After our brief interlude as ‘concursantes’ VÍ Vid returned to the competition scene on Monday 16 April to report on the fourth annual competition for professional chefs cooking Arroz del Senyoret. Once again the competition was held in the grounds and restaurant of Evenser Restauración on the Mas Camarena estate next to the Logistic Park just off the CV35 travelling out of Valencia City.
Just twelve participating restaurants cook off in this, a slightly more controlled competition than some held in the Valencian Community. This year the restaurants were:
- La Mar Sala, Cullera (winners on 2 previous occasions)
- Gambrinus, Siete Aguas, (winners of the L’ Alcudia Putxero and Alzira Espardenyà competitions)
- Juan XXIII, Benefaio,
- Nazaret, Puçol, (winners Putxero L’Alcudia and Arroz Caldosa, Llutxent.
- El Raco, Meliana (winners Alli Pebre, El Palmar and Putxero L’Alcudia competitions)
- La Vieja Fabrica, L’Eliana
- La Plaza, Torrente (winners Arroz Caldoso de Llutxent)
- Avenida 2.0, Massamagrell ( 2x winners Caza y Bolets de Bocairent)
- La Granja, Sueca, (Strong promoter of Valencian rice dishes throughout Spain.)
- Sequial 20, Sueca,
- El Rossinyol, Naquera, (5x winners Fiduea de Gandia and 4x Paella de Sueca)
- Casa Granero, Serra, ( 4x winners Arroz a banda de Denia, 4x champions Fiduea de gandia, 3x winners Paella de Sueca, winner Paella de Cullera, winner Arroz Caldoso de Llutxent and winner Arroz amb Bledes de Lliria.)
The restaurants are selected on the basis of their dedication to promoting traditional Valencian rice dishes regularly on the menus and for working within the Valencian Community. The organisation provides the ingredients and the cooking space (each has a covered pergola style tent with a gas burner) whilst Dacsa provide the rice. The one free style element is the stock and competitors are free to include whatever seafood etc goes into its make up but are not allowed to use ñoras ( dried red peppers) or lemons to decorate the final contribution as these may help identify who has cooked them!
The day starts with the traditional almuerzo for jury, press and competitors which this year was provided by La Mar Sala with their trademark paella pan full of fried potato and onions, longaniza sausages and eggs and Granero with a huge Sobrasada, fresh bread and traditional Requena style bollo. This year it tried to pour with rain to dampen the spirits but the wind dropped and the sun came out. Sponsors Cruzcampo beers and Murviedro provided the beverages for this part of the event with Lanjaron water and Durban coffees accompanying the gala meal afterwards. The cooking is spread over three turns with four competitors in each between 12.30 and 13,15, all cooking an arroz for six in a 50cm paella pan. For this edition the ingredients were limited to gamba roja de Denia, Corvina (a firm white fleshed fish) baby cuttlefish and mussels. A sofrito is made in Valencian Virgin Extra Olive oil which has previously cooked the seafood and is infused with flavours , especially of the gamba shells and heads…….the seafood is peeled as this was a ‘gentlemans’ dish prepared to avoid soiling the hands whilst eating the meal. The gamba heads are sometimes reserved for decoration of the final plate. The rice is added before the stock with its special ingredients is added and the dish cooked to serve.
As with all of these competitions the use of colorants, various levels of pimentón and saffron and the secret ingredients in the stock ( or fumet) affect both the colour and depth of flavour of the finished dish. The jury had a very difficult job deciding which was best in this edition, all the dishes are available to try once judging is complete and it is one of the pleasures to try the different styles and discuss them with fellow judges and press colleagues. Between La Mar Sala, possibly the lightest, through to the very powerful stock from Gambrinus all were superb! On this occasion the jury consisted of Juan Carlos Galbis (master ricechef), Fernando Navarro (Goya Gallery Restaurant), Ana Iniesta y Lucia Roselló (Evenser Restaurant) Oscar Corrons (gastronomy critic,) and Carlos Abad (President of the Más Camarena Association).
The winners of this fourth edition were:
- 1st, Restaurante Sequial 20,
- 2nd,Casa Granero de Serra
- 3rd, Restaurante Rossinyol de Náquera.
The prize giving followed the gala lunch which this year consisted of ;
- Baby broad beans in a creamy sauce with Jamon,
- Little gem salad with a vinaigrette of red summer fruits,
- Arroz del Senyoret, ( Evenser Restaurant, Mas Camarena),
- Turron Ice cream ( La Menorquina)
Once again this competition showed variation and excellence in one of Valencia´s favourite and most popular seafood rice dishes. Sequial 20 can be added to the list of prize winners and VÍ Vid can recommend any of the above restaurants as providers of an excellent experience if you wish to try the authentic dish!