Lyon, Madrid & Barcelona
January was a month of international travel. Our team spent several days in three European cities, Lyon, Madrid, and Barcelona—two cities hosted major international culinary events (Bocuse d’Or and Madrid Fusion) and Barcelona…who can resist that culinary mecca?
The home of tapas, jamon, and olive oil spheres was another destination. We attended Madrid Fusion, the four-day culinary symposium, now in its seventh year. We walked away with an ever-more profound understanding of the impact of the global recession on restaurants and haute cuisine world-wide, but still found inspiration from the large contingent of Mexican chef-presenters and from at least a dozen presentations. Take a look at our Madrid Fusion event wrap-up and read about the highlights of the event.
We went on several tastings in Madrid and Barcelona, but a few stood out in the bunch. Chef Ricardo Sans of Kabuki in Madrid wowed us with his classic Japanese cuisine technique and textural layering. He served us a black sea bass “sushi” with a Canary Island potato cube and drizzle of bass liver sauce; to eat it, the diner wraps the piece of fish around the potato (a substitute for the traditional sushi rice). The delight was not only in the clever twist on sushi, but the textural composition, which combines silky strips of raw fish with soft potato and a pleasingly unctuous sauce.
Subtle was the word of the day during our tasting at Paco Morales’ and Rut Cotroneo’s Senzone. Morales’ skill with pairing and plating the most delicate dish components kept us on the edge of our seats and continuously looking forward to the next dish—and that’s really saying something with a total of 12 dishes served! His monkfish liver with cauliflower and fresh turnip water is a prime example: the liver was soft and light as air, but still loaded with flavor; thin slices of cauliflower floret gave the dish a delicate crunch, but it wasn’t quite raw or cooked; gentle bubbles in the turnip water appeared as carbonation, but dissipated on the tongue.
Zaranda, with chef Fernando Perez Arellano at the kitchen helm, impressed us with gorgeous presentation and solid French technique (not so commonly found in Spain). Arellano’s Mallard Duck Salad with Honey Endives, Sage Vinaigrette, and Sorrel Jus looked like a garden on the plate and packed a punch with its rich, gamey, and herbaceous flavors.
It’s almost expected now that Barcelona chefs will take us to new culinary heights. Chef Raphael Peña of Gresca did not disappoint with his Egg Souffle with Vegetables, Cream, and Ham. What’s so innovative about soufflé? Peña turns the egg whites into a meringue “shell” that encases a runny yolk; when the soufflé is broken into, the yolk spills onto the plate and integrates with the creamy vegetables and Iberico ham underneath. Spain’s national meat, pork, does well in the deft hands of chef Jordi Artal of Cinc Sentits. This chef’s sous vide suckling pigs takes no less than three days to prepare and the perfectly shaped cube you get on the plate is as tender, juicy, and flavorful as it should be with the added bonus of a crackling crisp skin and tender apple.
The Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest was as fierce and exciting as ever, especially for the American team lead by The French Laundry’s sous chef Timothy Hollingsworth with commis Adina Guest. The dynamic U.S. duo performed at peak level, placing sixth in what amounts to the world’s most rigorous culinary competition. Find out what platters team USA presented and who placed where in the Olympian chef battle in our Bocuse wrap-up.
Although we always aim for (and want) gold, Hollingsworth’s effort and final top third placement is worthy of golden praise and recognition. After all, only one other U.S. team in the history of the competition has placed as high. What’s more, this year seemed to mark a turning point for the backing of a U.S. Bocuse efforts: Hollingsworth and Guest received an unprecedented level of support from an invigorated Bocuse d’Or USA organization (including passionate backing from Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller)—not to mention a level of national media coverage never before seen, with mainstream coverage including Time Magazine and the New York Times.
Stay tuned in the coming week for a complete Bocuse d’Or wrap-up with fantastic photography from e-Gullet veteran and blogger John Sconzo.
Back states-side, we’ve got a slew of Valentine’s Day-centered features to check out, including our cocktail-driven Love Potions, Co-Chefs: Keeping the Culinary Romance Alive, and our wine feature Bordeaux Couples. And read all about our Seattle Rising Stars—bios, interviews, and their wining dish recipes are waiting for you. Seattle Travel: What to Eat and Where to Stay will keep you on top of the Emerald’s city dining scene; check out chef Richard Corbo’s Cicchetti (that’s chi-ket-ti); and browse through our recent photo galleries from our international expeditions.
A final word for late New York restaurateur Steven Scher. The generous entrepreneur and industry leader passed away unexpectedly late last year and was always a great friend to StarChefs and the industry at large. The Steven Scher Memorial Scholarship for Aspiring Restaurateurs is set up in his honor, and a benefit to the scholarship and the James Beard Foundation will be held in Miami at Scott Conant’s Scarpetta on February 21st (click here for details).
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