Under the title “The purple gold of La Mancha” the Wall Street Journal has dedicated an extensive article about Spanish saffron, in particular the one that grows in the fields of Castilla La Mancha, granted Protected Designation of Origin in 2001.

It explains how the Moors, whose influence during the 8th century spread through Iberia and into southern France, are believed to have introduced the saffron crocus into central and southern Spain.

Manchegan saffron differs slightly from other varieties, and is recognized for its unique sweet aroma and vibrant red color. The flowers are picked by hand, the stigmas removed by fingernail and then quickly dried over a heat source like charcoal, a method that helps to retain its fiery flavor.

The article offers expert advice on how to recognize authentic saffron from geneticist Jose Antonio Fernandez, professor at the University of Castilla La Mancha. Saffron has long been a valued commodity, and has subsequently "been adulterated for centuries”.

“One way to ensure you are getting genuine saffron is to restrict purchases to a few European regions whose saffron has received protected geographical status from the European Union, and is marked by a seal”. When in doubt, he adds, "the best thing to do is use turmeric or paprika, which are both far preferable to fake or adulterated saffron”

Experts have high expectations on this year's crop in La Mancha, since 2011 has been "remarkable on both the quality and the quantity of plants, unusually high” says Professor Fernandez.

The land of Don Quixote has become so popular for its production of quality saffron that is now a new tourist attraction thanks to the Saffron Rose Festival. The event is held annually in Consuegra, a small town in the northwest of the region and attended by tourists and food lovers from around the world.

To read the full article, click HERE

The Michelin Guide Spain & Portugal 2012 has been launched. Every year, the popular guide awards one to three stars to a small percentage of restaurants and hotels of outstanding quality. One star indicates "a very good restaurant in its category," two stars "excellent cooking, worth a detour", and three stars “exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."

MICHELIN inspectors visit all establishments anonymously, pay their own bills and make their decisions independently. Stars are awarded on a consensus basis according to five criteria that are the same everywhere around the world: product quality, preparation and flavors, the chef's personality as revealed through his or her cuisine, value for money, and consistency over time and across the entire menu.

This year, five Spanish restaurants were awarded three stars: Akelare and Arzak in San Sebastián, Martín Berasategui in Lasarte-Oria (Guipúzcoa), Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar (Barcelona) and El Celler de Can Roca in Gerona. Despite the severe economic crisis Spain is facing, the 2012 edition includes a total of 14 additions (3 new two stars and 11 new one star). “Quality has improved and the true values of Iberian cuisine are reflected more fully than ever on restaurant menus” a Michelin representative has stated on a press release.

The MICHELIN guide Spain & Portugal application for iPhone or iPod Touch will go on sale in March 2012 for €7.99. It offers a complete presentation of each restaurant (including contact details, awards and amenities, opening periods, prices and comments). All you´ll need to do is locate it on a map, and you´ll be able to book a table directly via your iPhone. Then, share your experience with other gourmet dinners.

Gastrofestival arrives in Madrid

Monday, 23 January 2012 09:42

For 15 days in a row gastronomy will become the main course of the cultural agenda in the capital city. 

Starting January 23, the festival will pay tribute to the culinary art from multiple perspectives. Over 300 establishments will be involved to cover the vast program, distributed in five areas: Experiencias Sensoriales, Gastrocultura, Madrid GastronĂłmico, Gastrofashion, Gastrosalud y Enocultura. From menus prepared by international chefs at renowned hotels and restaurants throughout the city to culinary routes and wine tastings, the event will turn Madrid into a great feast for the senses.

On its third edition Gastrofestival introduces some new features. Activities aimed at highlighting the importance to develop healthy eating habits such as nutrition workshops, healthy cooking classes, organic menus in featured restaurants, and sophisticated beauty treatments with fruits, chocolate or spices are some of the most anticipated this  year.

And to probe gastronomy is an art such as painting, design and literature, Gastrofestival Madrid crosses the borders of professional kitchens to offer guided visits to museums, special promos in fashion, as well as a cycle of cinema dedicated to food at the National Film Archive.

Gastrofestival programme:

http://www.esmadrid.com/gastrofestival/index.php/es/ficha/2/programa

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