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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Urban Sketching Barcelona. Day 3: Cooking, Ramblas and the Port

The Port, at the end of Las Ramblas, after my cooking class

October 7, 2015

On Day 3 I had to find my way to Las Ramblas, the big pedestrian only walkway everyone said was crowded and crazy day and night but was also a place you needed to see. I learned that it had been a river bed in Roman times that had dried up and become a walkway that cuts through the heart of the city center. It begins at Plaça de Catalunya, a large square considered to be both the center of the city and the place where the old city and the 19th century Eixample meet, and ends at the sea, basically. It's lined with shops, restaurants, souvenirs stands (think tacky), mimes, artists doing caricatures, ice cream shops, coffee bars and theaters, mainly frequented by tourists. It's fun though, to walk down this broad avenue and sit and sip an overpriced Sangria munching tapas and watching the travelers sauntering by, listening to bits of many different languages.

The Barcelona Cooking School is located at 85 Las Ramblas and I had a hard time finding it, finally locating it on the second floor at that address. I had reserved a class for Bob and I for our cancelled trip but decided I would still go, if alone this time. It turned out to be around 7 or 8 people, some couples, some singles, all ages, but mostly younger than me! Mostly Americans! No matter!

The first part of the class consisted of a walk to La Boqueria, the big market just off the Rambla. What a fun experience that was! I'll let the photos tell the story, but suffice to say, they had absolutely everything you could possibly want! Our chef/teacher gave us a mini-tour of the area between the school and the market, complete with a bit of history thrown in and it was all fun and informative.

Back to the classroom, we were each given a task in preparing a typical Catalan meal: Tomato Bread, Gazpacho, Spanish Omelette, Seafood Paella and Catalan Cream for dessert. Wine flowed freely as we chopped and sliced and diced and cooked and tasted. I helped grate the tomatoes - yes, using a cheese grater that easily separated the pulp from the skin and could then be spread on the toasted bread - after garlic was rubbed on and followed by a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt! I chopped vegetables for the Gazpacho and used the immersion blender to turn raw chopped veggies into a delicious cold soup. At the end, we plated the meal, then sat and enjoyed the fruits of our labors, a bit tipsy, completely satisfied with our day, that started at 10am and ended at 2!

Afterwards, I wandered around, snapping photos and enjoying the scenery, until I found myself down at the Port at the other end of La Rambla. It was a gorgeous day, with blue skies and puffy clouds and I sat and sketched the Port building and walked along the harbor. My photos will complete the story but all in all it was a very satisfying day and I was quite tired by the time I returned to my apartment that evening.

A wonderful kitchen to work in with beautiful fresh ingredients from the market

Making Spanish Omelette with potatoes and onions in a generous amount of oil

Finishing touches to the Seafood Paella - adding mussels and langustines

Catalan Cream - making the sugar on top crystalize, not burn!

Plaça Real, a sort of hidden away courtyard, with Gaudí designed lamp posts

Cafes and Restaurants line the Rambla, great for people watching

Unique architectural details abound in Barcelona!

The Port of Barcelona building

The Harbor

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