The salty tang of crispy barbecued sardines; sampling delicate tapas on a jasmine-scented square; setting your tastebuds alight in a Michelin-starred eatery: Spain offers a whole host of foodie experiences. Get ready to discover delicious regional dishes, mouthwatering markets and cook-it-yourself courses.
t Shopping for produce at the market as part of a cookery course
Want to recreate some of your favourite Spanish dishes? Gourmet Madrid (www.gourmetmadrid.com) runs classes, Barcelona Slow Travel (www.barcelonaslowtravel.com) offers a range of courses and Cooking Olé in Seville (www.cookingole.com) shows you how to prepare authentic dishes.
Visiting a local market is a great introduction to Spanish cuisine. Jewel-like fruit and vegetables sit beside huge legs of jamon serrano. Some of these ancient market halls have been transformed into foodie hubs, full of enticing counter bars and stalls. Our favourites are Madrid’s Mercado de San Miguel and the Mercat Colón in Valencia (mercadocolon.es).
Spain’s fine-dining scene is interstellar – its restaurants have been awarded more than 220 Michelin stars, and El Celler de Can Roca is rated the second best eatery in the world. Catalonia is also renowned for being the home of Ferran Adrià, the godfather of molecular gastronomy. Although his infamous restaurant El Bulli has closed, his influence is still felt on menus everywhere, particularly in the Basque Country. Andoni Aduriz, an El Bulli alumni, has crafted an avant-garde take on traditional Basque cuisine at Mugaritz in San Sebastián (www.mugaritz.com).
The bar counters of the Basque lands are heaped high with pintxos – slices of baguette, covered with anything from tortilla (potato omelette) to foie gras. Pintxos are the Basque answer to tapas – small plates of croquetas (croquettes), patatas bravas (fried potatoes in a spicy sauce) and more. Sample both to decide whether tapas or pintxos come out on top.
Everywhere you go in Spain, you’ll find distinctive local flavours. Expect hearty stews in the mountains of central Spain and oodles of fresh seafood along the coasts. Tuck into fabada – a succulent bean stew – in Asturias, some pescaíto frito (fried fish) in Andalucía or caldereta de langosta (spiny lobster stew) in Menorca. Seek out paella in Valencia and pintxos in the Basque Country.
DISCOVER Spain Your Way
The eponymous chef here has three Michelin stars for his creative take on Spanish cuisine.
⌂ Hotel Puente Romano, Marbella ∑ grupodanigarcia.com
Chef David Muñoz concocts imaginative gourmet creations.
⌂ NH Eurobuilding, Madrid ∑ diverxo.com