Gastronoma, Valencia 2011.La Gran Cita de Gastronomia Valenciana.


A Quiet Space at Gastronoma.

Gastronoma, or the fair for the restaurant and hotel trades, food, and  specialist commerce has just been held in the Feria in Valencia. This fair is open for three days, the first to the public and the second and third to professionals in the trade, which, thankfully, now includes bloggers. Entry to the public is charged but nominal and  to professionals by invitation.

Even for a time of crisis there was a good attendance, the tourist trade is not doing so badly in Valencia and there is still a healthy market for all the goods associated with the sector, from fancy kitchen goods, ovens, bain maries etc, outside shades and gazebos ( one of which had local Vilamarxant entrepreneur Rafa Arago drooling!)  table goods such as cloths, glasses and cutlery, floral decorations. However chief amongst the attractions are always the foodstuffs and wines, cooking demonstrations and specialist tastings, of which there were several. There were also several well attended discussion sessions on topics such as the smoking ban and gastronomy and social networks, such as Facebook.

Tres Campañas, Rueda.

It would be impossible to cover all the goods and events over the two days I attended. However several stood out and are worthy of further coverage.

I am very fond of game, it is generally a very healthy meat, full of iron, vitamins, and very low in fat and bad cholesterol. It is also easier to digest, more tender and has better flavour ( and because it is richer you can eat less of it). The move to farm several varieties of exotic and game animals has generally been successful so it was with high anticipation that we approached the stand for Avestruces Del Rincon, the Requena based ostrich farm with much, much more. By co-incidence I had only been talking about this company the day before with a couple who have a private restaurant in the huerta in Picassent. Ostrich is a well-known and popular meat in the UK. I had only seen it once or twice here, notably in El Corte Ingles, from where I had purchased the occasional packet of burgers.

The farm is on the slopes of the Picos del Tejo, near to Requena and here they have Ostrich, horses, deer and game birds, from which a number of cuts of meat are marketed through their Valencia offices to Pollo Planes, El Corte Ingles and directly to private clients.

Queue at the Popular Avestruces del Rincon Stand.

During the fair these cuts were not on sale, however you could buy tapas of cooked ostrich burgers, on the Monday they were also cooking horse fillets and on the Tuesday, venison. The quality and tenderness of the meat was easy to taste and the simplicity of cooking on the plancha let the flavour speak for itself. Game may be a bit more expensive but healthy food is better all round. This company´s products will be regulars in this house from now on! The company currently has a website under construction.

DO Rueda was one of the providers of wines at the Feria with a selection of whites from bodegas producing Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc. Long time favourites as an occasional alternative to the whites of Valencia or Utiel-Requena these wines are full of different flavours. The Sauvignon Blancs in particular show good varietal character with tropical fruit flavours, crisp dry minerally finishes and a range of scents on the nose through white flowers ( Elder), gooseberry, cats pee, banana and occasionally baby sick and are much more in the Northern French style than the sunny warm and less acidic Sauvignons from here in Valencia. The verdejos by contrast show more complexity, depth of fruit and flavour, often with a bit of apple, wild fennel and are fuller in the mouth.

Cuatro Rayas, Verdejo 2010

It would be impossible to cover all the wines that were on offer but several favourites are worth noting. In Sauvignon Blanc the Yllera night harvest and  Vila Narcisa and in Verdejo  the Cuatro Rayas, Tres Campañas, Ma Jesus de la Hoz, Pariente,  Bodegas Goticos and my favourite Oro de Castillo stood out.

Around the corner on a nearby stand Vicente Gandia offered a number of their wines including Bo, their joven style wine from Bobal. Deep cherry red with long legs, and cherry, liquorice and eucalyptus on the nose, the wine is still quite tannic but with a good fruit balance and a long fruity finish. I am warming to this.

And on the same stand was the Jamon from Salvador Olmedo Alberola, whose cutting skills were admired as his jamon was. www.ibericosolmedo.es is the website and products from this company are available from an online shop www.ibericosolmedo.com by courier. Jamons from ibericos pigs start at about 18€ a kilo for a Cebo reserva ( fed on commercial feed, and with 30-36 months curing.) Soberbio is the trademark for the bellota fed Iberian pig, produced with  perfect harmony between the pig, the forests and man. With 36-48 months curing, this jamon sells at about 43€ a kilo for a 7-9.5 kilo jamon.

Fellow Bloggers Cova ( Comoju) and Ana ( CocinaconPoco.)

The company also produce jamons from the european pig, Jamon Bodega, with 24 months curing which sell for 10€ a kilo for a 7-9 kilo jamon. They also sell cured cheese from sheeps milk, including one with rosemary and the torta de queso de Extremeña and other iberico products such as lomo, salcichon, sobrasada and chorizo. The companies Valencia outlet is based in L´Olleria and Salvador is available to demonstrate the art of cutting jamon at events.

Sardinas Ahumados.

Absolute favourite food product were the ahumados, smoked fish, from Sietemares and specifically tender sides of sardine, smoked and preserved in vegetable oil. These very tender fillets were served on slices of bread and proved very popular with all who tried them. At home I have subsequently chopped peices into salad, served them over `pan con tomate´, with olives and with piquillo peppers, the range of sweet, savoury and salty smoky flavours all matching perfectly. And the box which contains around 25 fillets can be easily re-sealed and if necessary topped up with more oil as you get through them. An opened box will last around three months in the fridge although this would be unlikely in mine as the fillets would be eaten long before this!

I am really impressed by the real difference in quality between `canned´ and `boxed´  fish products here in Spain and those in the UK.

These fairs are never complete without the odd gadget for the kitchen and one equally useful to professional chefs and domestic kitchens is the `Thermomix´. Described as a tool for liberating the chef from routine tasks this `super´food processor simplifies work and reduces time in preparation. The tool has been around in Spain since 1978 and awarded prizes.

We enjoyed a sorbet of lemon and cava, the machine producing it´s result from lemon slices and ice ( as well as cava) within a minute….a fresh and very welcome palate cleanser. Immediately it springs to mind that it would be good for making Gazpacho Andaluz although I wonder if Mari-Carmen, who makes the best I have ever tasted by hand, would ever consider using a machine!

The machine will grate, grind and reduce to powder, blend, chop, beat cream, or make hollandaise and act as a bain marie. It will also make sauces and emulsions to different textures.

www.thermomix.es is the website to look at and the company offers a full after sales service.

Finally cocktails are very much in fashion in Valencia.While  I am not a great cocktail drinker, I am a fan of Gin and Tonic and have enjoyed the odd ` bees kiss´ ( brandy, cream and honey). Sunday´s public session saw the biggest ever gin-tonic being made in Barmans Corner, the site where  feet could be rested and for 4€ a very large gin and tonic, ( or daquiri etc) could be enjoyed, sat on a comfy sofa although a little alarmingly lit up from inside! Presumably this is to ensure you do not spill it.

Master´s Gin.

Valencia is currently full of different brands of gin, many of the highest quality and I have counted up to 40 marques in some of the better shops in the City. I tried a traditional gin-tonic with Master´s gin, laced with juniper berries crushed and served with grated lemon peel and Schweppes ( is there an alternative?) Sorry, Gordons, this was excellent! Alternatives were available with orange rind and spices for example and the dacquiri was a glorious fluffy pink affair! Let the pictures speak for themselves.

Finally a big thank you to DO Utiel-Requena who organised an excellent tasting of cheeses from the Valencian Community and wines from the DO. This deserves a separate write up in due course when I have time to look at Valencian Cheese and Wines in greater detail!

Gin Tonic and Something Pink and Fluffy!

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