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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

The setting is Bunol spain in the heart of Valencia. It is early morning on the last Wednesday in August and the streets of Bunol are clean, quiet and deserted. But that won’t last for long because today is the festival of La Tomatina. When the shot from a starting pistol pierces the air at 11:00 a.m. mayhem will reign and the streets will begin to run red with the flesh and juices of ripe tomatoes being hurled at anyone who finds himself on the street.

For 60 years, the town of Buñol has been home to La Tomatina which started in the forties when some friends started a tomato fight in the main square for reasons no longer known. Over the years La Tomatina has evolved into a weeklong celebration that culminates in a battle where the townspeople (and over 20 thousand tourists from around the world) pelt each other with ripe tomatoes brought in by the truck loads specifically for this event.  The days leading up to the short but epic battle are filled with parades, fireworks, food and street parties.

la tomatina bunol spainGood, Messy Fun

Then, early Wednesday morning, shopkeepers and business owners along the Plaza start covering windows and doors in preparation for the messy battle. Large trucks rumble up the cobblestone streets, arriving in the crowd-filled square and, from the back of these huge trucks, official instigators begin the tomato tirade by pelting the awaiting warriors with their vegetable cargo: sloppy, squishy tomatoes from the four corners of Spain. The revelers take up the battle call and about a half an hour and 150,000 tomatoes later everyone reconciles with their former targets and heads to the river to clean up.

tomato bread from CataloniaTake Tomatina to You

We’re not suggesting that you wage your own tomato war, but La Tomatina is so much fun. Why not host a Tomatina themed party or dinner during the month of August?  The cuisine of Spain offers so many recipes that are perfect for your Tomatina fun.  Start out with a Catalonian Pa amb Tomaquet (tomato bread) and Gazpacho or Salmorejo.  Serve Paella Valenciana, typical of the region where Buñol is located, and traditionally served during the Tomatina street parties. The tomato is a key ingredient in so many Spanish dishes you’ll have not difficulty putting together an appropriate menu. Just be careful if your guests arrive with bags of overripe tomatoes and a mischievous gleam in their eyes.  You might just have a messy Tomato fight on your hands.

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The Life of an Alpine Goat on Santa Gadea Farm

French Alpine Goats

French Alpine Goats on Santa Gadea Farm

You are a French Alpine goat living on Santa Gadea Farm in a valley, near Burgos in Castilla y Leon, Spain. Go ahead, picture it. You live on 2,500 acres of land along with 999 of your best goat buddies, as well as deer, wild pigs, foxes, wild cats and even Egyptian vultures. Quite a cosmopolitan mix! You make your home in a unique region that is halfway between humid, Northern Spain and dry, Mediterranean Spain. It is land of rocky peaks and naked valleys, blanketed with snow during the winter and abundantly green during the summer. You spend your days grazing in beautiful organic pastures that are completely absent of transgenic or chemical fertilizers.

Winter in the Valley

Can you picture it?  You are the envy of other French Alpine goats not lucky enough to live on Santa Gadea Farm. You have been selected by Alfonso Perez-Andujar to help him fulfill his dream to build a sustainable goat cheese farm from scratch. Your organic milk is used to make creamy, artisan cheeses like Santa Gadea No1 and Santa Gadea No2. You contribute your milk to the making of delicious cheeses that are produced sustainably, with a positive impact on the environment.  If goats could drive I’m sure you’d own a hybrid car!

Santa Gadea Cheese

Santa Gadea Cheese

The cheese called Santa Gadea No1 is creamy, rich and smooth with a multi-dimensional flavor that lingers on the palate. It is a soft white moldy medallion covering a smoot and creamy paste. Santa Gadea No2 is has fresh, rich aromas, begins its life with mild flavors and finishes with a sharper taste. It is a short, ivory colored cheese with a clay-like rind and an almost fluid center. 

When you think of people around the world serving your cheese with fresh or dried fruit, some almonds, crunchy artisanal bread and a glass of crisp white wine, how can you not be the proudest French Alpine goat in Castilla y Leon, Spain?

Okay, snap out of it. You’re no longer a goat but I hope we’ve left you with the urge to try these wonderful cheeses.  We look forward to the imminent arrival of these cheeses as part of our campaign to celebrate the foods of Castilla y Leon.

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coca castle castilla y leon

Coca Castle Castilla y Leon

Known as the magical land of castles, Castilla y Leon is the region that gave birth to the Spanish language, the legendary hero El Cid and Saint Teresa of Avila. It is a land where ancient history, myth and legend have become so intertwined that it is hard to separate reality from fairytales.   Castilla y Leon is home to some of Spain’s most magnificent buildings and stunning scenery such as the walls of Avila, the cathedral of Burgos, the University of Salamanca and the aqueduct of Segovia.

The Cuisine of Castilla y Leon

The spectacular gastronomy of Castilla y Leon is an expression of this history, culture and landscape.  Traditional foods such as complex asados (roasts), magical potajes (stews), and spiritual dulces (sweets) coexist with avant-garde recipes using the treasured Iberico fresh meats, delicate cheeses and cheese accompaniments and characteristic vegetables of the region. The foods from Castilla y Leon are just like the people from this region of Spain: solid, authentic, natural, intense and enigmatic. Are you ready to experience more?

Stay Tuned for More on Castilla y Leon

During the next few months, A LA PLANCHA will feature the foods from Castilla y Leon, from Iberico and Serrano ham to artisanal cheeses and traditional tapas foods like the tortilla Española.  And of course, we must start with the king of Spain’s cuisine, Iberico ham.  We’re not holding back. We’re not saving the best for last. Here it is.

The Treasures of Castilla y Leon

Iberico Ham

The iconic Jamon Iberico (Iberico ham) is considered one of the world’s culinary treasures together with truffles and caviar.  It is made from a pure breed of pig exclusive to Spain called the Iberico pig which ranges freely in an ecosystem characterized by expansive pastureland spotted with Oak and cork trees called la Dehesa. The Iberico pig’s diet of acorns and rich grasses transfers its aromas and flavor to its meat, transforming it into a delicious morsel that melts in your mouth. The taste and texture is different from any other cured meat in the world.

Iberico Ham in a Fairy Tale Kingdom

La Alberca, Spain

La Alberca, Spain

I recently had the opportunity to travel to La Alberca in Castilla y Leon to visit the home of Fermin, maker of Iberico and Iberico de Bellota hams, as well as Iberico Lomo, Serrano Ham and Serrano Lomo. Yes, I was impressed by the spotless, state of the art facilities, but what really made an impact on me was the family that runs the company and the land they call home.

The three generations of family that run Fermin have a unique relationship with the land. They are well aware of the importance of caring for the land called the Dehesa that gives the Iberico pig life and makes the Iberico Ham what it is.

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Iberico Ham on Columbus DayFestivities Fit for a King

Last week we celebrated the anniversary of the day that Christopher Columbus first set foot in the Americas. Here in the United States we call it Columbus Day. Schools are closed, cities host parades and those of us who have to work grumble about it.  In Spain the day is called Fiesta Nacional, or National Day of Spain, and it is also celebrated with a parade. But not just an ordinary parade,  in Madrid the parade is presided over by a member of Spain’s royal family, King Juan Carlos I.  Here in Chicago, Solex Partners celebrated the day with the Spanish Consul, 200 happy Spaniards and a Jamon Iberico de Bellota. Madrid had the King of Spain, we had the king of hams! And the Jamon Iberico de Bellota, or Pata Negra, truly is an example of porcine royalty. 

Food Around the World

As you can tell, in the Solex world everything ties back to food. So, Columbus Day got me thinking about our bounty of old and new world foods, and the wonderful results of their coming together. By the time Columbus left Spain with the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, the country already had a long and delicious culinary history. Beautiful cheeses like Manchego have thousands of years of history behind them. Today, the rind of the Manchego is still characterized by a braided pattern that harkens back to the grass baskets that were originally used to cure the cheese.Manchego Cheese I could talk for hours about foods that are synonymous with Spain like chorizo, paella, and olive oil! But let’s talk new world foods.

 

Old World Meets New

The new world offered new and (then) exotic foods like the tomato, the potato, chocolate and vanilla. These foods would change the face of Spain’s and the world’s gastronomy forever. Juicy, red tomatoes are the signature ingredient for Spain’s cool and velvety gazpacho.  And who can imagine the tasty Tortilla Espanola without the potatoes that give it that extra firmness? Finally, what would the churro be without its friend, melted, gooey chocolate? They are two foods that were made for each other! Just like Spanish and new world foods.

Churros and Chocolate

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Nalas - Campaig

The recently announced, “Castilla y León 2010 Campaign” began on May 15 in the town of Green Bay, WI. As hosts for the opening of the campaign, we had the collaboration of our friends and partners, Nalas Fromagerie, cheese experts that made known our products to their loyal clients. Entering Nalas, as they define themselves, transports you into the atmosphere of a small village in southern France, but with the personal touch and extensive culinary culture of our neighbors from the state of cheese, Wisconsin.

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Nalas Fromagerie.Last weekend, Solex team members  representatives from the government of Castilla y León and our friends from Nalas, crossed the Pyrenees to settle in central Spain between castles, pigs and artisan cheese producers. In this village in southern Europe, we tasted products like: the best manchego cheese (Senorio de Montelarreina), the robust Zamorano D.O. and “for which to me is being the rookie of the year in USA”, the Covadonga blue cheese, is a blended and fresh cheese on which we will elaborate soon (it deserves an exclusive post!).

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.As a perfect compliments to a tasting on a retailer specializing in cheeses, the Marcona Almonds, the Quince Paste and Tortas (Cheese accompaiments) allowed us to experiment with new combinations and complementary flavors … preferred by our customer, are: Manchego cheese with Marcona Almonds and Blue Covadonga with our olives (good ideas for your menus and shelves!).

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.By late afternoon, we returned to Chicago even with the taste in our mouths of the Spanish bite, grateful to our partners of Nalas (Allan, Dotty, Pablo …) and satisfied to see their clients with bags full of Solex products ready to enjoy their bit of Spain at home with loved ones.Nalas Fromagerie

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The campaign has only just begun,

We will announce our upcoming events in restaurants, retail and distributors,

There’s still time to join us, please contact us if you wish!

Do you know the Region of Castilla y León and its great products?

Please let us know! We would love to hear from you…

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Ignacio Arevalo
Solex Business Development Manager
Member of a team focused on our customers,
Member of a team specialist on our products

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mayor daley 3

Solex JDY Team with Mayor Daley: Ana, Karrie, Eva, Isabel, Richard Daley, Rocio, Guillermo

Eva Trias with Richard Daley

Eva Trias with Richard Daley

Guillermo Trias, Mayor Daley, Eva Trias and Alberto Solis from Fermin

Guillermo Trias, Mayor Daley, Eva Trias and Alberto Solis from Fermin

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It was one of the best culinary events in a long time! Lucky was everybody that had the privilege to follow the invitation of the French Pastry School in Chicago, celebrating the final evening of the workshop with two of the most recognized pastry masters: Paco Torreblanca and Oriol Balaguer. Get inspired by just viewing the images about their work on their website!

panorama torreblanca

Guillermo and Christoph with Paco Torreblanca and Oriol Balaguer

One felt literally like in heaven, walking from table to table and room to room where all the dessert creations of these masters were not only displayed but also to try. It was overwhelming and I now realize that I should have written down all the compositions to experience.

Some of the most exciting desserts creations indicated were not only the trend of of the evening is going: Spain originating ingredients like saffron in custard, extra virgin olive oil on chocolate cream or even a olive-mint-strawberry salad with frozen cream.

Even the more traditional desserts, cakes and even fresh-baked breads, seemed like something you’ve never tried before with such delicious flavor. (Although after all that dessert tasting there was the fresh baked bread station that was accompanied with some gold-medal-winning Manchego and chorizo from Solex – and that was just holding up against the master’s desserts!)

All admiration and thank for arranging such a top-class event goes to the French Pastry School and its leaders Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sebastien Canonne. The attention of detail and highest art that this event showed was simply amazing.

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