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Courtesy of Lo Paller del Coc
Lo Paller del Coc
A cookery course at Lo Paller del Coc
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Courtesy of Espai del Peix
Red mullet salad made at an Espai del Peix workshop
Foodies prepare yourselves—cook, taste and eat your way around Catalunya, learning about traditional cuisine from the best chefs in town.
ESPAI DEL PEIX
Located on the coast of Girona province, Palamós is home to the Costa Brava’s last fishing fleet that is also one of its primary sources of income. First and foremost a fishing town, the area is known for its seafood. It’s no suprise then that its fishing museum is working in conjunction with the local Espai del Peix to uphold the town’s strong fishing heritage. Set on the edge of the stunning Costa Brava bay around which Palamós is built, the Espai del Peix offers workshops that are led by local chefs. You will learn the art of cooking and preparing seafood, the secret to a good broth and how to make an authentic picada. But the best part is still to come! After learning expert techniques you’ll get to taste the fruits of your labour. What’s more, each weekly session has a different theme so check their online schedule for one that appeals. Workshops last two and a half hours and cost €20.
In addition, the Espai del Peix also offers a range of other activities, which this month includes tours, seafood tasting, cooking classes for petits xefs aged 8-14 and ‘Show Cooking’, a live demonstration of seafood cooking, implementing the traditions of the Baix Empordà county in which Palamos is set.
GETTING THERE: By car, Palamós can be reached via the AP-7 motorway (with tolls), while the Sarfa bus company goes from Estació del Nord to Palamós bus terminal in around two hours. The service runs seven times a day and costs €15 one way.
WHERE TO STAY: Minutes away from the Espai del Peix is Hotel Trias, a beachfront hotel and restaurant. Double rooms start at €115 for this month and if you’re driving, for an extra €15.50 you have full use of the car park. Use this hotel as your starting point and visit nearby attractions such as the beaches of La Fosca, Cala Castell and Cala Margarida, as well as the medieval town of Pals.
PAELLA WITH CATACURIAN
What could be more ‘typically Spanish’ than a paella? Catacurian’s culinary breaks in the El Priorat county of Tarragona specialise in just that on their four-day gourmet paella and rice get-away. Visitors will learn the secret to making an excellent paella and how to cook rice to perfection. As well as daily cooking classes, various excursions are on offer, including to: the Delta de l’Ebre, to see how artisan bomba rice is produced; the Casters del Siurana winery in Gratallops; and the Scala Dei Monastery and its winery, the first of its kind in the region. Both winery tours include full wine tasting, and the sampling of local olive oil, a key ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, has also been included in this package. A total of six cooking classes focus on Catalan cuisine and the hands-on learning of students. Meals and a complimentary Catacurian recipe book are included. To make a reservation, a form must be filled out and either faxed or e-mailed to the company, and a €400 deposit will also be required. The full price for two guests in a double room is €1,600.
GETTING THERE: One of the bonuses of Catacurian’s culinary vacations, and there are several, is that transport is provided. There’s no need to worry about petrol, parking the car, paying tolls or getting lost because a bus service will pick you up on day one at Plaça Espanya outside the Plaza Hotel at 10.30am, and drop you off on day five at the same place at around noon.
WHERE TO STAY: Make no mistake, this is a complete package. During your culinary escape you will be staying in double rooms at the Catacurian rural hotel in the town of El Masroig. The hotel is a fourth-generation family masía, built in stone and fully restored. All rooms have en-suite bathrooms and communal areas give it a homely feel.
LO PALLER DEL COC
For a complete escape from the city, look no further than the idyllic Pyrenean landscape surrounding Lo Paller del Coc, a cluster of apartments in the picturesque village of Surp on the edge of Lleida’s Àssua valley. Their Espai Gastronòmic offers themed cooking classes several times a month. A five-hour programme on September 27th, for example, focuses on haute cuisine for the health-conscious and costs €70, including breakfast. They offer other cooking talleres on a more regular basis, such as ‘La Cocina del Queso’, focusing on artisan cheese; the literary-inspired ‘Cocina de Novela de la Vall d’Assua’; a ‘Taller de Tapas y Montaditos’, a must for lovers of the Spanish tapa; and ‘Tradicional del Alt Pirineu’, focusing on traditional cooking of the region. Prices range from €60 to €80 and the courses last between four and five hours.
For those who want to immerse themselves completely in the traditional rural lifestyle of Surp, DIY homewear and craft making workshops also take place at Lo Paller del Coc.
GETTING THERE: The three to four-hour car journey is by far the best option. Not only because public transport to Surp is limited, but bringing the car also affords you the freedom to explore the surrounding areas and take more provisions with you, as the town is somewhat isolated.
WHERE TO STAY: At Lo Paller del Coc, accommodation is just around the corner. Its three apartments—La Llar, La Coberta and El Desvàn—are all fully-equipped for a self-sufficient get-away. La Llar is a two-floor house with two double bedrooms, La Coberta includes access to a courtyard and El Desvàn is a smaller, cosier apartment for two to four people. Prices for a three-night stay at one of their apartments start at €322. Package offers are a great way to make the most of your time there, with some including excursions.
WORKSHOPS AND CLASSES IN THE CITY
If you don’t have the time or inclination to travel out of Barcelona but are still interested in honing your culinary skills, there are plenty of gastro classes available right here—here’s a tiny range:
The 4 Capellans restaurant, part of the Hotel Barcelona Catedral, holds cooking classes on the first Wednesday of every month for groups of up to 15 people. Prices are €50 per person and the classes are two and a half hours long. The restaurant also offers ‘Cooking Team Building’ workshops aimed at executives and businesspeople. www.barcelonacatedral.com
COOK & TASTE
Half-day cooking workshops are Cook & Taste’s speciality. Hands-on workshops for small groups of participants explore local, seasonal food with the expert help of experienced chefs. Classes cost €65 per person while an optional tour of La Boqueria market is an extra €13. www.cookandtaste.net
This restaurant offers cooking workshops and tastings specifically tailored to you. The Matamala sommeliers will guide you through a bespoke menu and help you make the most of a customised culinary experience. All you have to do is let them know when you want to go and how many will take part. Prices are available upon consultation. www.matamalarestaurant.com
Espai del Peix—www.espaidelpeix.org
Lo Paller del Coc—www.lopallerdelcoc.com