Gastro Tours: On The Culinary Trail...
Food glorious food! Not only one of life's great necessities but one of its greatest pleasures as well... especially when washed down with a vintage glass of wine, or three! For aeons people have travelled, not just for pleasant climes and a patch of sand to sit on, but for the joys of tasting the native cuisine cooked by native hands. Gastro-tourism is by no means a new phenomenon, however today's travel industry has finally cottoned on to its importance and (if you'll excuse the pun) started 'catering' to our needs. Thanks to a growing interest in food production and cooking methods, tour companies today are willing to go to great efforts to provide you with the very best culinary experiences available - and in Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain those happen to be rather exquisite!
Yes, if you're a gourmet guzzler or epicurean imbiber you'll find Barcelona and the surrounding region something akin to culinary nirvana. Both the Catalans and the Spaniards take their food very very seriously (they're not far behind the French and the Italians in this regard), and not only will you find some of the best restaurants in the world, but you'll encounter an amazing culture of food (think aperitifs, long lunches, tapas!), and of course discover some of the best natural ingredients... just a short stroll around La Boqueria market in central Barcelona will confirm that! Still wriggling hake, monkfish and seabreams, fresh shellfish and oysters, smoked slices of jamon serrano and spicy chorizo, rich and complex farm house cheeses, and a colourful panoply of organic fruits and vegetables are all for sale.
Above: Cooking calçots, a traditional Catalan onion...
Just outside Barcelona the city and you'll find the picturesque Penedes region with its famous Cava vineyards... Cava being the Spanish/Catalan take on Champagne (basically exactly the same but much much cheaper, so save some room in your luggage!). There are also a number of great still white wines and red wines made in this and other regions of Catalonia.
How to make the most of all this delicious potential? With a culinary tour of Barcelona of course! Sign up with the experts and before you know it you'll be eating lip-smacking Catalan cuisine and Spanish specialties prepared by some of the best chefs in the whole of Catalonia and Spain, you'll be tasting fresh produce on organic farms and shopping for ingredients at local markets, you'll be taking part in cooking lessons and learning authentic recipes from the region, and enjoying tours of vineyards and bodegas - either with your friends, or with fellow food-lovers. Every gourmet pleasure will be yours to savour... and a fair few you'll be able to pack in your suitcase for the journey home!
Barcelona Culinary Tours
Check below for a list of both individual activities and tour providers. In fact there are so many great gastro experiences that we've split them up into handy headings... if you are curious about any of them simply click on the blue header links for more info about each and to read public opinion.
Cookery & Cocktails (Preparing Food/Drink)
Cooking Classes Barcelona
Catalonia is famous for its celebrity chefs, like Ferran and Albert Adria, and the art of cooking will certainly open a lot of doors for you in this neck of the woods. Sign up for these cooking lessons with a Spanish master of the trade and you'll be taught how to make the classic paella dish, as well as get an insight into preparing tapas, and mixing the perfect sangria blend. A great evening, where you won't go hungry, and at 32 euros probably cheaper than eating the same dishes at a restaurant! Email email@example.com to reserve a spot.
Gourmet Cooking Classes
For a more elaborate work out in the kitchen we've teamed up with another of the city's top providers, and this time you'll be learning how to make a four course meal from the finest Spanish ingredients sourced from none other than the world famous La Boqueria market. After you've finished slicing, dicing, grating and grilling you'll get to eat your own freshly prepared masterpiece - washed down with artisan Catalan wine. This gourmet experience is a bit pricier at 65 euros (evening class) or 78 euros (morning class including market tour), but is well worth it if you're keen to really get to grips with the local cuisine. Limited spaces, so please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more info or to book.
Cocktail Mixing Classes
Wine snobs will of course disagree, but a well made cocktail can boast all of the complexities of a good drop of vino and in Barcelona in fact it's become quite popular to order a Martini with your meal, or to pair cocktails with tapas. During this hands-on experience you'll learn some invaluable trade secrets from one of the city's top barmen and by the end of the lesson you'll be mixing with the best of them! As the activity naturally involves plenty of sampling, it's the perfect way to kick start a night out with friends. A snip at 25 euros (the same cost as three mojitos in any downtown bar), simply email email@example.com to to book.
Tapas, Cheese & Wine (City-Based Tastings)
Food Tours Barcelona
This aptly-named agency is focused on local and sustainable culinary adventures, launching their Catalan Gastronomy Tour as recently as 2017. This introduction to the Barcelona food scene takes you around one of the city's hippest districts, Sant Antoni, the very place where the medieval city once grew its produce and now the home of its second most famous market. As well as visiting the aforementioned food bazaar you'll go on a delightful tapas tasting jaunt around the barrio's best bars and bodegas, experiencing everything from tried and tested classics like anchovies, Iberian ham and pan amb tomaquet to Ferran-Adria inspired creative treats. At €89 per person for 20 food and drink tastes it's good value.
Barcelona Tapas Tour
Tapas is not so much a type of cuisine as a style of cuisine... the tradition of eating lots of small snack-style dishes instead of just one or two main courses. Brilliant! When you eat tapas you get to taste not just one or two dishes but a whole smorgasbord of Spanish and Catalan flavours! During this very special tour, your knowledgeable guide will take you off the beaten track to discover some of the city's most authentic tapas bars and restaurants, and guide you through the minefield of the menus (confusing as hell for non-natives! Especially if you don't speak Spanish/Catalan!). A great way to discover the local culture via your tastebuds! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place. Extremely limited spaces!
Tapas & Flamenco Night
Two amazing traditions in one experience during this quintessential Spanish evening. First a foot-stomping flamenco show in the Gothic Quarter, and then the chance to sample several different tapas. A good choice for sociable people (a large group go every night) on a budget (only 32 euros per person). Email email@example.com to book a slot.
Both the Spanish and Catalans have fine traditions of cheese making and in recent years there's even been a revival in the production of locally produced artisan and farmhouse cheeses! Get to know your Manchego from your Mato de Montserrat during this gourmet sampling session, that naturally includes perfectly paired wines and snacks. Check the link above for more info.
City-based Wine Tasting
There's nothing like a glass of vino after a hard day's sightseeing! For this experience you'll be welcomed into the tasting room of one of the city's leading vinotecas, where you'll get to sample four award-winning local wines, whilst a native expert gives you a masterclass in the art of delectation. With a central location near Placa Catalunya and very affordable prices (starting at 35 euros per head), this is the best way to experience Catalan wines for those who don't have time to do a day trip to the Penedes. Tapas/nibbles are also served. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve.
Wines, Cava & Cuisine (Vineyards & Rural Tastings)
Wine Tasting Tour
During this indulgent day out participants will be taken to both a large-scale Cava winery (one of the very best in Catalonia), where they'll enjoy a tour of the cellars and a tipple or two, plus a smaller boutique vineyard where a family of vintners will introduce you to a wide range of their local wines. Just to make sure the grape doesn't go to your head, you'll also be treated to a delicious tapas-style lunch. The intimate, hands-on nature of this private activity makes this trip one of the very best wine tasting experiences on offer from BCN, and is available from €150 per person with transport to and from the city centre. You can reserve/enquire via email@example.com.
Create Your Own Cava
During this fun twist on the usual wine tasting tour you'll not only get to sample several different varieties of Cava - aka Spanish champagne - but you'll even get to bottle it yourself! The experience takes place in a 1,000 year old farmhouse complex in the Penedes region and includes vineyard and cellar tour, and is great value at just 42 euros per head. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do the rest.
Penedes Cycling & Wine Tour
Energetic followers of Dionysus may opt to discover his fermented treats via two wheels during this great day trip which combines pedalling with viticulture. You'll stop off at two wineries, sample a fair bit of Cava/vino and enjoy a rustic lunch at a rural restaurant. You'll also get to experience the beauty of the Catalan countryside from your saddle, cycling along country roads. And if you drink too much there's always a back up vehicle to get you safely back to the train station! Email email@example.com for more details.
For even more wine tasting activities be sure to check this dedicated article, that also includes details on how to travel independently to some of the region's famous wineries.
Dining In The Dark
For something a little bit different how about delving into Dans Le Noir? restaurant for a delicious meal served in the pitch black! Blind waiters will guide you to your seats and carefully lay out the dishes, but it will be up to you to apply the knife and fork without the use of your eyes (tip: don't wear a white blouse!). Great fun, especially if you want to surprise a loved one, or if you want to create plenty talking points during a group meal. (Why not organise this for your office Christmas party or hen do?).
More gastro-tourism providers and specialist food and wine tasting tours, cookery lessons etc. coming v. soon! In the meantime check out a wide range of experiences on this page, including a choice of walking tours and fantastic day excursions.