Chef José Pizarro's Top Foodie Tips for Spain
written by Gabriella Opaz | 1st March 2018
This relaxing 7 day tour is not only for those who adore food, but for anyone who needs a profound getaway in one of the most beautiful white-washed villages of Spain. Located along the southern Spanish coast, this culinary adventure will introduce you to the textured landscape that flows into the crystal blue sea, the fresh ingredients that naturally grace the land and the rich cultural heritage that has influenced Andalucian food even today.
You’ll wander through mounds of fresh, locally sourced produce, while learning about the culture of Spanish cuisine. Glistening seafood and spiced meats will pile high on outdoor terraces, glasses will overflow with craft beers and your soul will recalibrate as you bask in the afternoon rays of the Mediterranean sun.
From seafood to cured meats, expect locally produced Chorizo, various cuts of pork, seasonal salads and stews of fish & vegetables. From Sherry wine tastings to fragrant paellas, your new Spanish cooking repertoire will be overflowing with succulent recipes!
“It’s not easy to plan a wine trip, especially for a group that expects a high level of wine communication, education, and experience. Ryan Opaz and the team at Catavino exceeded all expectations in my first visit to the Douro. The knowledge base they represented, the contacts they have, and the professionalism they exhibited is of the highest caliber. Beyond that, and possibly most importantly, Ryan was simply a blast to travel with.”
Savor sumptuous seafood aromas, gentle coastal breezes and warm Spanish rays with a trip to Vejer de la Frontera along the southern Andalusian coast. When you daydream of white-washed walls with sunbathing cats, plump olives and trees heavy with ripe, juicy oranges, remember…it’s real! You’ve made it to one of the most breathtaking villages in the world!
Vejer de la Frontera sits on a low hill overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar and was home to the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and until the 8th century the Visigoths, before they the Moors occupied the land until the 13th century. What remains today is equally beautiful, captivating and quaint with narrow winding roads only available to pedestrians and plenty of eye-candy for your camera to be working on full-tilt!
Today, wander the village streets and sample a wide range of traditional tapas among the hidden pockets of Vejer de la Frontera.
Prepare to learn how to make some staple Spanish dishes such as Prawns in Garlic, Tortilla, Melon Gazpacho, Orange & Almond Cakes as well as some creative twists on the use of typical Spanish ingredients. From seafood to cured meats, expect locally produced Chorizo, various cuts of pork, seasonal salads and stews of fish & vegetables.
After lunch, you’ll have free time: you can either kick back and relax at your hotel, explore the various historical wonders in Vejer or simply watch the sunset from a plaza with a phenomenal glass of wine – the choice is yours.
No cookery course is complete without a guided trip to a typical fish market. We set off on the very short journey to El Mercado de Abastos (the main food market) in Barbate. While in the village (which is the tuna fish capital of Spain) we will visit a traditional preserved tuna shop that hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. El Mercado de Abastos is where the fisherman arrive back with their catch of the day – it just doesn’t get any more fresh and local than this. After learning about all the fish and seafood that’s on offer at the market, we’ll select our fish for our evening fish & Paella feast.
What makes Paella unique? It embodies the strange contrast of old and new that forms the powerful identity of this country. Its ingredients have been wholly incorporated into the Spanish cuisine and culture, and yet almost none of them are native to the Iberian Peninsula: rice and saffron were introduced by the Moors between the 8th and 11th centuries; the olive tree and its oil were brought by the Phoenicians roughly two millennia earlier; the indispensable pan that the dish is cooked in comes from the Latin word patella, brought by the Romans; even the Spanish wine (whichever of many you choose) that should always accompany your favorite paella has its origins elsewhere.
The scale of this history is astounding, and yet as you wander through the streets of Andalucia, it’s clear that this tradition of embracing the new and making it into something different, something distinctly Spanish, is a thriving counterpart to the age-old traditions that make Spain such a vibrant and beautiful place.
Today, you’ll learn the art of making a traditional Paella. Through the use of typical flavors and ingredients you’ll learn how to make a show-stopping – and utterly authentic – meal.
Use this day to bask in the sun, dip in the sea or simply explore the cobbled pedestrian streets in search of new Spanish flavors!
The Sherry Triangle is just up the road from Vejer and no visit to the area would be complete without learning more about this versatile drink.
Sherry is fortified (generoso) wine made from white grapes in the area surrounding Jerez de la Frontera in the region of Spain known as Andalucia. It also happens to be one of the oldest wine making areas in all of Spain. The name Sherry itself comes from an English corruption of the word Jerez, pronounced: he-reth. Looking closer, the DO of Jerez is made of three regions: Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda, and Puerto de Santa Maria, each of which produces their own unique style.
The region is unique for its chalky white soil called albariza, which is so white, one might think the soil is covered in a thick layer of snow. Its chalk like nature traps the winter’s rains and holds them tightly so that the vines have plenty of moisture for the long hot summers that lie ahead. Without this moisture, the vines would likely shrivel up and die under the relentless Andalusia sun.
In the seaside towns of El Puerto de Santa Maria and Jerez, we’ll tour a small family-run bodega to explore the history and culture of Sherry wine followed by an extensive Sherry tasting to highlight the various styles and flavors. Lunch will be paired with the wines for you to explore a gastronomical world few have the privilege to enjoy.
After taking in the iconic town of Cadiz, we’ll head inland to Jerez to finish our tour with a visit to one of the most prestigious Sherry producers of VORS (Very, Old Rare Sherries). Not to be missed!
This evening is free for you to do as you please. If you need suggestions, we’re happy to help!
Cadiz looks quite Moorish in appearance and is intriguing with narrow cobbled streets opening onto small squares. The golden cupola of the cathedral looms high above long white houses and the whole place has a slightly dilapidated air. It just takes an hour to walk around the headlands where you can visit the entire old town and pass through some lovely lush parks with sweeping views of the bay. It’s quiet, picturesque and much of the reason why the Gaditanos (people of Cadiz) are known as the happiest in Spain – food, wine and music are equally powerful influencers! So today, we’ll indulge the food of Cadiz – visiting the market, some cultural sites and as many tapas bars as your stamina allows. Coffee and picatostes will be the final dish of the day before we head back to Vejer.
Farewell breakfast: It’s time to say goodbye. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in your hotel and have one last walk/extended photo opportunity around beautiful Vejer.
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