This is one in a series of re-posts from past travels by Culinary Collective team members. Culinary Collective travels the world to find the very best gourmet traditional foods, supporting small producers who have strong ties to their lands and their communities. We hope you enjoy the journey as much as the ultimate destination – delicious food!
Recently, our friends at Fortune Gourmet ran a contest for their sales representatives to win a culinary trip to Spain. I know what you’re thinking… how can we all sign up to work for this fabulous company? We were tickled to hear that the contest involved a competition to see who could sell the most Castillo de Canena olive oil and Arvum sherry vinegars – both Culinary Collective products. The winning sales representative would travel to Spain and visit the towns of Jerez and Canena to see up-close how these fine products are made. The winner, John Novak from Fortune Gourmet, brought his wife Alicia and one of his customers, Chef Mark Marlar from the Oceanaire Restaurant in Indianapolis, on a whirlwind trip – visiting, eat, drinking and exploring their way through the countryside.
The first stop was the production facilities for Arvum, the cooperative Nuestra Señora de las Angustias in Jerez. They learned how sherry vinegar was made – from vine to bottle!
|Getting up close and personal with the vines
They learned about the different stages the grape juice goes through before bottling; fermentation, fortification (adding alcohol) and then aging in large barrels.
|Admiring the giant fermentation tanks. Front to back, Chef Mark Marlar, John and Alicia Novak.
The group then went to local restaurant La Carboná where Chef Javier Muñoz known as “The Sherry Chef” treated the visitors to some incredible dishes made with Arvum vinegars.
|All smiles after the Arvum cooking demonstration
The next stop on the tour was to visit the famed castillo of Castillo de Canena and learn how the company’s award-winning olive oil is produced. John, Alicia and Mark were all enchanted by the rolling green countryside, and how Castillo de Canena is working hard to maintain a minimal footprint on the land by using solar panels and organic compost. The visitors were also wined and dined by María Parias of Castillo de Canena, trying the local olive oil at the restaurants Los Sentidos in Linares and El Cortijo, a large, old country house converted into a rustic restaurant with fine dishes made with Castillo oils.
|The famous “Castillo”
|Olive groves and rolling countryside
|Alicia enjoying an evening at the Castillo
|John, Alicia, Mark and María Parias of Castillo de Canena
Congratulations to John and Alicia, and thanks to everyone who continues to support our fine Spanish foods!