CBCI Goes to the Fòrum Gastronòmic Barcelona
Tasting a city’s cuisine is one of the best ways to understand the place, and to get immersed into its unique culture. There is no better place to experience this but in the region where some of the best chefs in the world find inspiration – Barcelona, Spain.
Every year, nearly 60,000 visitors flock to Barcelona to attend Fòrum Gastronòmic Barcelona, an annual fair where more than 400 brands gather to showcase their latest culinary products. The event includes live cooking shows and tastings, product presentations, themed talks and demonstrations given by experts in the field.
This year, I went to scope out new flavors and tastes that you’ll see popping up on restaurant menus and in grocery stores over the coming year. What were some of the most popular themes?
Next-Gen Molecular Gastronomy
There’s no better place than Spain to see the latest in molecular gastronomy, especially spherification. Spherification is the process of shaping a liquid into spheres using sodium alginate and either calcium chloride or calcium glucate lactate, which visually and texturally resemble roe. The caviar membrane is thin and easily bursts in your mouth, releasing the aroma of Spanish olive oil that has not been modified with any additives. What was new this year is the variety of flavored extra virgin olive oils turned into caviar such as basil, chili, garlic, hazelnut, rosemary, sesame, truffle and wasabi. Caviaroli-brand olive oil caviar can be used in any dish or dessert that requires olive oil. It is always better to combine it with soft textures so the unique texture and bursting of encapsulated olive oil stands out. Olive oil caviar is perfect for appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, salads, cold and hot soups, vinaigrettes and sauces. Expect to see chefs experimenting with other oils and flavor combinations.
Founded in 1967 as a family business, Sosa Ingredients manufactures premium ingredients for gastronomy and pastry including freeze-dried fruits, texturizers, natural plant extracts and essential oils exported to more than 50 countries. Their impressive “Home Chef” catalog (http://www.sosa.cat/catalogues/home_chef_2016.pdf) describes hundreds of products, many on display at the show. Their “Culinary Journey®” line of ethnic-inspired salsas were particularly tasty – I saw all the usual flavors including Chinese, Arab, Thai, Indian, Japanese and Mexican but it was unusual flavor profiles such as Peruvian, Turkish, Persian and Central European that really caught my attention. Look for next-generation condiments on American menus and grocery shelves later this year.
Decadently Healthy Desserts
Forget low-fat and sugar-free, you’ll need more than will power to resist these rich bite-size desserts. At the show, the trend was all about controlling portion size while creating new flavor combinations. Salted caramel was still in vogue, but I found some really unexpected vegetable flavors tucked into chocolate, ice cream and pastry confections. Vegetables, you say? Yes, it’s true. Corn, sweet potato, azuki bean, squash, seaweed and more found their way into chocolate centers, pastry fillings and edible garnishes. Not necessarily healthier, but certainly deliciously irresistible.
We can’t wait to see how these trends play out in the United States in 2017 and beyond.