Can there be more Gaudi in this city? The answer, as we find out this morning, is yes. A whole town’s worth of Gaudi. Plus we learn how to cook Paella.
Two and only two things on the menu today. Gaudi and Paella.
This will be day three of Gaudi. We hadn’t heard of the dude on day one and now we are actually looking forward to seeing another sight. This one? A town that Gaudi designed for the richer dudes in Barcelona back in the early 1900s. Which sounds really weird, but so far his modus operandi has been ‘weird’ so we are going to check it out.
Good news–we get to sleep in a bit this morning and either the jackasses outside the window lost some of their mojo last night or we are getting used to the yelling, but we didn’t hear them. So much. Once we were up and showered we climbed back onto our new favorite metro system and headed to the Park Guell. Recognize the name? He built a mansion for the same dude. This was to be a housing estate (not a park). Gaudi built the market space and a model home but there were no takers on the place. Gaudi moved into his house and lived there until he died; now it is a park.
We are out from the metro, hike a couple of blocks and are into the park. You gotta pay an entry fee to get into the place and you have a timed entrance. They limit the number of people who can visit the place in order for everyone to have a pleasant experience. The limit is apparently higher than my definition of ‘pleasant.’ There were a lot of bubbas in the place.
The park was fantastic. Once again. We spent a couple of hours there and the teen aged contingent kept quiet for almost 90 minutes. Excellent. We departed and some of us were feeling a bit hungry and we stopped in a small restaurant for some empanadas. AJ got two. He as able to eat one of them because the other was ripped from his hands….those things were GOOD! We sent young stud back up to the counter to get MORE and we found our new favorite food for the week. Empenadas. Where have you been all my life?
Hotel and then we walk over to an apartment to meet a lady named Marta. Marta is a teacher by trade and has a foodie hobby. She teaches ‘hot to cook paella’ classes out of her apartment and this was the first thing I booked when we decided we were heading to Europe. There were nine of us taking the class today; seven from the United States and two from England. Plus Marta. And a HUUUUUGGGGEEEEEE paella pan.
A bit of background if you don’t live next door to us in Maryland (or if you haven’t stayed with us for any length of time). We love paella. Jan and I discovered the dish in Kansas City of all places and that dish is still one of our top paella dishes EVER. And we have had a lot. We bought us two of the big pans, one for us and one for when we have visitors. We cook a batch at least once a month. For special occasions. Like “Mish are coming over” to “it is Tuesday.” We have made many different kinds, usually related to what is in our cupboard at the time. Our ‘go-to’ is a mixed paella; some sort of bird, some sort of fish and some sort of sausage (cause Jimmy likes sausage). Plus veg, of course. Sometimes it comes out well. Sometimes the rats in the woods refuse to eat the result. An opportunity to learn to cook it better? Not to be missed.
The class was from 17:00-20:00 and it was very definitely hands on. We were involved in prep of veg/meat, in cooking and in the cleaning up after the meal. It took about 2 hours (after introductions were complete) for us to make a full pan of the magic rice dish. This dish was a lot like what we try to do. It had fish (cuttlefish, mussels and clams), protein (turkey and pork) and scary, scary prawns and shrimp. Yes. Those last two should be in the ‘seafood’ category but we pulled them out and put them into the ‘scary monster’ category because they were so damn big! No sausage (chorizo) which was a bit of a bummer, but I kept my chin up. And no saffron, which is our go-to spice at home. Even missing those ingredients the final result was fantastic. Excellent. Finger licking good.
And a short shout out to cuttlefish. I knew that they have excellent camouflage and can squirt ink. I didn’t know that you could eat them. Though, since they are in the same family as squid and octopus, I probably should have been able to work through that puzzle. They are edible and they are good. Think squid…but not chewy!
At 8:15pm (or so), Marta made it clear that while it was great to have us in her house for three hours, it was time for us to get the hell out. We got hugs good bye on the way out the door and headed back to the hotel. Our time in Barcelona has ended and it was great. Now we close the door on summer and head way north to Finland where the temperature is more close to Spring/Fall than summer. Which will be a nice change.