Thinking about booking a gastronomy tour in Seville, Madrid or Barcelona? We’ve been designing itineraries in Spain & Portugal for two decades and always encourage Totally Spain clients to take a food tour. Why not join us on a “behind-the-scenes” in Seville, to see why they are fun, educational and filling too!
What Happens on a Food Tour in Spain?
A gastronomy tour is so much more than a culinary experience. We love how it allows our clients to connect with each city or region with the help of our people on the ground. Because Spain is such a diverse country, it really pays off to meet people on the ground as you travel around. It’s not just to hear about the food and the culinary traditions. You’re meeting up with a person who can introduce you to their own favourite spots (and give you their own insider tips for the rest of your trip). Here are typical questions our clients ask before taking a food touring Spain:-
1 When do food tours in Spain happen and where will I find my guide?
We arrange most of our client tours for the morning and try to do it as soon as possible after our client arrives – i.e. the morning after arrival. You’ll have been tipped off to have a light breakfast as you’ll be eating quite a bit! If you have booked a private guided tour or a private guide tour and driver, you will be collected at your hotel. If you are joining a wider tour, you’ll find yourself in a group or no more than 10 people which is the maximum for logistical reasons. The meeting place if you are joining a tour – is always a central location that’s very easy to find from your hotel. The start time for the tour is usually 10:30am and you’ll find our specialist guide waiting for you with an identifying badge or folder. After a brief introduction and pleasantries when your guide will ask you where else you’ve been and what you have tasted – it’s time to learn about the sequence of events and the tour can begin.
2 How much food will I be tasting? How many stops does the group make?
Lots! The first stop is more what we call a ‘tentempie’ which is a morning snack. You’ll be taken to a typical bar popular for breakfasts and as the locals do which means having a coffee with a breakfast roll. Choices vary hugely from city to city and sometimes from season to season within a city but our guide in Seville likes to include the pulled pork roll known as a ‘tostada de pringa’ at the outset of the tour. This first stop is a chance for you to learn about the local cuisine – you’ll see the hams hanging from the ceiling, the staff busy preparing the tapas for later on. Your guide will explain Spanish mealtimes, how coffees are ordered in Spain and a bit about the history of the bar and its location.
Your next stop is generally the city food market. This is where you can see Spain at its best. As you walk around the stands you see the freshest of fish and seafood, amazing veg, pulses, the freshest of fruits, plus displays of cheese and cured meats that are to die for. Your guide will explain the history of the market and how it fits into modern Spanish life today. You’ll be given tips on what’s seasonal and which local items make great gifts. You won’t have time to shop now (unless you are on your own private tour) but you will definitely leave armed with enough knowledge to return on a shopping trip.
After you have toured the market, your next stop is to one of the city’s traditional taverns and it’s time to try some of the fine cured ham which you’ve seen for sale in the market and hanging from the ceiling in the first bar. As the ‘racion’ or platter of jamon is sliced (make sure to watch this being carved– jamon slicing is a well-paid and highly respected skill), your guide will explain the different types of jamon and you’ll get to try the acorn-fed Iberian ham which is the king of all cured hams.
After savoury, it’s time for something sweet. You’ll have already seen some of the city’s wonderful bakeries and pastry shops but whenever possible we like our clients to stop at a convent to sample the nuns handmade delicacies. In Seville for example, you’ll be able to do this. Your guide will tell you about the convent and the types of pastries produced on site. Your group will call over to the grilled window to place your order– this is as close as the city’s residents are allowed unless they take the vows themselves. Your guide will tell you the ingredients used in the pastry you are sampling and a bit about the history of the recipe too.
Time for a different tasca to taste another sandwich – it is mid-morning now in Seville and the Sevillanos are tucking into a ‘hot of the grill’ pork loin sandwich prepared with a whisky and garlic sauce. Delicious!
You’ll take a break from the food and visit one of the city’s smaller bars to taste orange wine. This hole-in-the-wall bar was the first to introduce the citrus-infused drink to the city and you’ll be surrounded by locals enjoying an aperitivo just as you are about to do.
Your next stop is a traditional fry-house – where you get to taste the adobo marinade that is one of the typical treats served up at Seville’s annual fair (you’ll have heard lots about this huge event by now). Not only do you get to taste the dish but you’ll meet the owners of this family-run establishment too.
If you weren’t full by now – you’re certainly beginning to fill up but keep a little room for the neighbourhood’s infamous tapas restaurant – where you will taste one of the reasons why this bar has been loved for generations.
And when you really think you can’t possibly have a single morsel more, your final stop is at an ice-cream parlour where you’ll find it hard to resist one of the delicious artisan ices in a cone. Even after four hours of eating great food and sampling some amazing local drinks, there is always room for ice-cream
3 Are all the stops focused on food?
Yes and no. As you walk between locations, you’ll have time to stop at some significant sites and the guide will explain the city’s most important buildings and its much-loved celebrations. It’s also when the guide can tailor the tour – for example if there are musicians in the group, you’ll be told plenty of musical anecdotes as you travel around the city. These personalised nuggets of information can really inspire the rest of your time in the city – whether that’s a tip about a museum you might want to check out, or an event in history that you want to read up about, or simply a square or a park that was highlighted to you that you want to return to.
4 Is this type of food tour in Spain suitable for children?
Yes. Whether you are traveling with toddlers, children or teenagers, you’ll see they will all love learning about Spanish culture through its food. They might not eat everything on offer but they’ll remember it all and the history it represents and they’ll draw on those memories later when they are travelling independently themselves. We’ll obviously advise the guide in advance of the number of children and their ages and make sure the tour is tailored to their needs whenever possible. We’ve taken many foodie tours with our own kids and never cease to be amazed at how they embrace the experience and get even more than we do from it! [If you are travelling with a young family, please check out our helpful foodie guide for kids in Spain]
5 If I have a food allergy, can I still take a food tour in Spain?
Yes. If you have any food allergies or if you require vegan or vegetarian, kosher-style, dairy-free or gluten-free options, just let us know and we will make sure the tour guide plans ahead appropriately to make sure you aren’t handed that pork sandwich or fish in batter. We have lots of experience in planning trips for people with dietary requirements so don’t worry – you’re in good hands. And although there will be a few elements of Spanish cuisine you might have to pass on, we’ll make sure you still get to taste the best of Spain in the most authentic locations!
6 Can the group guide give me advice for the rest of my trip?
Yes. Your guide will give you a food guide for the city, that outlines the stops on your tour, should you wish to return for lunch or dinner. And you’ll already have the Totally Spain detailed guide of what to see and do and where to eat in the city. But you are bound to have additional questions and queries and your gastronomy tour guide can give you some personalized info on the fly whether that’s where to find the best tortilla, the best evening tapas, the best paella, and the best cafes, line up your questions – your guide will be more than happy to help.
7 What’s the cost of a food tour in Spain?
You’ll need to e-mail us for prices as tours vary depending on location and group size. What we can say here is that these four hour stints offer amazing value. Firstly, you avoid those costly culinary mistakes by being kept away from the typical tourist traps that are not only pricey but can really sour a holiday. It’s also a great way to get lots done in a short space of time. How else would you manage to visit up to 10 different places in one morning? And because your guide knows their city like the back of their hand – it doesn’t mean walking for miles and miles. The tour routes are planned to take in lots of variety without wearing through the shoe leather (that said, we do recommend comfortable footwear because you’ll be on cobblestones in most locations). When you receive our quote for a gastronomy tour, you should see it a three-for-the-price-of-one tour and do the math accordingly.