I taste some amazing Spanish cheeses at Gastrolopia’s presentation

I was lucky enough to be in Barcelona for the presentation of an interesting project in the field of gastronomy: it is called Gastrolopia and it operates as a sort of marketing and event-organizing umbrella for several specialty food and drink brands in Spain.

The event was actually a showcase for several of these products: top quality smoked fished, cava (Catalonia’s answer to Champagne), premium gin & tonic and cheeses from the Northern Spanish region of Asturias…

One of the highlights of the event was being able to taste some of the best artisan cheeses from Asturias: Gamoneu and Afuega’l Pitu

Gamoneu is a cheese from Asturias

a close look at Gamoneu cheese and its crumbly texture

Gamoneu cheese (Queso Gamonedo), a strong mature cheese from the mountains of Asturias, in Northern Spain, is not among Spain’s most well known cheeses, not just when compared to the ubiqutous Manchego but also in comparison to other Asturian cheeses, like the very strongly flavoured blue Cabrales DOP, and there is a good reason for this public scarcity: only a few artisan producers make Gamoneu cheese these days. The result is a combined production of around 2000kg. per year. The uniqueness of Gamoneu cheese is recognized by a Protected Designation of Origin.

Gamoneu cheese has a point of smokiness and it has also a very crumbly texture. It has also some blue marks, however, and unlike its more famous Asturian cheese, Cabrales cheese DOP, Gamoneu can not really be qualified as a “blue cheese”, since its “blueness” is quite variable and unique to each wheel of cheese. Not even the cheesemaker knows how blue it is until it’s open!

Another interesting cheese is Afuega’l Pitu, smaller in size, this Asturian cheese enjoys also protected designation of origin status, but this is not a obstacle for producers to experiment with several variants of this cheese, in particular, and in addition to the traditional white sort, we could also taste an orange Afuega’l Pitu (see in the picture).

Quesos de Asturias: Gamonedo y Afuegal Pitu

Asturian flavour: Gamoneu (left) and Afuegal Pitu (with "pimentón") (right)

The reason this Afuega’l Pitu is orange is that “pimentón”, a typical Spanish condiment made of paprika, was added during its production process.

By the way, I was told that producers are experimenting with the idea to create a “blue” Afuegal Pitu, that would be a bit similar to Stilton cheese…really looking forward to taste it too!

Visiting Russia’s largest honey exhibition

I happened to be in Moscow for the largest honey exhibition in Russia…an amazing experience…imagine a very large Soviet-era  exhibition hall full with stalls where honey producers from the four corners of Russia were displaying their produce.

A bit like traveling through the largest planet on Earth through its many types of honey!

So bad that my Russian is not (yet) good enough to be able to communicate with all those honey producers, almost none of whom spoke English (or any other foreign language for that matter), so I can not provide a more detailed account of all different varieties and qualities of honey available in Russia!

But here is a picture of the sort of thing you can find you can find at a Russian honey fair:

Honey from Russia

Looks like ice-cream but it is, actually, honey!

Working on our new site

GourmetOrigins.com logo

Regular visitors to this site might have noticed that we have not been updating this blog for some time now…there is a reason for that: we are very busy working on the new GourmetOrigins.com!

Well, maybe in saying a “new site” I might be exaggerating a bit, since the basic working of the site are going to remain the same, but there will be plenty of novelties making of GourmetOrigins.com an even better site for both our clients and our community of artisan producers.

Still too early to get into the details, but…watch this space! Coming back with news soon!

 

 

 

 

Interview with wild truffle expert Nigel Whitehouse, of Truffle Hunter

TruffleHunter sells English and Italian truffles

The Truffle Hunter Team

Last Saturday I wrote about how truffles seem to have become really popular lately, and I took the chance also to introduce one of the latest producers to join our marketplace, Truffle Hunter, whose name is self-explanatory, they are wild truffle specialists. So, I contact Nigel, the manager at Truffle Hunter, to try to learn more about the truffle business and their products. Here is the interview:

Nigel, could you please tell us a bit more about your story? How did you get into the truffle business?

I was living in Italy in Le Marche renovating an old farmhouse and planting some grapes, when I fell in love with Truffles.  I started selling fresh truffles from there into the UK and then realised that there was no-one making truffle products in the UK, so I saw an opportunity to start my own business which has always been a dream of mine  

How many people work at Truffle Hunter? 

We are a small family business, my sister is the Sales Director, and we have 3 staff that live in our local village, including a production manager, and other production and dispatch team members. 

If you had to define your truffles in just one sentence, what would that be?

TruffleHunter quality simply cannot be beaten.

Buy White Truffles

A fresh wild white truffle (Picture: Truffle Hunter)

What makes your products stand out?

Incredible flavour profiles, second to none, but at price points that are accessible.

Of all your range what is your favourite product? why?

Probably our Preserved Truffle products, they offer the chance of incredible truffle flavours all year round at accessible prices.  Or maybe our English Truffle Oil, as this is absolutely unique, the only one in the world !  Its made with English Truffles and Stainswick Farm Cotswold Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil

What is the connection between your products and the territory? I guess in your case this link is particularly important… 

We mainly use Italian Truffles to make our products, but where possible we use local Cotswold artisan ingredients or even English Truffles.  

Have your truffles won any awards?

We have just won a Guild of Fine Foods Gold Taste award for our Black Truffle Butter 

 

 

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We are on the Christmas issue of sisterMagazine

cover of sistermagazine

GourmetOrigins.com is featured on sisterMAG

A magazine worth checking out!

We are very happy that sisterMAG a tasteful lifestyle magazine for women has decided to feature us on their Christmas issue. On pages 164 through 167 we have had the chance to explain our entrepreneurial adventure and how we are creating an online marketplace for Europe’s most unique (and tasteful!) foods.

Besides the fact that we are there, sisterMAG is worth a read, it’s full of interesting ideas and suggestions that I am sure will inspire you these holidays!

 

 

Corporate canteens embracing food provenance

Know where milk is sourced from

In case you still had any doubts...!

It is not only supermarkets and pubs that are becoming more “food provenance-aware”. Corporate canteens are also providing more transparent information about the sourcing of the ingredients they use. Not a small move, considering how many people eat at least one of their meals while at the workplace!

foods from aroudn the world at the workplace

...but there is a place for diversity too!

more transparency about food sourcing

The key point: more transparency about food sourcing

When it comes to food, British pubs are going local

British provenance of foods highlighted at this pub

Going local, no exceptions made

I saw this at the entrance of a pub in London a few days ago and I thought “wow!”. This is quite a strong statement, in one way I think it’s a good thing that consumers, retailers and restaurateurs are adding transparency to the sourcing process and caring more about the provenance and production standards of the foods they serve, on the other hand, made me think about the implications of food provenance information as a sort of potential barrier to the free flow of products.

I personally take a sort of “neutral” towards the provenance of foods. In short, I like to be informed about the sourcing and the specific features that derive from that provenance, but I also like to have access to produce from a diversity of sources…These considerations get actually more complex once you start factoring in things like food miles and proximity shopping which for some products might make perfect sense, maybe less so for others…and for some businesses, like, let’s say, a very authentic British pub or a French bakery it makes also perfect sense to highlight its sourcing from a limited range of places.

Anyway, this is complex stuff, with many political and marketing implications, what I think it’s important is that people get access to more and more information about the sorucing of foods and that they are able to craft an “experience” around this whenever they consume these products…