Gourmet

Enjoy the good things in life

"You are what you eat", as the saying goes. There is no better way to learn about a country and its culture than through its food and drink. Discover with us the fascinating culinary culture of southern Spain through a variety of activities, from participating in a wine harvest in the mountains to tapas-bar hopping in Seville or Granada. Whether food and wine is the main focus of your trip in Spain, or simply a pleasurable add-on, we can design an itinerary to whet your appetite.

Field to Table – sample itinerary

  1. Trans­fer from Mála­ga air­port along the coast and up into the moun­tain­ous Alpu­jar­ra region. The first of our two bases on this tour, it is one of the great “finds” of south­ern Spain, a beau­ti­ful land­scape of orchards, fields, woods and riv­er val­leys, and qui­et vil­lages, set between the high peaks of the Sier­ra Neva­da and the Mediter­ranean Sea. We stay in the vil­lage of Maire­na – well off any “beat­en track” – where our charm­ing rur­al hotel is built in tra­di­tion­al local mate­ri­als and offers spa­cious accom­mo­da­tion, home-cooked food, and views over the val­leys and as far as the sea from its sun ter­race.
  2. Today we put the title “Field to Table” into prac­tice, sourc­ing from the land the ingre­di­ents we are to cook with. We will walk to the riv­er val­ley below the hotel and vis­it allot­ments where all man­ner of veg­eta­bles and fruits are grown; then, using the sea­son­al veg­eta­bles and fruit we have col­lect­ed, we set about con­vert­ing them into some tra­di­tion­al local dish­es in a hands-on cook­ery class. After enjoy­ing the fruits of our labours at lunch, relax with a sies­ta in the hotel gar­dens or fur­ther explore the local coun­try­side on one of sev­er­al easy walk­ing trails from the vil­lage. Din­ner is in the hotel’s restau­rant, which serves a delight­ful fusion of Andalu­sian and Moroc­can cui­sine.
  3. The high­er parts of the Alpu­jar­ra region enjoy a micro­cli­mate which lends to the cul­ti­va­tion of vines. Over the last few years sev­er­al new organ­ic vine­yards have set up here and pro­duce excel­lent red and white wines as well as local sparkling wine (cava). In late sum­mer we have the chance to help out in the vendimia (har­vest) see­ing how the work is done and look­ing at some of the process­es involved — as well as sam­pling the results from pre­vi­ous vin­tages, of course! In win­ter this activ­i­ty is instead tak­ing part in the local olive har­vest, a key event in the vil­lage cal­en­dar and a great insight into rur­al life.
  4. The small-scale farm­ing of the Alpu­jar­ra is our focus today as we jour­ney through the spec­tac­u­lar Poqueira Ravine en route to Grana­da. Meet­ing with local pro­duc­ers we will learn more about tra­di­tion­al Span­ish agri­cul­ture and food at the allot­ment of a local res­i­dent, where an abun­dance of veg­etable and fruit is grown, and at a ham secadero, where the famous jamón ser­ra­no is cured. After lunch based on sea­son­al prod­ucts, we con­tin­ue down to Grana­da, where we stay in the his­toric Albaicín quar­ter. The city has a big uni­ver­si­ty pop­u­la­tion and a live­ly bar scene: this evening we’ll explore the old city cen­tre and some of its most char­ac­ter­is­tic bars serv­ing great local wines and deli­cious tapas.
  5. Let’s cook! But first, we go shop­ping for ingre­di­ents in the live­ly mar­kets and stalls near the cathe­dral in Grana­da with your host, a young Span­ish chef, vet­er­an of sev­er­al top Madrid restau­rants. Then, in his down­town kitchen-class­room, you will learn cre­ative twists on some of the clas­sic Span­ish dish­es before sam­pling the results. In the evening we will enjoy a tast­ing din­ner in a styl­ish del­i­catessen which stocks extra vir­gin olive oils, cured meats and hams, local cheeses and an array of Span­ish region­al wines. The day is capped with a guid­ed night-time vis­it of the stun­ning Alham­bra palaces, Spain’s most-vis­it­ed mon­u­ment and an exquis­ite rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Moor­ish design and craft­man­ship.
  6. La Cos­ta Trop­i­cal”, the coast­line of Grana­da Province, is so named for its sub-trop­i­cal cli­mate, which allows for the cul­ti­va­tion of fruits such as avo­ca­does, man­goes and cus­tard-apples. In the pret­ty resort town of Salo­breña we will vis­it a plan­ta­tion, sam­pling the fruits that are in sea­son, before enjoy­ing a pael­la on the beach. Back in Grana­da this evening we will take you into the Sacromonte, a dis­trict of cave hous­es with strong gyp­sy roots and a live­ly fla­men­co cul­ture, enjoy­ing din­ner in a great lit­tle local restau­rant with before attend­ing an exu­ber­ant fla­men­co zam­bra in a cave house – a unique set­ting.
  7. Explore more of Grana­da on your own this morn­ing and per­haps try out one of our rec­om­mend­ed restau­rants for lunch. This after­noon we return to see the Sacromonte in the day­time, with a vis­it to a fas­ci­nat­ing cave house muse­um with exhibits on caves, gyp­sies and fla­men­co, and then stroll through the nar­row lanes and squares of the old Moor­ish quar­ter, the Albaicín. Our farewell din­ner is also in this neigh­bour­hood, in a car­men (walled gar­den res­i­dence) with delight­ful ter­raced gar­dens which we will enjoy over an aper­i­tif before sit­ting down to din­ner with views of the flood­lit Alham­bra – a great finale to the tour.
  8. Depar­ture or fur­ther inde­pen­dent trav­el. Grana­da is only nine­ty min­utes by road from Mála­ga air­port, from where there are flights to des­ti­na­tions through­out Europe and beyond. If you are stay­ing on in Spain we can help you with hotel + activ­i­ties in any of the major cities – con­tact us about our Post-Tour Exten­sion pack­ages.

Mediterranean Food – sample itinerary

  1. After an Ori­en­ta­tion Tour in the his­toric cen­tre of Grana­da, we spend the evening in a spe­cial­ist food store sam­pling extra vir­gin olive oils, cured hams and sausages, arti­sanal cheeses, pre­served veg­eta­bles and a selec­tion of local dish­es paired with region­al wines. Our hotel is a con­vert­ed monastery com­plete with orig­i­nal clois­ters in the city cen­tre by the riv­er and in an area full of bars and restau­rants.
  2. The Alham­bra palaces and gar­dens are Spain’s most vis­it­ed mon­u­ment and deserved­ly so for their unique his­to­ry and the exquis­ite fusion of Arab and Chris­t­ian styles. After a com­pre­hen­sive guid­ed tour, we will then explore the bustling cathe­dral area and the old Moor­ish quar­ter of the city. Our evening Wine Stroll, led by a Span­ish som­me­li­er, com­bines a wine tast­ing class with vis­its to local wine bars, sam­pling a cross-sec­tion of wines from Grana­da province as well as the well-known wine-pro­duc­ing regions such as La Rio­ja and Rib­era del Duero.
  3. We make an ear­ly start so as to explore the colour­ful food mar­kets and stalls near the cathe­dral when they are at their most bustling and live­ly. We will be buy­ing ingre­di­ents for the dish­es for this lunchtime’s cook­ery course. Held in the kitchen-class­room of a young Span­ish chef, this class will show us not only how to pre­pare some of the core dish­es of the Mediter­ranean Diet, which we will after­wards enjoy, but also some inter­est­ing and use­ful facts on its key nutri­tion­al and health aspects.
  4. The shores of the Mediter­ranean pro­vide the venues for today’s activ­i­ties. We begin with a guid­ed vis­it to plan­ta­tions of fruit trees which thrive in the sub-trop­i­cal micro-cli­mate here, such as man­go, avo­ca­do and chi­r­i­moya (cus­tard apple). Lunch by the sea is a must – a seafood pael­la fresh­ly pre­pared over an open fire — before we watch the after­noon catch come ashore at the busy fish­ing port of Motril. We round things off with a sun­down­er drink and tapas on the beach and then head to Nigüe­las, where we stay for the next three nights in a delight­ful hotel which is a con­vert­ed mill set in gar­dens.
  5. Granada’s diver­si­ty is demon­strat­ed by today’s vis­it to the moun­tain region of the Alpu­jar­ra. We will drink its renowned min­er­al water, vis­it a fas­ci­nat­ing muse­um on bees and hon­ey and a secadero where the excel­lent Jamón Ser­ra­no ham is cured. After a pic­nic of local prod­ucts by the riv­er, we will be shown around a local’s allot­ment (huer­ta), dis­cov­er­ing the rich abun­dance of crops and the endur­ing impor­tance of Moor­ish ter­rac­ing and irri­ga­tion tech­niques. We dine in the premis­es of a lead­ing local win­ery, where we will tour the instal­la­tions and sam­ple their excel­lent Tem­pranil­lo, Mer­lot and Syrah reds.
  6. The Lecrín Val­ley enjoys fame for its cit­rus fruits, which will no doubt fea­ture in some of the dish­es in today’s hands-on Tapas Cook­ery Class with an Eng­lish chef, a long-term res­i­dent. Her class will not only show you some great recipes to repli­cate at home but is also sure to include some local gos­sip! After lunch there’s time for a walk through the orange groves, enjoy­ing great views over the val­ley. Back in Nigüe­las we will tour the old­est olive oil mill in Spain and learn about the tra­di­tion­al ways of extract­ing this “liq­uid gold” – an essen­tial com­po­nent of the Mediter­ranean Diet.
  7. Depar­ture or fur­ther inde­pen­dent trav­el. Grana­da air­port offers air con­nec­tions to Madrid, Barcelona and Lon­don City. Only nine­ty min­utes down the road is Mála­ga air­port, with flights to des­ti­na­tions through­out Europe and beyond. If you are stay­ing on in Andalu­sia we can help you with hotel + activ­i­ties in any of the major cities – enquire about our Post-Tour Exten­sion pack­ages.

Andalusia Gourmet – sample itinerary

  1. Ron­da, a pret­ty moun­tain town stun­ning­ly sit­u­at­ed astride a deep gorge which splits it in two, is our base for the first two nights. We’ll get a feel for the old town with an evening stroll though its cob­bled streets, din­ing in one of its most not­ed restau­rants. The local cui­sine is var­ied, as the sea is just 30 miles away and the near­by moun­tains of the Ser­ranía de Ron­da pro­vide good game as well as chest­nuts, figs, wild aspara­gus, legumes and all man­ner of fresh herbs.
  2. All through the town are mon­u­ments which attest to a lengthy and fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry, includ­ing man­sion hous­es, gar­dens, and even the well-restored ruins of a c. 12 Arab bath­house. On our guid­ed walk we will also see inside the his­toric bull ring, con­sid­ered as the spir­i­tu­al home of Span­ish bull fight­ing. After­wards we walk to the vine­yards of a niche wine-mak­er, who will show us around his ter­roir and the instal­la­tions he has inge­nious­ly housed in a restored c. 16 con­vent church, before we sam­ple the excel­lent wines with lunch in the delight­ful gar­dens. Back in Ron­da, after time for some inde­pen­dent sight­see­ing or a lazy sies­ta, we dine in anoth­er excel­lent fam­i­ly-run restau­rant.
  3. Graza­le­ma lies at the heart of the region of the pueb­los blan­cos, the vil­lages of pic­ture post­card fame, flower pots adorn­ing the bal­conies of the white-washed hous­es on nar­row, cob­bled streets. Here we will vis­it a farm mak­ing the piquant goat’s milk cheese for which the area is renowned; then, in near­by Zahara de la Sier­ra, we see how extra vir­gin olive oil is still milled in the tra­di­tion­al way. After a stroll through the pic­turesque streets and lunch in a won­der­ful restau­rant with views over a reser­voir, we head on to Seville where we’ll explore the old quar­ter before din­ing in the ele­gant set­ting of a c. 19 man­sion house.
  4. Today is devot­ed to dis­cov­er­ing the essence of Seville with a guid­ed tour of its key sights: the impos­ing Goth­ic cathe­dral, the Moor­ish-Castil­ian palaces of the Alcázar, and the ver­dant Par­que María Luisa, a delight­ful place to stroll if you wish to return lat­er on. This evening we will see live fla­men­co, an exhil­a­rat­ing art form that is unique to Spain and still very much a part of pop­u­lar cul­ture. Before­hand, we dine in the Tri­ana dis­trict, known for its many ceram­ic and art shops, live­ly bars and mag­i­cal night-time views back across the riv­er to the cathe­dral and the Giral­da spire, Seville’s sig­na­ture land­mark.
  5. The rolling hills of Huel­va Province could be regard­ed as “the home of ham”, since it is here that the black Iber­ian pig is bred and fat­tened on acorns, and the exquis­ite jamón ibéri­co pro­duced. We will vis­it the instal­la­tions of one of the lead­ing pro­duc­ers, learn about the cur­ing process­es, and sam­ple the ham with a glass of the best fino sher­ry, a won­der­ful pair­ing. After­wards, in the pret­ty town of Ara­ce­na, we will enjoy a gourmet lunch at one of the finest restau­rants in the area, and a stroll up to its medieval cas­tle. This evening you might like to explore fur­ther the myr­i­ad tapas bars and live­ly restau­rants of Seville.
  6. Cór­do­ba, for cen­turies cap­i­tal of Moor­ish Spain, is renowned for its c. 8 mosque fused into a c. 16 cathe­dral – a tru­ly unique mon­u­ment, not to be missed. Our guid­ed vis­it will also take in the war­ren of medieval streets known as la Jud­ería (Jew­ish Quar­ter), its small c. 12 syn­a­gogue, and craft mar­ket. Córdoba’s cui­sine is high­ly regard­ed and in a lunchtime cook­ery class we will pre­pare, under the guid­ance of trained chefs, a menu of local spe­cial­i­ties before enjoy­ing them with the local Mon­til­la-Moriles wines. This evening in Grana­da your local host will take you out to “tapear”: the art of bar-hop­ping and sam­pling the tapas – of which there is an infi­nite vari­ety.
  7. The Albaicín and Sacromonte offer stun­ning views over the city of Grana­da and the Alham­bra, as well as a sin­gu­lar charm and intrigu­ing leg­ends and his­to­ry. An inter­pre­ta­tive muse­um will show us how life was tra­di­tion­al­ly lived in the cave dwellings of the Sacromonte, while in the Albaicín we vis­it a car­men (walled-gar­den house) and a c. 16 con­vent before a relaxed tast­ing lunch in a gar­den restau­rant. The after­noon is ded­i­cat­ed to the majes­tic Alham­bra, the jew­el in the crown of Spain’s long Moor­ish her­itage, with an expert guid­ed tour. We return to the Sacromonte for din­ner — in a sim­ple neigh­bour­hood restau­rant with superb views back to the flood­lit Alham­bra.
  8. Today we walk in the Alpu­jar­ra, an area of out­stand­ing nat­ur­al beau­ty set between the moun­tains and the Mediter­ranean. We will be shown around the huer­ta (kitchen gar­den) by a local res­i­dent and then sam­ple some of its prod­ucts in his cosy vil­lage bar. The region also pro­duces superb moun­tain-cured jamón ser­ra­no, dried fruits, hon­ey, and hand-made sweets and choco­late. As we return to Grana­da we will vis­it a win­ery, spec­tac­u­lar­ly set at the feet of the Sier­ra Neva­da, for a guid­ed tour and tast­ing. This evening we stroll through the Albaicín dis­trict to the enchant­i­ng gar­dens of a car­men where we dine with views of the Alham­bra.
  9. Our return jour­ney to Mála­ga takes us along the “Trop­i­cal Coast” where we will see plan­ta­tions of man­goes, bananas and avo­ca­dos on one side of the road and a coast­line of clear blue waters on the oth­er. We stop near the resort of Ner­ja to vis­it some impres­sive cav­erns, so large that con­certs are held amid the sta­lag­mites and sta­lagtites. Our final stop in the jour­ney is for a lunch at a beach­side restau­rant where plates of fresh seafood are hawked by wait­ers who cir­cu­late shout­ing their wares — an enter­tain­ing spec­ta­cle and a dif­fer­ent way to end our gas­tro­nom­ic expe­ri­ence of Spain.