Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Madrid Fusion, only one more day, and you can’t go

January 18, 2006

Because this gastronomical summit is all sold out. Tomorrow is the last day of the three day event, Madrid Fusion IV, International Summit of Gastronomy. The programme is filled with restaurant industry pomp and poodle, showcasing valuable marriages between top chefs and industry giants like Nestle, Knorr and Maggi. There is an all-star, all-male lineup of superchefs, save the lone Elena Arzak, but her blurb only blurbs on about her father Juan Mari’s fathomless imagination.

Enough bitching and moaning, if I had gone, I would have been absolutely interested in the designer tapas competition, because frankly, many of the conference presentations are just camouflaged sales pitches. Example topic: ‘Cheese trolleys and trays in restaurants, the last rage.’ Yeah, that’s the last rage allright, just not in my world.

My ‘last rage’ is the presence of the angelic Alice Waters, there to accept a tribute on behalf of the Summit of Gastronomy for being a ‘Founder of New American Cuisine” (Waters is above all blame) when there are such uncool conference topics about the newest recipes for serving up a fish that is widely considered to be an endangered species. Although I’d be the first one to say that a restaurant is not a home kitchen, and therefore doesn’t have the same responsibilities in terms of teaching or practicing good health and consumer behaviour, I do wish that the designers of such events would moderate their sponsors (content) and take a stand against bad practices by bad boys.

Because in the name of wishful thinking, if I had to name one food trend that I would love to see spread like wildfire this year, it would be that the world’s league of exemplary chefs exclusively associate their names and restaurants with the best artisanal and local producers, producers of sustainable products. And maybe that IS just what the good folks at the Gastronomic Summit talked about today after the ‘Cod: new recipes, a thousand flavours’ presentation. Maybe there will be brilliant debate tomorrow during the Q&A after the ‘Canned Fish in Haute Cuisine’ discussion. Heq, I won’t be there to check, but I’ll ask Alice how it went when I see her at the Berlin Film Festival Slow Food Symposium next month.

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Theses no. 28 from Cluetrain:

28. Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what’s really going on inside the company

Cheese trolleys and trays in restaurants,
the last rage

Abel Valverde
Santceloni Restaurant
José Manuel Escorial y Merino
CofradĂ­a del Queso Manchego

Lácteas García Baquero

They are an alternative to dessert or a complement in their own right; a touch of refinement that no self-respecting restaurant can now afford to ignore. But good cheese trays call for painstaking care; the choice, conservation and cuts all need to be flawless. We are filled in by Abel Valverde (Restaurante Santceloni) and José Manuel Escorial, culinary expert.

Canned fish in haute cuisine. Cans with a vintage

Alberto Chicote
NODO Restaurant
Juan Pablo Felipe
El Chaflán Restaurant
Sacha Hormaechea
Sacha Restaurant
Andrés Madrigal
Balzac Restaurant
Paco Roncero
La Terraza de El Casino de Madrid Restaurant


Spain produces the best canned fish in the world.
(Oy Vey is Mir! can we stop overfishing already? - editor)
Some canned fish even improves with time like the best wine. Five top cooks, Alberto Chicote, Juan Pablo Felipe, Sacha Hormaechea, Andrés Madrigal and Paco Roncero show us how to turn a can into an exquisite dish. A blue riband prêt à porter.

Wineglasses to suit the wine. Design in the service of flavour

Fernando Gurucharri
President of the Spanish Winetasters’ Union
Enrique Calduch
Wine critic of the ExpansiĂłn newspaper
Luis Miguel MartĂ­n

Domecq Bodegas

Nobody would deny that a wine tastes different depending on the wineglass it is drunk from. A wine’s nuances and organoleptic qualities are changed by the design and shape of the glass it is served from. Fernando Gurucharri, Luis Miguel Martín and Enrique Calduch will guide assistants through a singular wine-tasting session in which an unmatured wine, an oak-aged white and reserva red will be tasted in several types of glasses to see the differences they make.

The secrets of coffee: how to make the
best cup of cofee

Ricardo Oteros
Salvador Sans
Cafés El Magnífico

Nescafé (Nestlé) (Yeah, like Nestlé knows all about the best cup of coffee.)

What seems to be simple turns out to be tricky. Recently-toasted, top-quality beans are not always a guarantee of cups of coffee with the right texture and aromatic concentration. Thousands of crucial factors impinge on the final result. What are the secrets to success? Ricardo Oteros, a coffee specialist, together with Salvador Sans, proprietor of Cafés El Magnífico, the best coffee shop in Spain, tell us how to do it.

España, un jardín
de variedades:
sessions organised
by the Spanish
Institute of
Overseas Trade
(ICEX) for the international

debra at 19:20 | | post to


  1. Chefs supporting sustainable agriculture/aquaculture is a topic near and dear to my heart. I’ve been working on a project that I would encourage others in their own regions to follow: find out from your local farmers which restaurants buy from them, or go to the farmers markets. I’ve started a list at my food forum: Bay area chefs & restaurants buying locally features as many restaurants and caterers as I can find (with help–I went straight to the farmers, and also rely on foodie friends to do the legwork and ask questions).
    (It seems your comments don’t take HTML, so I posted the bare link there.)

    It’s amazing and wonderful how much people do care about keeping sustainable agriculture and aquaculture going.

    Thanks for a good post.

    Comment by Tana — January 19, 2006 @ 0:03

  2. Thank You! That’s a great idea Tana, I’ll start doing that too starting thei Saturday. I shop pretty much exclusively at Farmers’ Markets in the NL and in FR, but didn’t think about asking the farmers there which restaurants they supply. Or, asking the restaurant owners which farms supply them.

    It’s funny, I need to make an Amsterdam restaurant file for the blog, and have been meaning to for some time. I think that if I do it this way, asking the farmers which restaurants they supply, it will reveal NEW restaurants that I don’t know yet. OOooh let’s cross our fingers, it’s slim pickins in the culinary world up here. Not in terms of starred chefs, but in terms of good quality basic eats. The moment I want to eat out is when I miss California the most. There are maximum twenty decent restaurants in Amsterdam.

    Comment by debra — January 19, 2006 @ 2:21

  3. Sorry, but Alice Waters was not able to attend Madrid Fusion.

    Comment by laura — February 2, 2006 @ 16:28

  4. Thanks for this.
    Off to Madrid for the Flamenco Festival.
    Want to eat interesting food (but perhaps not
    bull testicles-well, perhaps).
    Can you suggest a reliable source to help me
    choose where and perhaps what to eat?
    Paul MS

    Comment by paul — April 30, 2006 @ 10:44

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