The last day of the second Andorra Taste congress kicked off with Albert Ventura, a Lleida chef conducting successful operations at the Coure restaurant (Barcelona), now with a subsidiary in Andorra (Hotel Starc by Pierre & Vacances Premium, Andorra la Vella). “I close up in Barcelona at the weekends, and stay here until Sunday. We want to expand gradually, with the same philosophy as in Barcelona, without pigeonholing ourselves and offering more variety, but on the constant basis of quality produce cooked on the spot", explained Albert.
He fired up the first stoves of the day to showcook two recipes on the menu. The first was his own interpretation of Parmesan aubergine, oven-caramelised with cane honey, cheese, tomato confit, Kalamata olives, capers and basil. His second recipe was a fine example of "sublimation of resource cookery, based on the cod omelette my grandmother used to make, using flour and fish bone stock". His omelette, which does contain cod, "the dry-land/mountain fish par excellence", has a brandade centre, along with pil-pil sauce made from the guts of the fish.
Going back to magic with natural awareness-cookery
High-mountain cuisine was graced this morning by an exceptional representative, chef Rebecca Clopath, heart and soul of the Biohof Taratsch restaurant, located at the farm where she grew up in the small Swiss village of Lohn - "with a population of barely 600, it has 4 times as many cows as people", she joked. There she excels with her own interpretation of the natural cutting-edge cookery she learned with Stefan Wiesner, essential simple cuisine, "which is sometimes the most complicated. We don't want to have a restaurant with a spectacular menu - what we want is an awareness menu, for diners to feel emotion in their souls, discovering new flavours and sensations", said Rebecca.
And flavours were the subject of the second part of her talk, during which, among other creations, she pained the mountains of Switzerland on a slate dish with creams of cheese, and the "stone powder we collect after the thaw”, and also kale cabbage. She also produced a surprising pine crumble "which conveys the freshness of the wet forest". In a bid to publicise her own region, "we design theme menus based on our art, on our history and our nature", enthused Rebecca, representing the future of new Swiss cuisine, where the driving force has always been to "recoup the magic I always thought cookery has".
Cooking at an altitude of 4,000 metres
And the talks at this year's event closed on a high note, literally. Ngatemba, a Nepalese Sherpa who has been feeding intrepid expeditions climbing the summits of the Himalaya for the last 12 years, apologised via videoconference for his inability to attend in person due to last-minute issues with travel from Katmandu.
Using a tent, "a permanent fixture at the base camp, and a portable tent for the other stages", he carries the gas bottle and kitchenware around with him, and collects ice to boil and prepare the basic yet nutritious food climbers need. “We use carrots, radishes, potatoes, rice, pasta and meat to make Sherpa fare that's ready in 20 minutes, especially on days with strong winds, which make it even more difficult to cook", he explained. Another facet of cookery in the high mountains which, like other aspects, calls for maximum usage of local resources.