Journey to the heart of the TapasDecember 1, 2018
Villa Paramesa, Los Zagales and La Criolla are the three trendy restaurants in Valladolid, the city that for a week has been the Top Capital of the World. The three establishments have been able to fuse traditional flavors, with an ingenious and suggestive presentation, translating into a creative kitchen of high professional level, which part innovates in the mix of quality ingredients.
They are not the only ones who cook to provoke, in the healthiest sense of the word, surprising and challenging the palate. Strolling through the city that was the capital of the Spanish empire during the reign of Felipe III, now has the attraction of offering the infinite flavors of Castilian cuisine, condensed in the tapas that offer bars and bars, in the crowded tapas areas.
The aperitif of small dimensions that is exhausted with a single bite, and accompanied by a glass of wine or beer, allows you to socialize while tasting the specialty of each house. Some people prefer to eat skewers instead of sitting at a restaurant table. Tapear is not devouring a snack, it is a lifestyle in Spain, so it is expected that Unesco will soon declare intangible cultural heritage to this traditional tradition.
In this city in northwestern Spain, the first National Pinchos and Tapas Contest was inaugurated 14 years ago, where the participating chefs and their cookers managed to get Spanish culinary art across national borders. This paved the way to launch the international event.
The dome of the Millennium opened the appetite
Only a few days ago we attended the XIV National Contest of Pinchos and Tapas City of Valladolid and the II edition of the World Championship, which was hosted by the Millennium Dome, with a jury composed of renowned chefs, specialized journalists and authorities of the international gastronomy.
The event counted with the participation of 16 chefs from four continents, among which were Rico Torres of the Mexican food restaurant Mixtli, of San Antonio, Texas; and Greg McGowan, from the Pelican Landing in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, whose specialty is based on tropical seasoned seafood.
The first to cook was Torres, winner of the Accésit to the most avant-garde cover, with his “dish” -as he calls it- “Slice of Life”. He was inspired by the powerful influence of the sea on those who, like him, grew up in the desert. The mixture of native Mexican products such as Oaxaca chili, smoked in caves, with Iberian ham, pickled razors and cream of saffron brandy was a success. His bold presentation, had an unexpected detail -the sound of the waves- that surprised the attendees to his demonstration. MacGowan, executive chef at Hotel & Marina masterfully prepared his cover “Pickled Spanish Pulpo a la gallega on crostini” in which he wanted to transfer his passion for Caribbean, South American and Spanish food. Its careful elaboration was hidden under a glass dome filled with smoke, a technique very much in vogue.
Valladolid wants to export the Spanish tapa
“Why do not we make Valladolid the birthplace of the new René Redzepi and the new Ferrán Adriá, and make the participants of the Spanish product fall in love?” Fernando Salazar, senior vice president of Food & Beverage of the hotel chain, proposed to Valladolid authorities Insterstate, and jury of this event since its first edition. His idea was aimed at opening towards an international market. Then it was rejected and about three years ago it was approved.
Ángel Moretón, founder and CEO of e-Spain has been one of the architects of the most cosmopolitan food championship in small format. His company, in addition to training young people in the trade, and providing gastronomic immersions in Spain, is responsible for sending the call for the contest, demanding the chef’s resume, with a recipe and photo of the cover. He recently organized the First Oceania Tapas Competition, held in Auckland, New Zealand, where the Oceania representative, chef Shuyun Chen of the restaurant Bellota By Peter Gordon, a Spanish emblem in this New Zealand city, was the winner. She was also the champion of the world competition and the only woman, recently celebrated in Valladolid.
The Valladolid are convinced that the lid can be an ideal product to be exported. If the Italians placed the pizza on tables around the world, what prevents the nutritious and delicious Spanish tapa have the same destination?
An essential tapas
To think, you have to experiment, so we went for tapas. We ate at La Criolla and had dinner at Los Zagales. In the first one we met Paco, the chef who, starting from six tables, set up his gastronomic empire with the same flavors as always and an innovative package in an old house from the 19th century, a regular visit by personalities of the arts and politics. In the second, we savored the sensational tapas of Toño’s restaurant. We did an almost voluptuous tasting with the combinations of ingredients hardly guessed.
The waiter detailed the names of each tapa and its raw material. The successful “Obama in the White House”, winner of the “Pincho de Oro 2009” in the Provincial Contest of Pinchos de Valladolid, is best tasted by picking the ingredients from the bottom up with the spoon. It consists of a puff pastry base with mushroom cream, free-range egg truffled at low temperature, and potatoes dehydrated with squid ink. A taste to the palate, to the sight and to the imagination.
The singular of the vallisoletano tournament is the twinning of the visiting chefs with the restaurants of the city, which allows that residents and tourists can consume the cover contestant in the place that has assigned each one. This model is ideal for gastronomic exchange, as if it were a master class cooking, and enriches the culinary culture of the area.
The history of 61
The tapas are associated with wine, so we visited a winery, present with its Premium wines at the Millennium Dome. We learned how the Verdejo variety was harvested and produced by the Rueda denomination of origin in the “Cuatro Rayas” winery. Located in the La Seca municipality of Valladolid, it is known for being the fourth in Castilla León in production and billing of the Matarromera group, behind Vega Sicilia, Viña Mayor and Protos, and for being the main sponsor of the Real Valladolid football club. , whose current president is the Brazilian Ronaldo Nazário.
With 80 years of history, the abundant vineyards of the partners extend to 30 towns of Castile, some in the provinces of Segovia and Ávila. It has an extraordinary room of new French oak barrels, where 3,000 bottles have been made, with the first vintage of the grape from its pre-phylloxera vineyards, so old that they are considered the jewel in the crown. It still preserves the primitive concrete silos, which have become fashionable again in the wine world.
After the Spanish Civil War, bad harvests forced the partners to mix their best wines in the huge cisterns. These wines made with traditional methods in their private cellars made it possible to create the first wine cooperatively. Of all the deposits, the number 61 achieved the highest acceptance. Its fame, would give the name to the first bottles out of “Four Rays” and to a brand that is still marketed.
The novelty is its exclusive golden wormwood -vermouth in French- produced with a blend of wine fermented in barrels for 6 months and young wine. The added botanicals, among which fennel, low scrub herbs, and cinnamon, provide nuances that respect the usual aromas of the Verdejo grape. A drink destined for success, consumed in Spain, and internationally in countries such as Argentina, Canada and Germany.
Leaving the cellar we ended up tasting rabbit and lamb grilled with vine shoots and homemade croquettes at the Mesón de Pedro, in the town of Matapozuelos. The perfect plan for a day dedicated to the enjoyment of the senses. Sites like these and many others located in the city of Valladolid, such as the Japanese tavern Wabi-sabi, known for its tuna burger with wasabi, and the bar La Mejillonera, specialized in rations, are ideal for tourism where you can combine the pleasure of traveling, while tasting the best flavors of cuisine made in the north of Spain.
From its medieval past to the present, the city has experienced a remarkable development, without losing the splendor of its chivalrous and courtesan history. Located northwest of Spain, it is one hour from Madrid by high-speed train. It boasts an ancestry to shelter the residence of the court of Philip III in a short period of the seventeenth century. Its palaces and noble-looking buildings offer very pleasant views to the tourist, and some are the headquarters of institutions such as the town hall, museums or theaters. The river Pisuerga as it passes through the city offers a panoramic view that brings peace to the environment. Residence of illustrious writers such as Cervantes, Zorrilla and Delibes, among many others. Its culture and cuisine, and the hospitality of the people of Valladolid, make it a destination with everything you need for a demanding traveler.
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