Held in Girona this year but alternating with Santiago de Compostela, this gastronomic event has taken off in a big way considering it is not hosted in a large city. This week’s tragic news of the death of Santi Santamaria, one of the top chefs in Spain ever since being the first in Catalonia to get 3 Michelin stars at the Raco de Can Fabes in 1994 is being remembered by his public. He would have been at the Fòrum to comment and encourage the amazing progress of all things gastronomic in Spain and in particular here in Catalonia.
There are stands selling everything from fresh sea urchins or organic steaks delivered to your home as well as information on healthy diets. A perfect place to find products with a coveted local quality certificate and of course tasting the wide selection of foods on offer chased down with wines and cavas from all over Spain. The best part of the Fòrum are the dozens of workshops where you can learn about certain types of cooking and their preparation. There are general talks like blue fish from the Mediterranean and how to cook them or you can learn from top celebrity chefs like Charlie Trotter from Chicago who is here giving a masterclass.
Local boy Ferran Adria (El Bulli) is giving a presentation, the Roca brothers(El Celler de Can Roca) are here of course this being their home town as well as French and Japanese chefs to dazzle us with their skills and tastes.
If you have a chance to attend, the feast will continue until the 23rd of february.
So, to continue the preparation for my Catalan meal with 90 year old couple Sion and Lluis from La Pera which is about 20kms from Girona.
So far we have the onions baking in the fireplace, the sausages are being grilled on the fire and now it is time to toast the bread in the flames. Once this is done we are ready to get the onions out (1.5 hrs in the fire) and peel the burnt outside layers off until we have the soft and moist interiors perfectly cooked. Olive oil an salt are added and we take the broad beans off the cooker too and take everything to the table.
So we start with cutting a whole garlic clove in two and rubbing it on the toasted bread followed by specially grown juicy tomatoes which also get spread on the bread along with olive oil and a little salt and then you can add some of the dry sausage or cheese on top. This is called "pa amb tomàquet" and forms the base (or starter) for many Catalan dishes and is perfectly acceptable as a meal in itself.
The wine I brought as my contribution is served from the bottle although Sion prefers her own from the barrell they keep in the cellar and she drinks from a "porró" which is easier to see and understand in a photo (see photos attached). The cauliflower salad is also on the table being one that Sion had made a few weeks ago with red wine vinegar and consequently looks red and tastes great.
Sausages with a garlic sauce "alioli" and the broad beans follows and by this time we are feeling not only replete but very merry and after dessert of walnuts, hazelnuts and fresh fruit we need a walk around the village to let it all settle.
This meal was not quick at some 3 hours but will certainly be one of the more memorable for the quality of the ingredients and company! Thank you Sion and Lluis.