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FOODWISE / CHICAGO - 11.29.2008

- World of Flavors


Every year in November, the world’s best chefs gather together in California’s Napa Valley. For a few days in autumn as the grapes leaves turn bright red, culinary experts come to Greystone.

Cat Cora, Chef J, Chicago food


The Greystone “castle” is the Culinary Institute of America’s crown jewel. Once the home of Christian Brother’s Winery this beautiful mansion, on a hill side overlooking the vineyards of Napa, is now our country’s premier cooking school. Once every year the “CIA” hosts the Worlds of Flavor conference. Even the Food Network’s IRON CHEF - Cat Cora was in attendance
this year. It is during this annual event that top chefs study classic recipes; learn new techniques and most importantly, discover the newest and latest trends in dinning from around the world.

What is this year’s hottest food trend? Mediterranean cooking! The food ways of those countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea create recipes that are both delicious and nutritious. Latest research seems to show that cooking and eating these foods regularly could actually improve our health. Chef and I have been touting this way of eating and living for many years. And, our research shows that the Mediterranean way of eating and living can be easily adapted to the American food supply. What is so easy about this way of eating? Basically, it involves eating lots of olive oil, fish, and plenty of vegetables. This way of eating has been studied and recommend by Harvard University to help manage heart disease and some cancers. This simple foundation of eating can be used to build an amazing variety of dishes!

Chef J. always says “flavor comes first!” Mediterranean cooking yields some of the most flavorful entrees ever. The spices, herbs, and seasonal ingredients of Spain, Portugal and the Greek Islands bring forth flavors as bright as a summer day. We saw firsthand that Mediterranean is more than just Greek cookery, more than just Italian cookery, and more than just Spanish cookery. It also encompasses; Marrakech, Istanbul, Turkey, Lebanon, and North Africa. In Mediterranean countries, people consume more than 20 kilos of olive oil each – per year!

We attended an in-depth olive oil seminar lead by Chef Jose Andres. Jose’s interpretation of olive varietals follows a similar view of wine and grape varietals. Depending on where the olive is grown, it will have many different flavor and aroma characteristics. Andres believes that Olive Oils are as different from one another as are wines. After our class at Greystone, Ginny and The Chef agree.

Of course we did not just taste Olive Oils. There were dozens of sea food dishes and an endless variety of lamb, and even pork. The talented chefs seemed to have a thousand new and delicious ways to prepare vegetables. We’ll be sharing many of those great recipes with you our loyal readers in future columns. We can hardly wait to try them ourselves! – G & TC

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