In one corner there's a demonstration of how to prepare anchovies from Santoña, and just a few feet away there's a truffle tasting. In another corner, almost a hundred Spanish artisan cheeses are on display, waiting to be tasted so the best in Spain can be chosen, while a group of ham carvers from Dehesa de Extremadura PDO test their skills in a ham carving competition... The great jewels of Spanish gastronomy were in the spotlight, as they should be, on the first day of the 34th edition of Salón Gourmets, one of Europe's leading agri-food sector events. More than 37,000 products from all over Spain, from beef to honey from different places, to legumes such as alubias and delicious gildas, are being showcased at a unique event that runs until Thursday, October 21st.
Lara Sanjuán/@Grupo Gourmets
As part of #AlimentosdeEspaña, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) presented, "The richest country in the world," with a privileged space for raising the profile of the very best products from Spain. This included cooking demos, talks, presentations and, of course, the traditional Wine and Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tunnels, and this year a Fish Tunnel was featured too, focused on raising awareness about the incredible variety of fish on Spain's coasts and highlighting a selection of gear and tools used by fishermen.
Beside it was the Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tunnel, which aims to connect the Spanish oil industry and the public in a way that is both educational and entertaining. Through this interactive installation, attendees try to recognize a range of oils' different aromas. In addition to being able to taste oils from the 32 Spanish designations of origin, the Olive Oil Tunnel includes singular, minority, organic varieties and "Alimentos de España" award winners from the last two years. In this edition, visitors will be able to enjoy the first "juices" from early harvest olives, with a sparkling bright green color and which have been freshly extracted during the current season, which is beginning just now.
Lara Sanjuán/@Grupo Gourmets
There's also the Wine Tunnel, which is celebrating its silver jubilee with its 25th edition. "In addition to promoting responsible wine consumption, there's a cultural part of the Wine Tunnel which seeks to show the area where each grape is grown and the type of wine which is obtained from it. Here we can find the most representative varieties, but we're not ruling out the inclusion of grapes currently being recovered in future editions," explains Javier Fuster Ibañez, sommelier and collaborator with MAPA on the Wine Tunnel. The organization by type of grape allows visitors to get a glimpse of Spain's wine-growing richness, from Tempranillo to Chardonnay and from Prieto Picudo to Palomino Fino.
Top chefs and competitions of all kinds
Spanish gastronomy's main ambassadors were also at the conference. In pavilion 8 at the Ifema Convention Center in Madrid, 3-Michelin-star chef Quique Dacosta spoke about Arroz de Valencia PDO, and a few feet away, ricemaking expert Vicente Rioja prepared a paella live. Pepe Rodríguez, a Michelin-star chef and judge on the Spanish talent show MasterChef, received an award in the afternoon for raising the profile of Spanish game meat with his cooking.
@ Arroz de Valencia PDO
Some of the event's most traditional competitions were also held on opening day, such as the 27th edition of the Dehesa de Extremadura PDO ham carvers' competition. This was a demanding event in which each participant had to use his or her skills to get the best out of each of the different parts of the ham. In the end, the winner was Jorge Díaz, from Santiago de Compostela. And where there's Spanish ham, there's also cheese. Spain's artisan cheese competition highlighted this product's incredible diversity. The tasters will have the chance to sample the cheeses during the conference, and Spain's best artisan cheese will be announced when it concludes on October 21st. As expected, these competitions were the activities that drew the largest crowds. A celebration of the best Spanish products that will last for three days—full of flavor and quality—in Madrid.