The city of Albany, in upstate New York, recently added a new Spanish locale to its bustling food and cultural scene. La Centralita, as it's called, is very much a passion project thanks to its founders, one American and one from Spain. Different from a restaurant, La Centralita seeks to be a culinary studio for food-related activities, such as cooking classes, chef's table meals, cultural immersion activities revolving around different Spanish cuisines, and tastings.
The owners describe this culinary studio as a "pedagogical concept," according to timesunion.com, where food is used as a way to teach people about culture and history, and literature, music and films are regularly combined with cooking classes as a way to teach participants about Spain. Activities are designed to be participatory and immersive.
Recent examples include Basque cheesecake baking classes, olive oil and pintxos tastings, and brunch offered during a televised soccer game between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. La Centralita also has a small market where it sells high quality foods from Spain such as olive oil, canned products, chocolate, and other items. The owners spent considerable time developing relationships with local artisans interested in bringing their products to a larger market, and they continue to work with independent Spanish producers interested in introducing their unique products to consumers in the US.