Catalan Cooking with Codorniu
Tapas are extremely popular here in London but Spanish cuisine has a lot more to offer then jamon y queso. Rachel McCormack feels it’s her mission to bring the “other” cuisines of Spain to London. To that end, she has set up her own small cooking classes, called Catalan Cooking. Roughly twice a month, Rachel takes over the normally sweet tooth haven of Bea’s of Bloomsbury’s and transforms it into a Catalan cuisine inspired cafe.
Rachel is of Scottish origin but spent her formative years (read: her 20’s) kicking around Catalonia, mostly in Barcelona where she “…caught the Catalonian obsession with food…” as she says. There she took every opportunity to hang out with the mama’s in their kitchens, learning their secrets, visiting markets and restaurants and generally soaking up as much as she could about the Catalan cuisine.
She’s teamed up with former executive chef of Asia de Cuba, Franz Schinagl, who also runs his own supper club out of Bea’s, to not only bring a taste of Catalan to us Londoners but also show us how to do it.
Our menu was expertly matched by the Spanish cava makers Codorniu and featured some of their very best cava. My favourite of the evening has to be the 2008 Reina Cristina Blanc de Noirs. It is their top of the line and was created in 1997 to honour the Queen Regent Maria Cristina who gave Codorniu their royal warrant in 1897. The 2008 Blanc de noir is the first Spanish blanc de noir and comes from some of the oldest pinot noir vineyards in Spain. An elegant sparkler, it has plenty of subtle fruity notes and bouncy bubbles while at the same time not being too aggressive on the tongue. It was served with our main course(s) and was delicious with our samples of all 7 dishes.
Through out the evening we were able to sample Codorniu’s range of cavas and Rachel will be serving this menu up again along with the cavas on the 22nd of March. Have a look on her website to find out more and make a booking. In the meantime, if you can’t wait for the Codorniu, it is available at Oddbins, Majestic and Tesco.
Menu and cavas:
Aperitif: Anna de Codorniu Brut paired with olives, fuet, cheese, iberico chorizo and ham, potato tortilla and courgette tortilla
First course: Codorniu Seleccion Raventos Brut paired with sopa de Carn d’olla
Mains: Cordoniu Reina Maria Cristina Blanc de Noirs 2008 paired with the following:
- Squid stuffed with aubergine
- Patatas bravas
- Fideau with squid
- Rice cooked in the oven with wild mushrooms
- Rabbit cooked with onions
- pickled cauliflower
And the for dessert, we had light and fluffy Catalan doughnuts, crema Catalana and Hazelnut soup with crocanti and ice cream matched with the Codorniu pinot noir rosé. I do so enjoy the rose cava, full of light red fruits, it’s a lovely way to end a meal.
All photos courtesy of Su-Lin of Tamarind and Thyme food blog