Spain

DINE and Destinations - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - By Adam Wax­man

For The Love of Gas­trono­mia en Madrid

De­part­ing Slove­nia with a 9lb trout on her lap, Chef Ana Ros went over each step of the cook­ing demo in her mind un­til mid-flight when the trout’s eyes ex­ploded. But great chefs adapt their recipes to those un­fore­seen mo­ments. The Reale Se­guros Madrid Fu­sion & Gas­tro­fes­ti­val drew chefs from all over the world to share their tech­niques, their sto­ries, their knowl­edge.

Spain is the world’s high-end spe­cialty food shop. Stand­ing within the hall of Madrid­fu­sion be­tween sem­i­nars, I’m lost in an epi­curean dream. Aisle upon aisle of Ja­mon Iberico, Cantabrian an­chovies, An­dalu­sian cala­mari, Cat­alo­nian olive oil, La Rioja wines, sherry, amon­til­lado, oys­ters and black truf­fles se­duce my palate at ev­ery turn. What makes the ja­mon so delectably ad­dic­tive? The fat. Ja­mon carvers tell me the fat is the charm of the ham. I glee­fully yield to all my temp­ta­tions.

The theme of this year’s fes­ti­val is Re­de­vel­op­ing Cook­ing: Chang­ing the Rules. Chef Fer­ran Adria as­serts that we have to speak about “qual­ity” not about “nat­u­ral.” Gas­tro­nomic restau­rants are only about 200 years old. Be­fore that there were only tav­erns and broth­els. The role of the cook has since changed. We have to re-ex­am­ine their pur­pose; and link and share knowl­edge of cuisines that are be­com­ing more fair and eq­ui­table with the en­vi­ron­ment. Adria shares that his re­cent project, el­bulli 1846, aims to dis­rupt the culi­nary world with new tech­niques cre­ated in labs and work­shops.

Chef An­gel Leon of Aponiente show­cases his tech­nique and culi­nary alchemy with his “live salt” cre­ation. We watch in awe as he pours his mix­ture of boiled and cooled ta­ble salt, vine­gar and cal­cium over a ta­ble of deep-sea prawns. On con­tact the salt so­lu­tion crys­tal­lized, en­cased the shrimp, and reached a high enough tem­per­a­ture to achieve a com­plete cook in mere sec­onds.

For Chef Ros, her kitchen at Hiša Franko is a sym­bio­sis of three el­e­ments: ter­ri­tory, sea­son and per­son­al­ity of the chef. “Work­ing as we work is like walk­ing on the edge.” She tells me. “We have to be alert, be­cause ev­ery­thing changes. If there’s a frost that morn­ing, there are no mush­rooms, so we have to com­pletely change the menu.” Na­ture will al­ways pro­vide the an­swer. “Take what the sea­son of­fers,” she shares. Work­ing so close to na­ture re­quires a lot of cre­ativ­ity. “Com­bine the un­ex­pected, and don’t be afraid to take risks.” Her aim is to op­ti­mize each in­gre­di­ent, each prod­uct, so noth­ing is wasted. From the trout that she pre­sented, and which she named Marta, she and her team cre­ated nine orig­i­nal and vis­ually stim­u­lat­ing dishes.

Din­ing in Madrid is a feast for the senses. At Coque each dish re­flects the del­i­cate in­tri­ca­cies of a kitchen helmed by artists. A whim­si­cal med­ley of peas, thin crisped-pars­ley root and Périg­ord truf­fles en­robe a golden yolk for a lively dis­play of beau­ti­ful in­gre­di­ents. A dec­o­ra­tive se­quence of blue fin tuna in­cludes crudo with pi­parra pep­pers, a petite mar­row chal­ice of glazed tuna cheek and caviar, and a lac­quered tuna belly. Each melt-in-your­mouth morsel is more de­li­cious than the last. Bot­tles of Span­ish wine are poured for all, but I ask for the mag­num of Mar­ques de Riscal Gran Reserva 2005 to stay near me. Din­ing at Santceloni is the height of deca­dence, each course show­ing off the flare of a kitchen with the finest in­gre­di­ents on hand. Mar­i­nated mack­erel served with ap­ple jelly, cau­li­flower and caviar, is fol­lowed by an ox rib salad with spiced sweet potato and red this­tle draped in black truf­fle. Red prawn, flam­béed in whisky is nour­ished in a pour over of prawn head con­sommé. Ar­ti­chokes stand at at­ten­tion while lav­ished in a pil pil sauce—an in­tensely flavour­ful Basque spe­cialty. For our cheese course we may se­lect five cheeses from a cheese cart of­fer­ing forty. We each se­lect dif­fer­ently and share, while pair­ing with a plum-y Pin­tia 2013 Tinta de Toro and a sweet Fondil­lon 1964 Monas­trell.

Chefs grav­i­tate to Spain for the best in­gre­di­ents in the world, to show­case them on their own, in tried and true clas­sic recipes, or with newly de­vel­oped tech­niques. As lovers of fine food we are the ben­e­fi­cia­ries of them all. www.spain.info/ca

Coque res­tau­rant

Trout, Chef Ana Ros

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