Produce-based, healthy cooking which connects us to the land was at the heart of the afternoon activities carried out on the first day of Reale Seguros Madrid Fusión 2019. Renowned experts and cooks – esteemed within the profession – explained how they see and work with particular produce, pointing out trends and ways of working. Truffles, potatoes, tuna and brining were at the core of a day that enjoyed the presence of Ricard Camarena both in the auditorium and in the workshops.
Good truffles are not expensive
One of the great protagonists of late Monday afternoon was the truffle. Spain has become an important producer, with regions such as Soria and Teruel leading the way, although others, such as Castellón and Lleida have joined them – ‘all you need are an alkaline soil and cold winters,’ say the experts. ‘But we are only growers and producers of Tuber melanosporum, the so-called black truffle,’ explained Javier Acedo from Trufas Alsonso who, together with Carmelo Bosque (Lillas Pastia, Huesca) offered a workshop on the topic. There are lots of truffles (Tuber brumale, Tuber indicum, Tuber himalayensis…), ‘but none with the same quality and flavour as that of the true black truffle. A lot of cheating goes on,’ he said regrettably, and added, ‘we must know how to differentiate.’ To do so, Bosque advises, ‘look at the veining they have, but above all smell and taste them,’ and ‘don’t heat them above 50ºC.’
At another workshop, which took place at the same time, this one on the multi-purpose stage and offered by the Regional Government of Soria, another truffle expert, Francisco de Gregorio (Virrey Palafox restaurant, El Burgo de Osma), proved, by weighing one in grams, that truffles are not expensive. He prepared various recipes with truffles and, among other ingredients, butter from Soria, pancetta, trout, and crayfish. ‘Truffles must be bought by the portion, not washed until needed, and then kept in the fridge. That way they last just like apples, otherwise they ripen too quickly,’ he explained.
Uses and applications of Cantabrian brine
Sergio Bastard (La Casona del Judío, Santander) offered an exclusive workshop on something ‘typical of where I live,’ a product he has turned into a business: El Capricho Salmúria. It’s all about brine, ‘umami from the Cantabrian Sea,’ whose applications when it comes to cooking it with other foods ‘are unlimited’. This man from the region of Cantabria recognizes that you need to know how to use this ‘natural preservative, because it has a strong flavour,’ but that ‘using the correct amount enhances any dish, and makes it silkier.’ And even more so if accompanied by some of the astringent, local herbs from northern Spain which Bastard brought with him, such as watermelon pilea, sea arrowgrass, and sea rocket. Together, ‘they become the kings of flavour.’
How to break fast
At another of the private workshops on Monday, Fernando Sánchez, Lourdes Villalba and Juan Manuel Mostazo explained in detail the key role of the diets they design, and which follow on from the fasting treatments at the Buchinger Wilhelmi clinic in Marbella. ‘The way a patient begins to eat food after a long fast is very important, and our mission is to provide a low-calorie diet of foods that are always natural and in perfect organoleptic condition, making sure that the produce is always local and seasonal,’ they explained.
Two ingredients: the potato and tuna
On their return from the Americas, those first travellers came back with a food that transformed European gastronomy forever. On Monday, Reale Seguros Madrid Fusión 2019 presented ‘The Journey of the Potato’ offered by three cooks (two Peruvians and a Spaniard) who adore this root vegetable. Mitsuharo Tsumura (Maido, Peru, the best restaurant in Latin America according to The 50 Best Restaurants) prepared a potato tempura that showed the importance of this ingredient that is ‘part and parcel of Peruvian cuisine together with chillies.’
The potato came to the old continent via the Canary Islands, and Tenerife Gastro Experience manifested its significance by sponsoring the talk. Erlantz Gorostiza (the cook from Restaurant M.B. **, Tenerife), who was also invited, explained how this ingredient’s name was changed. ‘Papa [the Pope] was its original name. But when the potato first arrived in Europe, it was changed so as not to offend His Holiness.’ Surprised faces and lots of nodding. This Basque man showed the versatility of this ingredient by making a potato churro, and a rice dish made from potatoes, as did Omar Malpartida (Luma, Madrid), a Peruvian who has found success in the capital with his hybrid cuisine, using potatoes, of course.
Balfegó has returned to this congress in Madrid with a talk. Just like the above mentioned did with potatoes, Nazario Cano (El Rodat *, Javea) and Ekaitz Apraiz (Tunateca, Barcelona) showcased the infinite possibilities of tuna, ‘the pork of the sea’. In addition to cooking macerated tuna belly that was smoked using needles – via which the smoke was injected into the fish – or using its bone marrow in consommé, they taught us about two parts of this fish that were hitherto unknown; the ears (a part close to where the ears should actually be, but which tuna do not have), and the harmonica (‘a part normally discarded, found under the spine and that is cooked at low temperature as you would cook veal,’ Apraiz explained).
De la Calle, Camarena and Vélez
The late afternoon workshops of this first day of Tasting Spain, also enjoyed the participation of three pillars of Spanish gastronomy: Mari Carmen Vélez (La Sirena, Petrer), Rodrigo de la Calle (El Invernadero*, Madrid), and Ricard Camarena (Ricard Camarena**, Valencia).
After his presentation in the auditorium, the Valencian focused on desserts during his workshop. Camarena explained how cooking has become integrated into the desserts served at his restaurant and ‘how the line that separates them from savoury dishes is now somewhat blurred. We started making desserts for the restaurant, but in the end we ended up making sweet cuisine, designed to follow the sequence of the dishes at the end of the tasting menu.’ As an example, he mentioned the mango, a piquant curry stew.
De la Calle, for his part, took advantage of the congress to present his new range of breads at served at El Invernadero. ‘We’ve managed to create a series of very good, gluten-free breads and rolls.’ Our work, he said, is based on plant-based proteins, and is, needless to say, healthier for diners. Jesús Segura made the same point in the morning session. ‘Jesus came to my restaurant,’ de la Calle boasted ironically… Lastly, Mari Carmen Vélez gave a masterclass on techniques for preparing seafood, scalding it, macerating it, cooking it at a low temperature, and even pickling it. ‘All of it, of course, is seafood from Spain’s east coast.’ Produce and bonds.