III Concurso La Cassola de San Blai: VÍ Vid Reports from Torrent.

Also known as Rossejat Torrentí, this arroz al horno is specific to Torrent on the outskirts of Valencia City . It is marked by its main difference to the other arroces of this type by the inclusion of two pelotas, one a meatball and the other a sweet dumpling with marzipan. Twenty-Four restaurants from the local area, Valencian Community and Spain generally took part in this third running of the competion.

It is a competiton of some standing and attracts a top level jury including Alejandro del Toro, Bernd Knoller (Riff) Jesus Melero (International Concurso de Paella de Sueca), Joan Clement (Radio presenter and Teacher of Gastronomy), Eduardo Frechina (Rte. Castillo de Godella), Esther Nadal (Chef at Raco de Torrent) ,Ana Penella (Brotherhood of San Blas), and Quique Bonillo ( Rossinyol and last years winner).

The arroz is a mixture of elements from a Putxero ( Valencias great stew for fiestas and about which we have written before) together with black and white sausages and the afore-mentioned meatball and dumpling.

The stock is what is left over from the Putxero, the elements are prepared separately then assembled in the ‘cassola’ starting with the rice in the bottom, adding the ingredients on top and finally the stock before the whole dish goes into the oven to cook for around 45 minutes. Presentation is a key element and there were a surprisingly different appearance amongst the entries.

The day begins with the drawing of lots for cooking position and swiftly followed by brunch for the chefs. Following this the extensive kitchens in Salones El Pino become a hive of activity with the various competitors creating their dishes on time for presentation to the jury from 12.00pm.

The competiton also draws strong support from sponsors such as Bodegas Nodus, Cervezas Turia, Makro, Jamon from Castro y Gonzalez, Cocas de Oliva from Agace (fronted by Pepe Cotaina who has recently opened his own bakery) Arroz Calidad de Sueca and Belseher who provide the cooking equipment to many of the competitons held in the Valencian Community.

The restaurants participating this year were:-

Salon Los Abetos, Torrent,

Cafe Restaurante La Plaza, Torrent,

Vermuteria Don Julio, Torrent,

Taskeria, Torrent,

Avenida 2.0, Massamagrell,

Goya Gallery, Valencia,

Gambrinus, Siete Aguas,

La Pepa Bluespace, Alboraia,

Asador Alfabega, Alginet,

La Bodega de Tofolet, Valencia,

Catering La Despensa, Burjassot,

Bon Aire, El Palmar,

La Visteta, Barx,

Casa Granero, Serra,

La Garrofera, Serra,

Picanterra, Cullera,

Sequial 20 Sueca,

El Cacique, Madrid,

Grupo Xativa, Barcelona,

Juan Veintetres, Benifaio,

De Mil Arroces, Alava,

El Bandolera, Cordoba,

El Raco, Meliana.

Following the juries deliberation there was a celebratory cocktail provided by the sponsors before lunch and the traditional prize award ceremony.

Winners of this third event were:-

Winners; La Bodega de Torrent

2nd, Granero, Serra

3rd, Galleria Goya. Valencia

Gambrinus, Setyaguas

This year the competition acheived a very high standard, and Diego Gallego, President of the Gastronomy Association (Cassola de San Blai) and his team are to be congratulated on their organisation. The cassola is a mainstay of many local restaurants now as part of Torrent´s patrimony, whist Winter continues it is well worth trying it there!




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