Twenty Hours in Barcelona

In August, I made the 2.5 hour train trip from Agde, France to Barcelona, Spain for dinner with my EatWith colleague Papa Serra. What an evening it was! My AirBnB rental was in one of the old areas where the narrow streets aren’t accessible by car. As the apartment was a fifth floor walk up (6th floor in the US!) and the room looked directly into the window across the way, I gained a good understanding of what it must’ve been like to live in a Lower East Side tenement! However, as it was clean, comfortable, safe, inexpensive and only two blocks from Joel, it suited me very well. The neighborhood was an interesting, ethnically mixed one with many small restaurants, bakeries and shops. 

I couldn’t help stopping for just a few tapas and a glass of  Cava (dry, sparkling Catalan wine) before checking in! Time for Papa Serra! After over two years of knowing each other on line, we were very happy to finally meet in person. Papa has a FABULOUS apartment on Trafalgar with a roof terrace of MONUMENTAL proportions and stunning views of Barcelona. I felt lucky just to BE there let alone attend a dinner party there! On this evening, he was sold out with 24 guests. Whilst Joel’s family originally comes from Barcelona, he has spent time living in Tazmania and New Zealand as well. His marvelous cuisine reflected these influences in each the five courses. He personally introduced each course and questions were welcome. 

The table setting chic but not fussy and invited guests to feel at home. Most of the 24 guests were from Germany  (he’d just been featured on a German travel show), but I sat next to two charming (and fun!) young ladies from Edinburgh. As with every EatWith event, eating a home cooked meal around a table together, especially with a host like Joel “Papa” Sera. You’d be making a mistake to visit Barcelona without eating with him. Read all about him here. I caught a train the next day. I’d only spent 20 hours in Barcelona, but, thanks to Papa Serra, my time there is a memory I will always treasure. 

Bon appétit!

Eating With a Star Chef in Barcelona

 On September 3, I’m eating with Chef Joel “Papa” Sera Jr in Barcelona at his EatWith event “Tapas by Papa.” I am beyond excited! Read all about what Joel will be preparing here. I’m taking the train from Beziers to Barcelona and staying the night there. I’m hoping to find some flamenco after dinner! Papa Sera leads culinary tours in Barcelona (I would seriously LOVE to go on one), teaches classes, own a restaurant and even appeared on MasterChef! He also just published his first cookbook Papalasophy. You can bet I will be blogging about this experience!

Here’s a great interview with this rising culinary star and the road he’s travelled.

Bon appetit!

Eat With Tess! Stay With Tess!

EatWith has truly been one of the most marvelous things that had ever happened to me, and I am so grateful to my guests for letting me do what I love.  I have even been lucky enough to have guests from Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Wheeling and other far-flung spots come to Westerville just to EatWith me!  

Since I’m already an enthusiasticpart of the sharing economy and since I have the room (and since the house hasn’t sold!), I decided why not provide a place for out of town guests to stay?

 So I have! Click here to see it!

Next you eat with me, perhaps you can stay with me, too. 

Bon Appètit and Bon Voyage!

Slow Cooker Beef Bone Stock 

Did you know Julia Child’s very first show featured the classic French stew, Boeuf Bourguignon? It is one of my very favorite episodes and recipes! Watch it here. It’s so great!

Beginning in October, I am adding “Dinner in Burgundy” to my EatWith Fall/Winter offerings, and few dishes suit the season better than Boeuf Bourguignon. 

As with many classic French recipes, good stock is an essential element of Boeuf Bourguignon. Luckily, beef stock is easy to make! You end up with a far superior, healthier product when you make your own, and you will save a lot of money as well. I am going to walk you through the steps. I use a slow cooker (the best invention ever for making stock and a lot of other things!). For stock, I use my 6 qt Hamilton Beach Stay or Go cooker  because the lid clamps down tight so there’s less evaporation. You will find the entire recipe under my Recipes tab, so don’t just follow the steps! Read the recipe! Ask the meat department at your grocery store or your butcher to save marrow bones for you. They are very inexpensive. You can also use oxtail bones. I like to use a combination of the two. 

As always, feel free to ask me questions. 
Enjoy, and bon appétit!

The Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Line a heavy, rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place your marrow bones and root vegetables on the sheet. Spray or or lightly brush all with olive oil. VERY IMPORTANT! If you are canning your broth, do not use any oil! Oil can not be canned safely. Simply roast the root vegetables by themselves.
  3. Place sheet in preheated oven and roast for 20 minutes. Shake the sheet and roast for 20 more minutes. When you remove them, the vegetables and bones will be a deep golden brown. Your house will smell  AMAZING!
  4. Place your roasted marrow bones, root vegetables and the remaining ingredients in a 6 qt slow cooker. Fill to the top with water, cover and set on high. After one or two hours, set cooker to low and leave it alone for 24 to 36 hours. No opening the lid! Meat stocks need to cook for much longer than poultry stock. The longer you cook them, the better they will be. A note on bay leaves: there is a difference between domestic California bay leaves (typically available in the United States) and French  bay leaves. The latter is sweeter and more complex. To achieve an authentic flavor in your French recipes, use Mediterranean bay leaves. Often, they come from Turkey. That’s fine. They are still the same type of bay leaves.
  5. Take the crock out of the slow cooker, remove the lid and cool on a heat safe surface for 15 minutes.
  6. Strain the broth through a fine wire mesh sieve like this. If you don’t have one, you can line a regular colander with cheesecloth. If you want SUPER clear broth (I don’t worry about it myself), line a fine mesh sieve with cheesecloth. 
  7. Nest the bowl strained broth in ice and stir frequently until broth is room temperature (about 15 minutes).  The voice of experience, make sure the melting ice doesn’t overflow and flood your counter!
  8. Cover stock and refrigerate for six hours (or longer if it’s more convenient). The fat will solidify on the surface. Remove it with a slotted spoon and discard. While this certainly makes the stock healthier, you can skip this step if you want a richer stock. The fat will reincorporate when the stock is heated. 
  9. Your stock is done! It will keep in the fridge for three days, frozen for three months or canned for one year.  Canning is definitely preferred because it best preserves the flavor. It also saves precious freezer space, AND  you can safely store it for up to one year. In a future post, I will show you how to can stock. It’s safe and easy to can. If I can can, anyone can can!

Bon appetit!


French Pickled Garlic

When pickled, garlic retains all the flavor of fresh garlic without the “bite” or oder. This is because the acid in vinegar breaks down the the oder-causing components in garlic. Pickled Garlic has long been a part of French cuisine and is often served as an appetizer. It’s particularly popular in Normandy. I prepared a  batch last night in preparation for my EatWith “Dinner In Normandy” offering which will go live in mid-September. You can find the recipe for French Pickled Garlic here. 

I’m leaving for a month in France tomorrow and will begin my stay with a week and a half at Casa Belle. Gilles, who is both host and chef, has kindly invited me to observe him in the kitchen. Such a treat! Since Pickled Garlic needs to brine for four to five weeks, it will be ready to enjoy when I return in a month….and enjoy it I shall!

Bon appétit!

Tess