Learn to cook delicious Catalan dishes in our relaxed yet luxurious private hotel in the small village of El Masroig. We will take you on a wine tour of some of the Priorat's best wineries where the wine tastings and the one-on-one wine presentations and winery visits will allow you to discover what makes the Priorat wines so fabulous and reknown. Find out why the Priorat olive oils are so outstanding with an official olive oil tasting session. A visit to the nearby twelfth century Scala Dei monastery unravels the history of the Priorat. See Gaudí's masterpieces in Barcelona: Sagrada Familia, the Casa Batll, the Park Gell.
Catacurian is a fourth generation family house, built in stone by Alicia's great grandfather, and it is located in the small town of El Masroig, located within the region of El Priorat. Recently Catacurian has been completely restored and transformed into a private hotel fitted with all of the amenities necessary to make your culinary vacation stay as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.
This program is a great way to discover a part of Catalonia, Spain that is off the beaten path, and being so close to Barcelona, it is also a perfect way to complement a few days in the city with a very different experience. "Off the beaten path", doesn't mean unknown. The Priorat region has been hailed as one of Spain's best wine producing areas, and the olive oils made here are truly world-class as well.
In great contrast to city, this region is still untouched by massive tourism, and you will discover a very authentic part of Spain dedicated to the agriculture of grapes, olives, almonds and hazelnuts, as well as the production of wine and olive oil. With multiple hands-on cooking classes of approximately two to three hours each, it is a perfect introduction to the basic techniques and elaboration of some of the best dishes in Catalan cuisine.
A cultural excursion to a historic site will enable you to learn of the area's history as well as indulge in the landscapes of this beautiful and unspoiled region.
The three hour, English spoken, guided tour will start at the Institut Pere Mata on the outskirts of Reus. This is one of Domnech I Montaner's big achievements. A large psychiatric hospital for the wealthy, designed and built between 1898 and 1900, and comprising many of the amazing elements of modernist architecture.
Next we go into the center of Reus, where we visit the Casa Rull, another stunning modernist creation by Lluis Domnech I Montaner as well, and built in 1911. A pleasurable stroll through the town will take us to the house that Gaudí was born in at Carrer Sant Vicen, 4, in the central part of Reus, and then to a bronze sculpture of Gaudí as a child.
Close to here we will enter the oldest church of Reus, the Prioral de Sant Pere, a lovely Gothic construction dating from the 16th century. This is where the young Antoni Gaudí was baptized. Attached to the church is a bell tower, whose spiral staircase was imitated by Gaudí in the Sagrada Famila cathedral in Barcelona.
The tour will end in the newly opened Gaudí Centre, a modern, thematic museum dedicated exclusively to Gaudí. The museum tour starts with a 12 minute audio-visual experience, and then one proceeds through different areas where scaled models, interactive elements, documents, personal objects, photographs and statues, will open Gaudí's world to you.
The visits to local Priorat wine producers and vineyards, with full winery tour and tasting will allow you to discover and appreciate the fantastic DOQ Priorat and DO Montsant wines. These are always given by either the owner or enologist, and are very personalized, informative, and fun. An official olive oil tasting presentation will let you discover the incredible DO Siurana olive oils.
El Masroig is a small agricultural town of merely five hundred inhabitants. It has its own cooperative for wine and olive oil production which are its principal activities along with the cultivation and harvesting of almonds. The surrounding mountain ranges are visible from all around, and when looking towards the south the view covers miles and miles of unbroken land. At night every star is visible in the sky and this is a great time to have a walk to the nearby Ermita de les Pinyeres.
Catalan cuisine is a form of cooking that still closely reflects its medieval origins. Occupied for nearly seven hundred years by the Romans, followed by several centuries of the Visigoths, and then four hundred years by the Moors, the influences were certainly varied.
The first ones brought the wine, the olives and the bread, and the Moors brought the exotic element such as saffron, oranges, dates, raisins, almonds, and the combination of sweet and savory.
It is soon after the last of these occupiers left that the first known Catalan cooking manuscript, the Libre de Sent Sovi, emerged in the fourteenth century. This was to become quite an influence on Italian and French cooking of the time. In the fifteenth century the first actual cookbook to be printed, the Libre del Coch, attributed to Roberto de Nola, was done so in Barcelona. One must also remember that the discovery of the new continent by Columbus in 1492 brought many new fruits and vegetables to Spain and helped change the shape of Spanish cuisine before the rest of Europe had the benefit of these new tastes.
Today, basic Catalan cooking has not changed all that much since the days of the Libre de Sent Sovi, but thanks to some innovative chefs many new dishes have emerged, and old ones have become more colorful and subtle. This is what makes this region so interesting for a culinary vacation in Spain.One may divide Catalan Spanish cuisine into three broad categories determined by geographical location: An important coastal cuisine based on fresh seafood; An inland cuisine which often uses seafood as well; A mountain cuisine which generally has a smaller variety of recipes.
Each of these categories are in turn different according to whether they are prepared by the middle-class, the peasants or fishermen, or whether it is popular cuisine for festivities.Catalan cooking is based on the use of fresh elements. Whether they be vegetables, meat or fish usually purchased from the local market on the same day that they will be used. It is also a healthy cuisine as vegetables, fish, lean meats and fruit are its main ingredients, and cooking fat is almost exclusively olive oil.
The produce most typically used in Catalan cuisine are vegetables, such as onions, garlic, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms; fish, such as salt cod, monkfish, tuna, sardines, anchovies, herring, trout, squid, octopus, shrimp, prawns, and mussels; meat, such as rabbit, chicken, quail, veal, lamb, pork, duck, cured pork meats and sausages, snails, tripe, and liver; grains and legumes, such as rice, fava beans, lentils, chick-peas, white beans, and black-eyed peas; other ingredients such as eggs, potatoes, and olives are also commonly used.
The most common catalan cooking techniques either use a cassola (a thick, low sided, earthenware pot), or a paella pan (a low-sided metal pan with two handles located on opposite sides). Also very common is to cook al caliu (on hot coals), or a la Plancha (on the griddle).
Many dishes start with a sofregit, a base of mainly onion but which can also use garlic, tomatoes, peppers,- that is slowly cooked in olive oil until it is caramelized and consistent. This then forms the base upon which the remainder of the dish is built upon.
Also typical of many a dish is the use of the picada. This is a mixture of garlic, olive oil, almonds and /or other nuts, fried bread, herbs and spices crushed together in a mortar and used to thicken and add flavor to the dish near the end of the cooking.
The most used accompanying sauces are the famous allioli, olive oil and garlic mixed together until creamy in consistency, mayonnaise, romesco a mayonnaise consistency sauce made with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, almonds, hazelnuts, bread, tomato, parsley, nyores, and samfaina, a mix of onions, garlic, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and peppers cooked in olive oil.
Please note that pick-up in Barcelona is at 10:30, so please plan accordingly.
You will need a flight that arrives at the Barcelona airport no later than 8:30, so as to have time to clear the airport and make your way to the pick-up location at Plaza Espanya.
If this is not possible, then please arrive a day earlier.
Should you arrive later than the scheduled pick-up, we may arrange a taxi service to bring you to El Priorat, at a cost of 180 Euro.
Taxis are widely available at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Taxi fees to Barcelona from the airport are a fixed amount, and each suitcase is charged separately. Expect to pay approximately 30 Euro plus the baggage fees.
There are two Aerobuses. The T1 Aerobus, and the T2 Aerobus, depending on which terminal you arrive at.
These are large blue buses that stop right in front of the terminal. They depart every 15 minutes and have a cost of 5 Euro which is paid in the bus.
Their first stop after leaving the airport is Plaça Espanya, on the opposite side of the Plaza from our pick-up location.
The last stop is Plaça Catalunya.
"My wife and I recently shared an exceptional and memorable 6-day cooking experience which focused on the best of Catalan cuisine. Our teachers / hosts and now friends, Alicia and Jonathan were fantastic; sharing their knowledge of Catalan foods, wonderful Priorat and Montsant wines, exceptional olive oils and associated history. The techniques of food preparation, Alicia's humorous and patience guidance, the application of traditional seasonings, and the opportunity to be served what we prepared was remarkable, delicious, and rewarding. The Priorat region was an incredible added bonus. A must go! To meet Alicia is to love her!"
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"Five friends who enjoy cooking, wine and new places spent 6 days with the iconic Alicia as she introduced us to the delights of Catalan cuisine and the beautiful Priorat region. Meeting and touring vineyards with local vintners and tasting some extraordinary wines that were to become part of the evenings pairings was one of the many highlights of our trip. Alicia is both a meticulous organizer and an enchanting hostess and guide who easily shares her passions for local food and wine and healthy organic living. The accommodations in Gratallops were outstanding as were the cooking facilities at Clos De L'Obac. We returned home to Canada with new favorite recipes and many happy memories. Returning to Catacurian is something to be savored."
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"We are a group of 5 who recently experienced 6 wonderful days enjoying a Catalan immersion in food, wine, culture and history. What a week it was. Alicia, the owner, chef, teacher, tour guide, chauffeur and our leader has put together a very organized program of experiences for those lucky enough to have discovered Catacurian. From our pick up in Barcelona to our drop off 7 days later we were immersed in Catalonia. Alicia has introduced some significant changes to the operation of the school and those changes worked very well for us. Our accommodation was a small boutique hotel in Gratallops and the school was located a short 10 minute walk away in the Clos de l'Obac winery. Given the focus on food and wine, the walks were a welcome part of our day. The food was wonderful, both the meals we prepared as well as all the lunches we had away from the school. The wine tastings were enjoyable and informative and the excursions were well planned. We had a great time, laughed a lot, and ate well. Alicia was a delightful host and teacher and her assistant Natalia added to the enjoyment of our experience. For those who love food, wine, like to cook and travel... this is for you! Highly recommended."
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"My husband and I were lucky to be part of the group mentioned in the review titled “Friendship, Food and Wine.” The owners, Alicia and Jonathan, have created a cooking vacation that is enriched by the relationships they have with everyone we came into contact with. It was so much fun learning about foods, wines and cooking traditions unique to Catalonia with everyone we met. A few highlights of the daytime activities included a visit to a winery in the Montsant, a mountainous region that rings the Priorat. We spent a beautiful morning walking through the vineyards with the owner. Later, as we tasted the wines, it was enchanting to hear his stories that went with them. Another day trip featured the rice-growing region, Delta de Ebro, with a tour of an artisan rice manufacturer followed by Sunday dinner at a local restaurant with paella and an assortment of other traditional foods. But, the highlight of each day included the walk down the hill, through the village, along a small road to the winery for our daily class at 6 pm. Alicia, and her wonderful assistant, Natalia, greeted us with a table lined with all the ingredients for our evening dinner. We chopped, ground with a mortar and pestle and flambéed our way to dinner with spirit and camaraderie under Alicia's instruction and guidance. Each lesson culminated in a wonderful dinner experience every night. We’re both food professionals and appreciated Alicia’s ability to connect with all levels of cooking skill. This was a truly memorable experience, don’t miss it!"
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