DESIGNING TAPAS AROUND ALTAMIRAS’S FLAVOURS
At the beginning of 2017 the Ayuntamiento or town-hall of La Almunia de Doña Godina, Altamiras’s birthplace, began organizing historic cookery workshops to prepare for events celebrating the publication of the book. I was asked to lend a hand, giving a couple of not-for-profit workshops explaining different approaches to the recreation of historic flavours. A dozen cooks and chefs from the town’s bars and restaurants attended each workshop: the first was focussed on recreating dishes or three-course menus from the book, while the second, with more experience in tapas, looked at ways of reviving his flavours. We also identified two practical priorities. One was budget: all the cooks needed to avoid any economic risk involved in buying expensive perishable produce. A second was ease of preparation, portioning and pricing. To show how simple it can be to improvise I made a couple of short-order tapas for the second workshop: baby rye-bread canapés topped with artichoke cream and seared jamón iberico, and goat’s cheese, saffroned onion sofrito, and black olive paste tartlets. The goat’s cheese, used as the base of the tartlet’s filling, prevents the sofrito’s juices softening the tartlet’s pastry base while the onion and olive paste make a bold, earthy combination reminiscent of the landscapes of Altamiras’s and Goya’s homeland. At the end of the workshop we ate the tapas with a PDO Cariñena wine – and they disappeared in only a few minutes! Thanks to the ongoing support of Jose Carlos Martín, chef-proprietor of El Patio, and town councillor José Manuel Latorre Martínez, the project has left a legacy: every year the town’s bars and restaurants come up with new tapas, which are offered for a week or so on a grazing route running alongside the Juan Altamiras Festival.