From the colors of the food to the nuances of the dish, its shape or the material it is made of. These are some of the aspects that El Corte Inglés and Artesanos de Aragón have taken into account when creating their menu for this year’s Fiestas del Pilar. The gastronomic proposal is available until October 15 at the Sagasta shopping center in Zaragoza.
Both entities began working in June to create an experience that goes beyond the merely gastronomic. They offer seven elaborations, all of them cooked with local produce, and served in a unique and one hundred percent handmade crockery, designed for the occasion. They are made of ceramic, glass and wood. “We wanted to create an experience for all five senses,” says Sergio Gómez, head chef at El Corte Inglés.
Some striking examples that stand out on the menu are the bowls that simulate castanets and are used to serve tastings of oil from Lower Aragon, made by Cerámicas el Cierzo, or the glass plate that seems to be made of ice, in which one of the desserts is served, made from crumble, peach and grenache. “No two dishes are the same. In the end, we have mixed two arts”, says Gómez, for whom the result is “spectacular”.
Also noteworthy is the creamy rice dish with chilindrón chicken. “It is a ceramic that includes a blue print of a hen or a chicken“, explains Gómez. But this animal is not just any design, it is based on a watercolor by the Huesca painter and treatise writer Pepe Cerdá. The people in charge of designing this work are artisans from Cerámica El Cierzo.
Recovering traditional recipes
Among the objectives of the restaurant of El Corte Inglés with this menu was also to recover the traditional recipes of Aragon and mix them with current techniques. Proof of this is the De Fuentes onion cream, bacon and cheese -served on an onion-shaped container-, which forms the second course of the menu, and the tempura borage and Almudévar braid that complete the dessert, presented on a carved wooden board. “These are perhaps the dishes that are attracting the most attention, especially among young people, because they don’t expect their flavor,” says the chef.
The ternasco is the food that cannot be missing in any menu -not vegetarian- of the Day of the Pilar. In the restaurant of El Corte Ingles consider it the ‘star food’, and wanted to reflect that recognition in the glass dish where it is served to the public. “It was black and it occurred to me to put a golden brushstroke as a synonym for gold,” says Gómez. An idea that picked up the craftsman David Lopez who has captured the bright touch in a different way in each container. “As it is glass, the food is reflected like a mirror, it is magnificent,” adds Sergio.
In total, six people work in the restaurant of El Corte Ingles to carry out this dining experience. According to sources consulted by Go Aragon to the distribution center, the menu is having a lot of acceptance among customers. “People like it very much, everyone leaves very happy,” they say. For this reason, they do not rule out that a similar proposal will be repeated next year. Nor that the Artesanos de Aragón tableware will end up being sold in their establishments.
Affection as an ingredient
For Sergio Gómez, the idea of working together with this association of Aragonese crafts is very good news. “It means an advance in their work as well as in ours. Our products are strengthened by their work and vice versa,” he says. In his opinion, the menu of the Fiestas de El Pilar shows that it is possible to present elaborations with a 50-50% share between the food and the tableware. “When things are done with love, it shows,” he concludes.
For the time being, once the experience ends on October 15, the containers will be returned to the Artearagón Association, where they will decide the future of the pieces. El Corte Inglés has received requests from customers asking to extend the gastronomic offer of El Pilar until the end of the month.
- Tasting of extra virgin olive oil from Lower Aragon served in castanets made by the ceramics artisans: Cerámicas El Cierzo.
- Fuentes onion cream with bacon at 70 degrees and Patamulo cheese on a piece inspired by the vegetable itself, created in ceramics by La Benditera.
- Creamy rice with chilindrón chicken on a ceramic plate with a print based on a watercolor by Pepe Cerdá, made by the artisans of Cerámica El Cierzo.
- Cod with saffron ajolio and Cinca trout roe served on a brown marbled plate with a mixture of stoneware and Limoges porcelain by the artisan Blanca Alfonso.
- Veal, Graus sausage and garlic on a black glass plate with golden touches made by the glass artisan: David López.
- Crumble, peach and garnacha served on a glass bowl designed by Susana Martín
- Borage tempura and Almudévar braid presented on a carved wooden board by wood craftsman: Eloy Collado, from The Fifth Pine.
The menu is complemented with wines from two Aragonese appellations of origin: Denominación de Origen Calatayud and Denominación de Origen Cariñena. A combination that, in the words of El Corte Inglés, “extols the Aragonese talent served at the table”.