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Posted: Saturday, December 05 2009. 11:45

FIAB brings Fab Spanish Gourmet Experience

Spanish gastronomy is a very important part of their culture but is yet to be discovered by many Indian consumers and FIAB did a fabulous job to showcase it, with the Taj Mahal Hotel in Delhi buzzing with several activities throughout the day and concluding with a memorable evening at Hotel Aman on December 1.

Photos By :: Adil Arora
Ms.Teresa Solbes, Spanish Economic and Commercial Counselor

The programme started with an impassioned speech by the Spanish Ambassador, H.E. Ion de la Riva. He talked of the cultural side of Spain and improving political ties with India.’ It’s commonly said that the Spanish are the Indians of Europe and the Indians are the Spanish of Asia. There are similarities in many aspects, which I have learnt about since I arrived, and gastronomy is not an exception,’ he said.

‘Both gastronomies are mainly based on vegetables cooking, and I have always been surprised by the similarity of national dishes such as Biryani and Paella. However, in two countries like ours and with such a vast food culture and culinary traditions, there are many cooking styles as well as different ingredients, especially spices’, adding ‘this is not strange considering Spain has been consuming Indian spices for hundreds of years’.

 Spanish Federation of Food and Drinking Industries (FIAB) had organised
‘Discover the Spanish Taste’ in conjunction of the Spanish Institute of Foreign Trade (ICEX) and the Spanish Ministry of the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs.

There was a seminar on the Spanish gastronomy highlighting the traditional products, innovative techniques where the gastronomic Chef Sergio Fernández form the Culinary School of Madrid in collaboration with Oscar Pérez-Borbujo, an expert on olive oil, took the participants through a journey of some of the Spanish food products.

There was a guided tasting of Spanish wines which was extremely well attended and the hall was full well before the programme started. Eleven wineries had participated from different Spanish regions- AD Aires de Duero, Bodega Marques de Velilla, Bodegas Castelo de Medina, Bodegas Gurpegui Muga, Casar de Barbia, Copaboca, Group Pons, Lizma, Rompesedas, United Wineries and Vitivinicola del Ribeiro,

Spanish gastronomy is recognized globally for its quality and variety. A British publication, Restaurant Magazine which produces an annual list of 50 restaurants rated by international chefs and critics, ranked four Spanish restaurants in the top ten of the list in 2009. Ferran Adriá and his restaurant El Bulli hold the top position in the list. Andoni Luis Aduriz of  Mugaritz, Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, and Juan Mari Arzak  owning Arzak, are the other chefs and their restaurants in the Top Ten..

Several ingredients used by these known chefs and restaurants were on display, including olives, olive oil, cheese, Serrano ham, Iberico ham, cooked ham, salami, chorizo, mortadella, canned fish, ready to eat dishes like paella, dried soups and even mineral water.

The real taste of Spain was visible in full swing in the evening at the Tapas Bar at Hotel Aman where several tapas crafted by Chef Sergio Fernadez in collaboration with the hotel Chef de Cuisine, Jonay Armas were served. He gave a small example of the molecular gastronomy popularized by Ferran Adriá through his Tomato and Basil Foam. Exotic preparations like melon caviar with cured meat, tip asparagus and scallop with Iberico Ham Salt were available in abundance. The eleven tapas were followed by rice pudding served on crushed ice, and Choco Blanc with almond and passion fruit soup- both were to die for.

There were a few wines from the portfolios of the participating wineries available for tasting as well, though the white wines were the first and early to go-providing great platform of promotion for the Viňa Esmeralda from Torres- the prime competitor and the Wall of China for any wines wanting to enter from Spain.

The impression left by the evening where one could truly Discover the Spanish Taste can be gauged by the reaction of Rajeev Samant, CEO of Sula Vineyardswho was present till the end and even asked Chef Fernandez to give an autographed Menu.. ‘It has been such a memorable evening with the fantastic food and wines,’ he gushed.

Also pleased with the evening was Teresa Solbes, the Spanish Economic and Commercial Counselor. ‘We have a great gastronomical tradition in Spain which is well integrated with wine. We realize that we need to do events like this regularly and hope to continue with such events regularly,’ she said. It is another matter that some people were looking for a piece of bread in the end to satisfy their hunger.

It appears that the decision of FIAB, not to participate in the IFDE India and organise this special event a day earlier paid of. The impression it left was summed up by an importer Dharti Desai, CEO of FineWinesnMore who had come specially from Mumbai to attend the event said,’ Very impressive. It was worth coming for, all the way from Mumbai’. Abhay Kewadkar, Business Head of UB Wines flew in especially from Bangalore and was equally impressed with the guided tasting of wines. ‘We will be looking at some of the wines seriously. Karuna Singh was there from Olive Beach and Olive Mehrauli who already use many of the exotic ingredients and she was looking at the possibility of sourcing some of the products on display.

Delhi and other metro cities need more events like this and a continuous presence of such events will certainly help Spain get a bigger share of the pie.

       

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