Now that we are venturing into autumn, Mother Earth has begun to offer many different products compared to those during the summer months. The look of our pantry has changed and we slowly transition from colourful and exotic flavours to eating more inviting ingredients, subtle yet very intense.
Taking this as our starting point, today we want to dig deeper into Pau Santamaria’s world, one of our most famous vegetable grower and provider that we currently have nationally. His knowledge towards the Earth’s products comes mainly from the passion that his dad passed on to him: deceased chef Santi Santamaria, owner of the Can Fabes restaurant already closed down and one of the most awarded Michelin Star chef in Spain together with Ferran Adrià, catalogued as one of the world’s best chefs.
Pau, where does your passion for the Earth’s products come from?
My dad was who passed on to me all his enthusiasm for cooking and the foods that the Earth gifts us. Since I was a small kid I lived through this passion and was always surrounded by mushroom-pickers and farmers from Montseny.
How did you start the project of distributing products to so many locals?
My wife, my father-in-low and myself are who all started this project. We were looking to reinvent ourselves professionally and it all began when the Via Veneto restaurant, with a Michelin Start, ordered us our very first command the day after I had personally visited them with a basket full of fresh vegetables for them to try and get to know our product. Ever since they turned on the engines and more restaurants started coming to us.
What is your secret to serve to high range restaurants in Barcelona and other regions?
Everything we produce is organic, and therefore the flavours and quality of the product we serve is excellent and very well taken care of.
Mushrooms are a typical product of autumn and you know that from first hand. Could you recommend any recipes using this ingredient?
In this case I’d definitely recommend one of my dad’s recipes, Santi Santamaria: Red Prawn Raviolis with “Ceps” oil, one of the most characteristic species of wild mushrooms in our region. In general this dish consists of serving the ravioli wrapped with the red prawn, and using as condiment glazed onion and mushrooms. Then, all you have to do is cover it with oil flavoured with these wild mushrooms, “ceps”. The result is extraordinary.
In what new growing techniques have you been part of? Could you give us some details?
One of the most relevant is the re-discovery of the hitlacoche, a fungus that grows in corn fields. In many countries it is considered a plague, however in Mexico it is consumed and even considered a gourmet product. Now we’ve discovered how to grow it here too. This year we’ve been growing a lot of green chickpeas, an ingredient that has been very solicited by the restaurants kitchens.
We would love to have kept asking Pau more questions but it’ll have to wait for next time. Until then, we’re pretty sure Pau will keep on adding value and knowledge to the agriculture sector.
If after reading our post you’d like to taste some of these delicious autumn flavours we’ve been talking about, come visit El Mall restaurant at Crowne Plaza Barcelona and we’ll surprise you with all the different flavours and emotions that this season’s dishes will evoke. Come and visit us!