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We might be biased, but we believe that taking an international food tour is one of the best ways to explore a foreign city! Over the years, we’ve taken culinary tasting tours in Denver, Charleston, San Diego, Chicago, Seattle, and New Orleans. These tours gave us a personalized and behind-the-scenes look of local eateries that make each of those cities unique.
Sometimes our travels take us overseas, and when that happens, the first thing we do is look for a food tour, and we discovered Taste Barcelona (2024 update: now closed).
It’s unknown exactly how these small plates became popular in Spain, but since the word “tapas” actually means “lid” or “top,” it’s possible that this traditional style of eating started with a simple piece of bread set atop a glass of wine in order to keep dirt or flies out. Though one of the most traditional and simple tapas is the “pan con tomate” (toasted bread with a tomato puree), modern tapas can be elaborate and marry a mixture of flavors and textures.
After a day of work, Spaniards will often be found at a tapas bar, sipping on wine and sharing small plates of food with their friends. A place of socializing and unwinding, tapas bars serve a vital role in Spanish culture.
It’s no wonder that tapas are almost always paired with wine, given the fact that Spain is the third largest producer of wine in the world with 60 distinct wine regions. Spanish Cava, like French Champaign or Italian Prosecco, is a well-liked aperitif, and 90% of it is produced in the Catalonia region, where Barcelona is located.
Iberian ham is also commonly found on tapas menus, which comes from the 8-10% of black pigs raised on the Iberian Peninsula. Because this ham is said to have a distinct taste, it can sometimes have a huge mark-up, especially if purchased in other places around the world.
We tasted and sipped at four locations over the course of five hours in January 2016. We thought five hours was long at first, but then we realized that it was necessary given the time we spent at each location and the distance between them!
Australian co-owner and tour guide Paul, who married a Spanish woman from Barcelona, did a fantastic job sharing with us the history of Catalonia and the evolution of Spanish food to of course include their famed tapas.
We ate and drank at local restaurants in four neighborhoods including: (1) L’Eixample, (2) El Born, (3) Gothic Quarter, and (4) El Raval. Each of these destinations offered a completely unique and delicious spread of tapas and wine pairings.
As you can see, we ate and drank like kings for five full hours! Besides the amazing food and great history lessons we heard from Paul, one of the best things about this tour was meeting travelers from around the world. Our group consisted of people from the U.S., England, and Australia.
Thank you to Taste Barcelona for an amazing evening of delicious Spanish tapas, wonderful company, and memories we will always cherish!
If you’re traveling soon, be sure to look for a food tour in that city! And of course if you’re coming to Colorado, Rocky Mountain Food Tours will be waiting for you. 😉
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