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What a pleasure it was to have Chef Anita Eisenhauer onboard Marina for a recent cruise. Chef Eisenhauer is an associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She was my Mediterranean Cuisines instructor when I attended the institute, so what a treat it was to have her join me to teach and review our curriculum for the Bon Appétit Culinary Center.

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On this cruise Chef Eisenhauer and I taught one of the most popular classes at the Bon Appétit Culinary Center, Perfect Paella. We started the class with everyone contributing some fruit to our “bucket of sangria.” We used three bottles of white wine, three cans of ginger ale, apples and oranges, and “43” – a vanilla and orange brandy that was recommended to me in Barcelona. To that we added star anise and cinnamon sticks and cloves, and then let it “get happy” while we worked on our paella.

If you’ve been in one of our classes, you know the “anatomy of an onion” demonstration. Here is Chef Eisenhauer taking the reins on that demonstration – complete with the “top hat” of the onion on her head!

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I was right there beside her – just in case she needed any help – but like a true champion, she got it right the first time. If only her students at the culinary institute could see her doing this. They would not believe it!

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Chef then began the first step in paella, making the sofrito, a combination of garlic, onion and other aromatic ingredients used as a base in many Spanish dishes.

IMG_2601You can see by the looks on our students’ faces just how seriously they take their paella cookery. One of our favorite guests this cruise was Lisa, who traveled with Chef Eisenhauer and her friend, Moy. Lisa had more energy than most of us and was a champion eater with a discriminating palate!

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In addition to the seafood paella the class made, we also sampled meat fiduea and garlic aioli, which was a big hit.

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There were so many proud moments in our paella class, including the flipping of the tortilla!

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Bravo to all our tapas chefs!

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Now that we had mastered one of Spain’s most famous dishes, it was time to explore ashore in the lovely towns along the Spanish coast. We called on the port of Cádiz, which serves as a gateway to Seville.

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Cádiz is also a charming village in its own right. How lucky we were to come across the Mercado Andalusi held in and around the narrow cobblestone streets.

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There were hundreds of merchants with unique offerings, but the one that struck my fancy was a man on a bicycle operating a carousel of hand-carved wooden animals.

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There were a plethora of stands with honey and artisanal cheeses and homemade chutneys. It was a festive Saturday night in this lively and charming port in Spain.

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Our guests enjoyed meeting Chef Eisenhauer during our travels in Spain, and I was happy to spend time with one of my favorite people and such a talented chef. Thanks Anita – we miss you already!

 

 

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