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June 12, 2015 Comments (2) Views: 2497 GFR Photo Essay

A Taste Of Catalonia (in Toronto)

 

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The mis en place for my ill-advised foray into the world of competitive Catalonian cooking…

Jamie Drummond: Last year Malcolm Jolley and I had the honour of being judges (alongside Chef Chris McDonald) at the Toronto Catalonian Society‘s annual cooking competition, and documenting it here for Good Food Revolution.

After a few too many glasses of wine I asked the assembled crowd if it would be possible for me to enter the competition myself in 2015.

Naturally I had forgotten all about this until just two weeks before the competition, and as I was returning from Italy a mere two days before the event itself, things were going to be very rushed indeed.

Having decided to make a Catalonian approximation of Capipota, I was run ragged dashing around Toronto in an effort to find ox cheeks and pig face… to no avail.

Circumventing tradition I found some beef short ribs and augmented them with some pig trotters. Now seeing at Capipota is often made with whatever is lying around, I didn’t feel that I was moving too far away from the authentic dish?

Unfortunately the judges thought otherwise, particularly the wife of the Spanish Consul, scoring me a big ZERO for authenticity… saying that, she gave me full marks for both flavour and presentation.

And when Chef Doug Penfold tells you that it was seriously tasty, you know that you must be doing something right!

I’m guessing that it was Malcolm’s scoring that was my downfall…

Malcolm: The Competition of Catalan Cuisine is one of Jamie’s and my favourite food events, bar none. The Casals dels Països Catalans de Toronto is a cozy storefront clubhouse at Dufferin and Eglinton and holds about 30 diners and competitors. Some are  Catalans who have lived in Canada for decades, and others ex-pats here for a little while that miss their home in Barcelona or elsewhere in Catalonia.

This year The Consul General of the Kingdom of Spain, Pablo Ruiz-Jarabo, attended the Sunday supper with his wife Sara. Sara joined me and chef Doug Penfold at the judging table along with the Casal’s President Josep Lluis Perez de Arce as an “advisor” explaining the cultural significance of each dish. (OK, Josep Lluis was really only advising me, but no matter.)

As usual the competition was fierce, but the top prize was unanimously awarded to an escalivada, the traditional dish of peppers and eggplant that is ubiquitous in the Catalan countries. And don’t worry Jamie, another 40 years of Catalan cooking practise and I am sure you’ll place!

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Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And despite not being completely authentic, was incredibly tasty.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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2 Responses to A Taste Of Catalonia (in Toronto)

  1. Dolores Smith says:

    Sounds wonderful. As an aside, am sure the flavours would have been enhanced by the use of a Catalan varietal olive oil versus a Tunisian per the yellow bottle on the table of olive oil! By the way, Spanish olive oil infrastructure has undergone a huge revolution over the last 10 years with incredible modernization of mills to the most highly engineered machinery, professional agronomists and master millers to obtain exquisite olive oils not possible by techniques of the past!

  2. Dolores Smith says:

    Oops… not to say in the previous post that Tunisian oil is of poor quality… but Spanish oils consistently now rank in the oils of the top 10 of the world when results of all international competitions each year are tabulated, and flavours from fruits, vegetables, etc., in a geographical region naturally pair nicely together.

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