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[Diplomatic circuit] Leading Spanish chefs, sommelier offer a glimpse of country’s healthy cuisine

By Kim Bo-gyung
  • Published : Nov 11, 2019 - 14:58
  • Updated : Nov 11, 2019 - 14:58

From gambas al ajillo to paella to iberico pork, Spanish cuisine has become familiar here thanks to a surge in South Korean tourists visiting the country on vacation and honeymoon.

However, there are a number of common misconceptions here about Spanish food -- that Spanish dishes are heavy on sodium and that olive oil, the majority of which is produced in Spain, is not suitable for frying.

Dispelling such misconceptions was the aim of the second Spanish Extravaganza Festival held at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul last week. 

(From left to right) Michelin star chefs Miguel Barrera Barrachina and Ignacio Solana Perez; tapas gurus Maria Varela and Alvaro Villasante; Spain’s top sommelier, Jon Andoni Rementeria; and paella master Emilio Miralles Serrano make the “finger-heart” sign in a photo session during the Spanish Extravaganza press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel in central Seoul, Nov 7. (Kim Bo-gyung/The Korea Herald)

“The Spanish extravaganza event was organized as a way to share Spanish gastronomy with the world. We have good natural products thanks to our fertile and varied lands. We also have original ways of preparing them, which is the result of the influence of many different cultures: Jewish, Arabic, Christian, Roman, etc. This results in a healthy and diverse gastronomy based on a plentiful Mediterranean diet,” an official at the Spanish Embassy in Seoul told The Korea Herald.

“From the Economic and Trade Office of the Embassy of Spain, we want to share such strong points with the world, especially so with Koreans. We have many similarities, so we believe that the Spanish pantry and the originality of our recipes will be appreciated by the people in Korea,” the official added.

The Economic and Trade Office of the Embassy of Spain took part in organizing the event and wrapped up the festival with a trade fair on Monday with the participation of some 30 Spanish food and wine companies and five local importers.

Five award-winning Spanish chefs -- Michelin star chefs Miguel Barrera Barrachina and Ignacio Solana Perez, tapas gurus Maria Varela and Alvaro Villasante and paella master Emilio Miralles Serrano -- offered a culinary tour of Spain during the four-day event.

“When it comes to cooking I usually use ingredients that I have at hand,” Barrachina told The Korea Herald.

“I also try to give a more give avant-garde touch when cooking. I would use different techniques for the same traditional products. … I always try to innovate with a traditional base,” he added.

The industry-leading group of chefs and one sommelier offered bespoke tapas and paellas as well as Michelin-level fine dining paired with Spanish wine by Jon Andoni Rementeria, named the best Spanish sommelier of 2018, at the hotel’s Boccalino restaurant.

By Kim Bo-gyung (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com)