Madrid, Spain’s cuisine is best known for its tapas. Friendly little bars throughout the city offer up small plates with various snacks to go with your drink. They range from a simple bowl of potato chips or olives to a more substantial wedge of Spanish Tortilla (a sort of omelette most commonly made with egg, potato and onion) or a piece of bread piled with ham and cheese. Some places even specialize in seafood.
The Cooking Point Cooking School in Madrid has embraced the city’s love affair with tapas and offers up a class that will allow you to sample several styles of tapas so you can bring the taste of Madrid home.
The School Owner, Eduardo, greeted us with a pitcher of fruit spiked sangria — not a bad way to start. Interestingly, the sweet red vermouth used to make sangria is a more of a typical local drink than the sangria itself. The traditional red sangria is a summer drink typically drunk by Spaniards for special occasions.
Eduardo then provided step by step instruction for making 6 tapas dishes. He’s designed a menu that showcases several dishes, including the typical tortilla along with both seafood and meat dishes so that students get a well rounded food experience.
We began with the Mussels Vinaigrette – steamed and chilled mussels with a sauce of vinegar, olive oil, and chopped onion and peppers.
Next, Shrimp in Garlic Sauce (in Spanish, “Gambas Al Ajillo”)
Eduardo admitted that when he started the cooking school he was under the impression that people outside of Spain didn’t like garlic. He knows better now…
You can’t have tapas in Madrid without some sort of pork product – in this case, Chorizo in Cider Sauce. Eduardo’s hint – use chorizo made from Iberian ham, every time.
At this point in our class, the kitchen was full of the smells of garlic, chorizo and seafood as we continued to sip our sangria and get ready to prepare the classic Spanish Tortilla. This is a dish that you can find in almost any restaurant and homes throughout Spain. Each Spanish home has a specific pan reserved solely for making the tortilla. Supposedly, the easiest way to get kicked out of the kitchen is if you try to use it for something else (like frying up a fish for example), spoiling the delicate flavor of the classic egg, potato and caramelized onion dish.
We then turned out attention to another Madrid Tapas Classic – Patatas Bravas (brave potatoes). The Spanish seem to think that the brava sauce is very spicy but since they use very few chiles in their food its kick is pretty mild. But the flavor is huge!
In the tourist areas in Madrid you can find a sauce made with ketchup and tabasco. Not here – this sauce is made with a blend of 2 paprikas – spicy and smoked.
As you can imagine now the kitchen was filled with more delightful exotic smell and we were ready to feast. Eduardo had us begin with a simple but delightful toast scraped with a fresh tomato and clove of garlic and topped with a famous sliver of Iberian ham and a drizzle of olive oil. And more sangria, of course…
The whole experience, from cooking and learning about each dish and then savoring them at the end was fabulous. And as we polished off each dish Eduardo provided some priceless off the beaten track recommendations of things to do and places to eat.
Inspired to take a class? You can find Eduardo here:
(+34) 910 115 154
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