Your Unlikely Food Blogger is still in a Spanish state of mind. Travelling with Food International’s CEO, Adel, to the 33rd annual Salon de Gourmets Food Expo in Madrid was a sensational experience.
I’ve attended three times before, but each time the number of exhibitors and visitors grow as does the glitz and glamour. And, of course, the range of amazing food products also increases – with more than 470,000 products on show. This year the expo had 1600 exhibitors and an estimated 93,000 visitors. Apparently King Carlos was there but I didn’t spot him doing any samplings.
The biggest overseas contingent was made up of Canadians and Americans, but I noticed among the international visitors this year, people from many countries who hadn’t attended before – such as Oman and Bangladesh. The interest from Pakistan and India also seems much stronger. Obviously the popularity of Spanish food is spreading globally!
The show highlighted innovations in Spanish food and culinary applications. But, as in other years it was the hundreds of different virgin olive oils – all from different olive varieties and regions of Spain – along with their famous ham (jamon) and many types of cheeses and wines which really dominated the expo. The country’s huge variety of fish and shellfish were also top runners.
For Food International, it was the selection of cheeses (el queso ) which was naturally a top priority. We found a gorgeous Brie, which we thought might fit the YOLO profile and are still debating if it would be suitable for New Zealand or not. The only problem there was that it has a strong cabbage-like aroma. In other words, IT STINKS.
We had to wrap it with three heavy bags in our hotel fridge and we could still get that gentle cabbage waft. But, for us the flavor was so incredibly rich and good, it was well worth it! We’ll keep you posted on that particular cheese.
Adel was particularly interested in the ‘heat and eat’ paella dishes (the readymade meals are very popular and of a very high quality), the different varieties of that classic Spanish cheese, Manchego, with the addition of truffles, garlic and even one style which has been washed in red wine. On offer too were wedges of Manchego cut in the classic Spanish triangle. We thought these would fit well with our YOLO assortment of sliced cheeses.
After the expo, we travelled into the province of La Mancha (famous birthplace of the legendary character, Don Quixote, who was always tilting at windmills) and home to that special breed of sheep which produce the milk for Manchego Cheese. We met with the Export Manager for one of the country’s top producers and toured their state-of-the-art factory.
It was beautiful countryside to travel through and plenty of those historic windmills Don Quixote was fighting in the famous legend, but I’m yet to see any Manchego sheep. The man at the Manchego factory said the sheep were kept “close to the home”. So obviously, they are more intensively farmed than their Kiwi counterparts for the milk to make Manchego – arguably Spain’s most famous cheese.
Other New Zealanders to attend the expo were Amelia Farras-Knowles of Auckland’s Iberian Foods, and Celebrity Chef, leading restaurateur and food importer, Simon Gault, of Sous Chef. Simon is pictured here with Adel and a Spanish exhibitor.
Both Simon and Amelia were also very impressed with the fair and excited about new export possibilities from Spain.
We hope you will continue to enjoy our products and keep in touch. Finding new and exciting food ideas from overseas is challenging and rewarding. We plan to have some new Spanish products in your pantry soon.
Adios YOLO Amigos,