I don't know about you, but the first thing I do when I get to a new country is visit a grocery store or outdoor market because I truly feel that our first connection to other cultures and their people is through food.
It follows that the next thing I try to make happen is a cooking class. It’s a great toe dip into the food you will be eating for the remainder of your trip and if you are wise, you will suck up to the instructor and hit them up for restaurant recommendations, their favourite markets and shops that sell spices etc.
Choosing a class to take in Barcelona took me a day or two of research because there are quite a number of highly rated schools as well as popular, private instructors who will make paella for you on their rooftop patio while you get lit on Vermouth. On my next trip, I will try one of those rooftop classes but for my first trip, I wanted to make more than one dish and ultimately, I chose Cook and Taste Barcelona.
|some lovely oranges in the market|
Their shop is a stone’s throw from the famous Boqueria Market so I sprung for the optional morning market tour to precede the actual class. Pretty much all of the cooking schools offer very similar menus, prices and class options but Cook and Taste not only gets great reviews but they don’t require you to pay for your class upfront online when you book. You reserve your spot and all they ask is that you give them some notice if you decide to cancel. Since I like to keep my travel itinerary fluid, this was a very appealing option for me.
I get heart palpitations booking advance tickets to visit tourist sites because I just keep thinking
WHAT IF I DON’T FEEL LIKE VISITING THE SAGRADA FAMILIA ON TUESDAY???
WHAT IF I AM DOING SOMETHING ELSE IN THE MORNING AND DON’T WANT TO CUT THAT ACTIVITY SHORT JUST BECAUSE I BOOKED THESE STUPID SKIP THE LINE TICKETS A MONTH AGO??
On the day, I managed to show up their lovely kitchen space on time, despite my iPhone’s GPS which would cease to navigate every time I ventured into the winding, narrow streets of the Barri Gotic. It's not difficult to find, it's just that my phone is a jerk.
I was the only singleton in a group of couples from Iceland, the USA, England and Scotland. Let me just say, that everyone seemed very perplexed by the fact that I was there on my own, despite the fact that I was in Barcelona with my husband and grown son. Everyone asked me, at some point, if I was travelling in Spain alone and I had to explain that, no, I am here with my family but they are off doing things that I don’t want to do while I am do something that they don’t really want to do. We are very happy, enjoy one another’s company but we love each other so much, that we don’t inflict 5 hour civil war tours and hours of shoe shopping on one another.
I cannot advocate strongly enough for people to split up for at least one day when on holiday so everyone can indulge in activities that would cause the others to risk permanent damage from excessive eye rolling and heavy sighing.
|Carlos, our instructor and both kitchen spaces|
|I'm sure he is more delicious than he looks|
Our group took the short walk to the market where our guide and cooking instructor, Carlos de Avilés, led us through the market and purchased seafood, ham and produce for our lesson. I had already been through the market and might skip that part the next time but the others were enthralled by the guided shopping tour, so it is certainly popular and well worth the extra 13€.
Back in the kitchen, we were given our aprons, instructed to wash up and after perusing the recipes, we were all assigned prep tasks. The Icelandic gentleman had worked in the fishing industry so he was assigned seafood cleaning duty while the lovely Scottish woman was appointed the wine steward and who is directly responsible for getting me completely day drunk. Thank you, lovely Scottish lady.
We worked our way through oven roasted vegetables with romesco sauce, thyme soup with a poached egg and a cheese tuile, seafood paella and pears poached in spiced wine as well as the Catalan staple, Pa amb tomàquet, toasted bread rubbed with tomato, salt and olive oil.
|note the glass of wine in hand while stirring.....|
Carlos somehow managed to keep this rowdy group under control and focused (remember, we had the lovely Scottish wine steward) and after spending the early afternoon sipping, simmering, scraping, stirring and poaching, we ended the class with lunch, MORE WINE while everyone shared stories, tips and travel recommendations.
The kitchen offers these hands on cooking classes daily at 11am and 5pm, as well as hosting private events, team building activities for companies and also offers a foodie tour private classes that can be custom designed upon request.
Cook & Taste Barcelona
carrer del Paradis, 3, 08003 Barcelona (next to Placa Sant Jaume)
telephone +34 93 302 12 20