Madrid Fusion 2019 Day 1
“The colours of today’s new Moroccan cuisine”- Chef Njat Kaanache (Nur, Morocco)
We came in almost at the end of the first session:. This fairly unknown cuisine- where the world only knows about tagine, cous cous & preserved lemon, was passionately represented by Chef Najat Kaanache. She picked up many elements of Moroccan gastronomy that included raw ingredients, sauces & prepared morsels of food and presented it like a piece of art on a blank white canvas. While effortlessly creating this, she also spoke about the trials of being a woman chef in the industry, as well as some inspirational anecdotes. This was Moroccan cuisine in an avatar that no one had ever seen before.
“Foie Gras “Gerbeaud”: Tradition & evolution”
This segment was sponsored by The Hungarian Tourism Agency, & so it was a well rounded presentation on the ingredients of the region, the famous foie gras, & Hungarian wines. According to Chef Árpad Gyórffy, there are two very famous dishes in Hungary: Foie Gras & the Hungarian Layer Cake. For the uninitiated, foie gras is a luxury food product made of the duck or goose liver. It is artificially fattened by force feeding the animal with corn (known as gavage). The Layer cake is made of an Accacia honey batter & filled with dried fruits like apricots, raisins and prunes. In this demonstration, they made an interesting dessert-like plate combining both their traditional dishes to make one modern plate. Orange zest was added for a zesty touch and nuts were cooked in sugar syrup before being layered in.
This presentation would be incomplete without the mention of the special Tokaji (pronounced Toh-kai) wines from the Tokaj region in Hungary. Production of these wines started hundreds of years ago in a space of 5000 hectares. The wines of this region usually contain about 150 gms of residual sugar per litre and this balances perfectly well with foie gras. Balsamic vinegar is also produced in the region.
“Madrid Fusion Inauguration”- El Bulli 1846 Creative Team First Call”
This was one of the most eagerly anticipated presentations on Day 1 at Madrid Fusión 2019. Spanish culinary genius Ferran Adria took to the stage to talk about his upcoming projects related to gastronomy, creativity & innovation. Chef Adria summed up in 30 minutes, all the projects he has been working on since elBulli closed its doors eight years ago. Before he started, he emphasized that “elBulli hasn’t come back, mainly because it never left. The restaurant closed, but its spirit remains as powerful as ever.”
Ferran Adriá & his team have undertaken four new projects through the elBulli foundation, in which the investment has gone up to approximately one million euros:
In 1993, Ferran Adrià and his team began the meticulous task of archiving and documenting all of the information on elBulli's creative process, including notebooks, notes made on paper napkins, photographs, and publications. These will soon fill all 64,500 square feet of the first ever museum dedicated to a restaurant from the perspective of creative analysis and innovation.
Since closing elBulli eight years ago, Adrià has also been working on another ambitious project that aims to become the Wikipedia of gastronomy. So far, 35 books have been written for his Bullipedia project. Along with the food lab, Bulligrafia will allow visitors to relive the mythical elBulli dining experience. Set to open in 2022, the museum will document the legacy of the restaurant that revolutionised modern dining and helped birth molecular gastronomy. Bulligrafia is set to open in 2022.
El Bulli 1846
The second of the spaces involved in the new future of elBulli. Located in what was the restaurant at Cala Montjoi and covering 6,000 square metres will be an exhibition space and creative workshop, where a team of more than twenty people will be carrying out research and experimentation, maintaining at the centre the renovated restaurant and kitchen as complements to the exhibition Lab. Adrià announced that elBulli1846 – named after the number of dishes catalogued from the restaurant – would reopen in February of 2020.
El Bulli Lab
Fans may be disappointed to learn that the space, which will occupy the old elBulli in Cala Montjoi, will not be a restaurant, but rather an exhibition space and experimental workshop. Spread over 6,000 square meters, a team of 20 chef scientists will conduct experiments aimed at pushing the gastronomic envelope.
“When cooks listen to the produce” by Ricard Camarena, Spain.
Chef Ricard Camarena exhibited four simple but unique dishes with depth & complexity- that showcase to what extent flavour can be extracted from different food groups! He states that flavour is the essence of his cuisine, with which he aims to appeal to all 5 senses. He goes on to say that at this point, his work focuses on liquids, a subject that givs him much food for thought.
He showcased the following:
· Artichoke with hollondaise sauce of eel, baby eel & tarragon
· Tomato with Tuna belly
· A three-phase dessert made of pumpkin
· Amberjack caviar & cremeaux of caviar
Their common denominator is extraction of the essence, of the juice from each product, wisely combined in a search for contrasts and surprising alliances between flavors and textures. He extracts the collagen from the eel, gives salted fish the texture of fresh fish, makes pumpkin ice-cream, and salmon roe that tastes like authentic caviar.
“Natural & Concocted textures”
Mateu Casanas, Oriol Castro & Eduard Xatruch (Disfrutar, Spain)
This session was a real eye opener for me. I revelled at how the chefs at Disfrutar reimagined some ingredients that are right in front of us. Nothing out of the ordinary or exotic. But the treatment to these everyday ingredients is so creative & out-of-the-box, I could only marvel at them! Their aim at Madrid Fusion was to achieve “different textures with diverse notions”. Some of the techniques they showcased were: how a prawn “torilla” could become a ‘crisp’ with the use of a siphon (loaded with two gas cartridges) & then fried in a ladle to prevent it from puffing up. They also show us an amazing technique of printing a picture of prawn using edible ink & then transferring that ink to a piece of mango & saffron leather.
During their demonstration, the two cooks recognized that a great idea doesn’t always triumph immediately. Placing white truffles in a box together with a container filled with olive oil, the oil was, over time, imbued with their aroma. ‘But it didn’t go with any dish,’ Castro admitted. Until they decided to put it in a glass with parmesan cheese. Flourless puff pastry, and ‘fresh’ cheese made with ham-infused milk was the most mind-blowing technique I have come across until now.
Pastasciutta: Avant-garde & sensitivity
Ricardo Camanini (Lido 84, Italy)
The chef from Lido 84 learnt his art alongside Gualtiero Marchesi and Alain Ducasse and today produces very delicate cuisine that we learnt about today in his interpretation of pasta.
Camanini gave a brilliant talk, in which the most common and best-known of the ingredients of Italian popular cuisine was taken back thousands of year, revealing how the separation took place between the Italian and the Chinese versions of pasta. And how the Greeks and Etruscans learnt of it in Italy and, in the case of the latter, left their mark on it for the future: Macaria was the name given to pasta by the Etruscans, ending up as today's macaroni.
Some other interesting data from his research. Until the Middle Ages there was no dry pasta. This only resulted from the need to take the product to Sicily at a time when travel was not so reliable. The solution was to dry the pasta. Previously it had only been consumed fresh and was baked, not boiled. Cooking it in water arose at about the same time.
From the strictly gastronomic point of view, his talk focused on three of the simplest ways of cooking pasta, although in his hands each of the dishes took on a new meaning. We were surprised by his pastine in brodo made from flavored broth, was obtained from the liquid from soaked chickpeas (aquafaba) & reduced.
This dish was followed by Spaghettini pomodoro , based on handmade tomato concentrate, multiplying the sensations promised by the dish.
And, to end, the ultimate, White pasta, made with only oil and parmesan, but he derives a new technique which involves simplicity & a certain dose of complexity. Camanini cooks the fusilli in a steam oven at 80 degrees celsius for 12 hours everyday for a week, for several days to break down its molecular structures. It is then cooled at 3 degrees celsius for 12 hours. This way it becomes more digestble (more crystallised status). Based on this method, the pasta is fully cooked while maintaining the al dente texture that is essential in Italian cuisine. Now, it is boiled for just 3-4 minutes & tossed with olive oil & parmesan. The flavour here is more concentrated because it did not leech into the water.
After watching such informative & intriguing chefs, we stepped outside to get some lunch. Soon after, we browsed the market place that was set up around the venue. Many suppliers, farmers & ingredient vendors had set up stalls and I came across items that I had never seen before. Fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, ham, wine, cheese... all displayed with much grandeur & pride. I was lucky to taste some of these ingredients & get some pictures.
“The Andalusian Accent of French Sauces”
Juanlu Fernandez (LU Cocina y Alma, Spain)
A very interesting subject where the chef talks about the five basic mother sauces (a classic of French cuisine) & then describes some Spanish influences which gives rise to the most interesting derivatives! Some of them were:
Mignonette: Red wine + shallots + crushed pepper+ vinegar
Francia: Hollondaise+ terragon
Although this was an extremely interesting presentation, I can’t seem to remember many of the finer details. It seems like I was too tired by the end of the day to take notes!
"The Flavour of Elegance" Quique Dacosta
Looking forward to sharing Part 2 of my experience at Madrid Fusion 2019 in my next post!