In the heart of the old town of Barcelona, in a street so narrow it looks like the buildings are kissing, you find the bright yellow kitchens of Cook and Taste. The concept is simple, but genius: you sign up for a class to learn more about Spanish ingredients, cooking methods and traditional Spanish food. All while you are chopping, taking notes, sipping wine, and tasting the fruits of your labour.
Last weekend I got to experience this tasteful concept first hand. It was a surprise birthday present from my parents, and I myst say: best present EVER! I mean, food and Barcelona goes hand in hand, but participating in the cooking yourself always takes the experience to a whole other level.
So, saturday afternoon, my mom and I, and 10 other food enthusiasts got together for an evening of cooking with chef Kim. After a short round of introductions the first two ladies were thrown in at det deep end: crema catalana. The dessert was made first so it would set properly in time for it’s role as the grand finale. This traditional spanish dessert is “related” to créme brûlée, but there is no baking involved, it feels lighter, creamier, and tastes heavenly fresh.
More ladies did the second dish: the starter romesco sauce with vegetables. Dried, mild chilies (nyores), toasted almonds and hazelnuts, fried bread, tomatoes and garlic made for a spicy dip for blanched and sautéed asparagus and courgettes. According to our chef the romesco sauce also goes well with fish, meat, shellfish and as a thickening agent in stews. As a dip: perfect!
As I love soups, I volunteered to make the sopa de pimento rojo al aroma de azafrán tostado con bacalao. Got that? Red bell pepper soup with toasted saffron and cod. It involved baking of bell peppers, chopping of shallots, confiting of cod, baking of cod skins… The result: a smooth and mild soup with heavenly, flaked cod.
The final dish, paella de marisco (seafood paella), brought out the men. Boys and their toys, I thought, as they all huddled over the huge paella pan, fighting to stir in all the ingredients :-) The most important we learned about paella is that it should always be dry, and it should never be yellow. It was one of the best paellas I’ve ever had, so the guys must have done something right…
After about 4,5 hours we stumbled out into the night, full of delicious food, good wine, new friends and a unique experience. This is a concept I happily recommend to all food lovers. You don’t have to be skilled in the kitchen to participate. You just have to like food, enjoy the company of others, and want to try something different. I think you’ll love it!
I will post the recipes from the cooking class when I’ve tried them out at home. Stay tuned :-)