I was lucky enough to be invited along on one of Devour Barcelona’s first food tours here in Barcelona. As the sister company of the wildly successful Madrid Food Tour, my hopes were high. Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed…
I’ve always thought that the best way to get acquainted with a new culture is to study its cuisine. And wandering through the enchanting streets of Gracia, Barcelona’s darling neighbourhood, eating and drinking … well, that’s the kind of studying you can do all day long!
Whether you’re visiting Barcelona for the first time and want to get off the beaten path, or you live here full-time and are looking for a fresh perspective, Devour Barcelona Food Tours are a delectable and intriguing way to do it. Read on to find out why.
1. Because Who Doesn’t Enjoy a Champagne Breakfast?
OK, OK, in Spain it’s called cava and not champagne, but it’s actually the same decadent drink of your dreams. In fact, Catalunya produces the bulk of the world’s cava, and here in Barcelona, when it’s served with a few sliced butifarra (Catalan sausages) in an oven-warm baguette, it is pure and unadulterated pleasure.
2. Because You’ll Eat the Best Darn Bombas in Barcelona
Bombas – bombs – were created during the Spanish Civil War and resemble the anarchists’ favourite weapon of choice. The Devour Barcelona team told us how they had scoured the city in search of the best interpretation of this iconic dish. It seems their hard work has paid off.
These iconic little potato and minced beef croquettes are served with a spicy tomato salsa known as bravas (the spiciest thing I’ve ever eaten in Spain – the Spanish don’t really do spicy food) and a generous dollop of ultra-garlicky allioli. At this same little tapas restaurant – and I’m not going to spoil the surprise by telling you the name – we also got to make our own pa amb tomàquet, another national dish of Catalunya, by rubbing fresh garlic and juicy tomatoes over bread. Great fun and absolutely delicious!
3. Because the Guides Are Passionate and Bursting with Insider Knowledge
Renée, our gastronomic guide and culinary conductor, was a torrent of insider information. Whether explaining the intricacies of the Catalan flag or warning of the dangers of poorly filtered olive oil, her virtuosity and spirited gusto was a true tour de force.
4. Because there’s More to Catalan Cuisine than Cheese and Ham
Chickpeas and gravy served over hearty meatballs… no, it’s not what I was expecting from a Spanish food tour either, but it’s exceptionally tasty and as Catalan as it comes. The team at Devour Barcelona are keen to showcase proper homemade cooking, the kind of food you won’t necessarily find at the plush restaurants down by the port. And again, it’s tasting experiences like this that help you acheive a better understanding of the Catalan culture.
NB Devour Barcelona Food Tours are vegetarian friendly. As you can see in the picture above (top left dish: sautéed spinach instead of meatballs), there are always veggie options for you to devour.
5. Because the Characters You’ll Meet Along the Way Will Stay in Your Memory Forever
From the good old boys who spend their days lounging around Cal Pep’s bodega bar to the matron bar owners who drink beer for breakfast, you never quite know who will end up adding that little something extra to your experience.
6. Because You Need to Experience La Hora del Vermut
Deep and soulful, sweet and potent, this refreshing fortified wine is the perfect way to get your appetite going. Starting at around midday, before lunch, the locals tip a few back and nibble on olives stuffed with zesty anchovies. There are a number of excellent vermuterias in Barcelona, but rest assured, your Devour Barcelona tour guide will take you to only the very best.
7. Because You’ll Discover Places You Never Knew Existed
This is as much a walking tour as it is a food tour and you’ll discover places you simply wouldn’t be able to find on your own. We visited one of Antonio Gaudi’s lesser-known masterpieces, for example, and strolled through maze-like streets and colourful squares. And what makes it all so enjoyable is that it’s brought to life by your guide’s captivating narrative.
8. Because There’s More to Barcelona’s Food Markets than La Boqueria
Everyone’s heard of the famous Boqueria Market on La Rambla, but nowadays it’s more of a tourist attraction than a foodie destination. But fear not, meus amics, the Devour team know the real markets where the locals shop. And, more importantly, they’ve made friends with the stall owners. Let them introduce you!
9. Because How Else Would You Hear the Stories About the People Behind the Counter?
The Devour Barcelona team have spent a lot of time getting to know the characters that create the wonderful dishes you taste on the tours. And it’s this privileged inside perspective that enables you to hear the stories of how these enchanting places came to be.
There’s the charming Syrian baker who came to Barcelona for a holiday and never left (he wasn’t the first). He was married within two months and set up what is widely considered to be one of the most important bakeries in Barcelona. No, it’s not Catalan, but it’s places like this that led Barcelona on to becoming the cosmopolitan city it is today. He and his zealous team hand craft around 3000 artisan pastries every single day. Try the still-warm-from-the-oven pistachio and rosewater baklava and prepare to melt into a new state of consciousness.
Note: I was a guest on the Devour Barcelona Food Tour and although it sounds like I was paid to write this, I really wasn’t.
Make it Happen
Visit the Devour Barcelona Food Tours website to make your booking. Tours cost €59 per person (yes it’s worth it), children under 12 can go for €35 and teenagers for €49.