Sunday 9 July 2017

London Paella School - Cooking Classes

Following the launch of the London Paella School I was lucky enough to be invited back to attend one of the actual classes.  My partner and I popped along to the Open Kitchen in Hoxton to learn how to cook "Paella de Marisco", or to you and I, that's seafood paella!  

There was a small group of 6 of us which was actually quite nice as you got to have a good chat with everyone and the kitchen wasn't cramped with too many people!  That said there was plenty of room in the kitchen with around 12 individual workstations which were fully equipped with everything needed for the class.

Before the class commenced, our teacher, Xavi served us some tapa, chorizo, manchego cheese and olives which we washed down with cava and an orange liquor called "Carmeleta - Licor de Naranja", which I have to say was so refreshing and much needed on a hot day!  

The liquor isn't available in the UK as yet but Xavi will soon be importing this and once he does our names are down for a couple of bottles!  I highly recommend it and can't wait to try it with some gin which I think will be a perfect combination.

All the ingredients were laid out, ready for us to chop
As there were 6 of us we paired off and then Xavi ran through the ingredients with us and talked us through the cooking process, thankfully we also had the recipe typed up for us as there was a fair bit to take in and my memory isn't what it used to be!

Whilst the ingredients were all measured out for us we none the less had to do plenty of chopping and dicing, which those who know me will realise I was in heaven, I do like a uniform dice lol.  Whilst we cracked on Xavi and his assistant moved between the groups lending a hand if required, answering our questions and ensuring we had everything we needed.  As well as making the paella we were also going to make a traditional "Ensaladilla Rusa, which is a  tuna and potato salad, so it was handy there were two of us as there was a fair bit to do and remember!  

Making the fish stock 
Once all the prep is done, chopping the veg and squid, cleaning the prawns and making the stock, everything else just falls into place as you go and whilst I was a bit daunted before we started it all began to make sense thank god lol.  

Adding the oil and salt to the traditional paella pan
Frying the squid and tomatoes
Hands-on advice from Chef Xavi
Adding the paella rice
 Having never made paella before, this was a real eye opener as it seemed a lot simpler than I had first thought and unlike making a risotto, there was no endless stirring, once you measured out the paella rice in the traditional way (making a cross of rice half a finger deep above the top of the stock and ingredients) you then pretty much left it to cook away, which was handy as we had the salad to finish!

Making Mayo from scratch

The Ensaladilla Rusa pretty much comprised of boiled potatoes, peas, pickles, carrots, boiled eggs and tuna which was all mixed together with homemade Mayo (yes, we made Mayo and who knew how easy it was!)

This was then plated up in a sort of Christmas pudding shape and coated with mayo and topped with peppers and olives and grated egg, and if I do say so, it tasted good.

By the time the salad had been made everything else had come together and we were ready to sit down and sample our creations over a bottle of beer.  I have to say I was really pleased that when serving up our paella we had managed to create a crispy bottom, or the technical term being socarrat, a golden caramelised crust, which is so intense in flavour.

Whilst we had all made the same recipe it was interesting to see that all of our efforts looked different to each others, I suppose this comes down to individual artistic licence however everyone loved what they had made and it was nice to sit back and relax with our lunch after all our hard work.

All in all the class, including having lunch, lasted around 3 hours and costs £55 per person, which given that you are learning a new skill and having lunch and drinks on top I think is darn good value for money and a great way to spend a few hours. Would I recommend a class at the London Paella School? What do you think? YES!  This is a great way to meet new people, and one lady had come on her own and was visiting from Dubai!  

Please visit The London Paella School for details of their future classes, they even do a singles night!  What a way to meet the future love of your life, they do say the way to a mans heart is through his stomach!

Big thanks to Xavi and his team for looking after us and more importantly for teaching us a new skill in a fun, friendly and relaxed way.

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