Llutxent: 14th Competition for Arroces Caldosos, a VÍ Vid Report.

Llutxent Victor

The gastronomy competitions roll-on and Monday last (23rd October)  the competition was in Llutxent for Arròs Caldós with sixteen restaurants chasing the crown for this very traditional Valencian dish.

Llutxent is a small town in the beautiful Vall D´Albaida valley on the main road between Xativá in the interior  and Gandia on the coast. Small it may be but it has a long and interesting history and is worth visiting if you are in the area. From Roman beginnings the town has been erased, grown again and played its part in the various internal wars in Spain’s history. There are walking routes, a castle, a monastery, several ancient lime kilns and other sites of interest to keep the tourist busy.

The Corpus Christi Monastery, believed to be the site of one of the oldest Universities in Spain and dating to 1422, was the venue for the competition which is held in the impressive 18th century cloisters. 16 restaurants took part but success in one competition is no guarantee of a podium place  in the next one………neither La Visteta (winners in l´Alcudia) nor Casa Granero (winners in La Valldigna) were even placed in this one as we shall see later!

So, Arròs Caldós. What is that then? Essentially it is a stew, cooked with olive oil in a `honda,´ a casserole or a `perol´ (as used for Alli Pebre).

Llutxent prep
Preparation underway.

The traditional ingredients for this dish are pork rib, chicken and rabbit cooked with tomato, pimenton, garlic and vegetables. The stock is always home-made and confected with the ingredients but the rest is ‘freestyle’. In this competition the competitors used a selection of root vegetables ( turnip, parsnip, potato,) red pepper, green beans and Lima beans, mushrooms (trumpets of death and saffron caps) artichoke hearts and flavoured additionally with rosemary and or truffle shavings. Some added snails. The final ingredient is rice (traditionally the varieties of Albufera, Senia or Bomba are used) but more stock than would be used in a paella is necessary.

The day starts with an almuerzo shared between the press, officials and the competitors. Then cooking starts at 11.00am. The meats are fried off first, then the other ingredients added depending on their cooking time.

Llutxent finished
Some finished arroces.

VÍ Vid can attest to the fact that the jury had a hard choice as having followed the preparation, cooking and  presentation the dishes were returned from the judging areas to the cloisters where the gastropress and public enjoyed sampling them all!

It is said there are four key elements to the dish. The first as always is the quality of the ingredients, the second the sofrito which begins to build the flavours in the stock, the third is the technique and the fourth, as with all Valencian cookery the soul of the chef!

A key element of the technique is understanding  the ratio of stock to the rice. Paella rice varieties absorb the liquid and flavours of the stock and normally in a traditional  paella between two or three times the volume of water to rice would be used. In Arròs Caldós this is increased to up to four times so that the dish is presented in a stock. Too little water and the rice will be dry and too much and the stock will have insufficient flavour.

Llutxent lunch
At lunch in the cloisters.

Following the judging the Town Hall provide a lunch for the competitors, press and the judges and official guests. This consisted of a traditional Valencian Salad, an arroz, turron ice cream and wines by Bodegas Nodus ( Capellanes).

The competitors were:-

  • Amadeus, Gandia*
  • Picantera, Cullera*
  • Mar Sala, Cullera,*
  • Miguel y Juani, L ´Alcudia
  • La Granja, Sueca, *
  • Llopis, Sueca
  • Tabik, Llombai
  • Nazaret, Puçol*
  • Casa Granero, Serra
  • Chaparral, Serra
  • Avenida 2.0, Massamagrell
  • La Visteta, Barx*
  • Los Robles, Gandia
  • Los Abertos, Torrente
  • Juan XXIII, Benefiao
  • Bar els Jubilats, Llutxent

There is no parallel competition for desserts in this event so the winners of the XIV Concurso Arròs Caldós were:-

  1. Nazaret; Puçol
  2. Los Abetos, Torrente
  3. Los Robles, Gandia.
Winners
The Winners! Isabel and Paco from Nazaret, Puçol.

The restaurants marked with a (*) are participating in `Regreso a la Cuchara´, an initiative which sees 43 restaurants across Valencia offering a three course meal with 2 glasses of wine from Bodegas Sebiran from 20€, a great opportunity to taste traditional dishes such as Putxero, Arros al Horno, Arròs Caldós or other stews. Full details on Facebook, Comer en Valencia, Regreso a la Cuchara. The menus are available until 5 November.

The next concurso is in Bocairent in late November. VÍ Vid will report on this competition for dishes involving game and wild mushrooms (Carne de Caza y Boletus) and a salt cod, potato and spinach stew ( Borreta) typical of the Alcoyana area.

Vivid5

https://wp.me/p7dfvi-O6 for our report on a recent visit to Nazaret, Puçol and their wonderful arròs de chupachups!

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Xth Concurso de Putxero and Postres de Kaki Persimmon, VÍ Vid reports from L´Alcudia.

20171016_110316Every country in the world has its traditional Winter recipes, often hearty stews of meats and vegetables cooked in a single pot. In France it is Pot au Feu, often made from different cuts of beef including shin and ribs, with carrots, cabbage, potatos, etc in a good red wine stock.  In Spain the dish is Olla Podrida, a mixture of beef, ham, bacon, chicken, sausages cooked with chickpeas, cabbage, celery, carrots, parsnip and turnip.  But olla podrida or `rotten stew´ is just one  name, it is  the generic for a number of regional dishes which differ in the odd ingredient here and there and which are also called Puchero o Cocido de Pueblo. There is also a school of thought that `podrida´ is itself a bastardisation of `poderida´which means succulent or powerful.

In Valenciá (language) and  the Valencian Community (region) it is Putxero20171016_113824 but not many people know that similar dishes are well-known throughout Europe, with regional differences, in Portugal, in France ( Gascony and Brittany) and in England  ( where it now has consolidated  into bacon boiled with cabbage) Scotland ( Cock a Leekie) and even in Austria.

You can go to the local butcher  and choose the ingredients individually or alternatively  go to one of the supermarkets where you can buy the vegetables pre-packed and even similar packs of the meat ingredients……collage-2017-10-18beef shin, ham bone, rear-quarters of chicken, spine, tocino or pancetta ( fatty bacon), morcilla ( local black sausages), blanquet ( local white sausage) and pilotes, a form of pork hamburger wrapped in caul-fat and cabbage20171016_121730 all of which will be slowly stewed with the vegetables  and chickpeas which have been soaked overnight. Come the first bank holiday of October, come the first Gastronomic fair of the month. L´Alcúdia, at the centre of the persimmon ( kaki ) growing area in the Ribera Baixa comarca of Valencia holds the first of two extremely good Gastronomic fairs ( the other being Utiel ). It is L’ Alcudia which has the honour of holding the annual competitions for both Putxero´s and Persimmons. It is now in its tenth year, the latest edition being held in Salon Siglo XXI on Monday last 16 October.

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The dish is served traditionally in two or three plates. Firstly after the cooking is complete rice is cooked in the remaining stock to create a first dish, rich in colour and with good flavour which the rice absorbs. Secondly the vegetables may be served on a plate separate from the meats or altogether on one platter. Sometimes the pilotes are served wrapped in cabbage separately.

This year some 18 restaurants had committed to participate in the competition but in the end 14 were able to attend. This is still an increase over previous events. The restaurants were;

  • Casa Granero, Serra
  • Chef Amadeo, Gandia
  • El Raco, Meliana
  • EMI , Orxeta
  • Gambrinus, Siete Aguas
  • Juan Ventitres, Benifaío
  • La Granja , Sueca
  • L´Albereda, Valencia
  • La Mar Sala, Cullera
  • La Visteta, Barx
  • Llopis, Sueca
  • Nazaret, Pujol
  • Picanterra, Cullera
  • Tabick, Llombai

VÍ Vid particularly values this competition for two reasons. Firstly the friendship between the participants is tangible with a shared breakfast before the competition commences, but secondly because the chefs are very happy to share culinary information, cooking tips and their own secrets, all of which helps us understand better the local gastronomy. We particularly enjoyed talking with Adolfo Cucarella about the properties of different rice varieties, Leo and Bea from La Visteta about the contents of the pelotas, Victor Granero, Isabel and Paco from Nazaret about the stock and as ever Teresa and Salva from Gambrinus over a range of issues.

 

 

Most fascinating was the argument about whether more saffron or pimenton should be used as the effect on flavour is very marked.

 

 

Persimmon is a fruit grown widely in the area and has its own denomination of origin. The desserts produced for the competition were equally as varied! Ice cream, yoghurts, mousses, with or without chocolate and some in tart form……..all of them with much imagination and immaculately presented!

 

 

Following the judging, which lasted nearly 4 hours, there was the traditional lunch which this year did not include a putxero! 20171016_103516We enjoyed a plate of eggs cooked at a low temperature with foie and truffle in a cream sauce, Figatells of sepia with a dressing of peanut oil and Cochinita Pibil 20171016_143455Iberica with Pa Vidre as starters. This was followed by an arros melós de gamba and a dessert of Persimmon. The event was sponsored by bodegas Murviedro with their spectacular reserva Bobal 2013 Limited Edition and DNA Alma Mística white and San Miguel amongst others.

The awards went to:

–  Postre de Persimmom

  • 1st, El Raco, Meliana,
  • 2nd, L ´Albereda, Valencia and
  • 3rd, Llopis, Sueca

Putxero Valenciá

  • 1st, La Visteta, Barx
  • 2nd , Chef Amadeo, Gandia
  • 3rd, Gambrinus, Siete Aguas

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This was another day where Valencian Gastronomy was the protagonist, a successful and well organised event which ranks amongst VÍ Vids favourites. Once again our thanks go to Lluis Ribera and Pino Diaz for the invitations and the continued friendship.

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Murviedro, 90 Years Young and still on the Move, VÍ Vid Reports.

Although Murviedro are celebrating their 90th birthday their roots are a little older. In fact their celebrations relate to the period in Spain dating from 1927…20171003_212619but more of that later. The first steps were taken by Charles Schenk a Swiss cooper from Geneva who built the legendary 25k litre cask which is still in good condition today. His son Arnold was a wine merchant and it was he who led  Schenk, expanding quickly and acquiring wine estates throughout Europe.

At the end of the first world war the first of the subsidiary Schenk companies was created in the Languedoc of Southern France, based in Sète,  followed quickly in 1919 by vineyards in Switzerland (which remain in the group today) and later in 1927 in moving into Spain.  Schenk set up in the Grao in Valencia, an expanding port area with several wine collecting companies, exporting to Northern Europe and other specialist markets. This was the time of bulk wine sales only, no bottling of wine started in Valencias’ wine areas until around 40 years ago. Wine was shipped to the port by the expanding rail network and to Europe by ship. This changed rapidly after Spain joined the European Union in the 80’s and the price to quality ratio of Spanish wine made it attractive and economic to bottle and export wines in the new format.20171003_212713

In 1997 Schenk set up a brand new bodega in Requena to produce a new range of quality wines in one of the then most innovative bodegas in Europe. The philosophy has been to produce wines which demand quality criteria but retain their character. Advanced winemaking techniques combined with traditional vineyards and respect for the vine and the environment are the key. Schenk became Murviedro and the next phase began. But for all of this Murviedro (to which the Bodega was renamed in 2002) has never had a public visitor centre with visits restricted strictly to wine professionals.

All of this changed on Tuesday 3 October with the opening of the new Cueva Museo in the old centre of Requena, the Plaza Albornoz in La Villa. Here in a cellar from a building dating to 1752 visitors can see the history of winemaking in the region. Pretty well all the buildings in the district of La Villa have ancient caves underneath, used for defence, storing grain and olive oil and producing wine with terracotta jars.  Murviedro, in a project lasting two years have restored and modernised this building to present a bright, attractive winetourism centre where the visitor can see the modern-day techniques of micro vinification with egg-shaped fermenting vessels and oak casks together with more elderly  glass demijohns, ceramic deposits and terracotta.collage-2017-10-03

Murviedro produce wines from the four Valencian DO’s ( Utiel-Requena, Valencia, Alicante, DO Cava and also from the Rias Baixas, Rioja, Rueda and Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla.

 

Prime time is given to the local varietals, Bobal,  Monastrell, Merseguera, Moscatel and Garnacha but also offer wines made with or containing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot  amongst others.     They sell around 10% in the National market and the remaining 90% is sold in the International market….the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, Scandinavia and Japan.

Future projects are in hand, Murviedro have acquired Casa Lo Alto and wines which have been produced here have all been sold abroad with just a tiny amount going to a handful of local restaurants. 20171003_125927The vineyards here contain a parcel of old Bobal with more than 70 years of age and a small but high quality production. New wines will surely emerge from here in the course of time.

In fact to celebrate the anniversary a new Bobal ‘1927’ has been released, from the Finca Ardal parcel. Picked in October 2016, with 14.5% ABV  and six months in 5000 liter oak foudres we will review this wine later this year.

All good anniversaries come with a presentation.

Following the ceremonial cutting of the tape by the Mayor of Requena Mario Sanchez Gonzalez to open the Cueva Museo,  Murviedro used the old Church of Saint Nicholas, a baroque temple which just four years ago was almost derelict, supported only by stainless steel girders. Today it is a well lit and airy exhibition centre and museum. 20171003_125816.jpgExcitingly it has not been restored but cleverly  deconstruction has been used to show its architecture and construction with a glass roof covering exposed stone arches, partially plastered walls and frescos as if they were being painted afresh.  Marc Grin the Technical Director introduced the presentation referring to a history inextricably linked to the family nature of the business and to ongoing developments.

A buffet lunch followed with a range of Murviedros’ excellent wines and cavas.

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VÍ Vid is very pleased to welcome this new centre to the world of winetourism in Utiel- Requena. It will provide a valuable addition to the facilities and installations to help visitors appreciate and learn about the regions 2500 year old wine history. Congratulations Murviedro!

VIVID PROFILE MURVIEDRO portada

 

 

 

Valencia Centre Bars, VÍ Vid Recommends Macabeo, Canovas.

Valencia is a vibrant city and one of the pleasures for visitors is browsing its bars and restaurants. Cánovas is one of the most popular districts for tourists, being central, close to the main shopping area of Colon and enjoys a large number of eateries offering a wide range of food  styles and cuisine.collage macabeo OK

VÍ Vid were invited to Macabeo snack&wine on Tuesday 19th of September for the launch of their new menu aimed at passers-by, tourists and locals alike. Alejandro Rodriguez opens at 08,00 am for desayuno, (breakfast) which will set you back under 3€ for coffee and a croissant for example. Almuerzo which consists of a bocadillo, drink and a coffee comes in at just under 5€.   The difference here though is that the food is all made there and then at the point of order and not pre-prepared.  They bake their own bread each day, an important ingredient of their concept20170919_214741 and menu as the idea is that the customer can build their own sandwiches using the different flavoured breads. Currently they are baking breads using onion, pumpkin seeds, blueberries and black olives and herbs.

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They have a range of options for filling sandwiches including a very tender carrillera (beef cheek) or you could opt for a version of the classic club sandwich with chicken and bacon or black olive bread with brie, jamon and tomato.20170919_204733

Talking of jamon Macabeo has selected a pure bellota,the Iberian pigs fed on acorns  and

their ibericos (sliced air-dried sausages and pork loin) comes from the same source.

Whether you go for breakfast or tapas there is a wide selection of tostas,  crunchy tostas or pizzas to choose from and we can recommend these. We also enjoyed a fresh salad from their range, and the octopus.

Chef Jorge Sanz20170919_224110 believes in the quality of their product and this is why when you order your sandwich you may have to wait a little longer for your choice as it will be freshly cooked and prepared.

Macabeo also has a wine list including some Valencian wines to accompany your choice!

However  food of this quality is always worth waiting for and will enhance the experience of shopping or tourism in the area.

Macabeo Cánovas is at Grabador Esteve 33,  http://www.macabeocanovas.com , 963364093 and in Facebook.

foto perfil vivid macabeo

Iº Concurso Internaciónal Arros de la Valldigna , a VÍ Vid Report.

As we had anticipated we had the pleasure of attending the first edition of this new gastronomy competition on Monday 18 September, held in Saló lo Font in the Valencian town of Tavernes de la Valldigna.

This version of the  traditional Valencian paella differs from the best known in three ways, firstly it includes small meatballs (or pelotas) made from minced beef flavoured with rabbit blood and pine nuts, red peppers which are used for decoration20170918_132100 and the rice is cooked in chicken stock rather than water flavoured by the ingredients.

It is the paella cooked traditionally at the weekend by families in the four neighbouring towns of Tavernes, Barx, Simat and Benefaió in El Safor, South of Cullera and the Albufera Natural park where the round grain paella rice is grown.

The competition was the highlight of a three-day gastronomy fair held in Tavernes to highlight the local gastronomy and attract more  tourists to the area.

The organisers, Carmen Pallares Fernando and Sergi Fem Terreta, with Antonio Serrano (Comer en Valencia) in collaboration,  had put together a professional event, arranged funding from the Diputación, support from the Government in the person of Pilar Moncho Matoses the Deputy responsible for Tourism who presented the prizes.

The competition started traditionally with the drawing of lots by the 25 competitors to allocate cooking position and the time the paella had to be ready to go to the judges. 20170921_183145An almuerzo followed during which the press and other communications organisations had a chance to interrogate the chefs.

Then under a big marquee the first batch of cooking got underway, despite a strong breeze which made control of the gas rings difficult but the organisers fortunately had lots of cardboard boxes to break up and provide wind screens!

Some of the competitors started with the red pepper cut in strips, others with the meatballs and the rest with the chicken and rabbit. Once the peppers are cooked they are reserved until the presentation stage. To the meat the vegetables are added, green and  white beans then tomato and  pimenton until softened. The stock is added, the rice and then the saffron and all is cooked out until the paella is nearly ready when the peppers go back on top.

During this period a parallel competition took place to see which of the local butchers  best prepared a separate dish, figatells (believed to be the original hamburgers.) These are another  local dish and well worth searching out if you are in the area. The meat which is generally pork shoulder and liver are spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon (and sometimes foie) are then wrapped in cawl fat and barbecued and eaten with fresh bread. Some longanizas also appeared to keep flagging spirits going and sponsors Mahou produced lots of cerveza to slake the thirst on a very warm day.

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Juan Carlos Galbis

Next the judging takes place. The paellas are delivered to the judging area, lined up in a random, secret order and judged blind by a panel of experts from the press,  social media and all under the watchful eye of president of the jury  Juan Carlos Galbis.

Whilst this is going on the chefs turn their attention to making a dessert, the theme being mandarins which are just coming into season here in Valencia.

20170921_182440Once these are judged the official lunch can take place and subsequently the results of the judging and the awards ceremony. Lunch consisted of plates of jamon, cod croquettas and escalivet, pulpo (octopus) a la feria, then a plate of one of the competing restaurants paellas, a chicken stew and then a dessert. 2017-09-21 23.17.07Wine on this occasion was provided by Vegamar with their  Merseguera and Merlot monovarietals.

During the gastronomy fair Vera de Estenas and Bocopa had provided the wines and acted as sponsors. Other sponsors were Aneto, (chicken stock) DACSA (rice), Safrina (saffron) Vercher (mandarines) and Vaello ( the cooking equipment).

The first award was for the Figatells which went to Carniceria Olegario.

Best dessert went to La Picanterra, a regular contestant in these competitions.

The three best Arroces were;

  1. Casa Granero from Serra
  2. Alqueria del Pou, Valencia
  3. El Manantial, Algemesi

This was a well organised competition and hopefully will establish itself in the cannon of Valencian gastronomy.20170918_173158

And where to next? The show rolls on to Cataroja on Saturday with the All i Pebre competition in the port and El Palmar on Monday (also All i Pebre) for a contrasting eel and potato stew flavoured with pimenton. Needless to say although both towns are opposite each other on the Albufera lake the recipe is different!

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VIvid Team

And VÍ Vid will be judging the best monovarietals from Monastrell, Moscatel and Bobal from the Valencian Community on Thursday 21 September and Craft Ales from Valencia also on Monday 25th.

 

Vera de Estenas Launches its New Bobal-a VÍ Vid Report.

Vera de Estenas, the newest ‘Pago’ in Utiel-Requena has traditionally made wines from Bobal, the regions varietal vine. The bodega has several parcels of Bobal of varying ages including some with over 100 years of age. Bobal is a variety which is notoriously difficult to work with as it has high acidity. This is partly because when the big bunches of grapes ripen, (in younger plants they are very tightly packed)  those on the outside reach maturity but those in the centre of the bunch simply do not.bobal-unica-151 (2)

As the vines age however the bunches become looser and the ripening is more even. The grapes produce less juice but it is more concentrated.

Felix Martinez Roda who makes the wine and whose family own the bodega is an expert in Bobal but even he continues to experiment and add to the range of wines made from the variety in pursuit of understanding what it can produce.

The Bodega in San Antonio is  set in a pine wood overlooking the railway and motorway from Madrid to Valencia. Felix´s father planted ‘noble varieties’, around 35 years ago and these are now producing some of the best wines from the region.

Inside the bodega there are many old features including the original underground tanks and deposits (trullos) in which wine was made before the advent of stainless steel deposits. Wine can ferment within them and then be allowed to settle and clear naturally, the cool ground in which they are set providing the correct temperatures naturally.veradeestenasterracotta

Historically all of the wine from this region would have been made in a similar manner, not in concrete tanks but in terracotta amphorae holding close to a 1000 litres of wine. There are many bodegas and family houses in Requena and other wine producing towns throughout Valencia with such amphorae in their cellars, in some cases forgotten by or unknown to their owners!Bodega Veradeestenashonda

Indeed, Felix´s family own Bodega Honda, a 15th century bodega in the historical old centre of Requena next to Saint Nicolas Church. It is possible to arrange a visit to this underground cellar where wine can still be made, with its steep uneven steps and low ceiling. There are several ‘tinajas’ or terracotta vessels stood around the walls of the bodega with its three distinct chambers on two levels. You can still see the holes in the ceiling through which the pressed juice would have poured into fermentation vessels below. This style of producing wine all but disappeared a hundred years ago with the first bodegas introducing the larger and newer  concrete tanks. VeradeestenasfelixBut a combination of the better understanding of the Bobal variety and a thirst from the new generations of wine makers to understand what their ancestors  produced for 2500 years has prompted a number of winemakers from across the DO Utiel-Requena and indeed others in DO Valencia to experiment with the production of wine produced or aged in terracotta.

Felix´s new Bobal from the 2016 vintage is produced from 80-year-old vines which also produce the Bodegas top wine ‘Casa Don Angel’. VeradeestenasnewbottleIt  underwent first and second (malolactic) fermentation in the concrete tanks. Then the wine was transferred to 800 litre terracotta amphorae to undergo a short 4 month crianza.  It was bottled in June with a rustic label and twine capsule which acts as a drip absorber!Of course, wine aged in terracotta has none of the ageing characteristics of wine which has been in oak, none of the tannins nor spices such as vanilla.

In VÍ Vid´s experience of trying other wines previously which have had this treatment they are concentrated and have a mineral salinity in the finish.20170824_121029_1505325894428_resized

‘El Bobal de Estenas’ demonstrates the youthful characteristics of the variety, a medium bodied, bright cherry red with a violet edge and long legs. On the nose it has floral hints, lots of red and black fruit, strawberry, raspberry and plum and liquorice and menthol. But it is in the mouth where the wine is different, a result of the micro-oxygenation in the terracotta. This process is much slower in amphorae than in wood,20170824_120852_1505325892073_resized (377x640) the wine evaporates and as a result concentrates and in return absorbs a subtle salinity from the walls of the vessel. This has produced a wine which is fruity, round, concentrated with smooth tannins which has good volume in the mouth and is very long in the finish. To really appreciate this difference made by making wine in the historical way one should taste it against a similar young red Bobal with 3-4 months ageing in oak.

The presentation takes place this evening, 18 September at 18.00pm in Bodega Honda, Requena, by invitation. There are very few bottles remaining (price around 7€,) but based on the success of this experimental vintage of this impressive wine there are bound to be more next year!

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VÍvid Team

 

 

 

 

VÍ Vid Reviews the forthcoming Gastronomy Competitions.

We have reflected before on the growing number of Gastronomy Competitions in the Valencian Community being introduced as a means of publicising both local traditional dishes and maximising tourism from it, something supported by the Valencian Government and local town halls….and popular with tourists, 73% of whom come to Valencia for the local food and wine.

 

We have already reported on two `Concursos´held earlier this year which were in their second editions, in Cullera and Betera. During September there are two more, one new and one well established and the beginning of October sees another new one.

In this article VÍ Vid previews each of them, all open to the public to view.

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Poster for the Sueca International Valencian Paella competition.

The first is the Concurso Internacional de Paella Valenciana de Sueca which will be held on the 10th of September. This is a truly International affair with competitors from Costa Rica, Australia and New Zealand, the USA, Japan, Korea, Argentina and of course Spain. Semi finals have been held in each country and the finalists are now known. It chooses each year the best paella and is very prestigious.

Despite the huge interest in the UK it has still not proved possible to arrange a semi-final there yet, the main reasons  ( which are interlinked) being costs and location. However there have been competitors from England before and the organisers have it in their power to invite competitors…although it is safe to say that it will not include Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey!

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Details for this semi-final in `Paellas y Arroces´ page on Facebook.

This years concurso moves into the digital age with  three finalists to be decided amongst the professional chefs from Facebook Group `Paellas y Arroces´. This is a lively forum and the rules for applying are available in a post on that page. VÍ Vid often join in the discussions and post pictures of our own paellas.

The competition is open to the public and cooking commences around 12.00 in the park directly in front of Sueca station.

The next event will be held on 18 September in Saló la Font, near the beach in Tavernes de la Valldigna.

This is the first of two new concursos this autumn. The subject of the competition is Arros de la Valldigna, a traditional paella cooked most weekends by local families in the four neighbouring towns of Simat, Benefaió, Tavernes de la Valldigna and Xeraco.

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Paella de la Valldigna with `pelotas´.

This is the Northern end of the La Safor district where the local version of Valencian paella has additional permitted ingredients, pork rib, red pepper and little pork meatballs  (pelotas de putxero) as we recently reported in our review  of Kiko Port restaurant in Oliva.

Here in the Valldigna, 30 Km North of Oliva the recipe varies in that the  meatballs contain rabbit blood, proof it was needed of the variation of Valencian gastronomy we have often referred to!

Some 20 professionals  will compete in this first event and the judges will be drawn from the press, gastronomy critics and professional chefs.

The third competition will be held in Oliva on the 4th October where once again professionals from the sector and students from the local catering schools (CdT´s) will cook Cocas de Oliva.

The competition is organised by the Associaó de Amics-Gastronòmicos Les Coques de Oliva.

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Press conference announcing the Concurso de Cocas de Oliva

Normally in Concursos the competitors are required to cook with a set list of ingredients. However this event will be freestyle, competitors have to elaborate a coca, savoury or sweet, and submit photographs of the process to the judging panel. Then, the selected best ten will be invited to cook on the day of the final and the entries will be judged on creativity, originality and quality.

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Various Cocas in the style of Oliva

Cocas are found all over the Valencian Community, with differing ingredients and shapes, for example small and round in Oliva, rectangular and oval in Utiel-Requena where they are called `Bollo´ or large and rectangular in Castellon. All artisan bakers have their own version reflecting local traditions.

VÍ Vid hope to attend all three events this year and report further on Valencia´s rich gastronomy  which serve to keep the local variants alive and up to standard!

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