Food Review: A Taste of Iberoamerican Food, Spice and Wine in the Heart of Brno

Fiesta Gastronomica in Stará Radnice, part of the Iberica festival, promised to fill the courtyard with ‘the aroma of Spanish tapas, genuine Valencian paella and mexican tacos’. Our food editor went along to see if they succeeded. Photo credit: Zenon Moreau.

Brno, Jul 2 (BD) – The star of the show, according to organiser Anna Buchberger, was ‘El Romero’ which really means chef Enrique García. When I arrived he was still preparing his huge pans of paella, however, he managed to spend a few minutes telling me his story. Six years ago he moved to Olomouc to bring traditional Spanish cuisine to the Czech Republic. Although now living in Brno, he spends most of his time travelling around the Czech Republic taking, as he puts it, his food to the diners. Inspired by what he learnt cooking with his grandmother, his specialty  is paella, especially the classic rabbit and chicken; my only problem was that I would have to wait an hour for it to be ready.

In photo: Enrique Garcia.

Another Spaniard bringing Spanish food to the Czech Republic is Ramón Macía from Alicante. La Mediterranea was offering 5 types of organic olive oil all produced by the Almazara Deortegas family from Murcia. The Picual olive oil had a fresh herby taste with a hint of pepper. The second oil I tried, the Hojiblanca, was much more intense, starting sweet and developing a hint of pepper and herby flavours which last on the palate. The goat’s milk Manchego cheese was on offer in 5 varieties. I tasted the semi-curado, about 6 months old, which had a delicious mild nutty flavour with just a hint of ‘goatiness’.

In photo: La Mediterranea was offering 5 types of organic olive oil.

Next up was Bono Vino; here the Spanish Sidra (cider) was recommended. This is a speciality of the Basque region and is made in a similar way to wine. It is poured from the height of a metre to aerate it, and I was advised to drink it quickly before it settled. An apple explosion with an acidic tartness hit my mouth followed by a more musty fruity flavour . Then one of the owners Jindřich Zouhar explained how drinking Spanish wine had been the inspiration for starting to import wines. The business imports their wine from around 20 vineyards as well as other Spanish specialities and includes the tapas bar Don Pintxos.

In photo: Spanish Sidra (cider).

But this festival wasn’t just about Spain. El Pequeñito use potato, yucca/cassava or plantain to make balls filled with beef or chicken in the traditional Colombian way. I tried another speciality, grilled plantain filled with cheese. A real indulgence; a sweet and gooey sensory experience as you eat it. Jairo Manrique comes from Colombia and wants to bring some of his home cuisine to the streets of Brno.

In photo: Colombian traditional balls filled with beef or chicken.

Another side-hustler, Neria, whose day job is cooking at an Italian restaurant, had some great Mexican Tacos. Filled with either meat or vegetables and the option of a hot chilli sauce. I opted for the chilli sauce on the vegetables and it lived up to its name. The fresh flavour of the vegetables was overtaken by the fiery blast of the chilli.

In photo: Mexican Tacos.

On my way in, I saw the stall from Cafe Andini, well-known for its homemade cakes and vegetarian lunches. They got into the South American spirit with some chia energy drinks and cocktails. I tried the enerchi mix of sparkling wine, chia and ginger, which really lifted the spirits. have been focusing more on spices and chillis. They had, among others, Chipotle peppers and the hell-burning Carolina Reaper on offer.

In photo: Enerchi mix of sparkling wine, chia and ginger.

And finally, I got to try Enrique’s paella and it was worth the wait. Yellow pearls of rice soft but not sticky releasing their subtle spiciness accompanied by big chunks of juicy chicken and rabbit. A great event in a great location.

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