Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at: www.urbaneguerilla.wordpress.com
Published August 3rd 2015
Brendan explores the world of Spanish cookery with us
I like food. I make no secret of the fact. I like eating it, I like writing about it, I like talking about it and I like cooking it.
Taste Budds kitchen (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
The classes cover a wide range of topics. This one in particular was on Spanish Cookery, but the range is wide.
The concept is simple. The school provides recipes, all the produce, herbs, spices, all the implements, knives, stoves and preparation area together with tutor and under their guidance the roughly grouped teams cook and then gather at the long refectory table and eat what they have cooked, sharing among all.
Taste Budds communal table (Photograph by D Sutherland-Bruce)
In reality, a large part of the fun, and it was a hugely enjoyable evening, comes from the interaction between the students, united in the charming task of cooking food.
This evening there were fifteen of us, grouped into three teams of five, each team cooking four dishes. I have never cooked specifically Spanish food so I was really looking forward to it.
A short safety lecture and we were off - Brendan wandered around, answering a question here, demonstrating a technique there, encouraging, explaining and showing - while we chopped, diced, seared and peeled to our hearts content, chatting among ourselves and getting to know each other.
Prawns Pil Pil (Photograph by N Moremon)
I don't know if we were particularly lucky, but our group of five were lovely - a pet photographer, a pastry cook in training with a wonderful 1940's 'do', her husband, a fly-in, fly-out worker with a gorgeous handlebar moustache who restored old cars, his mother-in-law Maureen and an aging, balding overweight food writer.
As there was no pressure and no competitive spirit we worked beautifully together, the various tasks being distributed and carried out with a hum of happy chatter us an undertone to the preparation.
Go Team 3! - Kate, Natalie, Douglas, Maureen and Alan (Photograph courtesy of N Moremon)
Kate and I prepared the Estofado de Toro, (beef stew) while Natalie and Alan, rustled up Torta de Santiago, a wonderful Almond meal cake drizzled with lemon syrup.
Once the stew was well on the simmer we turned our attention to the Prawns Pil Pil, which we prepared ready for the short cooking time.
Once the food was all ready we sat down at the long table to pass the food around and eat.
Firstly, the thing to remember is that the recipes were not complicated or terribly challenging, but the unusual flavours and pride of ownership gave the food a warm and delicious taste.
Secondly, the food was all well-prepared and very tasty, with the exception of the Croqetas Iberian and Paprika Aioli, which were absolutely phenomenal. We didn't make them, but I watched them being made and Lord knows I ate enough of them.
These fabulous croquettes (Photograph by N Moremon)