Shared Plates by Chef Kelly Sears May 9, 2013 by Kristen Cudden Leave a Comment For the inaugural blog post on the new Marcel’s website, I am going to share a story with you about shared plates. As the weeks and months unfold, this space will allow us to share with each other a bit of insight into our world through food; the ingredients we choose, the recipes we try, adjust, re-try, the voice we can offer and the listening we can do. Share our plate; at Marcel’s we’re serving up good food, good conversation and a bit more about the people we are as we cook, create, and celebrate. Halfway between 40 and 50, my best friend of 34 years and I boarded a plane for ten days in Barcelona, Spain. We both had done a little research ahead of time and compared notes on the twelve-hour flight. Our journey featured two scheduled events, a cava and wine tour of the Juve y Camps vineyards in Sant Sadurni d´Anoia, Spain and a cooking class with Alicia Juanpere in her apartment off La Rambla in Barcelona, Spain. We spent the first few days exploring the city, catching the sights, and visiting as many restaurants, markets, tapas bars, and bakeries as possible. Our mornings always started on a quest for a different bakery and fresh pastry. The pastry dough was not overly sweet, but light and airy, similar to brioche, citrus and chocolate were the additions. On each visit, I noticed that most people purchased for the day, not for the week. This was a common theme, daily market stops, not grocery shopping. There was nowhere better to find cuina de mercat (market cuisine) than La Boqueria, Barcelona’s largest food market. Vendors selling everything from quail eggs to Marcona almonds, from fresh fig cakes to fresh caught fish could be found. Rabbits, Iberico Ham, and fresh chorizo hung among fresh fruits and vegetables, spices and olive oils. Shared plates were the standard and small tapas bars were intermixed with the market stalls of peppers and olives open all day and well into the evening serving up the local favorites from the market. Bar Pinotxo is the most famous of all the bars serving fresh ingredients served hot on the spot. We had no idea what to expect from our cooking class slated for the last day of our trip. There were six of us in the class and we headed to the La Boqueria market where the daily offerings would dictate our menu. After making our selections, we walked to Alicia’s apartment in Old Town. Up six flights of stairs to a small, yet amazingly efficient studio yielding a kitchen and living area with a large wooden table in the middle set for our meal to follow. We diced, peeled, stirred, whisked, and tasted. Immersed in conversation, we realized that in Spain, cooking is never just cooking. We found ourselves absorbed in the pace of the place: we talked and laughed more (the cava helped, I’m sure), we cooked more slowly and ate even slower. Twelve tapas filled the table at the end of our preparation, each one more delicious than the last. Alicia guided us through her Barcelona via the food that we selected, created and enjoyed.