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Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain

Catalan Cooking Class in Girona

In Food Travel, Spain by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch23 Comments

Are you curious about Catalan food and how to cook it? So were we until we took a Catalan cooking class at Tots a Taula in Girona.

Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain

First impressions mean a lot -- even in a Catalan cooking class in the heart of Girona Spain. That’s why we knew right away that we were in good hands when Tots a Taula owner Xavier Escatllar warmly welcomed us to his brightly lit, modern kitchen and proudly walked us through his conveniently located backyard garden filled with seasonal fare like sage, mandarin oranges and quince.

Xavier Escatllar - Tots a Tula Cooking School

Xavier Escatllar poses in front of his Tots a Taula cooking school located& in central Girona.

“It’s not just an activity, but it’s also a matter of tradition and health.”

While traveling in countries like India and Thailand, Tots a Taula’s Escatllar gained a global perspective while maintaining his appreciation for the Catalan food culture. Now that he’s back in Girona and teaching cooking classes in his family’s converted building, Escatllar combines his love for Catalan cuisine with a philosophy that cooking should be flexible depending on personal preference.

Though not a classically trained chef, Escatllar is adept in the kitchen while remaining patient with “students” like us. Friendly and welcoming, he made us feel comfortable and ready to learn some new Catalan cooking skills. This is the kind of teacher we prefer whether it’s for a cooking class in Florence or anywhere else in the world.

Chopping Onions - Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain

Escatllar demonstrates his onion chopping technique for Daryl.

Tots a Taula is more than a traditional cooking school. It’s a hands-on culinary experience filled with Catalan hospitality plus plenty of food and Emporda wine. In other words, it’s the ideal cooking school for travelers to Costa Brava such as ourselves.

Catalan Cooking in Girona Video

Watch our video to see the class in action.

Catalan Cooking in Girona

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Catalan Cooking Class at Tots a Taula

Prep Work - Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain

During the Catalan cooking class at Tots a Taula, we helped Escatllar with the slicing, dicing and stirring of fresh Catalan ingredients.

Though the expansive kitchen and long dining room table can comfortably accommodate 8 to 14 students, we were the only students for our Tuesday afternoon class. For three hours, we laughed while we interactively learned how to cook a handful of classic Catalan dishes.

We also sliced, diced and stirred, enabling us to take 3% of the credit for the wonderful dishes that we ate with gusto after the three-hour class. Yes, we give Escatllar 97% of the credit for the food. After all, they are his recipes and we were just his sous chefs for the day.

Catalan Food

 Carquinyolis - Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain

Similar to biscotti, these Carquinyolis are extra crunchy and have a delightful flavor thanks to the addition of homemade anise liqueur.

“You get more conscious of what you’re eating” when you cook.

True to his words, Escatllar made us conscious of what we were about to eat while we assisted him with four traditional Catalan dishes.

Attentive and entertaining, Escatllar shared Catalan cooking tips and stories, making the food come to life in a way that is different from when we’ve eaten similar dishes in restaurants. Together with Escatllar, we made all of the dishes with no more than two pots and using products procured from local markets and shops.

Pan Con Tomate (Tomato Bread)

Pan Con Tomate - Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain

Pan Con Tomate -- So Simple, Yet So Delicious

Of all great food that we’ve eaten in Costa Brava (and there’s been a lot!), Pan Con Tomate is the dish that has quickly become part of the 2foodtrippers dining repertoire. This simple dish only requires four ingredients -- bread, tomatoes, garlic and salt, with the end result so much better than the separate parts.

Pro Tip: Add anchovies to Pan Con Tomate for a salty zing to this Catalan cooking favorite.

Samfaina (Ratatouille) with Poached Egg

Samfaina - Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain

Samfaina combines fresh Catalan products to create a vegetarian stew. Adding a poached egg isn’t necessary but is highly recommended.

True confession: we’re not big fans of eggplant. Or at least we weren’t until we helped Escatllar make Samfaina. Then again, maybe the eggplants are just better in Costa Brava.

We’ll have to test out that theory once we’re home and can recreate this colorful, tasty dish on our own. Either way, we both cleaned our plates and didn’t miss meat for a moment.

Cod with Catalan Style Spinach

Cod with Catalan Style Spinach - Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain

This Cod with Catalan Style Spinach dish is not yet complete. Once we cooked it and added aioli, the dish& was perfect.

Going back to the days before refrigeration when fish had to be preserved for later consumption, salt cod remains a staple in Catalan cooking. We’ve long appreciated salt cod in bacalao, but Escatllar’s version competes well with its underbelly of spinach loaded with pine nuts and raisins. Adding a dollop of fresh aioli took this dish to the next level, especially since we had just whipped up the aioli, a Catalan invention, with a hand blender.

Crema Catalana and Carquinyolis (Biscotti)

Crema Catalana with Carquinyolis - Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain

Crema Catalana with Carquinyolis

Costa Brava is a region with a strong appreciation for dessert. We’ve tasted a lot of desserts during our time in Girona, and our favorite may be Crema Catalana, though the xuixo pastries at Casa Moner are a top contender.

Similar to France’s Crème Brûlée for its texture and glass-like, shattering burnt sugar top, Crema Catalana is different from the French dessert due to the inclusion of cinnamon and orange peel in its creamy base. The crunchy Carquinyolis, similar to Biscotti, provided a nice counterbalance to the lush Crema Catalana.

We left Tots a Tula smarter about Catalan food than we arrived, plus we made a new friend in Escatllar. Hopefully, we’ll take more cooking classes in our future travels. High on our wish list is learning how to cook paella in Valencia. Until then, we will make Tomate Con Tomate wherever we are in the world.

Hungry for more great food in Costa Brava? Check out our Girona Food Guide for great food and drink options in and around Girona Spain.

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Click here to research the best rates for hotels in Girona Spain. Click here to find an Airbnb apartment if you want access to a kitchen to practice your new Catalan cooking skills.

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There’s more to do in Girona than cooking great food. Click here to find an awesome Girona tour or try one of these tours:

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We thank Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava Girona for supporting our visit to Costa Brava. We also thank Xavier Escatllar from Tots a Taula for hosting, teaching and feeding us to facilitate this article.

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About the Author

Saveur Magazine's BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.


  1. What a fun way to learn about the culture! I love taking cooking classes and this one looks like it was really fun and productive.

    1. Author

      We can’t stop eating the Pan Con Tomate! It’s so easy to make and tastes so good.

  2. OMG I love Crema Catalana! There was a place that made a great one here in Orlando that closed recently. I’ll have to give this recipe a try and see if I can come close.

  3. Looks amazing we are headed to Barcelona tomorrow actually to enjoy some the food and sights. The Crema Catalana looks amazing and something we will set out try as we have been having the most amazing creme brulee in Lisbon this week.

    1. Author

      Depending on how long you’re in Barcelona, you should plan a day trip to Girona – it’s just a 38 minute train ride away. We love it here!

  4. I love cooking classes and this looks like a fabulous one!
    Awesome that you snagged the recipe too – I love creating exotic dishes from far flung corners of the world and have a stack of recipes from loads of cooking courses to pick from 🙂

    1. Author

      Cooking classes are a great way to learn about a culture while making and eating tasty food. Like you, we’ll be doing more of these in the future. And, yes, this was a fabulous one.

  5. I’d love to spend my birthday in Barcelona next year and I’m thinking about a day trip to Girona as well. I’d love to attend a cooking class too, as I absolutely love Catalan food 🙂

    1. Author

      What a great way to spend your birthday! As for the cooking class, we definitely recommend Tots a Taula!

  6. YUM!! This is my kinda cooking class. The tomato bread looks amazing and the ratatouille with poached egg, hell yes!

    1. Author

      Melody – You would definitely love this cooking class. Now that you know where Girona is, you need to plan a trip!

  7. OMG I loved Pan Con Tomate when visiting Costa Brava! I’d never have thought of adding anchovy to the paste. I’m going to try that this week!!!!

    1. Author

      We learned to just put an anchovy on top of the pan con tomate as opposed to in the paste, though that sounds tasty too. Please let us know how your version tastes.

  8. This would be so much fun. I love cooking and pan con tomate is one of my favorite things that has been shared with me by traveling foodie friends. Maybe I’ll try for doing some cooking classes on a trip… cuz I would be all up for it!

  9. Catalan cuisine is the best! Love your crema catalana take, and the pan con tomate. I actually really like eggplant, so thumbs up for that too!

  10. Wow, that tomato bread is really interesting, never heard of anything like that. I do love this: ” We also sliced, diced and stirred, enabling us to take 3% of the credit for the wonderful dishes that we ate with gusto after the three-hour class.” 3% credit, ha! Hope you enjoyed some good cider or wine, too!

    1. Author

      Oh yes, we enjoyed excellent Montsant wine. Catalan wine is as good as the food.

  11. I love how hands-on cooking classes are – really takes the culinary experience of a new destination tot a totally different level. Sounds like you had a fabulous time! I swear the teachers who run these classes are magicians though lol because I do a wonderful job when I’m there but then can never replicate the recipes at home!

  12. Hi Daryl & Mindi, right now planning a trip to Girona region and scrolling through your articles, great stuff… will definitely try to get into tha cooking class recommended…. Cheers, Eddy

    1. Author

      Xavier runs a great class and it’s close to the city center. He’s also a great guy. If you see him, tell him we said hello.

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