Chorizo, manchego, olives, anchovies, tapas, paella — the cuisine of Barcelona is as famous as the architecture. While docked in the Spanish city, passengers on the new Viking Sea can sign up for Kitchen Table excursion to get full immersion into the flavors of the city. The two-part, market-to-table experience, which the line offers in many different cities, starts with selecting all of the ingredients alongside the chefs and ends with a wine-filled dinner prepared just for you using what you shopped for that morning.
What It’s Really Like: We started at La Boqueria — the famous 13th-century market off La Rambla. Busy stands sell gourmet meats and cheeses, Spanish olive oil, colorful produce, and seafood fresh from boats in the harbor. The market can be overwhelming, but we were accompanied by two of the ship’s chefs who expertly navigated the many stalls. At each stop we sampled the goods and got advice on how to choose the right ingredients for our dinner. The menu would include some simple tapas plus paella and a sorbet made from nespoli (a fruit that looks like an apricot and is both sweet and tart). Once the chefs were satisfied that we had what we needed, we headed back to the ship.
Our group gathered again just before dinnertime at the Kitchen Table on board to help prepare our meal. This isn’t like a cooking class where you prepare everything yourselves. The chefs did most of the heavy lifting, while we pitched in here and there to do tasks like chopping vegetables. Then we sat around the communal table to enjoy the meal. The tapas and the paella were delicious, the wine was flowing, and the night was a lot of fun.
The Details: The price is $199 per person and includes the market visit and dinner. Viking Ocean offers the Kitchen Table excursions in several different destinations for passengers on Viking Sea as well as sister ship Viking Star. Up to 12 guests can participate at a time, and the program is available at least once per cruise.
To get a sense of what it’s really like to head into La Boqueria with the chefs and dine at the Kitchen Table, watch our exclusive video above with chef Anthony Mauboussin, the director of culinary development for Viking Ocean Cruises.