Red7 , January 12, 2015
Barcelona is a hugely popular spot for holidays, hen dos and stag nights, with its combination of beautiful old buildings, narrow shopping streets and beachfront bars.
So when we heard that one of our travel experts, Eva, was heading there for a holiday, we booked her onto one of its paella cooking classes to get a taste of a Spanish hen do!
“I’ve worked at Red7 for a year now, and discussing hen and stag do destinations with people everyday has given me serious travel envy! So in the last year I have taken myself to Dublin, Munich, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Valencia and Madrid. When I booked a trip to Barcelona, the team immediately arranged for me to meet some of our agents over there so I could sample a cooking class. Perks of the job? Sí sí!
“On arriving in Barcelona I made my way to a local bar and was greeted by some of our local representatives, who introduced me to a group eagerly awaiting the paella cooking class. All united, we headed out to the famous La Rambla boulevard.
“First stop was the busy bustling Boqueria market! Here we walked past brilliant displays of local food produce, with stalls loaded up with fruits, vegetables, even chocolate! But we headed further back to find our vital ingredients for the evening – fresh seafood straight from the Mediterranean Sea.
“We halted as our local guide and chef for the night Francesco explained how to pick the best ingredients for the seafood paella. Spanish negotiations started as purchasing began! Bags fully loaded we made our way out through narrow side streets to find the restaurant – ours exclusively for the night. We were greeted with jugs of sangria to be enjoyed while Francesco showed us how best to prepare tapas. After a demonstration we each created our own, using tomato grated onto sliced bread for our base. Local ham, cheese, bursting olives and mini squid were amongst the ingredients used to build our individual creations.
“Once we’d devoured our tapas, we were told how to carefully prepare seafood, onions and peppers for the paella. Francesco discussed the variety of spices, olive oils and wine that are used for cooking the ultimate flavoursome dish. Aprons on and split into groups we set to work washing, gutting and chopping the ingredients using our new skills.
“Preparation over, we gathered around a huge flat-based pan heating up on the stove. Here we were taught the paella making process and each had our part to play. Once the pan was fully loaded and the water and rice added we were told paella is a dish best left ignored while it cooks.
“Just as well Francesco had the perfect way to kill the time with a sangria making class! We eagerly made our way to the bar and were taught how to make sangria the Spanish way, and the little variations you can make to suit individual taste. I won’t reveal the secret ingredient used by many – you can find out for yourselves when you go there! A jug of sangria was prepared and then we were let loose to make our own!
“Jugs prepared, our glasses were refilled and the paella was ready. It was my first ever dinner of seafood paella (seriously!) and the textures and flavours were simply divine! As we toasted our glasses I thought to myself, “I honestly cannot think of a better way to spend an evening in Barcelona – ¡salud!”