My very first food tour was called “Off The Eaten Track” which I did in 2011 when I visited Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Doing the food tour was like meeting-up with a fellow foodie friend and letting them take you to their favourite spots (often hidden gems), as well as giving you lots of tips for doing it yourself. After this food tour, over the course of my travels, I have done various others across Europe, including a “Bike and bite” tour in Budapest (I will try blog about this sometime).
Towards the latter part of December 2016, I moved to Barcelona – my first time in the city. I wanted to do a tour to get a feel for Barcelona. From my prior experiences when visiting a new city, I knew that a food tour would be a fun, fascinating and (most importantly!) tasty introduction to my new “home”.
With the assistance of my trusted friend Google, I found a list of available food tours in Barcelona. I decided to book with Devour Barcelona Food Tours as I had done their “Devour Malaga” tour in May 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Devour Barcelona offers 4 different tours – I chose the Gràcia Neighborhood Food and Market tour as I wanted a daytime tour and I was keen to visit a market as well as learn more about Gràcia.
Gràcia is north of the touristy downtown Barcelona, and is an authentic neighbourhood that reluctantly became a part of the big city at the turn of the last century. Gràcia, was a charming village and the area has managed to retain its small town charm. Its narrow streets are bursting with some of the city’s cutest cafés, most authentic bars and most colourful food markets.
The tour commenced just after 10am where I was met by Victoria (the guide) and the other participants. The tour had 8 stops in total including pastisserias (pastry shops), an olive oil shop, an 80 year old Bodega and the Mercat de l’Abaceria Central (market). I enjoyed the fact that almost all of these stops were so off the beaten path that I probably would not have otherwise found them.
There were over 12 different tastings (I do eat a lot!), including an omelette sandwich, olive and salted anchovy skewer, Spanish cheeses, escalivada pinxto (a grilled vegetable tapas) and crema catalan (crème brulee). Between the tastings, while wandering along the windy streets of Gràcia, Victoria told us stories of the culture and history of Gràcia as well as taught us about local Catalan cuisine.
My favourite stops were:
1) The beautifully decorated Patisseria Principe, a Syrian pastry shop, where I could have easily spent all day eating the most mouth-watering Arab pastries (I love cakes, biscuits, pastries!).
2) The tapas bar, L’Anxoveta where I learnt the tips and tricks of making an authentic Pan con Tamate – the tomato bread that’s found on all tapas menus.
Other than all the delicious food and drinks I devoured during the 4 hour tour, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the people behind the food. At the end the tour I also received a “Devouring Barcelona” tips document which has some local secrets and gems in other neighbourhoods and some favourite restaurants of the Devour Barcelona (I have already tried a few which have been superb).