You’ve gawped at Gaudi’s works, peeked in the Picasso Museum & rambled down La Rambla. And now you’re hungry. But perhaps you are hoping for something a little more authentic than the pre-packed, frozen paellas offered in many tourist traps. How about learning to cook paella for yourself, in the home of a local teacher? A paella cooking class in Barcelona Spain is the perfect way to sample authentic Spanish food – and take the recipe home to make it yourself!
Marta’s Paella Cooking Class in Barcelona Spain
I am a big fan of paella, so I have been waiting for a chance to try Marta’s Famous Paella Cooking Class in Barcelona to learn to make it. A paella expert and super host, Marta was once the 3rd best ‘attraction’ in Barcelona according to TripAdvisor.
Until they changed her category to ‘activity’, she explained, grinning about her heady days of TA fame. Despite the challenges with Tripadvisor, most of her students usually find her through her profile on Tripadvisor, as she is consistently ranked as one of the best cooking classes in Barcelona.
She also has a page on Facebook, ‘Marta amb tu cuinem’ where you can contact her for classes.
You may also like these other cooking classes in Barcelona:
Once everyone had arrived Marta welcomed us all with an introduction about herself, and how she began teaching her paella cooking classes here in her native Barcelona. After living in the US for many years, she left her teaching job in the States and returned back home to Barcelona.
Unsure of what to do next, she started cooking vegetarian meals and offered a few cooking classes in English, then one of her students asked her how to make paella, so she showed them. Her paella cooking classes grew in popularity and she now makes a living teaching people how to make this spectacular dish, as well as continuing her other vegetarian classes so is a real one-woman cooking school in Barcelona!
What is Paella?
Paella is a traditional Spanish dish, named after the wide, shallow metal dish that it is cooked in – a paella pan. The original paella was made with chicken and rabbit in Valencia, but now seafood paella is most common throughout Spain. You can now also find vegetarian paellas, chicken and chorizo, and other recipes.
The key ingredient is rice, which is added to the pan with the already cooked meat and vegetables. Fish or chicken stock is added, and a pinch of saffron gives the rice a beautiful yellow colour.
Although paella originates from Valencia it is well worth sampling while you are in Barcelona, as well as the local version called Fideuà which is made from vermicelli-style noodles instead of rice. Marta has perfected her own recipe for Paella over the years and is quick to mention it is simply her preferred recipe, and that everyone adds their own personal touch.
Preparing the Paella Ingredients
We were each given a recipe to make notes on, and Marta introduced the ingredients one by one, explaining her choices, and what changes we could make & why. Then we all lent a hand; chopping peppers, onions, garlic and the rest.
All this took place in the living area of the flat, and we actually cooked outside on the terrace, which I’m sure would be beautiful in spring, although a little chilly in December! Marta had bought a purpose-built gas paella barbecue, whose rings perfectly fit her large 16-person paella pan. But of course, you don’t need one of those to make paella, a normal hob will do just fine.
For a traditional paella though, you really do need the proper paella pan, which cooks the rice evenly, while letting it crisp up a little on the bottom. You can buy paella pans in every large supermarket in Spain, or have a look online.
Cooking and Eating our Paella
And then the cooking began. Everything was done according to the recipe we had been given; frying the prawns, cuttlefish, pork and chicken separately, before starting with the sofrito which would become the base of the paella, then adding in the rice, re-introducing the rest of the ingredients, and the stock.
The actually cooking took a lot less time than I had imagined, which was great news as our stomachs were all rumbling by then! When the rice was just tender we began to decorate our paella, returning the prawns and meat carefully to the pan, and creating patterns with the steamed mussels and strips of roasted pepper.
It looked amazing, so colourful & bright; bursting with flavours and smells. Finally came the moment we had all been waiting for, and Marta served us one by one our plates of steaming paella. Flavourful rice, juicy prawns and scrumptious clams filled each delicious mouthful.
‘How many paellas have you made in your life?’ I asked her. ‘Oh, definitely more than I can count!’ she laughed. Marta chose not to share the paella with us this time, and with paella cooking classes at least once or twice a week I don’t blame her.
But with so much practice and so many happy customers, it’s easy to see how Marta’s paella cooking class in Barcelona really has become famous. I thoroughly enjoyed my class with Marta and left feeling full of food, and inspiration to make paella myself back home. Although cooking on my tiny two ring hob may not be as easy as Marta made it look!
To sign up for Marta’s Famous Paella Class contact her on Facebook to arrange a place on a group class, or to arrange one of Marta’s private paella cooking classes.
Look for other activities and cooking classes in Barcelona Spain:
Where to Stay in Barcelona
Although some people prefer to stay in a quieter area of the city, I love being right in the centre of Barcelona so I can walk everywhere. Areas in the Gothic Quarter and around La Rambla do get noisy at night, so bring some earplugs with you.
If you are travelling to Barcelona on your own, be careful walking around quieter streets alone at night, especially in Raval. Barcelona is a safe city, but still be aware of what’s going on around you.
Hostels in Barcelona
I stayed at Fabrizzio’s Petit Hostel and loved it, and they even had free paella nights if you are backpacking on a budget and want to try some delicious Spanish food. There are private rooms and dorms available, and I really enjoyed my stay here. Read my full review of what I think is the best hostel in Barcelona, or book it on Hostelworld.
If Fabrizzio’s isn’t available then there are plenty of other hostels and budget hotels in Barcelona, including plenty of options for private rooms in hostels. You could also try Hostel One Las Ramblas which is great for solo travellers or Fabrizzio’s Terrace which also gets excellent reviews and has private rooms or dorms to choose from. Take a look at all the hostels in Barcelona on Hostelworld to check prices, read reviews and book your hostel online.
Hotels in Barcelona
There are hundreds of hotels in Barcelona to choose from, and you can find something for every budget. Staying outside of the city centre is cheaper, but as you only have 2 days in Barcelona these options are all in or around the Gothic Quarter so you can easily reach the attractions in Barcelona on foot or with the metro.
Luxury: The 5* Mercer Hotel has a rooftop pool, chic décor with original beamed ceilings and exposed brick walls. Guests love the helpful staff, comfortable beds and the location.
Mid-Range: The H10 Madison hotel has lovely views of the Gothic Cathedral from the roof terrace and gets rave reviews for the friendly staff and excellent location.
Budget: Chic & Basic Born Hotel is in the popular Born neighbourhood. It has a restaurant and bar onsite, and guests loved the boutique style and the location.
Airbnb in Barcelona
There have been problems with Airbnb in Barcelona, with large companies buying up apartments to rent to tourists and pushing out local residents. If you do decide to book an Airbnb in Barcelona I would recommend staying in a private room in an apartment, so you are helping someone who lives here to pay their rent, which is now at record levels in the city.
Something like this room in the gorgeous apartment hosted by the Soler family or this room in Barceloneta are central places to stay and close to everything you might need.
If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $52 credit to use on your first trip! Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code and my full Airbnb guide or click below for your Airbnb coupon.
Have you tried a paella cooking class in Barcelona? It’s delicous!
If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to Barcelona, get a quote now from World Nomads.
Like this post? Pin it to read later:
Just to let you know, this post may contain paid or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you!
Tales of a Backpacker is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.Last updated: June 21, 2020