Spanish products are enjoying “an age of splendor” at the moment, as confirmed by events like Salón Gourmets in Madrid, the sector's leading trade fair. Participating in the day-to-day activities at this event, which concludes today, October 21st, is to see an endless display of products, from the impressive variety of fish on Spain’s coasts to the best Ibérico meats, as well as a wide range of organic products, from extra virgin olive oils to legumes.
As part of this great celebration of the best of Spanish gastronomy, every year Salón Gourmets chooses the best of the best—a selection of the most outstanding items from a group of already top-quality products. The Salón Gourmets awards recognize those products and people who stand out, and this year, after a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, anticipation to find out who and what won was greater than ever. These remarkable products were selected by leading figures from the gastronomy scene such as Verónica Puente, International Director of the FIAB; María Durán, Head of Communications at Hostelería de España; María Naranjo, Agri-Food Industry Director at ICEX; Íñigo Pérez, from Urrechu restaurant; Salomé Martínez, Deputy Director of Food, Wine and Gastronomy at ICEX; and Lourdes Cabido, from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
The award for innovation went to the suckling pig roll from Segovian company Cárnicas Tabladillo, which has been revolutionizing the way we eat this meat for several years, focused always on respect for the product and tradition. The product allows consumers to enjoy suckling pig but in a different format than usual, boneless and with its crispy exterior and tender meat. The award for best presentation went to the commemorative box of the first trip the world, from Sevillian company La Despensa de Palacio, with a wide assortment of sweets, from polvorones to mantecados made with the very best ingredients.
Cecinas Pablo's cecina chips offer a novel way to eat this product, and it took home the award for versatility. The award for the best organic product went to an organic pisto that "tastes like home," a vegetable recipe from Cascajares. The best product of this edition was also announced, and it went to the still relatively unknown wines from Cebreros PDO, in Ávila.
Renowned chefs and many competitions in search of the best professionals and products
There has been a full-on parade of renowned Spanish chefs since the conference began. The famous Torres brothers, whose Barcelona restaurant boasts two Michelin stars, demonstrated the versatility of truffles in a cooking demo where the public enjoyed dishes such as red egg salad, mushroom sand and Tuber melanosporum truffle, and pork jowel millefeuille with truffle and roots. The thriving cuisine of Castile-La Mancha also had an exceptional ambassador: Carlos Maldonado, the Michelin-star chef behind Raíces restaurant, who gave a demonstration using regional products.
The traditional competitions, in addition to seeking out the best in each discipline, have also highlighted Spain's impressive culinary repertoire. Using quality products is as important as knowing how to use them. That's why competitions such as the Tierra de Sabor sommelier contest, won by Gabriel Lucas from the Balearic Islands, are becoming increasingly important due to the need for top professionals who understand and can convey the richness of Spanish wines. Savel Cheese from Airas Moniz Galician producer was named best Spanish artisan cheese in a competition that shined a light on the enormous variety of cheeses in Spain. There was only one winner, but all of the candidates could have won. The Salón Gourmets is closing its doors until 2022: this year's event was special because it was in person following last year's hiatus and it provided a confirmation that Spanish gastronomy is shining brighter than ever.