I’ve been waiting a while to tell you about this project I’ve been working on, and the time is finally (almost) ripe, so…… introducing Slow Food Kitchen Barcelona!
I am delighted to be collaborating with my good friends Chiara and Daniele, who run the Slow Food Barcelona chapter, on this project. Given the Slow Food philosphy, a teaching kitchen just plain makes sense. We will be offering regular classes starting October 23. The workshops will cover a variety of themes and cuisines, all of them highlighting local, high quality produce sourced carefully and responsibly, in which our purveyors are people with names and faces, and they play a big role.
I will start out on Oct. 23 by teaching classes in English for visitors in Barcelona. There are lots of cooking classes in Barcelona geared towards tourists, but sadly they all seem to offer the same, stereotypical menus. Our intention -and finding the way was not easy, I’ll admit- is to give travelers what they want (the rice! the sangría!) while still preserving a high quality and authentic version of the local cuisine. I’m proud of what we have in mind so far, please stay tuned, the kitchen’s website is about to go live (I’ll link it when it does).
Our inaugural event, a soft opening with limited seats available, will take place this Monday October 1, which is Sake Day. We will offer a tasting of 4 locally produced sakes with a Japanese-inspired, locally sourced food pairing, prepared by my Japanese cook Saeko Oba and yours truly.
In all of Europe there are only 4 sake producers, and 2 of them are right here in Catalunya. One makes sake with rice imported from Japan , and one uses local rice, grown right here in the Delta de l’Ebre, the most important rice-producing region in Europe. The latter, Kensho, is the company we will be collaborating with for this event.
Kensho also produces 3 types of organic miso, which as you may know by now is one of my all-time favorite ingredients, and we wanted to highlight that in one of the menu recipes as well. I tasted their three miso varieties, and surprisingly my favorite was the chickpea miso; Humbert, the founder of the company, explained to me that because his emphasis is on producing locally, making miso out of chickpeas -which are much more local here than soy, of course- just made sense. Perhaps that’s why I found it the tastiest one.
There are a few tickets left for the sake pairing this Monday, October 1st at 7pm. If you happen to find yourself in Barcelona and are interested in attending, please send an email ASAP to email@example.com
Here’s the link to the event page with some more info.
This recipe was a test for the event, but it didn’t land on the menu, so I’m sharing it here. Green beans are currently in season and I got some lovely ones from my local produce provider; they are a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine, often featured in shojin ryori, Japanese temple cuisine, which I had the enormous pleasure of experiencing in Koyasan last June.
Green Beans with Miso Walnut Sauce
60g/2.5oz raw walnuts, freshly shelled
2 Tb miso of choice
6 Tb mirin (sweet rice wine; you could also use a combination of sake and sugar)
1/2 kg/1 lb green beans
1 Tb sesame oil (untoasted)
Prepare the sauce: toast the walnuts in a hot dry skillet for a few minutes, and right before they start to brown, remove from heat and let cool. Crush them in a surbachi or mortar and pestle.
In a small saucepan, combine the miso with the mirin (or sake and sugar) and stir over low heat just until melded and dissolved. Turn off heat (careful not to destroy the beneficial properties of the miso) and add in crushed walnuts. Reserve.
Wash the green beans and prep them by chopping off the tips and trimming into about 2-inch batons. Blanch the green beans in salted water for a minute. Refresh in an ice water bath to stop cooking. Meanwhile, heat up a wok or cast iron skillet until very hot, add the oil and the green beans and sauté for a minute or two. Remove from heat.
Line up the green beans on individual serving plates or a platter, and top with a generous dollop of the sauce. Enjoy with chopsticks (and sake, of course).