Part of the Lanzarote’s growing cultural calendar, the annual food expo’ is now in its third year and seems to be going from strength-to-strength. First announced in September 2012, the ‘Saborea Lanzarote Festival Enogastronómico’,
is designed to showcase some of the island’s best restaurants, bars, bodegas and local producers attracting native islanders, mainlanders, Spanish speaking ex-pats and tourists alike.
‘Saborea Lanzarote Festival Enogastronomico’ took place this year in mid-December in Teguise which served as Lanzarote’s capital prior to Arrecife taking over in 1852. Teguise, a charming little town featuring coffee bars, medina-like streets and eccentric artists, is known for its thriving weekend market. Such a surprise though, leaving the market behind and turning a corner behind the ‘Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe’ to then be confronted by crowds of trendy Spaniards flitting between large, rectangular marquees on the plaza close to Calle Garajonay. To be brutally honest I stumbled across the event by accident but my word, was I glad I did!
Well laid out and immaculately clean, the three marquees were lined by individual booths filled with colourful, aromatic foods! At first I had little idea how things worked – a bewildering 60 booths in total as well as several larger demonstration areas off to the sides. People were milling about, networking, eating and talking Spanish and it was almost as if a little bit of Earls Court or the NEC had landed in Lanzarote.
Although the food and drink was flowing no money was actually changing hands and I was slightly worried I’d gate-crashed a private event! Making enquiries I quickly learnt that close to the entrance of each marquee was a stand where one could purchase tickets. The tickets came in strips of five costing five euros for the strip and could be redeemed singly at exhibitor’s booths in exchange for trying out their specialisms.
The stalls were clearly labelled and visitors were actively encouraged to sample the delights, chat to the chefs and to meet proprietors and staff at each stall. Some stalls represented local Bodegas or vineyards, and offered small glasses of wine or sherry. Exhibitors generally spoke good English and the atmosphere was friendly and vibrant. Occasionally there were wines and some bigger appetizers that were priced at two tickets (i.e. 2 euros) but still, overall it’s fairly good value. I say ‘fairly’ because the Tapas style plates aren’t massive and the accent here is clearly on quality and presentation rather than quantity. Amongst the things I tried was a locally made Tapenade on bread, some pork and potato croquettes, a selection of cakes, paella, some tortilla (again on bread) and some gorgeous locally caught monkfish bites. I also made sure I saved a ticket as I wanted to round things off with a cup of coffee. Now, considering how good the coffee generally is on Lanzarote, I have to say that when you do get a bad cup it really is a howler and the one I had from the stand in the round tent ended up dashed across the picon!
Of great interest at the event was a focus on ‘growers and producers’ which included a fascinating display that showed how potatoes are grown on the island and on stage, again in the round tent, was a huge, freshly caught Tuna which when I returned back half an hour later had been filleted, sliced and prepared by an army of sous chefs! Most of the demonstrations had live video being streamed to the gathered crowds and several Spanish TV crews were in evidence doing their best to get involved. Spanish celebrity chefs David Garcia, Joaquim Espejo, Emil Samper and German Blanco were all doing cooking demo’s and there was a poster drawing competition for the kids. An interesting item on the Sunday was a competition, judged by Fabian Leon, that challenged local chefs to see how creative they could be using the humble lentil as their main stay.
This event then is well worth a visit. Look for it next December, buy yourself a strip or two of tickets, mingle and network with some of Lanzarote’s trendiest locals, taste something nice and experience the gastronomic buzz!