Has anyone else noticed how the city of London has a supernatural way of metamorphosing regular human beings into exotic species of foodie. There are the fine foodies, who wear Michelin stars like jewellery, their life events accompanied by rooftop dinners and sensual cocktails, who speak a language of sous-vide and gougères. There are the street foodies, supported by a padded pair of trainers, traipsing zealously between London’s most renowned markets and obscure corners to find brioche burgers with insanely tender pulled pork, obese Burritos exsanguinating chilli sauce and brownies so squidgy you could sink in them (and I happily would).
There are also the Masterchefs-in-the-making, for whom every sleepy Sunday is an opportunity to cook flawlessly coordinated appetisers at gourmet dinner parties you will never reciprocate, because you know with a heavy heart that your best lasagne simply won’t compare. Certainly, this is the apprehension that stops me from cooking for friends more often. But what can be said of tapas? Can tapas change everything?
Here’s the thing about it that should appeal to those of you who love to entertain and cook but have no plans to serve food in jam jars, on fire or with sound effects. Tapas is all about small portions and sharing plates so you can cook it simply in handy bite-sized chunks. Most tapas dishes can be served either hot or cold and many can be prepared in advance. This gives me ample time to get it wrong and start over. Believe me, it happens. Often.
Learning to cook tapas at Jenius Social
Before blogging, I was the wife who nagged Pumpkin tirelessly about number of hours spent on (his) smart phone. Post-blogging, I myself metaamorphosed into a common species known as hypocrite but I know I am not the only travel blogger guilty of trying to get in a tweet here and an Instagram there whilst on holiday. With Three’s international phone plans, you can use your phone abroad at no extra cost – yes no extra cost (!) in a whole host of countries and with Spain being the latest to be added to the list, I gladly accepted their invitation to celebrate with a feast of tapas at the #ComeDineWithThree event. Supervising us for the afternoon was a charismatic chef from the friendly team at Jenius Social, who has trained and worked all over the world with the likes of Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi.
Aside from learning which herbs need sprinkling into the dishes and the correct melange of ingredients that gives the chorizo that intensity and the asparagus that crunch, we learned some useful basics such as the optimal way to butterfly prawns, empty out a pomegranate, even zest a lemon. I got my hands messy marinating the tangy feta, pomegranate and citrus salad, which was bursting with summer colours and nutritional goodness before joining forces with the tortilla-creators.
Feta, pomegranate and citrus salad
A Spanish potato and chorizo tortilla in the making
The finished tortilla
Prawns with garlic and lemon
Asparagus and Figs in Parma Ham
Baked figs with balsamic vinegar and Parma ham
What I loved about our final tapas meal was the way in which the varying hues, food groups and key flavours drew together to deliver a dinner that was delicately balanced into harmonious equilibrium. We had carbs, protein and dairy, we had vitamins, minerals and natural fats and we were at liberty to take as little or as much as we wanted. That’s part of the charm of tapas cookery. Jenius Social is a charming little space just a stone’s throw from Holloway Road station, where you can participate in group or private cookery classes, attend supper clubs or arrange corporate events. And if you have specific dietary requirements, fear not, the chef told us he takes this as a welcome challenge!
They were impressively accommodating, not at any stage implying we had outstayed our welcome despite the fact that we continued blabbing away amongst ourselves long after the meal was finished. They kindly even boxed up the leftover tapas for us to take home and as the non-beef-eater in the group, this meant I got all the excess chorizo – definitely a winner, not to mention Pumpkin, who took very little time to clear out the contents of my goody bag…And of course, what is a blogger event without the paparazzi, which Three preempted rather well by loaning us super-snazzy Samsung mobiles to photograph our day with. Kristina, Katy and I were given a choice of two different models and I spent the afternoon flirting with the Samsung S5 but frankly, they were preaching to the converted. Apologies to all you staunch followers of the Apple religion but I have been a loyal Samsung user for years and nearly all my blog images are from my Samsung smart phone.I have written before about my experience of cookery classes in Vietnam and Bali but I have always wondered whether I would actually be able to reproduce those tantalising South East Asian flavours at home. But with this quick and easy tapas meal, perhaps even I may be able to play host after all. Who is willing to be my guinea pig and which of these dishes would you most like me to make? 🙂
I was a guest of Three Mobile and Jenius Social for this cookery class but I remain an opinionated little lady and all views, good or bad, are entirely my own.