Spain has all but taken over the mantle as Europe’s foodie destination. A controversial statement you think? It’s hard to deny when four of the world’s top ten restaurants* are from Spain, including the number one spot which is held by El Bulli. Positions 4, 5 and 8 are also held by the Spaniards with El Cellar de Can Roca, Mugaritz and Arzak respectively.
France is well down the list, and holds only two of the top ten spots, in seventh and ninth places. The French are now being firmly outdone by their westerly neighbors! And Italy? First entry at number 13!
What’s so good about Spain then? As a gourmet destination – it’s quite new for Australians! Not many of us have ventured there with firm thoughts of eating (let alone drinking, which is a whole other topic). Perhaps we did some sightseeing on visits past, but the Spanish gourmet experience is now the trendy new travel phenomenon for Aussies, and has us flocking back in droves for a closer look!
According to Food and Wine Travel’s Karen Ridge “The main attractions are not surprisingly tapas bars, Iberico Ham and cooking classes. People are mad for these experiences.” says Karen.
The tapas bars have always been there and are as entrenched in the Spanish culture as the Running of the Bulls. But what’s exciting for Foodies now, is that instead of just going to Madrid or Barcelona as a tourist and hoping you find a good tapas bar, you can be hooked up with a resident Spanish Foodie who will take you to the secret places that only the locals know about. They’ll personally take you to the local hot spots and ensure you have the most amazing experience possible.
‘It becomes a gourmet experience by design, not luck when you do it this way’, says Karen. People want more depth of experience with their holidays now, and they certainly are embracing their need through food and wine. Spending time with the locals is a great way of connecting and getting something more from your destination.
Iberico Ham is a world famous Spanish export, and a local delicacy commonly referred to as ‘the caviar of cured ham’. No trip to Spain is complete without a visit to the Iberian Peninsula in Andalucia for a private tasting. The doors are opened (with the help of locals) to top producers, that are not normally open to the public. ‘Of all things foodie in Spain, this is the experience clients come home raving about!’ says Karen. ‘They absolutely love it!’
The final clencher to complete a Foodie’s visit to Spain is an authentic cooking class. Once you’ve spent your holiday consuming all things Spanish, you’ll want to know how it’s done! Consider spending five hours with one of the top chefs in Spain – just you and your partner or friends – a private class. Learning, tasting and immersing yourself in local cuisine. ‘The great thing about cooking classes is that you get to bring home the knowledge. It’s a piece of your holiday you can keep forever and recreate any time’ says Karen . ‘That’s exactly why people love this sort of thing.’
Enhanced by Australia’s current love affair with all things food and wine (think reality TV shows, lifestyle channels, magazines, festivals and celebrity chefs), the concept of a food and wine holiday is the latest trend in travel, with Spain leading the way!
For more information and photos call Karen at Food and Wine Travel 1800 701 521
or go to www.foodandwinetravel.com.au and search ‘Spain’
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*According to San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2009 www.theworld50best.com