Our class fell on a Tuesday morning and since La Boqueria had been closed for a local holiday on Monday (it is always closed on Sundays), we learned that there would not be as many fish vendors present. Therefore, as a general rule in Spain, our instructor, Ignacio, cautioned us against ordering seafood at restaurants on Mondays and days after holidays. Tourists frequent La Boqueria (there's even a Dunkin Donuts right on the edge) and it's difficult to distinguish what are the "good" vendors versus what are tourist traps so it was great to have Ignacio there to lead the way. He took us to his favorite jamon purveyor (and we promptly bought some) and clam vendor (we requested to try some razor clams when we got back to the kitchen and he was amiable enough to comply).
Our group definitely spent more than the allotted hour at La Boqueria but it is very easy to get distracted while there. When I got hungry staring at all the food, I bought a fresh fruit cup - mixed strawberries, pineapples, and some melons for only one euro. What a bargain! It seriously was, especially considering that during our entire time in Spain, I could not get over how a foie gras dish was about 6 euro but then a tomato salad would be almost twice the price. There was also quite a selection of chocolates and marzipan in all shapes and sizes so of course I couldn't resist picking up some for later.
Below are some of the highlights of each dish we prepared:
Chupito de sopa de tomate al aroma de Idiazabal
Tomato soup shot flavoured with Idaizabal cheese
Ignacio would probably cringe at my description but this is basically gazpacho. I am not sure that I would ever make this at home, given that it was a lot of work for two gulps of soup. Grinding the garlic, parsley, hazelnuts, and walnuts to make the topping was great for an arm workout though.
Milhojas de escalivada y brandad de bacalao
millefeuille of roasted vegetables and cod brandada
Bacalao (cod) was everywhere in Spain and I confess I grew tired of it by the time we arrived in Barcelona. I am also not sure how easy it is to find salted cod, the primary ingredient, in the states. Some of La Boqueria vendors specialized in salted cod, which is cod that is dried and preserved in salt. But when you buy salted cod, you can't just use it right away - you have to rehydrate it, which can take days of soaking the cod in water and replacing the water every several hours. Luckily, the vendors also often sell pre-rehydrated cod.
Paella Valencian Style
You may ask, isn't all paella Valencian style? It basically is since paella originated from Valencia. However, the traditional form is supposed to contain meat as opposed to seafood. Make sure to include rabbit if you can get it! Probably accounting for the squeamish Western tourist sensibilities, we did not use rabbit in class, just chicken.}?>
This was essentially a combination of flan and crème brulee. Again, Ignacio would beg to differ but when you make it and taste it, that's what it was!
Cook & Taste - Barcelona, Spain (http://www.cookandtaste.net/)
Carrer del Paradís, 3 - 08003 Barcelona
Tel: (+34) 93 302 13 20
Half day cooking classes at 11 AM and 5 PM daily}?>
I'm particular fond of the shellfish/crustacean variety.