Madrid fusion is an annual event celebrating all things culinary about Spain. The best chefs of that country get together for what’s new, what’s in and what’s hot in the Spanish gastronomic scene.
Guests experience what Spain’s kitchens have to offer. Young and upcoming chefs, as well as celebrity chefs you can’t even get close to because everyone wants to take a picture with them, are around, with sales people pushing their wares.
At Madrid Fusion 2014, food-tasting stations were offering Jamon Iberico de Bellota, olive oil and Spanish wine.
We learned a lot in this three-day event. We learned that because the pigs from Bellota eat nuts, their fat transforms from saturated fat into bellota nut oil, which is no longer the harmful saturated fat we all fear.
Extra virgin olive oil has the same effect. Olive oil is to the Spanish what butter is to the French. It is the heart of Spanish cuisine.
We also learned that Spanish wine is exceptionally good and inexpensive. A good 95 percent of the wines we tried were very tasty and mostly affordable.
We did a tapas tour of Madrid. Our guide Lauren also took us to a neighborhood empanada place called La Despensa De Carmen. I loved the crust and the simple stuffing of tuna and hard-cooked egg.
In a pasteleria, we found sweets Filipinos have made their own: yema, tocino de cielo, galletas, barquillos and many more.
We also passed by Casa Tony where we were shown how to cook the popular tapas gambas ajillo. The place prepared a pig’s ears dish that was much like sisig, grilled mushrooms, fried tiny squid and lamb intestines. With these tapas, we were given spicy olive oil as dipping sauce, and delicious, refreshing sangria. Everything was outstanding.
Then there was La Bola. Owned by the Verdasco family, it has been in existence since 1870. It is run by Mara Verdasco, the great granddaughter of the founder (and cousin of the famous Spanish tennis player Fernando Verdasco). The resto still serves the same recipes today, specializing in cocido.
We were shown how it’s done. In a puchero (a container that looks like a wine carafe) were placed a slice of beef shank, chicken, salted pork, a slice of chorizo, a potato, a huge chunk of pork taba and a whole lot of garbanzos soaked and drained overnight. Water was added, then the whole mix was placed over a charcoal fire and simmered for four hours.
On the side was an entire vat of the same ingredients with soup which was used to replenish the evaporated cocido.
It is also interesting how the dish is served. Thin cooked noodles are first placed in a bowl and bubbling hot soup poured over the noodles. After customers have eaten the noodles, the contents of the puchero are poured into a plate, and you start eating.
Tomato sauce and minced cabbage are served on the side, while the garbanzos acts like the rice of the dish. Delicious!
For the tapas tour, we went to bars that specialized in different variants—tortilla de patata, calamares, angulas and mushrooms. The mushrooms were prepared differently. The stem was removed, parsley and a chunk of chorizo put inside with olive oil. The mushrooms were then placed on top of a grill.
When the heat permeates the mushroom, the chorizo starts to sizzle and all the flavors develop into something truly delicious.
This trip is a dream come true for any foodie.
And there is much more to come. We still have to tell you about our trip to Barcelona and Valencia, where the famous Valencia oranges come from and where Spain’s national dish, the paella, originated. Abangan!
Visit sandydaza.blogspot.com; follow on Twitter @sandydaza