Gastronomy 101: Spanish Food & Wine

Engorge yourself on our Gastronomy 101 series & discover the most delectable, most fragrant and most mouthwatering treats that Europe has to offer. Read about some tasty tapas and inviting vino...

 

The temperate climate of Spain lends itself perfectly to long summer evenings with a glass in hand and a platter of delicious treats at your side. Equally tempting to some, is the raucous nightlife from a bustling Michelin-starred restaurant to small local bar serving aguardiente (firewater) by the shot.

Whatever takes your fancy, Spanish hospitality will have you coming back for more. Spain is melting pot of cultures and customs - some regions are so different to each other that its almost like being in a different country. As such, the cuisine is rich in variety and has much to offer the food-lover.

As to wine, Spain produces everything from local 'jewels' to quaffing wine that may just burn a little on the way down. To enjoy the very best that Spain has to offer and avoid any unfortunate wine choices, your best bet is to let us do the hardwork for you and enjoy one of our many tours, packages, itineraries and day experiences all about Spanish food and wine.

Madrid - the culinary capital

Madrid is not only the culinary capital of Spain but arguably Southern Europe with a huge range of restaurants available. With a world class hospitality scene, the city is a melting pot of culinary creativity and experimentation. And the fact that Spain as a whole has more bars per capita than anywhere else in Europe means that you are guaranteed to find a bar stool in Madrid with your name written all over it.

Although Madrid serves food from all over Spain, while there you must try a few famous Madrilenian dishes. These range from the simple bocadillo de calamares - a calamari sandwich with tomato and paprika puree or garlic mayonnaise, to Callo a la Madrilena - a classic stew cooked in a claypot featuring tripe, chorizo and morcilla (blood sausage). Follow one of these up with churros con chocolate and you will be in foodie heaven. The only thing missing is a glass of Albillo white or Garnacha red!

Explore Madrid on one of our short breaks such as Taste of Madrid or Jewels of Madrid and feast your mind body and soul on all this wonderful city has to offer.

To try some of the region's wines and explore a fascinating city, why not try our Imperial Toledo & Wine Tour day experience? After exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Toledo, you will enjoy a wonderful wine tasting at Bargas Finca Loranque before returning to Madrid.

Barcelona - the ultimate foodie experience

Bustling Barcelona is a thriving cosmopolitan city with a sensational array of foodie experiences. Barcelona has a proud Catalan food heritage and boasts many famous dishes featuring seafood, pork, tomato, garlic, eggplant, capsicum and mushroom. And of course, like a lot of Spain, Barcelona has many wonderful tapas bars where you can enjoy numerous bite-sized portions of delicious Spanish fare as you enjoy your wine. To make the most of the amazing array on offer,  book a private Walking Tapas Tour Dinner with a local taking you to lesser-known cultural delights as well as many bars, taverns and even entire neighbourhoods that specialise in tapas.

We also offer a private Taverns and Markets Tour including drinks in three of the stops and a private Ham, Cheese and Wine TastingCatalonia is the largest producer of pork in Spain and there are many great places to try jamón but the real meat epicureans out there should try our independent Spanish Ham Experience, visiting the new centre at the heart of La Rambla dedicated to ham - a museum and tasting experience all in one.

For those wanting to try their hand at cooking, why not take a Spanish Cooking Lesson where you will learn to cook paella, different tapas and a dessert, under the tutelage of a chef? Then all there is left to do is to Live like a Local with an independent tour to some local taverns to finish off the night.

For something a bit further a field, try the Torres Wine Cellars, Montserrat & Sitges day trip, exploring world famous wine cellars and then tasting local monk-brewed liqueur at the base of the Montserrat Mountains. In seaside Sitges, there is also the option to make your very own cocktail at Bacardi House.

Both the Taste of Barcelona and Jewels of Barcelona multiday packages also involve a visit to the monastery at Montserrat Mountains to try the local liqueur and you can incorporate one of these activities into these wider itineraries.

Basque - food as individual as the region

San Sebastian and Bilbao are the best places in Basque to have the five star restaurant experiences. San Sebastian in particular, now a famous retreat for the rich and famous, has many celebrity chef-run restaurants and even a Michelin-starred eatery. It also has a delicious pintxos on offer, the Basque form of tapas.

Basque food features meat and fish grilled over hot coals, paprikas, fish stews and sheep's cheese. On both the Taste of San Sebastian and Basque Country Highlights enjoy delicious pintxos, refined restaurants and the famous cider and txakoli (sparkling wine).

Southern Spain - put some pep in your step

Southern Spain is famous for its emphasis on pepper with spicy cured meats, air-dried hams, paella almost roasted over log fires and Iberian ham. The pigs of Iberico graze on acorns through the forestland giving the jamón a distinct nutty flavour. Keeping with the nutty theme, turron is a delicious local nougat of almond and honey with its origins stretching back to Spain's Moor occupation.

In Granada, Live like a Local on a tapas walking tour to discover local bars and taverns specialising in both traditional and new flavours and beverages. In Seville enjoy a private Wine Tasting with the assistance of an English-speaking guide. Some of the wines on tasting are more than 30 years old and are considered local jewels. Either of these sightseeing activities can be incorporated into short break itineraries in Seville or Granada.

The Douro - connecting Portugal & Spain

Hop over the border to Portugal to continue the foodie experience. The Douro is a charming stretch of countryside punctuated by terraced vineyards and picture-perfect villages nestled beneath hills. This calm and beautiful part of the world combines the very best of Spanish and Portuguese culinary heritage to create its very own flavour with delicacies such as roasted baby goat with potatoes; wild board stew; and grilled partridge on a skewer.

The Douro is also famous for its delicious desserts - despite the many walking tracks on offer, don't expect to lose weight here! A delicately flavoured rice pudding and vermicelli with cinnamon are among the most common throughout the region. For a quick snack, traditional bread made with meat or olive oil is worth a try.

From Porto, you can enjoy a coach day tour inland for the Douro Valley Wine Tour visiting three different wine estates to taste four different types of Portuguese wines (including Port and green wine) and enjoy a traditional Portuguese lunch.

For something completely different, enjoy a river cruise over seven nights up the Douro river. Portraits of The Douro encompasses day tours, wine tastings and many delicious Portuguese meals as well as beautiful scenery and comfortable accommodation on board.

If you are interested in any of these food adventures or want to craft your very own tailor-made gastronomical tour through Spain and Portugal, contact one of our agents today.