Disclosure: I was given a complimentary cooking class in exchange for this review, but as always, all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.
It was noon on a Saturday in Madrid. My friend Meg was visiting me and I wanted her to experience a variety of Spanish dishes while she was in town. Although we ate at our fair share of tapas and pinchos bars, I knew that the most memorable way to get a taste (ha!) of Spanish history and food was to take a cooking class.
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Global dining experiences with locals
Enter EatWith. EatWith doesn’t just offer your run-of-the-mill cooking classes. Rather, they offer food experiences in over 110 countries – everything from five-course dinners to food tours and beyond. And the best part? ALL of the food experiences are hosted by locals.
If there’s one thing I’m obsessed with finding abroad, it’s opportunities to connect with locals and their experiences. Where are they hanging out? What are they eating, doing, and discussing? The tourist track is definitely fun, but the best way to get the feel for a culture is by meeting locals.
So, I did a little digging and found the perfect food experience for us: a cooking class by Gabriela, an incredibly talented catering chef in Madrid. I had already done a Madrid food tour a few years prior.
And so, that’s how we found ourselves entering one of the most beautiful kitchen spaces I’ve ever seen that Saturday. Gabriela made us feel at home immediately, offering us drinks and snacks and flitting around the kitchen, setting up various ingredients.
I loved cooking with Gabriela! She reminded me a bit of my mom – talking while cooking, and always moving. She explained the history of the various dishes and even shared her personal story on how she got started cooking. She was tasked with helping with family dinner parties as the eldest child – a role I’m all too familiar with!
Before cooking, Gabriela made sure that Meg and I were hydrated and had plenty to snack on (this involved an impromptu olive oil and olive tasting session!). She also informed us that most Italian olive oil that we buy in the United States actually comes from Spain….the Italians are just better at marketing!
Naturally, we started cooking one of the most important dishes first – dessert. I was super excited because it would be my first time trying torrijas – the Spanish version of French toast that is only served around Easter. And we were trying it homemade too…how lucky is that? Being the incredibly resourceful chef that she is, Gabriela froze the remaining milk that we’d used to soak the bread, telling us that we could use it for ice cream at the end. Win!
After dessert, we circled back to cooking some of the appetizers: chicken skewers (called pintxos in Spanish) and Spanish tortilla. I’m obsessed with Spanish tortilla (essentially, a thick omelet made with potatoes and onions) and had failed miserably at making one back when I was in Los Angeles. Needless to say, I was incredibly eager to learn how to make the perfect one – and the tutorial did not disappoint. Isn’t this photo mouthwatering?
The skewers were also delicious as well. The spices made them flavorful and slightly sweet, and we even had enough leftover chicken for a few montaditos (basically, open-faced sandwiches). Gabriela was constantly inspired to add to the menu as we went along…not that Meg and I had any complaints about that!
After a short break, we put together the last few dishes: strawberry gazpacho, Mallorcan seafood salad, and the torrijas. The strawberry gazpacho was definitely one of the easiest dishes, thanks to the handy Thermomix – an expensive and magical device that can basically cook and stir to precise temperatures and textures. Seriously guys – magic. Anyway, we threw in all of the ingredients into the Thermomix and ended up with perfect strawberry gazpacho.
Spain has definitely taught me to love seafood in all forms, and the Mallorcan seafood salad was no exception. It’s actually served warm and made with shrimp, squid, garbanzo and veggies. So good.
We pan fried the bread for the torrijas at that point as well, so they would have plenty of time to cool down. Then it was time to FEAST!
And feast we did! There was SO much food and it was all spectacular. Gabriela kept us entertained with stories about Spain, her life, and her past travels. Because I’m me, we also talked about politics, history, and the refugee crisis…needless to say, the three of us had many interesting discussions.
Late and long are the best way to describe lunches in Spain, so our ice cream was ready by the time we wanted dessert. I kid you not…I’m dreaming about those torrijas as I write this. They were cinnamony and surprisingly light, perfectly balanced by ice cream and strawberries. DROOL.
Meg and I wandered out of Gabriela’s kitchen at 5 pm with two food babies in tow. We had such a fun day learning how to make some of Spain’s traditional dishes and I know that I’ll be doing more Eatwith experiences on my upcoming travels!
As you can see, my experience with EatWith and Gabriela was spectacular. Gabriela was an attentive and entertaining teacher and knew everything about food culture and history in Spain. She was also flexible with the time that we started and easily accommodated my dietary restrictions. There was only one thing that I’d change about the class: the amount of time Meg and I cooked. We helped a little bit with prep, but we both agreed that we wanted more time actually cooking in the kitchen. Gabriela was clearly comfortable cooking for others (since it’s part of her job) but we would have loved to have been a little more hands-on. Besides that, I wouldn’t change my experience one bit.
How EatWith works
What I love about EatWith is the wide range of experiences they offer. There’s everything from food tours to cool events to cooking classes. Their website makes it simple to search for the perfect event. Start by entering the city you’re visiting. From there, you can filter by date, price, the number of guests in your group, and more. It’s also worth noting that you can filter by “special diet,” which means you don’t have to worry about missing out if you eat halal, are vegetarian, or have food allergies – something I appreciate. You can also filter by the map function, which is useful if you don’t want to travel far for your experience. For cities with lots of hosts, EatWith also curates lists of their favorite experiences. Awesome!
Once you find your class of choice, enter the date(s) you’d like, the number of people, and hit request to book. You can add in an introduction and any special requests or questions you have as well. Your card won’t be charged unless your host confirms the experience. Any other questions you might have can be found on the FAQs page.
Although each person is bound to have a unique experience using EatWith due to the variety of hosts, cuisines, locations and experiences available, I can honestly say that I wholeheartedly recommend this platform. The ability to interact with locals through food is one of the greatest joys of travel, and EatWith makes it incredibly easy to do just that. I’m confident that I’ll be using their platform again during upcoming travels – and you should too! Book your experience HERE.
More Spain ResourcesPlanning a trip to Spain soon? Check out ALL my posts on Spain below:
- Spain Travel Guide
- The Budget Guide to Barcelona
- The Ultimate Valencia Travel Guide: 20+ Awesome Things to Do in Valencia, Spain
- The Foodie Guide to the Best Restaurants in Valencia Spain
- The Best Paella Cooking Class in Valencia Spain: Escuela de Arroces
- Valencia Food Tour: Treats and Tastes with Valencia Urban Adventures
- Exploring Street Art in Valencia, Spain
- Budget Guide to Madrid
- The Solo Traveler Guide to Andalusia, Spain
- Tapas and Taverns with Madrid Food Tours
- A Weekend Guide to Bilbao
- The Art of Finding and Ordering the Best Pintxos in San Sebastian
- 24 Hours in Valencia: A Tale of Enchantment
- Why I’m Spending Summer in Valencia, Spain
- Sleeping and Socializing: Cats Hostel Madrid Lavapiés Review
- EatWith Review: Dining with Locals and Spain in Beyond
Tell me: Have you ever participated in a food experience while traveling? What did you learn from locals?
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