Gourmet Cooking Vacation & Culinary Tour in Spain
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Insider's Gourmet Tour of Spain
A Taste of Madrid, Salamanca, Caceres, Seville

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Enjoy spring in Spain during this insider's access tour! Your 7-night itinerary will offer you a gourmet overview of central and southern Spain and a chance to taste the wonders of this amazing country. From the diverse landscapes of Castile, and Leon, Extremadura and Andalucia, to the famed city of Madrid, your gastronomic tour guided culinary vacation in Spain will feature one highlight, and one amazing meal, after another.

Lunch with famous winemaker Alejandro Fernandez on his private estate near Toro. Sample the prize-winning jamón of Guijuelo. Visit the famed Roman ruins of Merida, and have lunch on the site of an old Roman vineyard. Taste home-made artisanal goat cheese, then take a trip down the Douro Rriver. Enjoy a private sherry tasting in Jerez, and a flamenco performance in Seville, and finish with dinner in Madrid's only 2-star* Michelin restaurant.

Accommodations during your Spain culinary vacation will be at a variety of lovely hotels in Spain. Your first and last nights will be at the 5-star* Palacio de Tepa in the center of Madrid. You will also stay two nights in the 16th-century, 4-star Palacio de Castellans in Salamanca; one night in the 4-star* Hotel Parador de Cáceres, a Renaissance-style palace in the center of the Cáceres's old quarter; and two nights in Seville's Vinnci La Rabida, a charming Moorish-style hotel in the center of Seville.

Your guides for this incredible week-long culinary vacation in Spain are Joanna Wivell (pictured), who specializes in Madrid, and Jeremy Shaw, whose focus is wine tours. Both have a passion for all things Spain: Joanna for the quirky and classical sides of Madrid, and Jeremy for the wines and the vintners behind them. Their combined insider's knowledge offers you an in-the-know way to taste the very best Spain has to offer, reinforced by their many years of experience introducing curious travelers to Iberian gastronomy.

Insider's Gourmet Tour of Spain Itinerary

Day One - Sunday

  • Arrival on your own in Madrid and transfer to your hotel.
  • This evening, meet around 7:30 pm at the 5* Palacio de Tapa to start your tour. You will visit the bustling streets of Madrid’s historic center and visit both classic and “new wave” tapas bars, tasting a wide range of dishes and wines from across Spain. Your introduction to the culture of “tapas hopping” gives you an insight into Madrid and the life of its citizens.
  • Overnight.

Day Two - Monday

  • Breakfast and check out of the hotel.
  • Depart in the morning around 9:30 am for Avila, a medieval walled town which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Avila is rife with Gothic and Romanesque churches and is also the birthplace of Saint Teresa of Avila.
  • Enjoy a short tour, a stop for coffee, and then continue on to Fuentesauco, home of the wine estate of Alejandro Fernandez, one of Spain’s most famous winemakers. Alejandro’s Dehesa La Granja estate is his pride and joy, 2000 acres of land in the Toro region, where fighting bulls have given way to the oldest cellar of Alejandro’s four wineries. His Pesquera wine earned 98 points from Robert Parker in the 1980’s, thus establishing Ribera as a premier wine whose global reputation has grown ever since. Alejandro is an engaging host, quick to break into song and dance with his guests.
  • Lunch around 2:00 pm at Dehesa La Granja, featuring products from the estate: ham, cheese, olive oil, suckling lamb, tempranillo jelly—all accompanied, of course, by Alejandro’s wines. A member of the Fernadez family will host the lunch (Alejandro himself if possible), providing a unique and unforgettable experience with one of Spain’s most important winemaking families.
  • Around 5:00 pm depart for Salamanca and check into the Palacio de Castellanos, your home for the next 2 nights. The Palacio is a former sixteenth-century Palace in the heart of the old city, located in a square across from the Los Dominicos monastery in which Columbus drafted his proposal to the royal family that would send him to the New World in 1492.
  • Tonight, our local friend Rosa will take us on a stroll through the old city. The tour will end at Plaza Mayor, and we’ll end the night with a light tapas dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day Three - Tuesday

  • Breakfast, and depart around 10:00 am for the rugged area of Arribes, which is the only place in the entire world that produces Juan Garcia grapes. During the visit, Charlotte Allen — a British wine maker — will share her story, which includes making wine in Arribes for the last decade. The morning includes a winery tour and tasting in her cellar.
  • Cross the border for lunch in Miranda do Douro, a lovely Portugese town overlooking the Duero (Douro) River where it forms the border between Portugal and Spain. Your lunch at O Miarndes will give you a chance to taste Portuguese cuisine, including the regional specialty known as “posta a Mirandesa” steaks, along with Portuguese red and white wines.
  • After lunch, take a relaxing boat cruise along the meandering river, whose steep gorges create a very dramatic and still environment. It is a place of remarkable beauty where you might see golden eagles and other birds of prey flying above.
  • Return to Salamanca around 6:30 pm for a tapas dinner.
  • Overnight.

Day Four - Wednesday

  • Breakfast, then checkout of your hotel.
  • Depart around 10:15 for Guijuelo, a town shortly to the south of Salamanca. Guijelo enjoys a long-standing reputation for the production of Iberian ham rivaled only by Jabugo in Andalusia. Your first stop will be one of the finest jamón producers since 1907, Simon Martin, whose ham was the 2012 winner of the best jamón in Spain. We will learn how the “black foot,” acorn feed, and the dry winter of Castile influence the end product, and will then enjoy a tasting of Simon Martin’s salchichon, chorizo, and of course jamón!
  • Your next stop, Mogarraz, where you will visit the La Zorra estate for lunch in the Mirasierra restaurant that owns the bodega. The noteworthy wines from the recently established DO “Sierra de Salamanca” have won several awards, including 93 points from the Penin Guide, and the regional Rufete grape variety plays a starring role. The restaurant boasts views of the Sierra de Francia mountains and mountain dishes prepared on the open grill.
  • After lunch, journey to Extremadura and the walled city of Caceres, a UNESCO World Heritage Site sine 1986 and home to many Roman, Moorish, Gothic, and Renaissance influences. Caceres, in fact, is considered the third most important artistic and historic urban center in Europe, and still has 30 remaining Moorish towers, including the famed Torre de Bujaco.
  • Check in to your hotel, the Parador, newly refurbished in 2012 and comprised of a 14th- and 16th- century mansion house, located inside the historic center.
  • Take a walk with a guide, and finish with a light gourmet tapas meal.

Day Five - Thursday

  • Breakfast, then checkout of your hotel.
  • Depart around 10:00 am for Merida, also a World Heritage Site. Formerly the capital of the Roman province called Lusitania, Merida is home to more important Roman ruins than any other city in Spain. Your guide will take you through Merida’s streets, where ancient and modern mix, and into the town’s focal point, the Roman theater and amphitheater.
  • Enjoy a coffee before traveling south toward the Santa Marina winery, which is spectacularly located at the foot of the Sierra Lamoneda on the former site of a Roman vineyard. They winery extends some 58 hectares in the Ribera de Guadiana denominación. You will have a tasting of several of their wines, including the Miraculus (recipient of 91 points by Parker), along with lunch.
  • Continue south to the majestic city of Seville, capital of the Andalusia region, where you will arrive around 6:00 pm to settle into your accommodations for the next two nights. Vinnci La Rabida is a charming and unique Moorish-style hotel that was once an 18th-century palatial home situated just a short distance from the Cathedral of Seville; Archive of the Indies (a World Heritage Site), and the “La Maestranza” bull ring. The property features a lovely patio, as well as a tapas bar and restaurant.
  • Evening and dinner at leisure in Seville. (An optional guided walk can be arranged).
  • Overnight.

Day Six - Friday

  • Breakfast, then depart around 10:15 for a trip to Jerez de la Frontera, the home of sherry wine. Jerez is both the first and the oldest DO in Spain, and its history of winemaking goes back to the Fifteenth Century.
  • Your first stop, around 10:30 am, is at Lustau, makers of highly-rated sherries since 1896. Lustau is famed for its “Almacenista” custom of bottling sherry wine from small family bodegas in the region. You will explore the bodega and enjoy a tasting before departing for your next stop.
  • Your second visit will be to the Fernando de Castilla bodega, one of the oldest in Jerez, now owned by Jan Pettersen. Jan is considered a champion within the region for his commitment to making wines via an old-fashioned style of production, and the bodega’s aged sherries have earned between 93 and 95 Parker points. Enjoy a tapas tasting paired with sherry to give you a true taste of Andalucia.
  • Depart Jerez around 2:00 pm and return to Seville, with the rest of the afternoon to explore more of this amazing city.
  • Around 6:30 pm, visit the Flamenco Museum, established by one of the most famous dancers of Spain, Cristina Hoyos. Enjoy a short tour of the museum to learn the history and roots of this beautiful art, before being entertained by a flamenco performance with a guitarist, singer, and dancer. The museum is located in an old 18th-century building in the city’s highest area, and is a mecca for those seeking the soul-filled duende of the art of flamenco.
  • Around 8:30pm adjourn to the nearby historic restaurant of Taberna del Alabadero for a Jabugo ham tasting and dinner. This restaurant is also headquarters to Escuela Superior de Hosteleria de Sevilla, a prestigious Sevillian gastronomy school.
  • Overnight.

Day Seven - Saturday

  • Breakfast, and check out by 12:00 noon, when you will be transferred to the nearby Santa Justa trian station to take the high speed AVE train back to Madrid.
  • Enjoy a gourmet light picnic lunch on the train, then check back into the Palacio de Tepa.
  • Afternoon at leisure to explore Madrid.
  • For those wishing a short walk, depart around 7:30 pm for a brief tour of some of Madrid’s sites on the way to dinner. You will see both famed and lesser-known sites along the way, and will learn a bit of history about the capital city.
  • At 9:00 pm your farewell dinner, a lavish presentation of modern Spanish gastronomy at the famed 2-star Michelin restaurant El Club Allard. Located near the Duquesa de Alba’s residence in Madrid, the Liria Palace, the restaurant offers a whimsical take on the new wave gastronomy of Spain, which is surprising at every turn, and which delivers great flavors in fabulous surroundings, complete with fine wines from around Spain. Enjoy a memorable tasting menu prepared by chef Maria Marte, along with wine pairings from sommelier Javier Gila, who is president of the Association of Madrid Sommeliers.
  • Overnight.

Day Eight - Sunday

  • Breakfast and check out.