Chef José Pizarro's Top Foodie Tips for Spain
written by Gabriella Opaz | 1st March 2018
Barcelona is an international, cosmopolitan city that blurs the lines between quaint Mediterranean port and modern, bustling metropolis. The life style of a vacation by the sea in Barcelona is sublime, with the important things coming first—food, fun, and relaxation. The heart of the city is small and best seen on foot, and as you walk hand in hand along avenues that have seen over two millennia of romance—among flower stalls and medieval archways—you too will surely carve your own, lasting moment into the history of Barcelona. For this is a city that vibrates with countless love stories and majestic visages of mighty empires come and gone.
For the first two days of your gastronomy tour, stay in a five star boutique hotel and explore the fresh produce markets brimming with locally sourced ingredients, partake in a gourmet tapas tour and learn how to make the most iconic dish in Catalunya – Paella. After you’ve explored the very best of Catalan cuisine, head north to the wild natural countryside of Costa Brava where you’ll stay in a stunning 18th century hotel surrounded by mountains and wildflowers. Here, you’ll take day trips to dine in some of the top Michelin star restaurants in Spain, explore the works of Salvador Dali, enjoy a day of wine tasting and explore the botanicals that make Catalan gastronomy world-renowned!
“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.”
Your private English speaking chauffeur will pick you up at the airport or train station in Barcelona to escort you to your luxury hotel where you can rest and relax. Found within one of the evocative buildings of the city’s atmospheric Gothic Quarter, your five-star boutique hotel is imaginatively designed, so that Roman and medieval elements sit merge seamlessly with the contemporary styling and modern day luxury. And, as the historic area is closed to traffic, the stone paved streets and distinctive squares are idyllic for romantic strolls and cozy lamp-lit bars.
In the afternoon, your local guide will meet you in your hotel lobby for a private Gourmet Food Tour through Barcelona. Visiting five different distinct locations among the winding Medieval streets, you’ll enjoy rare Catalan cheeses, foie gras mi-cuit, delectable Iberian cured meats, truffled canalones, organic olive oils, rustic hand rubbed pan con tomate and many other mouthwatering treats. And of course, all foods will be paired with an impressive range of Catalan wines from D.O.Q. Priorat, D.O. Penedes, D.O. Montsant, D.O. Cava and many others. With a veritable army of young, talented, international and local Michelin starred chefs and establishments, the cuisine of Barcelona and Catalonia has gained worldwide attention over the last decade. This walking tour was designed to be a treat for the senses and your palate.
Today, you’ll take a private guided tour of Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece and one of his greatest unfinished legacies. In 1883 Gaudí inherited the Sagrada Família from another architect, envisioning a soaring visual narrative of Christ’s life, but knew that the massive project could not be completed in his lifetime. Declared a World Heritage Site in 2005, the basilica is one of the wonders of the world and is absolutely worth visit!
Come afternoon, a local chef guide will take you on an intimate tour of the inside workings of a famous fresh produce market. Accompany your charismatic foodie guide in purchasing the beautiful fruits, vegetables, and seafood that you will soon be masterfully preparing into an iconic paella, while learning about the generations of vendors and the multitude of colorful products that make one of the city’s oldest market a true, kaleidoscopic wonder. See the market through the eyes of a local culinary professional and discern the finest Iberian ham, freshest fish, ripest tomatoes, most delicate olives, tastiest wild mushrooms, and deeply aromatic spices. With your fresh produce in hand, you’ll head to a cozy kitchen where you’ll cook a traditional paella to be enjoyed with delectable Spanish wines.
Though Spain is famed for its white sandy beaches and spectacular wines, Costa Brava is by far the jewel of the eastern coast. Today, your private driver will bring you to a charming winery for a leisurely tasting and tour. Costa Brava is one of the most underrated corners of Spain for its wines, famed for its wild hillsides planted mainly with Garnacha with Cariñena. Walking among the ancient vines, you’ll take in the salty flower-infused air and feel your body melt into the stunning landscape.
The Costa Brava has some of the best cuisine in Europe – and it’s also excellent value. There’s wonderful food to be found at every level, from simple beachside cafés to Michelin-style gastronomy, especially in the seaside town of Begur and Pals. Enjoy the traditional Costa Brava fish stew or calderetais bursting with lobster and monkfish in an outstandingly subtle saffron and garlic sauce or the wide range of local game and dishes like wild boar stew.
Come evening, check into your luxury Hotel & Spa in an eighteenth-century Catalan farmhouse converted into an exclusive five star hotel, renown for its lush gardens and spectacular views. Spend the afternoon poolside or we’ll happily arrange a visit to a nearby winery for secondary wine tasting.
Today’s full day tour will uncover the wild natural side of Catalan cuisine. From ancient aromatic plants used for centuries to flowers infused into El Celler de Can Roca’s world class cuisine, Girona has become the natural heartbeat of Catalan gastronomy. With your expert botanist and English speaking guide, you’ll not only learn about Girona’s history and rich culture with a city walking tour, but you’ll do so all while tasting your way through the city. We’ll unearth edible flowers, crunchy leaves, anise flavored seeds and medicinal plants, as we taste the history of the region.
Afterwards, head to one of the best preserved medieval towns in all of Catalunya, Peratallada has hardly expanded past its original city walls, dating back to the 12th century. Most of the town is crafted from carved stones harvested from the city’s original protective moat, which still partially encircles the small hill on which Peratallada sits.
Savor lunch at Restaurant Bonay, one of the oldest (1936) and most classic Catalan kitchens in town. Run by two brothers, Bonay is famous for their home-style recipes, which change throughout the year in harmony with the fresh, available produce and proteins. Apart from these special offerings, Restaurant Bonay’s “star plate” is the Goose with Turnips (Oca amb naps), an iconic dish from the Empordà. A stew of goose meat, “oca amb naps” is all about the meat broth and tomato sauce, thickened with a “picada” (coarse-ground mixture of sautéed goose liver, fried bread, and almonds), and finished with crispy-fried turnips stirred into the mix. Usually prepared a day ahead to maximize flavor in the sauce, this is the true “Grandmother” cooking on which restaurants like Bonay pride themselves.
Your Salvador Dali tour will begin in the small coastal town of Figueres. Though the artist’s fame brought him to several corners of Spain, near the end of his career, Dalí returned to his hometown to build the Dalí Theatre-Museum. Not only is the museum an artwork in itself, it’s also home to many famous paintings by Dalí. The building also holds the broadest range of the artist’s works, including everything from his earliest pieces to his final paintings, as well as pieces from his personal collection by other artists such as El Greco and Antoni Pitxot.
After lunch at Compartir, considered one of the best restaurants in Cadeques, enjoy a stroll through the seaside village that inspired many of his famous works including The Spectre of Sex Appeal, The Persistence of Memory or Port of Cadaqués (Night). Afterwards, head to Portlligat, Salvador Dalí purchased a small “barraca” (fisherman’s hut) in nearby Portlligat where he and Gala (his muse) lived for more than 40 years. Little by little the couple enlarged and extended the house, adding a second storey and purchasing 6 adjacent cottages which they annexed to create the unique rambling property which can be seen today.
Depending on your travel plans, a half day Kayaking Tour can be organized to explore the hidden caves along the rocky coast; or if you prefer some serious beach time, a simple gourmet picnic with locally sourced ingredients and wines can be set up at a private beach prior to your trip back to Barcelona.
Your private driver will bring you to the airport, cruise or train that afternoon.
TOUR INTRODUCTION It’s no wonder that Barcelona has become a gourmet food hub when considering its strategic position as...Learn More