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Catalan Cooking Class In Girona

Are you curious about Catalan food and how to cook it? So were we until we took a Catalan cooking class at 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 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 now-closed 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, Escatllar gained a global perspective while maintaining his appreciation for the Catalan food culture. After returning to Girona , Escatllar combined 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.

Now permanently closed, Tots a Taula was more than a traditional cooking school. It was a hands-on culinary experience filled with Catalan hospitality plus plenty of food and Emporda wine. In other words, it was an ideal cooking school for travelers to Spain such as ourselves.

Catalan Cooking Class

Prep Work - Catalan Cooking Class in Girona Spain
During our Catalan cooking class, we helped Escatllar with the slicing, dicing and stirring of fresh Catalan ingredients.

Though the expansive kitchen and long dining room table comfortably accommodated 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 the cooking class 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 Pan Con Tomate wherever we are in the world.

Catalan Cooking Class Video

Watch our YouTube video to see the class in action.

Plan Your Girona Trip

Perafita Winery in Costa Brava
You can explore Costa Brava when you stay overnight in Girona.

Girona Planning Checklist

Hungry For More In Girona?

Check out our Girona Food Guide for great food and drink options in and around Girona, Spain.

About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.

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Article Updates
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.

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

Original Publication Date: December 7, 2016

Eddy Harteneck

Sunday 23rd of July 2017

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

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Sunday 23rd of July 2017

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.

Megan Jerrard

Tuesday 13th of December 2016

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!

Sarah Stierch

Monday 12th of December 2016

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!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Monday 12th of December 2016

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

Danni Lawson

Monday 12th of December 2016

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!

Rob Taylor

Sunday 11th of December 2016

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!