I am worried about Rachel McCormack. Last night I went to her Feast Of Fish Catalan Cooking class and, despite having a lovely time and learning things I will hopefully put into practice over the next few weeks, I came away worried (and slightly tipsy).
I arrived at Bea’s Of Bloomsbury* just before seven and was greeted by name in a lovely Glaswegian accent. It took me a few minutes to realise that Rachel hadn’t recognised me from my Twitter avatar but instead had deduced who I was because I was the only male in the class.
Once the class started Rachel explained that in Spain everyone helps out in the kitchen doing what they can and that is how the class would run: under her instruction we would collaborate to make several dishes. I was a little concerned about this; firstly because at home my kitchen is MY KITCHEN and secondly because a few years ago I attended another cooking class where the cook stated their intention to run it the same way but then did all the cooking while the students drank lots of wine and watched. My concerns were unfounded as, despite there being lots of wine, we were all assigned tasks and given instructions as needed.
After we had a fish stock on the go we then made a sofregit and, whilst it was cooking, Rachel invited us to try some olives, olive pastes, fuet, longaniza and chorizo patatero. I often sample things as I walk around Borough Market but it was nice to have things side by side for a comparison. It was also nice to be able to take more than a small nibble!
Rachel had brought along a couple of white Riojas for us to try and, after a hunt for a corkscrew, she explained the difference in the production techniques for each as we drank them.
Next we made bunyols de bacalla (cod doughnuts) which were far nicer than they sound and xato de sitges (salt cod and romesco sauce with curly endive) which was delicious.
Finally the sofregit and stock were ready and we made suquet de peix (catalan fish stew). I have made Mitch Tonks Zuppa de Pescatore several times but I think in future I shall be making Rachel’s stew. I might even let people into my kitchen to help me cook it. Well, one step at a time, eh?
We then sat down to eat all the lovely food we had made washed down with a nice rose wine. Dessert was turrón, membrillo and soft cheese and a rather good Cava.
As I tweeted on the way home, it was an evening of good food, good wine and good fun so why am I worried about Rachel? Well, the capacity of the class is eight and the cost is £60 so with the small mountain of fish and other goodies she supplied along with the wine and other overheads I can’t see how she can make any money doing this. You should book your evening Catalan Cooking quickly before she realises her mistake and puts her prices up. Actually, even if she does, you should still book an evening.
The Porkfest class is going on my Christmas list.
*Now that is a cake shop: when I have hit target on this diet I am going back and will refuse to leave until I have tried all the lovely cakes or put back all the weight which ever comes first.