Chef Víctor Martín and Cillar de Silos Winery in Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Viajes&Vinos.
25 Nov 2015
A week-long agenda of delightful wines and culinary talent from Spain.
Coinciding with the 522nd anniversary of the day Christopher Columbus landed in Puerto Rico’s West Coast one November 19th, the food and wine flavors from Castile-León disembarked in San Juan for a new encounter that help build up a bridge of friendship that united two worlds of taste.
Author: Rosa María González Lamas/©ICEX
Spanish Chef Víctor Martín was the guest of Puerto Rican’s five-star Condado Vandebilt hotel and its Executive Chef Juan Cuevas, who joined their culinary talents for a series of dinners at renowned 1919 Restaurant, where Castile-León winery Cillar de Silos was host to the most discerning palates who delighted in a glamorous tasting experience paired with exquisite Tempranillo reds from Ribera Del Duero DO.
Martín leads Trigo, a restaurant located near Valladolid’s Cathedral where he performs a cuisine based on seasonality and quality ingredients, assembled in a contemporary fashion. He attended culinary school in Santiago de Compostela and Madrid, and thereafter worked at various Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain, including Can Fabes, where he met Vanderbilt’s Executive Chef Juan Cuevas, whom he rejoined for a four-hand performance that created a bridge of flavors between Spain and Puerto Rico, and a mirror of the professional evolution of both chefs after their experience working under the mentorship of Santi Santamaría. Cuevas, who also worked with Pedro Subijana and Alain Ducasse, and was selected by the International Academy of Gastronomy as Chef de l’Avenir in 2007, has a distinct culinary style depicted by its classy elegance, its reverence to produce, and a condiment of his Spanish memoires, where technique and products as saffron, pimentón, or olive oil to name a few, intermingle with local and luxury flavors from the world.
This was Martín’s third visit to Puerto Rico, where last year he also was the guest of luxurious 1919 Restaurant and Cillar de Silos. Roberto Aragón, owner of this family-owned winery joined the chefs at their stellar duo performances. Two tasting dinners and a media lunch delighted diners with a menu in which both chefs’ creativity intermingled, revealing their well defined culinary styles and tantalizing palates with their sophistication and clean flavors.
Martín introduced the tasteful extravaganza with a spongy roll version of a Martini cocktail, and a crunchy bite stuffed with ensaladilla rusa. This was followed by Cuevas’ creation of a tuna tartare crowned with caviar, which was paired with Cillar de Silos’ El Quintanal 2012, a Verdejo wine from Rueda DO. The gastronomic experience went on with Martín’s porcini cream with codfish “callos” and cecina, Cuevas’ sublime interpretation of a Puerto Rican pastel, and Martín’s elegantly minimalist version of venison and chestnuts. The Spanish chef’s grand finale was sweet, a construction of cherry sorbet, yogurt and licorice sponge cake, which recreated some wine traits. Some of these dishes were also available at the restaurant during the week of November 16th through the 22nd.
The culinary creations from both chefs were paired with the silky and fruit-forward Tempranillo wines from Cillar de Silos, a family winery located in Quintana del Pidio, in the Burgos axis of Ribera del Duero DO. Its wines have been some of the best valued wines from Ribera Del Duero DO since they entered the Puerto Rican market fourteen years ago. Cillar de Silos Crianza, Flor de Silos, and Torresilo, all from the 2011 vintage attested the magnificence of the Tempranillo grape in Ribera Del Duero through the different expressions it was capable of revealing based on the various terroirs where the grapes were grown and the vinification and aging these dictated for the wines.
The Puerto Rican has been the only market where the winery has partnered with Chef Martín to bring the food and wine flavors from Castile-León to an international audience. In the Americas, Cillar de Silos is also present in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Perú, Canada and the United States. During his stay in San Juan, Aragón also led a wine tasting for the Friends of the Wines From Spain Association.
As a result of Martín’s visit to Puerto Rico last year, some of Condado Vanderbilt’s chefs travelled to Spain to train under his helm at Trigo. Plans are for chefs of Trigo’s staff to visit Puerto Rico to work with Chef Cuevas.
Víctor Martín will be visiting Mexico next March to continue exchanging skill, talent and Spanish inspiration with gastronomes in the Americas.