From Tapas Tours to Olive Harvests: A Culinary Tour Through Spain

Food & Wine, Spain — By on March 21, 2011 at 7:44 pm

By Nellie Huang
Special to The Lost Girls

Home to some of the world’s most famous culinary delights—think paella and sangria!—Spain has good reason to be crowned the culinary capital of the world. From good old-fashioned tapas to creative nouveau cuisine, Spanish gastronomy is as diverse as it is extensive. From acorn-fed Ibérico ham; $4,000/kg exquisite truffles; golden crisp suckling pig, the list goes on and on. And that’s not all—did you know that Spain has the most number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world?

One of the best ways to explore Spain is through its gastronomy. Numerous operators organize custom-tailored culinary tours, but if you prefer to design your own itinerary, here are a few culinary experiences you might like to include in your sojourn.

Wine and tapas tours

Tapas are an essential part of the Spanish diet—these bite-size platters are enjoyed alongside wine or beer as perfect snacking in between meals. The variety of tapas is immensely diverse: from a small dish of anchovies soaked in vinegar to generous portions of seafood fritters. To get your ABC in tapas etiquette right, sign up for a tapas tour in Spain. There are numerous wine and tapas tours in Madrid that provide a crash course in the history and culture of tapas. Most of these tours bring you to several bars to try a large variety of tapas, matching them with the appropriate wine.

Market walking tours

Food markets in Spain induce a sensory overload with their vibrant colors, rich cultural flavors, and high level of energy. With thousands of food markets in Spain, one of the most famous is La Boquería in Barcelona. Market walking tours in Barcelona are led by expert culinary guides who provide interesting information on local produce and cooking practices. These tours give you the chance to taste some of the best foods in La Boquería, such as jamon (cured ham), cheese, and olives. Some tours include sampling of the best Spanish cheeses at a local cheese shop paired with some excellent Priorat wine. You can easily book these day tours with your hotel in Barcelona and combine them with a cooking class.

Cooking classes

For those looking to get their hands dirty, cooking classes will be the best way to experience and learn how Spanish dishes are prepared. There is a myriad of cooking classes to choose from, depending on where you’d like to be based. Organized by culinary schools throughout the country, these cooking classes can range from a one-day course to a week-long cooking program. Some of the most popular culinary classes are organized by Catacurian and Epiculinary—with classes conducted in Catalonia, Andalusia, and La Rioja.

Olive harvest holidays

Spain is best known for its olive oil production. The countryside of Andalusia is studded with endless olive groves. These harvest tours are led by olive oil experts who will guide you on a tour of the olive plantations, where you might even get the chance to pick an olive or two. You will learn about the process of making olive oil and get to taste the finest oils in the country. These tours give you an excellent chance to experience the rural Andalusian countryside. They usually range from a daytrip to a week-long experience.

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer who writes BootsnAll’s Spain travel guide, WhyGo Spain. When she’s not traveling, you can find her feasting on Spanish tapas or lounging at a Spanish beach resort. She tweets about all things Spanish @WhyGoSpain.

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