The paella, ubiquitous jamon (cured ham) and olives have all give Spain its world-famous status as a culinary capital. Every street corner in Spain smells of fragrant olive oil or salty lingering of cured meat. The best way to uncover the secrets of Spain is through its gastronomy.
Contrary to most people’s beliefs, Spanish food is more than just paella and sangria. From acorn-fed Ibérico ham to $4000/kg exquisite truffles, olives, chorizo, anchovies and cheese, the variety of Spanish tapas is immensely diverse and the number of choices endless. Not to mention the Spaniards are obsessed with avant-garde cuisine and nouveau food.
For those who are looking to get under the skin of Madrid’s gastronomic scene, here is a list of operators that organize culinary tours ranging from 2-hour long tours to week-long itineraries around the country.
Based in El Priorat, Catacurian organizes culinary tours in Barcelona and around the region. Choose from 1-day cooking class and winery visit or 3-day gourmet culinary programs or 6-day courses. What sets this tour operator apart from the rest is that it designs specialized programs to cater to specific needs, such as its 4-day paella and rice program. Accommodation in rustic guesthouses is also included in the packages.
Epiculinary is an established culinary tour operator that specializes in gastronomic journeys. There are several itineraries around Spain to choose from: Authentic Andalusian (brings you around Granada and nearby Durcal), Basque Cuisine (San Sebastian, Santillana and Bilbao), The Catalan Kitchen (Barcelona and Palafrugell) and La Rioja Wine Country. These tend to be week-long trips, check the website for dates and prices.
This culinary operator specializes in organizing a wide spectrum of tours and cooking classes around Spain, catering to foodies of different needs. Besides tapas and wine tours in Madrid, the culinary tour operator also arranges olive harvest tours and cooking courses. Unlike the other tours, this one is slightly more flexible – there is no fixed schedule and all the groups of small and private.
4. Cellar Tour
Cellar Tour offers high-end gourmet culinary tours accompanied by a sommelier in three main cities: Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastian. You can also choose to join a nine-day tour around the country; the tour includes VIP winery visits, private chauffeured tours, gourmet gifts and top-notch cuisine.
Similar to Epiculinary, this outfitter organizes tailor-made culinary tours to various parts of Spain. What makes this company different is that it only focuses on Spain, making it quite an expert in Spanish gastronomy. You can select from the list of destinations and itineraries it offers. Its tours include cooking classes with local chefs, winery tours, wine tasting sessions, tapas and pintxos tours, visits to olive oil mills, fish auctions, vibrant markets, artisan food producers.
With a veteran guide (featured as a tapas tour guide on the Travel Channel) to show you around one of Madrid’s oldest neighborhoods, this agent offers a three-hour tour that brings you to three restaurants, tasting their house specialties paired with rare wines exclusive to the tour. Food items you’ll get to sample include acorn-fed Ibérico ham, rare spanish champagne, Galician seafood, carbonic red wine, Spanish beef, cava (champagne), vermouth and a surprising sweet finish.
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