Today I was up and out by 8:00 a.m.and, taking the subway this time, back to the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotti). I had signed up to take a cooking class and we had to be there by 9:45 a.m. Even with my exquisite sense of direction, (I walked a few blockes the wrong way when I exited the subway station – pretty standard for me) I got to where I needed to be in time to have a cup of coffee and a croissant before going into the class.
The company is called “Cook & Taste” and I saw it recommended on TripAdvisor for things to do in Barcelona. It’s located in a little dark alley just off Placa de Sant Jaume (St. James) in the Gothic Quarter. There were 11 of us and the chef, Candido. There were 3 couples from the states, 1 couple from Australia, 1 couple and their son from Malaysia, and one couple from England. And me.
After introductions, Candido took us back to the Mercat de la Boqueria – where I was yesterday. What a difference going with someone who really knows food. He showed us which foods were local and which were imports, different kinds of seafood and how to tell what is fresh, and about many of both the Spanish and Catalaynian ways of preparing, curing, and cooking dishes (Barcelona considers itself Catalanian – different customs & language than Spain at-large). While Candido was taking us around, he was also buying the ingredients we would use to make our dishes later.
When the shopping was done, we walked back to “Cook and Taste” to begin. When you see the slide show, you may notice that there are wine bottles on the table. There was wine all day! If we finished the bottles in front of us, Candido opened more. All day! Water too – but who cares about that. As he was telling us about the dishes we would cook, he also gave us olives, capers, and garlic marinated in Cava (like Champagne) with rosemary & olive oil. OMG – it was so good!
Here’s what we cooked:
- Tomato Bread – traditional to the area. Toasted farmhouse bread, rubbed with garlic, fresh tomato, and sprinkled with olive oil and sea salt. You wouldn’t believe how delicious this was!
- Chilled fresh tomato soup with parsley picata (like pesto), garlic aoli, and cheese.
- A potato “tortilla” – which is actually like a frittata with eggs, potatoes & onions. It was creamy and delicious! We ate it with the tomato bread. Candido said his grandfather is 90 and eats tomato bread every morning for breakfast with a shot of schnapps!
- Seafood Paella. OMG! Clams, mussels, cuttlefish (in the squid & octopus family), and huge prawns (shrimp). This is quite an ordeal to cook. I had never made paella before. It is worth the effort. LAYERS of flavor. He said we will never be satisfied with the yellow (he pronounced jello) stuff they serve in restaurants again.
- Catalan Cream – like Creme Brulee’ but cooked on the top of the stove and infused with lemon.
Everyone had to take turns cutting, assembling, stirring the dishes. I got to prepare the cuttlefish which I’ve never seen before. It’s oddly firm. When cooked it becomes tender and pleasant to eat. Not slimy at all.
We made the Catalan Cream first so it could chill before we ate it. Then the tomato soup for the same reason. By the time we finished cooking and eating it was 4:00 ! Everything was delicious. They gave us the recipies – so I am looking forward to making everything at home.
This was so much fun – it got me thinking…what about a trip where I just took cooking classes in different places? The wife of the Malaysian couple,Ana, actually runs a cooking school in Kuala Lampur in Malaysia – I got her card. Her son leaves this summer to go to culinary school in Melbourne. Maybe Malaysia next! She assures me I would love it!
So this was a perfect way to end my visit to Barcelona. It is a beautiful city. Lots more to see and do. I head to London tomorrow. As of now, I have absolutely no plans for the week so I will make up my itinerary as the “spirit moves me” as my mother used to say. See you in London tomorrow!