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Mediterranean Diet: past, present and future

Elena Fernandez


 A few months ago I was lucky enough to be invited as a speaker to the University of Washington Public Health School to talk about The Yummy Bull project. My mini talk was part of another conference, Marketing the Mediterranean Diet, presented by Ana María Gómez Bravo, a UW teacher specialized in historical aspects of cooking.

Charla Dieta Med UW

This travel to the past was quite interesting, and a path full of discoveries for the audience.

In fact, until the 16th century, European diet was a lot more similar among the different countries than it is today. However, drastic changes in the English diet as a result of new parceling of the land in the form of enclosures, a loss of access to farming and gardening in cities during the Industrial Revolution and a negative view of food and pleasure as a result of new Protestant views, created a culinary barrier between the North and the South of Europe that It´s being smoothed in the last decades.

The most interesting carachteristic of Mediterranean Diet is that its origin comes from a crossroads of cultures including citrus and rice from Asia brought by Muslim traders and tomatoes, chilies and potatoes from the New World.

Another key factor is that Mediterranean meals are made to enjoy food, better if It´s in great company as this pyramid shows:


Ironically the Mediterranean Diet was the diet of the poor, who couldn´t afford buying read meat and sugar, a pricy spice in that time. Today challenges are totally different, In fact red meat consumption is so common, much more that It should be in a healthy way. Today processed foods and loss of quality to make food more profitable are the challegenes to face. Food should be healthy, tasty and minimally processed whenever possible.


The pillars of Mediterranean Diet


  • Food should be free of harmful contaminants.
  • Methods of food preparation should be simple and practical. You should not have to be a gourmet chef to prepare a healthy and delicious meal.
  • Sources of food should be sustainable. This includes consideration of the environmental consequences of food choices including energy use, water use, waste production, soil conservation and preservation of open space.
  • Traditional food flavors and food ways and diversity of ingredients are a part of our  cultural heritage and should be preserved in that way.
  • A shared meal, with consciously chosen food, in the company of friends or family, is one of the foundations of civilization and one of life’s greatest pleasures.


Apart from the pillars from the Mediterranean Diet that Dr. Bravo explained I would like to add some false myths that we want to “erase” through our Yummy Bull project.


  • Extra Virgin Olive oil is a luxurious product.
  • You can´t cook with Olive Oil, only toss your salad
  • Wine is unaffordable. Young people don´t drink wine.
  • Wine will make you gain weight.
  • Mediterranean traditional plates are long/ difficult to prepare
  • Cooking from scratch is more expensive than visiting the Frozen products aisle.
  • Eating fish and seafood is expensive and boring


Aperitivos SuperBowl












How and where you can find Mexican fare and cook it for 5 de mayo: the real deal

Elena Fernandez 

It´s fun to know how strong the city celebrates 5 de mayo, a non significant fiesta for most of the Mexicans, but a great excuse for local people to dive into the bold and spicy flavors of the Southbound neighbor.

If anybody thinks that Spaniard cooking and Mexican cooking are similar is totally wrong. In my opinion, because my husband thinks the opposite, but I don´t feel in the same way.

It´s true that after the Spanish conquerors some interesting food traveled from Mexico to Europe, like corn and chocolate, and other ingredients made the opposite trip, like rice and almonds.

But today, apart from some treats and desserts like flan or churros and other creations as moronga, similar to our morcilla, our two countries cook in a real different way. I´d say that our cooking is much more austere, depending more on the quality of the ingredients and with a range of species and condiments much more limited. And our flavours are much less explosive, I would say.

That´s why Mexican cooking is, today a total mistery to me. But I don’t mean the typical tacos, burritos and quesadillas tex mex. I mean the real deal, because in Spain you won´t find Mexican food far away from tortillas, nachos and guacamole seasoning too.

I was curious to know more about nopales, these cactus with extraordinary properties, a great deal to keep your blood pressure and sugar levels on track and full of vitamins. So I asked Eugenia, one of my best friends, who kindly organized a guided visit to the Mexican population temple here in the Eastside, La Quemada convinence shop, in Downtown Redmond.

especiasThe first thing that surprised me was the amazing collection of different spices and herbs that you can find inside. You can choose between 300? different varieties, many of them totally new for me. Of course you have a wide range of dried chiles to choose, like the famous chile de árbol, used for celebrities like Bobby Flay, in every of their dishes.

I selected a few of them for home, including whole nutmeg, and I was headed to the butchery aisle. There you can find different kind of seasoned meats for your tacos, apart from smoked pork chops and Morongo, a kind of Mexican morcilla, not to tasty as the Spanish variety, I have to say…

Then, another turnaround to land into chiles paradise, when I found so many varieties… Anyway I finally went classic, choosing serrano peppers. And here it is! Fresh nopalesl! I rounded my shopping cart with some chayotes, pasilla and tomatillos too. Eugenia was happy explaining me how to cook everything. “The nopales need few water and a pinch of salt, or they´ll end really mushy”.

Coming back home, I decide to dive a bit into mexican recipes thanks to Saint Google, patron of all the amateur cookers, and I found an interesting salad made with nopales that I reproduce here. Easy to prepare and really bold in flavor. You only need to modulate the use of the serrano peppers and let the onion marinate in salt for an hour if you´re not a super spicy pal. We eat ours as a garnish to the smoked pork chops that I´d bought at La Quemada too.

So yes, enjoy your Corona and tacos to celebrate 5 de mayo, but if you feel a bit adventurous, I recommend you a visit to La Quemada to dive into the real deal. The shop assistants, super nice, will proudly help you to choose the best groceries for your mexican party.





Nopales salad

1/2 kg of nopales

1 small onion

2 serrano peppers

2 gourd tomatoes

cilantro The Juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil




1 ripe avocado

Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and chiles. Cut into julienne the nopales, the onion, the tomato and the chiles.

Boil the cactus in little salted water until al dente.

Place the onion and the chiles in a bowl and add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano and let marinate while you cook the nopales. When they are cooked rinse under running cold water, drain them well and place in a bowl.

Add the marinated onions and chiles to the nopales. Add the chopped tomato and cilantro and stir everything. Finally add the avocado sliced or minced.  You can add panela cheese into cubes too.

This nopales salad is great to accompany grilled meat or fish.


happy 5 de mayo











Our favorite and “yummiest” cooking books (English version)

There are cookbooks that should be in any foodie library. For sure Internet is a great tool and tons of recipes can be viewed online, but there is nothing like a good cookbook to see, learn and love. The Yummy Bull team has selected our favorite ones for you.

Menú del día

A book to learn Spanish Gastronomy

Rohan Daft is a culinary experte and British , in that order . Lover and connoisseur of Spanish culinary restaurants, bars  and cafés  all around Spain, pays homage to them in this book written with precision and humor . ‘Menu of the Day (Simon & Schuster) collects the best of traditional Spanish cuisine through 100 authentic and classic recipes , many of them chosen from the set menus of restaurants who keep according to Daft ,the true essence and richness of food in this country . And not without reason. It describes the ingredients in English and tricks to make a real salmorejo a cocido madrileño , beans with clams, garlic chicken or tocinillo de cielo , among other dishes . An entertaining and funny book written by a lover of our gastronomy.


Pies&Tarts 2

Authentic cakes and pastries

For someone who likes to cook cakes and pies , this book will be their bible. ‘ Pies & Tarts ‘  written by Pastry guru Martha Stewart, delights with  more than 150 recipes for traditional and modern cakes, with all the flavor of fresh American cuisine, delights with Rustic or polished look, but full of color and flavor. Amazing Panna Cotta cheese tartlets and raspberry , authentic lemon meringue pies , scones and strawberry rhubarb , plum or pumpkin pies …  A ‘ must- have’ for every sweet teeth foodie and chef.


Burguers 2


The most amazing (veggie) burgers 

I do not know if fashion burgers of all kinds has been born to stay or they will be old fashioned soon. In any case, it is always a good solution for a casual lunch or dinner, especially if they are homemade and prepared with high quality ingredients. ‘The best veggie burgers on the planet’, from Joni Marie Newman, contains 101 recipes for veggie burgers around the globe. It is a curious compendium, not only because It´s always challenging to prepare many types of burgers without meatt, but because you can find here exotic ingredients, sauces and different breads, so you can always findideas for your own creations. The recipes are simple and the veggie burgers look really appealing on the photos. A healthy and fun option!

Libro El Bulli 1

Libro El Bulli 2


The family meal 

This is a great book of Adria factory, recommended for home and professionals chefs. ‘ The Family Meal ‘ is a collection of menus that El Bulli staff ate before the evening service from 6:30 to 7:00 pm (a brigade of 75 people) . These recipes are much closer to the Earth than to the El Bulli creative cooking sky .  Remarkable for being a basic guide to the preparation of bases, such as stocks, funds and sauces that can be made in bulk and stored frozen to save time and money. It also gives the keys to those engaged in cooking professionally. An example : the recipe for a pork loin rescued grilled with roasted peppers . The book details the ingredients , whether it’s for two, and six , and for 20 and 75 people. Illustrated with step by step photos and giving to you the time frame that you´ll need to prepare the whole menu It´s a real cooking jewel! And the edition is so beautiful that I won´t dare to scrap on it as I usually do with my cookbooks.

Yesterday I could grab a dedicated one at Town Hall Ferrán Adriá conference organized by Fremont cookbook store Book Larder. But you´ll find more copies in this bookshop too.


Olive oil: how to pick the best variety for your dish

Do you know how the differences between the different varieties of Olive Oil and which one will work better with your dish?

Olive oil is an essential part of the Mediterranean Diet . In Spain we count with 260 different varieties of olives and consumers can find on the market different commercial categories of Olive Oils :

• Extra virgin olive oil : 100 % olive juice , with excellent flavor and aroma characteristics . It is especially suitable for use in cold, as marinades, salad dressings , sauces, or as a finishing touch to any dish as well as casseroles and desserts. In this case, we find two types:
Monovarietal : obtained from a single variety of olive, so that you can clearly see the sensory attributes of each type of olive.
Blend : contains different varieties of olive, in the stringency necessary to achieve the desired attributes of bitterness and fruitiness

Virgin olive oil : 100% olive juice , with good flavor and aroma characteristics (though not great , which is what differentiates it from extra virgin) . It is suitable for the same uses that extra virgin.

• Olive oil : the oil blend of refined olive oils and virgin or extra virgin olive oil. It is especially suitable for high temperature cooking , especially for frying . Retains all its properties during frying ( 180 ° C/380 ° F ) due to its high content of oleic acid . It is also ideal for making sauces , like mayonnaise .

Major varieties and their recommended uses

There are 260 olive varieties processed to produce olive oil , although the most popular are: Arbequina, Cornicabra , Hojiblanca and Picual . These are the characteristics of each and their recommended , according to the Spanish chef Juan Pozuelo uses.

Arbequina : This oil has a fruity aroma (apple , banana and almond) . It is a very fluid oil, a little sweet, iwith only a spicy or bitter note. When the olive is collected at its peak of ripeness , that sweetness is much more evident .

It is ideal for making mayonnaise , dressings, pickled anchovies , marinated salmon, seafood carpaccio , gazpacho and sautees . We will use , for example, to spray white fish baked or grilled . It also applies in soft marinated , cold creams and confectionery masses . Recommended for pastry.

Cornicabra : cornicabra oils have aromatic apple flavors and herbal tones . It has a slight bitterness and the taste is more intense. It is very stable and has a high content of oleic acid, polyphenols and antioxidants that provide a high resistance to oxidation and make it healthy.

It is used in the preparation of deep fried foods , salads , ceviches , sauteed meats, shellfish , baked potatoes , pizza crusts , empanadas , churros and donuts.

• Hojiblanca : this variety is very fruity and complex , characterized by aromas of freshly cut grass , artichoke and aromatic plants. It is also a sweet oil, with a slight bitterness at the end , which ends with a very localized spiciness in mouth. Having a composition of oleic acid and antioxidants well balanced .

The techniques are recommended for use in cooking and preserves. Applies in soft salads, marinated meats and oily fish emulsions. It´s used to produce mayonnaise , aioli , vinaigrette , marinated fish strong , hot and cold soups , pastas , stir-fries and canned vegetables.

• Picual : its oil is prized for its high stability (very resistant to oxidation ) , due to its high polyphenol content and the high percentage of oleic acid. It is therefore very resistant to high temperatures . Picual varieties have great personality and great body , bitterness and a slight spiciness.

Apply in salads , stir fries , marinated meats, canned vegetables and hunting meats . It is a type of oil ideal for making salads, Andalusian type chips, fries, breaded and battered fish or meat , stews , canned or cooked raw foods ( sausages , cheese…).

Variedades de aceite .

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Madrid Fusión 2014: The European Culinary Summit highlights


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.


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.


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.


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.



Spanish Rueda: producing amazing whites since the Middle Age

Barriles Rueda logo
The origin of Rueda wines walks in parallel with the history of Spain. Maybe its origin could coincide with the Alfonso VI reign (in the eleventh century). At that time the Duero river watershade was repopulated by Cantabrians, Basques and Mozarabs. It is believed that the Mozarabs brought the Verdejo variety, the most common grape variety of Rueda wines.

In those days, most of wines –including Sherry– were sold as “young” varieties. However, Rueda wines were the first sold as “old” varieties (and the oldest was more expensive). Since medieval time, in this area of Spain (Castilla y León), bordered by the Duero river, the grapes were harvested when the sugar’s levels were very high and with powerfull yeast. The ancient traditional methods to achieve the Rueda wine included the addition of clays or even blood, usually from ox or bull, to clarify it. Actually, times have changed and the origin’s factors are more important than graduation or aging processes.

The grapes are harvested at the right time of maturity, a key factor for the wine development. The wine harvest is mechanised and it prevents the oxidation of must. To prevent this oxidation, most of the grapes are harvested at night, without the presence of sunlight. So, the grapes arrive into the wineries with low temperatures, 10-15°C (59-60ºF), lower than the daytime temperatures (24-28ºC/ 75-82ºF in September).

Three months later, the wine takes a slightly yellow colour with a fresh and fruity flavor. This is the rigth time to put the “Rueda Verdejo” in the bottles. And this is the most famous Rueda wine: harvester wine, no aging and manufactured applying the latest technologies. Thereby Verdejo is able to show his best primary, powerful and elegant flavor.

After several years working in, the Certificate of Origin “Rueda”(and its native variety, Verdejo) was recognized on January 12th, 1980, by order of the Ministry of Agriculture and it was the first one in Castilla y León. The production area is located in Castilla y León and include 74 villages, 53 of which are located in the southern area of Valladolid, other 17 in the western area of Segovia, and the other 4 in the northern area of Ávila.

Rueda is one of the few European areas specialized in the development of white wine and the protection of their native variety, Verdejo. This variety has a strong personality because the vineyard has learned to survive in a difficults and hostile surrounding

Grape varieties


From small to medium leaf, medium bunch and very short peduncle. Medium, generally spherical or short elliptical berries and seeds tend to be somewhat larger.

Sauvignon Blanc

Originally from French Loire, it have presence in Rueda since the 70s. This grape add a floral component with grapefruit and passion fruit flavors. It have a short growing season, like in the French zone, due to the altitude in Castilla. Small and pentagonal leaf. Small and compact clusters. The berries are wide and ellipctical and they mature earlier than other.


Its origine was Rioja. Viura variety began to be cultivated in Rueda in the 50s. At that moment, the classical white wine was fermented in wooden barrels. This variety put the aristocratic touch Castilian table wine because the Verdejo’s virtues hadn’t been discovered of Verdejo were yet to be. This strain, called Macabeo in Catalonia, has pentagonal medium to large leaf.

Palomino Fino

In the 30s, Rueda began to plant the Palomino Fino variety, which it’s the origin of “vinos generosos de flor”. This kind of grape has higher performance than other varieties and it’s able to give similar wines to Sherry, very famous at that time. Today thie variety is decreasing.

Vinos Rueda III