I took my Spanish/ Mexican loving friend Zack (he wants to be Latino and will always speak Spainsh whenever he can to show off… he he), and upon arrival until we left hours and hours later, we were showered with cava. It made for a very joyous evening but to be honest, I couldn’t taste the difference in the many selection we drank after about the 3rd bottle – if it was fizzy and in a flute – it was fantastic!
Rachel is a small Scottish lady with a very strong Scottish accent. One could be intimidated. She might punch you in the nose is one of my first impressions of her – but (thankfully) I was proved wrong almost immediately. Rachel has a mesmerizing accent and the tone in her voice is full of grace and seduction. You’d want to listen to her, you’d want to hear what she is telling you. You’d want to be in her company. The lady kicks ass in a big way – I have grown to be very fond of Rachel.
Rachel has been running monthly Catalan cookery classes at Bea’s. She also does public demonstrations at various food places and festivals. She also does private classes in people’s homes so you can book her for a fab fun day of cooking where you can go shopping together and make dinner with your friends and for your friends. I have not been, this would be my first encounter with her cooking.
Spainish food is not my favourite food – there I have said it – I have other favourite food such as Italian – I will always choose Italian, but I have worked with (Simon) Fernandez who is a great Spanish cook and has cooked a lot of wonderful Spanish dishes such as his brilliant paella – has geared me towards liking it much more. There were too many bad food experiences in Spain where I probably just went to the wrong places over and over again for greasy aubergines and oily chorizo. I have since become entirely critical about Spanish food and most people say I am crazy for not loving Spanish food.
But good food is always good when its done well as in the case with Simon Fernandez and in the case with Rachel McCormack. I will eat their Spainish/ Catalan food any day because its good.
Rachel spent most of her 20s in Barcelona. There she learnt from eating, cooking and being a local. She tells me she wants to raise more awareness of her beloved cuisine to the UK as she faces many people like me who just love Italian food and will choose that over Spanish food. In the UK, French and Italian are more known, just like Chinese and Thai is over Vietnamese.
Tapas is such a great idea though and Rachel teaches these amongst other themes such as rice dishes on her courses. She just wants Spanish food and wine to be respected just like French & Italian. Maybe one day, I hope to see a big massive statue of Rachel McCormack – she says it would have to be in Placa San Jaume in Barcelona for services to Catalan Culture in the UK.
For the Codorníu event, Rachel served up a fantastic 4 course meal and my favourite were the delightful fluffy, hot cod doughnuts – crispy on the outside:
Here is Rachel’s recipe for the cod doughnuts (which I think she is crazy for giving away) They are sublime! I will try these as soon as possible and make batches for the freezer.
Bunyols de Bacalla (Cod Doughnuts)
3 medium eggs 75 g self-raising flour 60 g butter 2 cloves garlic 125 ml milk 200g salt cod soaked for at least 24 hours 1tbs chopped parsley 1ltrs oil for deep frying Salt
Weigh the ingredients. Chop the garlic and parsley until they are really tiny. Put the milk, the salt and the butter in a pot and put on to simmer. Cut and pull the cod until it’s in tiny strips. When the milk is about to boil and the butter has melted put all the flour in immediately and keep stirring. Take the pan off the heat and put the mix in a food processor or a blending bowl. Add the eggs one by one (whole is fine), then add the cod, the parlsey and the garlic. Mix with the food processor or hand blender until they are all blended and leave for 30 minutes to rest.
Heat the oil in pan for deep frying and add the batter to the hot oil a teaspoon at a time, leaving enough room for the bunyols to inflate.
Once cooked remove from the hot oil and place on kitchen paper to drain. —End
Then I had the tuna tartare – both Zack and I had nothing to say throughout other than “hhhmmm” til we polished the thing off. Utterly delicious. Rachel has kindly written the recipe for us to enjoy:
Tartar de Tonyina (Tuna Tartar) Serves 4 as a starter
350 g of boneless skinless tuna 1 ½ teaspoons of wholegrain mustard 1 ½ tablespoons of soy sauce ½ tablespoon of sherry vinegar Extra Virgin olive oil 2 spring onions Chopped chives 1 ripe avocado Teaspoon lemon juice
Chop the tuna into small pieces and put in a bowl. Add the soy sauce, the mustard the sherry vinegar and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
Cover with a plastic film and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
Mash the avocado with a fork and add the lemon juice and some salt. (you want quite a rough texture)
To serve: either use a metal ring or an empty can of condensed milk and place a couple of soup spoons of avocado at the bottom, press down, then a couple of spoons of tuna and press down. Remove the ring or can and sprinkle some chives in top. Serve with croutons.
Alternatively you can shape the tuna and avocado into quenelles with two dessert spoons and serve them side by side.
I think Rachel should have her own radio show or TV show. I would love to watch her and thank goodness I like her cooking as I really love her.
Thank you to Clarion for inviting me and Zack to this event – he really loved it and even managed to speak Spanish (very well indeed I must add). We did not pay for the meal and we drank a lot of wonderful Codorníu Cava. Thank you Thank you for a wonderful evening.