The chef called it cazuela de fideos, a seafood and noodle casserole that belongs to Malaga’s traditional kitchen. But, hoo boy, this was nothing like any cazuela I’d seen before.
|"Noodles" with sea bass.|
These were several of the demos I attended at a three-day gastronomy forum, Foro Gastroarte, that took place in Málaga last week. The Gastroarte collective is made up of a group of 23 top chefs and culinary professionals from Andalusia (southern Spain). Among them is Málaga’s own Dani Garcia, whose Restaurante Calima in Marbella has two Michelin stars. Dani recently opened Manzanilla Spanish Brasserie in New York City http://www.manzanillanyc.com .
I enjoyed the “show cooking” and marveled at the modernist appliances and clever use of ingredients. I especially liked the wit and humor of these chefs, who are using the basic products from the sea, farms and pastures of Andalusia to create wondrous new dishes. But, I am not likely to whip up any “air” of plankton, nor cook my sea bass sous vide nor freeze beef marrow in a PacoJet.
Luckily, I found that Chef Dani Garcia's modernist genius is grounded in the traditional kitchen--that of his mother. His recently published (in Spanish) EN LA COCINA DE MI MADRE, In My Mother’s Kitchen—Recipes and tips recalling timeless flavors, has recipes that are easily made in the home kitchen.
“I seek ideas and new concepts framed by my memory,” writes Dani. "Lentils with cheese, cuttlefish roe, rice with a rabbit that my father hunted. A family legacy, a mixture of tradition and improvisation, fusion and necessity.”
|Thick-skinned mature lemons are almost sweet.|
“Ah ha,” says I. “So that’s what to do with those huge, thick-skinned lemons still on the tree.” I went out to the garden and picked a few of the “old” lemons, cut into one and tasted. Absolutely, the sharpness has receded, so the fruit tastes almost sweet. Brilliant. (The tree has huge mature fruit, thin-skinned green lemons and fragrant blossoms, all at the same time.)
|Salad of lemons, salt, olive oil and mint.|
Dani’s recipe is simplicity itself—peel the lemons, cut them in sections, sprinkle with salt and plenty of extra virgin olive oil. His mom suggests sprigs of mint to garnish. And, if the lemons should be very tart, a pinch of sugar.
|Ajetes are baby garlic shoots.|