March 23, 2019
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Renowned chefs open bustling market of Spanish delicacies in New York, USA

New York, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- Renowned Spanish chef brothers Ferrán and Albert Adriá have joined up with United States-based cook José Andrés to resurrect the concept of a bustling city market offering the best of Spain's traditional fare in New York, the trio told EFE on Thursday on the eve of the venture's launch.

A slice of Spain in the Big Apple, that is how Andrés and Albert Adriá described their latest project called "Mercado Little Spain," (Little Spain Market) a huge space that is over 3,000 square meters (9,842 square feet) which will include 15 food stalls, two bars, three restaurants and two shops dedicated to promoting Spanish gastronomic traditions and delicacies with the goal of serving some 5,000 customers daily.

"35 years ago we met and we shared our dreams in a small caravan in Cala Monjoi (Girona, northwestern Spain) and we never imagined that we would be here today talking about this dream," Adriá told EFE whilst standing in front of a small kiosk which will sell "patatas bravas," a ubiquitous Spanish tapa of potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce.

"We want to sell Spain through its culture and show our way of life," Adriá added, who is working with Andrés in New York to ensure the smooth launch of their gastronomic extravaganza, which is located in the large-scale Hudson Yards development on the West Side of Midtown Manhatten.

Over 41 million dollars have been dedicated to "Mercado Little Spain" which will employ around 400 people to run the "churros" stalls (a type of Spanish long and narrow doughnut), anchovies, "pan con tomate" (a popular Spanish breakfast of toasted bread with fresh tomato, a drizzle of olive oil and salt) and "paellas" (traditional rice dishes from Valencia in Eastern Spain that are cooked on a wide flat paella pan and have a myriad interpretations, from only veg, to veg, rabbit and chicken or seafood).

The market also offers very traditional Spanish dishes, perhaps less known internationally, such as "cochinillo asado" (roasted suckling pig), "callos" (tripe in a savory sauce sometimes served with chickpeas), "empanadas" (a dish that hails from the Celtic northwest in Galicia consisting of bread pies filled with various ingredients such as meats, scallops, octopus or tuna).

In the sweet department, New Yorkers are set to get a taste of deserts enjoyed daily in the Iberian peninsula, such as "natillas" (cold vanilla custard), "tarta de Santiago" ( a thin almond cake from Galicia), and rice pudding.

"Here you will see many Spanish cooks, including very popular chefs and some with Michelin stars," Andrés told EFE adding that great care had been taking in choosing the base ingredients some of which have been shipped over from Spain.

The chefs are very keen to offer a trustworthy image of what Spanish gastronomy really is, which is often quite different from the distorted international perception of what Spanish cooking is.

"There are certain images you can't fight, whether they are true or false," Andrés, who hails from the northern Cantabrian region of Asturias, continued.

Authenticity is attained by doing things well, the chef who owns several restaurants in Washington DC added.

Andrés hit the headlines when he fell out publicly with Donald Trump back in 2015 when the Spanish chef tore up a contract to open a restaurant in one of the property mogul's luxury hotels.

The bust-up came after the then-presidential candidate Trump had called Mexican immigrants "criminals and rapists."

The businessman sued Andrés and the chef counter-sued in a case that hit the headlines on both sided of the Atlantic Ocean.

The concept of a multipurpose gastronomic space in New York was to pay homage to "rowdy Spanish markets," which have traditionally been spaces for people of vastly different backgrounds to come together to sell and purchase diverse products, the chefs told EFE.

"We sometimes forget that markets are the hearts of cities," Andrés said, "It is in markets where you can perceive whether a community, a city, is beating."

"I want this to be like the heart of Spain, and we want this to be a message to everyone that it is important to go out, to take the risk of taking Spain beyond its borders, we need to go into the world without hang-ups knowing that we have a great product we must believe in," the cook-come-entrepreneur said.

The enormous financial investment this project, which the Spanish government has not subsidized, has required has felt risky, Andrés continued, but or you play in the big leagues or nothing.

"We were looking for something significantly smaller but suddenly we opted for something much bigger, but Spain has a lot to offer, much more than we sometimes think."

"In fact, we could do with another 1,000 square meters," the chef joked referring to the sheer volume of ideas the team toyed with when designing "Mercado Little Spain," a culinary beast that is set to launch on Friday in phases.

By Helen Cook

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