and are grouped in cooperatives.

Juan Baseda, its technical director defines this Extra Virgin Olive oil as “soft, sweet, bit bitter and quite fruity, so it fits with everything.” Curiously, although in Aragon its consumption is very common, the denomination of origin finds it difficult to compete with the rest of olive oils in Spain since its price is higher and the consumer is accustomed to a more intense oil such as the picual, apart from the fact that its production is modest, between 5% and 10% throughout Spain. It is currently exported to the US and Asia, and is especially appreciated in Japan for its more subtle organoleptic qualities that harmonize perfectly with the delicacy of japanese cuisine.

Calanda Peaches

Yellow, large, soft and at the same time full of flavor for growing in dry land of hard and cold winters. This is a late summer crop due to the cold climate of the area.

They are really unique because of their large size, never less than 73 millimetres. Each box is composed of 20 pieces. This is achieved with a technique in which 70% of the tree’s production is eliminated when the fruits are the size of a tennis ball. In addition to this, the fruits that remain in the tree are pocketed in bags one by one to protect them from pests and maintain all the aroma and flavor that makes them an extraordinary product. In fact, only 10% to 15% of the production is certified as Calanda peach.

melocoton calanda

Aragon Ternasco

The ternasco of Aragon, a kind of lamb meat, was the first fresh meat recognized with a specific denomination in 1989 in Spain.

Lamb has a vital historical tradition in Aragon, where its consumption doubles that of the rest of Spain, since it is very important to fix the population in the rural environment as well as sustainable since sheperds labor helps fight wildfires.

The ternasco weighs between 8 and 12.5 kilos and has been exclusively fed with cereals and breast milk, so its meat is soft but tasty and also very healthy since it has a high protein content in vitamins of B3, B6 and B12 and is a source of zinc and phosphorus.

You could also say that it is a product that has become fashionable due to its versatility and the modernity of its new cuts and presentations.

ternasco de Aragon

Bajo Aragon wines

The climate and the cold and hard land also characterize the wines of Bajo Aragon area, many of them made from centuries-old vines and are already part of the history and landscape of the area.

This is a small group of only 20 wineries that have decided to bet on quality  to be able to compete with other production areas in Aragon as powerful as Borja, Cariñena, Calatayud and Somontano, recognized throughout the world.

Teruel black truffle

The black truffle is the best kept secret of Teruel, one of the world’s leading producers and is one of the best survival guarantees for the province, being a highly prized crop that grows precisely in the poorest soils in mountainous areas very limited for extensive crops such as cereals.

Truffles arise from the symbiosis with native trees such as holm oak, oak or hazelnut. Until a few decades ago they grew wild underground and were collected thanks to the help of truffle dogs. Nowadays it is possible to grow them in a controlled way.

In Teruel, the black truffle stands out in winter and the summer truffle, less intense in aroma and flavor but also very appreciated in the kitchen and that is increasingly causing more interest since its collection takes place in summer and is a good reason to attract tourism to the area during vacation time.

The Truffle Growers Association of Teruel (Atruter) was created in 1996 to advise and help the pioneer producers of this crop, although at present it focuses a good part of its activities on the promotion of this crop still relatively unknown to the gastronomy of Spain. In fact, they have prepared the world’s first tasting tab, which serves to distinguish Teruel Trufer melanosporum black truffle from the Trufer indicum that is imported from China and has a much simpler and less intense aroma and composition but is used sometimes instead of the black truffle because of its lower price.

That is why education and training is such an important task. That is why Sarrión, a town in Teruel known as the world capital of black truffles, organizes each year an Annual Fair and numerous activities to discover one of the wonders of the Spanish High Desert.

perro trufero sarrion

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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.

bodegon culinary collective

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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.

 

almudena de laguno foto

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”.

logo classical wines from Spain

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Sherry vinegar: a vinegar with the essence of Jerez

bodega vinagre e

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.

botellas vinagre

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Madrid Fusión 2014: The European Culinary Summit highlights

madrid-fusion-2014-primera-jornada

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.

 Angel-León-Madrid-fusion-2014

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.

FITUR2014 gastronomia nota prensa madrid fusion

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 

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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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Festivals Products The yummy chronicles Wines

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.

eExpo tapas