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Elba, Spain – Paco Torreblanca

August 11th, 2014  |  Published in FEATURE, FOOD

sibonney and torreblanca
Photo Credits: foodnetwork.ca |

“There are many people who think that Paco Torreblanca’s confections are the last thing that should touch your lips before you die.” – Annie Sibonney

There is a show I follow on the Food Network called From Spain With Love which follows the culinary travels of multi-lingual writer and chef Annie Sibonney.

In Season 1, at 17:20 of Episode 10, Olive Oil: Liquid Gold, Sibonney takes us to Elda to meet master pastry chef and chocolatier, Paco Torreblanca, who employs olive oil as the main ingredient in his exquisite creations.

The most interesting parts of this episode: (1) silver oysters and (2) the macaron plate.

First, the oysters.
Paco Torreblanca white chocolate shells

Taking real oyster shells, Torreblanca uses them as moulds for white chocolate shells that include all the natural grooves we would expect from the real things. Saffron cream with fruity-flavoured Arbequina olive oil serves as the filling. Chocolate caviar is added as a topping along with some milk foam. The penultimate step is to place a ball filled with vodka to take on the role of the pearl. The final touch is panettone resembling a rock with some algae added for extra colour and character. A fine example of culinary artistry.

“It’s all a lie,” Torreblanca jokingly admits. “The oyster is not an oyster. The caviar is not caviar. And the pearl is not a pearl either.”
silver oyster complete

silver oysters complete 2

Now, the macaron plate.

If this were just a cookie with cream filling atop a thin layer of more cream, I would not be discussing this, and Paco Torreblanca would not be considered a master of his trade.

Two words: Isomalt bells.

More words: Things of beauty. I had never heard of isomalt sugar until today. In preparing his macaron plate, genius Torreblanca’s final step involved capitalizing on isomalt’s resistance to high heat and flexibility in order to bend the sugar and fashion gorgeous, delicate bells. For some reason, I thought the best part was when they cut the stuff with scissors. One day I might figure out why that was…

Bell 1 (with olive)
paco torreblanca isomalt sugar bell 1

paco torreblanca isomalt sugar bell 2

paco torreblanca isomalt sugar bell

Bell 2 (with olive oil)
paco torreblanca isomalt sugar bell filled with olive oil

paco torreblanca isomalt sugar bell filled with olive oil 4

Final Plate:
paco torreblanca isomalt sugar bell 5

The beauty of a great artist rests in (a) their ability to see what others cannot and (b) the skill they demonstrate in showing us that there is always something new and exciting to be experienced. Great work Food Network, Annie Sibonney, and Paco Torreblanca!

Side Note:
As much as Google gets demonized, I don’t know where I would be without its help sometimes. On two occasions, I am grateful it knew what I was talking about and could lead me to where I needed to go for more information. “Isamalt,” yeah, not that. I did mean “isolmalt.” “Arbakena olive oil”? Yeah, not that either. “Arbequina olive oil.” Thanks, Google!

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