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Wine, Culinary & Cultural tours in Spain, Portugal & SW France

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    Cruise ships are, today, bigger and better than before, so it’s no surprise that cruise vacations are more popular than ever!  Whether your cruise vacation in Europe is with MSC, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Crystal or Costa Cruises, the chances are you’ll be docking in Spain and/or Portugal!  Make the most of your free time in port with a Luxury Private Offshore Excursion! Whether you’re meeting your cruise ship in Lisbon and want to spend a few days, pre-cruise, before setting sail, in the Portuguese capital, or you’ve got 10 hours to kill in Cadiz, Malaga or Barcelona and want to stretch your sea legs on land, we’ve got a luxury private shore excursion for you! Our excellent officially licensed guide and/or chauffeur will meet you off your Mediterranean cruise ship and take you on a private guided tour to discover the best of your European port destination. Make the most of your limited time in port by visiting historical and cultural sites and immerse yourself in the local life with gourmet food and wine tastings.  Here’s a few ideas for some private luxury offshore excursions in Spain and Portugal: Barcelona Port, no 4 worldwide, is Europe and the Mediterranean’s leading cruise port  with 2.6 million passengers embarking or disembarking in 2013. In Barcelona, on your luxury private shore excursion, you can marvel at Gaudi’s inspiring architecture or feast on delicious tapas in a shaded pavement cafe; explore the city’s many churches and cathedrals or hit the shops for a shot of Catalan style. With our excellent officially licensed guide beat the queues to savor the wild and wonderful cathedral, Sagrada Família, Gaudi’s unfinished symphony, discover La Boqueria Market, explore the Gothic Quarter and indulge in Gourmet Tastings e-route before a delicious delicatessen lunch.   Malaga Port, on the Costa del Sol receives around 900,000 passengers who dock in or embark on cruises in Picasso’s city each year. In Málaga, on your luxury private shore excursion, you can visit nearby Granada to see the world-famous Alhambra Palace, a masterpiece of Moorish art.  Learn about this fascinating city with our officially licensed guide who will take you through Grand Granada on a private tour.   Cadiz Port, gateway to the South of Spain, received a total of just over 370,000 passengers in 2013 on cruise liners and regular shipping lines (to/from the Canary Isles). In Cadiz, on your luxury private shore excursion,  you can visit Seville,  a beautiful area with a wonderfully joyous atmosphere, where flamenco, bullfighting and fiesta are a way of life. Explore the old city to admire the Cathedral and Giralda Tower, the orange scented Barrio de Sant Cruz and do as the locals and enjoy a fun tapas hopping lunch.   Lisbon Port is the departure port for many European cruise itineraries, with over 250,000 cruise passengers passing through the Portuguese capital each year. Lap up the Portuguese life in Lisbon, on your luxury private shore excursion,  with a great private tour of the history, sights, food and wine of Portugal’s capital city.  Hear of the terrible earthquake in 1755 that brought the city to its knees and how if Lisbon had a sister it would be San Francisco.  Visit the fantastic St Georges’ castle and the salty sefarers district of Alfama, indulge in Portuguese and try the famous Port Wine. If you are planning a cruise in Europe around Spain and/or Portugal why not see if you can squeeze the most out of your day in dock  by joining us for your day shore excursion to Lisbon, Barcelona, Seville or Granada .  Our local officially licensed guides are true experts who, love to show off their cities and, promise to take you off the beaten track to see a different side of these enchanting cities. Alternatively, if you have a few days free pre-cruise, before embarking on your cruise, or after desembarking, after your cruise, make the most of the city with a private short break such as our Lisbon Getaway Tour or our Barcelona Food and Wine Tour.

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    Are you passing through Lisbon on your Portuguese Vacation?  Do you have free time to explore on shore while your Cruise is docked for the day?  If so, we would be delighted to welcome you on a Private Gourmet and Historical Tour of the city with our Officially Licensed Guide. Here’s what can you expect on a Gourmand Breaks Day Tour in Lisbon: Your experienced, Officially Licensed guide, will be waiting at your hotel, or will meet you from your cruise ship, to take you on a Private Gourmet and Historical Tour of the city.  You will be introduced to the Portuguese culture, cuisine and its incredible mix of Mediterranean tradition and exotic influences from all corners of the World.  Get ready to see the sights and excite your taste-buds! You will start with Lisbon’s great Cafés and Portugal’s strong café-culture. You will have the chance to take a look at delicious and exotic products, from dried, salted Bacalhau to sausages, hams and cheeses. Learn the history of Portugal’s famous fortified wine, Port, and then try some with the delicious Azeitao cheese.  Discover the local sweets and pastries and sample the famous custard tart, Pastéis de Belém.  Hear about the only tea produced in Europe that is grown in the Atlantic Island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores.   Try some Portuguese Beer in the beautiful Rossio Central Station and finally make a visit to the Moorish St George’s Castle, renamed after the Moors were conquered in the late 14th century. After taking in the impressive views over the sea, you will venture on down from the castle to the river, crossing the Alfama, Lisbon’s salty sailors’ quarter.   Its tangled street plan is one of the few aspects of Lisbon to survive the big quake, making the Alfama a cobbled playground of Old World color.  Urban-jungle roads are squeezed into a maze of confusing alleys, designed to frustrate invaders on their quest to get to the castle.  What was defensive then is atmospheric now.  Gnarled houses snuggle together in their romantic shabbiness; the air drips with laundry and the smell of clams and raw fish fill the air.You will pass by some interesting wine shops on your journey where arrangements have been made for you to taste not only the very special famous ports from Douro, but also Portuguese wines, such as Vinho Verde de Minho (the famous green wine of Minho).   Our Gourmet and Historic Tour of Lisbon features in many of our Portuguese tours.  Join us in Lisbon as part of your Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tour of Portugal, as a combination with Spain or as a Luxury Shore Excursion.    You may also like to read  “If Lisbon had a Sister ……”

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    A Cordovan specialty, Flamenquin, literally translates as “small flamenco dancer” but, this typical dish from Cordoba is, basically, a fried meat, ham and cheese roll.  Flamenquin can be served with salad, fries or even as a tasty Tapa bite to eat.  For this recipe we have chosen a delicious Home-made Tomato Sauce so here’s a traditional Spanish Flamenquin Recipe for you to try at home – Enjoy!  Ingredients for Traditional Flamenquin Recipe: 4 x150g veal or pork escalopes 8 thin slices of Serrano ham 100g Queso de Grazalema or Gruyère cheese, cut into 8 long sticks about 1cm thick Olive oil, for shallow-frying Plain flour, for coating 2 large free-range eggs, beaten 100g white breadcrumbs   And,  for the Home-Made Tomato Sauce Recipe: 100ml olive oil 1 large onion, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 400g skinned, chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned 150ml chicken stock 3 bay leaves 1 tablespoon chopped oregano or marjoram 2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed and drained 25g pitted black olives, cut lengthways into strips Sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper   Method for Traditional Flamenquin Recipe: Starting with the home-made tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium pan. Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes until soft and lightly golden. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and bay leaves and simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, stirring now and then, until the sauce has reduced and thickened to a good consistency. Meanwhile, flatten the meat escalopes by placing each one, in turn, between two sheets of cling film and with a rolling pin, gently flatten until uniformly thin. Out of the cling film, cut each flattened meat escalope in half and season lightly on both sides. Cover the pieces of meat with a slice of Serrano ham. Lay the lengths of cheese across one short edge of each escalope and neatly roll them up to finally secure the rolls in place with a wooden cocktail stick. Remove the bay leaves from the tomato sauce and discard, spoon half of the sauce into a mini food processor and blend until smooth, then stir it back into the pan with the oregano or marjoram, capers, olives and some sugar, salt and pepper to taste and leave to simmer for a further 5 minutes. Keep hot. Meanwhile, pour 2.5 cm of olive oil in a deep saute pan or wide-based saucepan and heat to 170°C (use a cooking thermometer). Dip the rolls first into the flour, then the beaten eggs and finally the breadcrumbs, ensuring they are well coated. Add the rolls to the hot oil and fry for 5-7 minutes, turning them over frequently, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Drain briefly on kitchen paper, carefully remove the cocktail sticks and serve with the tomato sauce.   Join us on a personalized private tour of Spain to taste Flamenquin in it’s home land and to enjoy the sights and delights of Cordoba.  Our Majestic Madrid and Authentic Andalusia Tour, lets you experience Southern Spain with the orange scented patios of Seville, Romantic Ronda, Grand Granada and Curios Cordoba, as well as Spain’s Majestic Capital!  

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    Where do you go to get a real feel for for your destination? Somewhere to breathe the life and soul of the place you’re visiting and revel in the sights and delights of it’s everyday life? The Market of course! Every city has one (or more) and Barcelona is no different as it plays host to the largest marketplace in Spain – La Boqueria Market – Probably the Best Market in the World! The ‘Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria’, most simply referred to as La Boqueria, is Spain’s most important market place offering the freshest and most diverse selection of produce from all over Europe, arriving by sea or from the nearby fertile farmlands. La Boqueria Market is an institutional icon of Barcelona and, not only a market to shop in, it’s a place to eat, drink, be merry, gossip and breathe in the life and soul of Barcelona. Located in the mid Ramblas of Barcelona, this over 800 year-old icon is today a museum of the brightest, most curious and delectable foods that Europe has to offer.  In any season you can lose yourself in a wonderland of fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, baked goods, nuts and sweets. But be warned: not only is it a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes and scents, it can also lead to taste-bud overload! La Boqueria Market, in Barcelona, started life in the 13th century as an open-air, table-top,  market which, as La Rambla became an increasingly important pedestrian street, finally found it’s place in the best location to attract passers-by and locals. La Boqueria  Market was legally recognized in 1826 and construction of the official structure commenced in 1840.  A new fish market opened on site in 1911 and in 1914 the metal roof of La Boqueria, which still exists today, was inaugurated. Today, through the maze of over 300 booths, the rainbow colors of local and exotic products will amaze you and your senses will heighten as you look from left to right and up and down.  An overwhelming feeling will envelope you and a sensation, as near as that of Alice in Wonderland or Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, will not leave you disappointed! At Gourmand Breaks we frequently include la Boqueria market private guided  tours, for our guests, followed by fun and informative cooking classes with our professional chef as well as tastings at all the most authentic ´foodie´ hot-spots in the city! Join us on a Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tour that includes Barcelona, like our Highlights of Spain, to see the delights of La Boqueria market.

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    7 years ago to the day, on the 7th of July (the 7th month) in 2007 the 7 Wonders of Portugal and the NEW 7 Wonders of the World were announced. There are many Wonders of the World but officially there are only 7.  Seven is the magic number and Portugal is no different with a list of national cultural wonders named The Seven Wonders of Portugal.   On July 7th 2007 and after a six month long public election to select the top seven wonders of Portugal (votes could be cast by internet, phone or SMS) the results were announced at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. From the initial 793 proposed monumental candidates, in the first round a board of experts reduced the number to 77 and then further reduced it to 21 finalists.   The Seven Wonders of Portugal are: Castle of Guimarães, 10th century – Guimarães, Braga Óbidos Castle, 1195 – Óbidos, Leiria Batalha Monastery, 1385 – Batalha, Leiria Alcobaça Monastery, 1153 – Alcobaça, Leiria Jerónimos Monastery, 1502 – Santa Maria de Belém, Lisbon Pena National Palace, 1838 – Sintra, Lisbon Belém Tower, 1521 – Santa Maria de Belém, Lisbon   The Seven Wonders of Portugal announcement was held just before the global New Seven Wonders of the World contest, organized by the New7Wonders Foundation, which was  celebrated on the same day and in the same place on July 7th, 2007 in Lisbon. The New7Wonders Foundation was established in 2001 with the initiative to choose the New 7 Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing World monuments. When the 21 finalists were finally announced the Egyptians were upset that the only surviving original wonder of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World, their Great Pyramid of Giza, would have to compete with “new kids on the block” like the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower. In response, Giza was named as an honorary Candidate and the Giza Necropolis in Egypt 2589 BC, was granted an honorary title.  The NEW Seven Wonders of the World elected by more than 100 million votes Great Wall of China – 700 BC – China Petra – 312 BC – Ma’an Governorate, Jordan Colosseum – 70 – Rome, Italy Chichen Itza – 600 – Yucatan, Mexico Machu Picchu – 1438 – Cuzco, Peru Taj Mahal – 1632 – Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India Christ the Redeemer –1926 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil   Still Wonders of the World, even though not under the “7” title, some of the finalists included: the Acropolis of Athens 447 BC, the Alhambra in Granada 1333, the Eiffel Tower in Paris 1887, Stonehenge in the UK 2400 BC, Moscow’s Red Square 1561, New York’s Statue of Liberty 1886 and Sydney’s Opera House 1959.   The ORIGINAL Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were: Great Pyramid of Giza Hanging Gardens of Babylon Temple of Artemis at Ephesus Statue of Zeus at Olympia Mausoleum at Halicarnassus Colossus of Rhodes Lighthouse of Alexandria   In 2007 The New7Wonders Foundation launched the New7Wonders of Nature, which was the subject of voting until 11 November 2011 and is a list of natural wonders and includes: The Amazon Rainforest and River Ha Long Bay – Vietnam Iguazu Falls – Argentina and Brazil Jeju Island – South Korea Komodo National Park – Indonesia The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park – Philippines Table Mountain – South Africa   The current project of the New 7 Foundation is the New7Wonders Cities, with the results due to be announced in December 2014.   Discover the Wonders of Portugal on a Private Food, Wine and Cultural Private Tour of Portugal with a chance to visit the delights of Lisbon as well as the National Pena Palace in Sintra.

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    The Alhambra – gardens, fortifications and sumptuous palaces – was home to many Arab Sultans who ruled the whole province over the years.  Stretched along the top of the hill known as La Sabika, the Alhambra is the stuff of fairy tales.  From outside, its red fortress towers and walls appear plain, yet imposing, as they rise from cypress and elm woods, with the Sierra Nevada forming a magnificent backdrop. The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 AD and was then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-11th century by Moorish king Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar who built the current palace and walls. Later, in 1333, it was converted into a royal palace by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada and in 1527 Charles V, demolished part of the architectural complex to build the palace which bears his name. With each new section that was added the consistent theme of “paradise on earth” was followed. Column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools were used to add to the aesthetic and functional intricacy. In each case, the exterior was left plain and austere. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the Alhambra was rediscovered in the 19th century by European scholars and travelers, with restorations commencing. Today, the Alhambra is one of Spain’s major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country’s most significant and well known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century, and later Christian, building and garden interventions. The Generalifepalace and gardens were built during the 14th century. Originally the palace was linked to the Alhambra by a covered walkway across the ravine that now divides them.  The garden areabecame a place of recreation and rest for the Muslim kings when they wanted to flee the tedium of official Palace life and is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens. In 1984, the Alhambra and the Generalife were declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 2007, the Alhambra was a finalist to be included as one the NEW 7 Wonders of the World Join us on a Private Cultural Tour of Spain like our Majestic Madrid and Authentic Andalucia to fully appreciate the splendor of the Great Granada Alhambra , as well as Madrid, Ronda, Cordoba and Toledo.  

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    Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia in Spain Barcelona is situated in the North East of Spain, on the Mediterranean coast Barcelona city has a population of around 1.7 million people The country dialing code is 0034 and the Barcelona prefix is 91 The official currency is the Euro. Before the Euro was introduced the Peseta was used The official language of Spain is Spanish although in 1975 the official language of Barcelona was declared Catalan Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city, behind Spain’s capital Madrid The most walked along street in Spain is in Barcelona. Each hour an approximate 3500 pedestrians walk down Portal d’Angel The most famous street in Barcelona is Las Ramblas – 5 boulevards making up 1 – which starts at Plaça de Cataluya and 2kms later ends at the Columbus monument Barcelona hosted the Olympic Games in 1992 Before 1992 Barcelona had no beaches for public and local use. The area was purely industrial but after redevelopment 7 beaches are now in use along 4.5kms of coastline Barcelona Port is the no 4 worldwide and is Europe and the Mediterranean’s leading cruise port.  2.6 million passengers embarked or disembarked in Barcelona in 2013 Surprisingly Barcelona city has no Michelin 3 star restaurants although there are many Michelin 2 and 1 stars. Barcelona’s world famous Football Club – F.C Barcelona – is nicknamed the ‘Blaugrana’ after the colors they most commonly wear namely blue (blau) and maroon (grana)  F.C Barcelona is also represented in other sports such as Basketball, Handball and Hockey Antoni Gaudí was Barcelona’s most famous architect and 7 of his works have been declared UNESCO world heritage sites Gaudí’s most famous Sagrada Familia was started in 1882 and is still being built today long after his death in 1926 The patron saint of Barcelona is the Virgin of Mercy. The day is declared a bank holiday and La Mercè festivities are held on (and during the week of) the 24th of September. Many of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural tours include stays in Barcelona to discover this fantastic city via private tours and/or giving you free time for your own sightseeing.

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    Looking to escape the bustling city of Barcelona for the day? Then why not get out into the country on our Private Penedes Wine Day Tour, where you will Visit Vines, Taste Wines and enjoy an excellent local lunch overlooking the vineyards of the Penedes Wine Region of Spain. Here’s what you can expect on your exclusively Private Penedes Wine Day Tour: Our friendly chauffeur will collect you this morning from your Barcelona hotel  and whisk you away in his luxury vehicle to the Penedes wine region of Spain. You will start your day with an unforgettable visit to an exceptional Vineyard, owned by one family since 1790 and situated in the heart of the Penedés wine region of Spain. A bilingual in-house expert will take you on a private tour of the vineyards, which have been ecologically cultivated for more than 300 years. It is no wonder their wines have been officially certified as “ecological-organic” since 2004. You will be amazed at how the “intervention” of bees, sheep, and lunar phases can help create such outstanding wines. What’s more, the grapes in this vineyard are all hand picked to ensure harvest at the ideal time for each vine. Back at the cellar, the in-house oenologist will proudly show you the entire wine making process and finally guide you through a complete tasting of an array of ecological and organic varieties of wines and cavas. Additionally, the vineyard owners make their own olive oil, and they will gladly explain to you the process and properties of this “liquid gold” while you enjoy a tasting, accompanied by local bread. Surely after this intense vineyard morning visit you will be ready to be treated to a fine lunch of delicious local home-made cooking at an elegant, yet cozy restaurant located in a charming typical Penedes village with magnificent views to the Montserrat mountains. Enjoy delicious Catalan cuisine with superior presentation, accompanied with fine wines from the surrounding vineyards. In the afternoon, your venture will take you to a very well known cava cellar in Spain and one the most important vineyards in the Penedes Wine Region. The owner was born into a dynasty of tailors and musicians but went into the world of cava at a very young age, a world that turned into his profession and his passion. Pioneering, passionate and tireless, he created the first wine analysis laboratory in the industry, managed important wineries in the Penedès region and set up his own cava winery in 1950. The top-quality sparkling Spanish wines, made by this Penedes winery, use the traditional method of making Champagne but with a blend of the classic Penedes region grape varieties of Macabeo, Xarel·lo, Parellada. They only produce Reserva and Gran Reserva vintage cavas here because it’s the long ageing that creates the complex bouquet and fine bubbles of the cavas. You will have a private visit with an in-house bi-lingual wine specialist and will enjoy the beautiful masia and grounds, as well as the underground stone cellars and several private tastings! Sit back and relax now, as your chauffeur will return you to Barcelona after your wonderful Penedes Wine day. You can also explore the Penedes Wine Region of Spain on one of our great Private Wine Tours of Spain.  Our Private Wine Connoisseur Tour of Spain takes in the Ribera del Duero, La Rioja, Priorat and Penedes Wine Regions.  

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  • 08/14/14--04:11: When in Cordoba ……
  • When in Cordoba, Spain  …….. apart from the famous amazing ‘Mezquita’ – the Mosque – there’s so much more to see and do in the Andalusian city of Cordoba.   Take time to visit the local taverns to savor some typical Cordobese tapas. A Tavern in Cordoba used to be a place where the local people could go to drink wine.  Every tavern had an interior courtyard with a well that was not only used for decoration but also to keep the drinks fresh.  Nowadays Cordoban taverns are designed as lively, yet less frenetic, venues to taste tapas. You will have the chance to sample local specialties such as Flamenquín (battered pork or ham), Salmorejo (cold tomato soup thickened with breadcrumbs), Rabo de Toro (Bull’s tail) and for dessert the typical ‘Pastel Cordobés’ – a pastry filled with sweet pumpkin. Cordoba has many charming squares to watch the world go by, but maybe the best is the Plaza de la Corredera which is like a mini Venetian St Mark’s Square. The first bullfights in Cordoba were held here, but today the restaurant and bar terraces fill up with visitors taking in the grandeur of it all. Another renowned square in Cordoba is the Plaza del Potro featuring an interesting fountain dating back to 1577 and a historic inn mentioned by Miguel de Cervantes in his famous novel, Don Quixote. As the city is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, it is no surprise that you will find bridges here. The most famous is the ancient Roman Bridge that links the area of Campo de la Verdad with Barrio de la Catedral. It was built in the early 1st century BC, during the period of Roman rule in Cordoba, and the 16 arches stretch over a length of about 250 meters. It was the only bridge in the city for twenty centuries, until the construction of the San Rafael Bridge in the mid-20th century. Jews formed a part of Cordoba’s cultural mix from as early as the 2nd Century until their expulsion from Spain in 1492. Cordoba’s large Juderia is the best-known part of Cordoba’s historic center, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984 and is one of the largest in Europe. Join us on a Private Food, Wine and Culture Gourmand Break to discover Andalusia and Cordoba. Our Majestic Madrid and Authentic Andalusia Private Tour includes not only Cordoba, but also Seville, Granada and Ronda in the South of Spain.

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    This quick and easy classic Spanish dish is not only finger-lickin’ tasty but can be adapted to suit your tastes.  Not a fan of sherry? Then add white wine instead! Like a bit of spicy? Then add some paprika or chilli! Pollo al Ajillo – Chicken sautéed with Garlic – A Traditional Spanish Recipe Ingredients for Pollo al Ajillo Traditional Spanish Recipe : Makes 12 tapas or 6 main dishes. 900g/2lb chicken wings or a whole chicken cut into bite-sized pieces Salt & pepper 1 head garlic (about 12 cloves) 4 Tablespoons olive oil 1 bay leaf 120ml/4 fl oz dry or medium-dry sherry Chopped parsley Method for Pollo al Ajillo Traditional Spanish Recipe : Cut off the wing tips and discard (or save them if you’re making stock). Divide each wing into two and sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Lightly smash the garlic cloves to split the skins, but do not peel them. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or anearthenware casserole. Add the chicken pieces and garlic to the oil and sauté very slowly. When the chicken pieces are browned on all sides, add the bay leaf and sherry. Continue cooking until the liquid is reduced and the chicken begins to sizzle again. Serve hot garnished with chopped parsley. If serving as a main meal why not accompany with salad and crusty bread.   Learn to cook tasty local dishes with an excellent in situ chef as part of your Private Luxury Tour.  Our  wonderful Spanish Cooking and Wine Tour takes you into the world of Spanish Cuisine and Spanish Wine  …….. the best way to learn about Spain!

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    Everyone loves the glitz and glamour of a Film Festival and even more in a beautiful city that lights up the sky! Spain is no exception and ‘Lights! Camera! Action!’ San Sebastián – Donostia - will host The 62nd San Sebastián Film Festival!   There are more International Film Festivals in the World than you may realize, but what about specifically in Europe? We, the general public, off the top of our heads can name the “biggies” like Cannes, France, one of the world’s oldest, most influential and prestigious festivals – it came and went in May, or maybe Berlin, Germany, the 64th Festival came and went in February and obviously Venice, Italy.  The 71st Venice International Film Festival is in the Silver Screen’s Eye right now!!  It is filling the airwaves, and print, with up to the minute movie and A-list celebrity news.  Cheek to cheek Hollywood stars are boat and gondola ridden in the fantastically isolated Venetian atomosphere until the end of next weekend.  But, what next? Where do the lights, camera and action go after Venice? and if we say Spain! What do you know? From the 19th to the 27th of September 2014 in San Sebastián – Donostia - all Hollywood shining stars and cinema going buffs eyes will be on Spain!!!  San Sebastian, or Donostia in the Euskera language, is in the Basque Country of Spain and is famous for it’s ‘La Concha’ scalloped bay, great gastronomy, friendly people and leisurely pace. The San Sebastián Film Festival was established in 1953 in San Sebastián (Donostia) in the Spanish Basque country. The Film Festival is a minor event in the film calendar compared to Venice, Cannes, Toronto and London, but still holds some clout and is celebrity A-List worthy. The San Sebastián Film Festival has seen attendance by many great actors and directors over the years such as Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Roman Polanski, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson and Brad Pitt to name but a very few!  It has been acknowledged by the FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) as an A category festival and considered one of the most important in Europe. Next month, Denzel Washington will be opening the 62nd San Sebastián Film Festival with the European premiere of “The Equalizer”, a film directed by Antoine Fuqua.  The actor and the director will be presenting the film at the festival on the 19th of September 2014. During the opening gala, of The San Sebastián Film Festival, the star of the film, Denzel Washington, will be presented with the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award.  This prestigious prize is an honorary award given each year during The San Sebastián Film Festival to one or several actors and occasionally to directors.  Past winners include:  Gregory Peck (1986), Bette Davis (1989), Lauren Bacall (1992), Al Pacino (1996), Anthony Hopkins, Jeanne Moreau and John Malkovich (1998), Michael Caine and Robert de Niro (2000), Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas (2008), Glenn Close (2011) and last years winners Hugh Jackman and Carmen Maura. The San Sebastián Film Festival has seen many premiers over the years, such as “Melinda and Melinda” by Woody Allen and the European premier of “Star Wars” and also been paramount in the advancement of directors such as Polanski, Coppola and Almodóvar. San Sebastián may glitter each September with Celebrities for the Film Festival but Michelin Stars shine brightly in and around the city all year with the likes of Akelarre ***, Arzak ***, Martín Berasategui *** and Mugaritz **.  But, away from the Michelin starred restaurants San Sebastián’s  famous ‘Pintxo’ culture finds bars packed with tourists and locals as they hop for a bite from one bar to the next. San Sebastián is a culinary dream whenever you visit !!! We’re not going to lie to you – hotel rates are sky high during The San Sebastián Film Festival but if you’re not bothered about snapping A-list celebs, then this Basque Country city is a great place to visit any time of year.  Enjoy the San Sebastián’s leisurely pace, friendly people and fantastic food on our Best of Barcelona and the Basque Country Gourmet Tour, you won’t be disappointed!   

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    Heading to Portugal and want to visit some of the great wine areas?  Here’s an easy and straight forward map of  The Wine Regions of Portugal,  courtesy of “Wines of Portugal”, to point you in the right direction. Join us on a Private Tour of Portugal (or a combined tour with Spain) like our  Luxury Tour of Portugal – Wine and Culture  to experience the beautiful Douro Valley, among others, to enjoy winery visits and tastings as well as a relaxing picnic in a vineyard and a cruise along the Douro River. More info about Portuguese wine on the Wines of Portugal website 

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  • 09/30/14--06:51: The Boys are Back in Town !!
  • Rock Stars tour World stadiums and artists exhibit in International galleries so why shouldn’t Super-chefs get out and about and spread their art, knowledge, creativity and expertise. This is exactly what happened on the The Roca & Roll World Tour 2014! The month of August saw Michelin 3* restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, Girona – Spain, close its doors. But the Boys (Joan, Josep and Jordi) weren’t soaking up the sun on the beach for the Summer holidays, they were on a Cooking Tour Experience for 5 weeks! Along with the collaboration of the financial group BBVA, the Roca brothers, and the restaurant’s exquisitely trained chefs and team, headed first to the United States, to Houston and Dallas, before going south to the Mexican cities of Monterrey and Mexico City, followed by Bogotá, Colombia and ending in Lima, Peru. A tour about spreading knowledge but also of aquiring it.  The best local talent and products were sought out to prepare the four different menus designed specifically for each country culminating in nearly 50,000 dishes for 2,700 BBVA customers and guests over the four countries. But, home is where the heart is and The (Roca) Boys are Back in Town (Girona) and Michelin 3* restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, has opened its doors again. Not that you need proof that they’re back, but, we had some guests have lunch there last week and these are their words : ” ….. would you believe that we have just left the restaurant after 4 and a half hours of eating!!! It was a once in a lifetime experience. The food was magically displayed with a global concept for each course. Impeccable service.‎ We were fortunate to speak with Joan Roca at the end of our adventure. What a day! “ Join us on a Private Food and Wine Tour of Spain to include the Emporda region, North of Barcelona, like our Highlights of Spain Luxury Tour, and you too could have the opportunity to dine at El Celler de Can Roca. But, be warned, this fantastic Michelin 3 * restaurant has a waiting list longer than its capacity!

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    It seems we could dedicate our whole blog just to the Roca Brothers and their restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain.  These boys do not stop with their award-winning perfection and this time, it’s the World’s Best Restaurants of 2014 – TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. TripAdvisor, the world travel reference for many, has announced its annual Travelers’ Choice awards and in the best restaurants around the world category, Michelin 3* restaurant El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain is in 1st place!!  This year they beat off over 350 fine dining establishments, worldwide, to take the Number One spot for their “sublime” (a word we hear frequently from diners there) cuisine. El Celler de Can Roca, run by 3 Catalan brothers, is currently ranked, by Restaurant Magazine, as the second best restaurant in the World (Nº1 in 2013) on their acclaimed World’s Best Restaurants for 2014 list.  At the same awards ceremony, held in London back in April, Jordi Roca not only celebrated the restaurants’ success with his brothers, Joan and Josep, he was also crowned The World’s Best Pastry Chef. But, apart from El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, at Nº1,  2 other Spanish restaurants feature in the Top 10 list of the World’s Best Restaurants of 2014 – TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards: El Club Allard, in Madrid, at Nº6. This now Michelin 2 star restaurant started life as a private club in 1998, but opened its doors to the public in 2007.     Martín Berasategui, in Lasarte – San Sebastián, at Nº10. This Michelin 3* restaurant is also ranked   35th in the acclaimed World’s Best 50 Restaurants List compiled by Restaurant Magazine.   Special mention should also be made to DiverXO in Madrid, awarded 15th place in the World’s Best Restaurants of 2014 – TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. Groundbreaking chef David Muñoz is on the rise and received the 3rd Michelin Star for DiverXO when the NEW Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal 2014 was presented last November. Madrid’s only Michelin 3 star restaurant DiverXO was then awarded 94th place in the acclaimed World’s 50 (well 100) Best Restaurants Awards List of 2014.   The Top 10 World’s Best Restaurants of 2014 – TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winners are: 1.   El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain 2.   Midsummer House, Cambridge, England 3.   Maison Lameloise, Chagny, France (last year’s winner) 4.   The French Café, Auckland, New Zealand 5.   Alinea, Chicago, Illinois, USA 6.   El Club Allard, Madrid, Spain 7.   Epicure, Paris, France 8.   Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, Great Milton, England 9.   Le Gavroche, London, England 10. Martin Berasategui, San Sebastian, Spain   Spain is the country with the most restaurants featured in the list of the 25 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice winners with a total of 4! The UK, France and the USA each feature 3 restaurants. Argentina and Denmark are presented by 2 restaurants each, while Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Greece, South Africa, China and Hungary each have 1. The TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award winners are based on the TripAdvisor travelers’ community and the millions of unbiased reviews and opinions received over a 12month timeframe. The procedure evaluates the quantity and quality of the  reviews that worldwide restaurants receive on TripAdvisor. With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, yet again, now is the time to visit Spain with some of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin stars!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Catalonia, Madrid and The Basque Country.  Contact us for your personalized quote.  

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    Leaves are changing color, the nights are closing early, pumpkins are being carved and windows are being adorned with spiders webs and ghouls. But, Halloween, in Spain, won’t consist of “trick or treaters” knocking at your door! In fact only in recent years has Halloween started to dominate the shops in Spain and in a few more years will probably become as big as in the U.S and the U.K. Halloween, October 31st,  is All Saint’s Eve and in Catalonia, Spain,  it is All Saints Day, November 1st, which is the day that is celebrated. All Saints is a time to be with the family,  by the fire and recounting stories, eating chestnuts and sweet potatoes and a day to visit your departed ones in the cementery.  A traditional delicacy for All Saints Day are the sweet “panellets” and here below is a Traditional Spanish Recipe of step by step Panellets for you to try at home! Panellets, Catalan for “little breads,” are a traditional dessert served in Catalonia, Spain, on All Saints Day, November 1st.  To serve in traditional Catalan style, drink some Spanish cava (Spanish champagne) or moscatel with them. Ingredients for Traditional Spanish style Panellets Recipe (Servings: 32): 1 lb. ground almonds 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1/2 -1 cup water 1 small potato grated peel of 1 lemon 3-4 drops lemon juice   Topping for Traditional Spanish style Panellets Recipe: pine nuts (and egg whites if using) sweetened cocoa powder candied fruit   Flavourings for Traditional Spanish style Panellets Recipe: instant coffee powder coconut flakes cinnamon   Method for Traditional Spanish style Panellets Recipe: Blanch almonds, then grind in a food processor into a fine dust. Peel potato, cut into quarters and boil until cooked. Drain the water and mash with a fork. Place sugar in a medium saucepan with ½ cup of water and heat over a medium flame until sugar is dissolved (pour more water in if necessary). Then bring to a boil, stirring often. Add 3-4 drops of lemon juice. Lower heat and simmer until mixture is a thick syrup. After removing the pan from the heat, use a large wooden spoon to gradually stir in the ground almonds, cooked potato and grated lemon peel. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight. Pre-heat the oven to 380 ºF  and grease cookie sheets. Spoon out the dough with a teaspoon and roll into small balls with your palms. Then roll the balls in powdered cocoa or whole pine nuts. Before using pine nuts, brush each with a bit of egg white. Put on greased cookie sheet. You can add flavor to the mixture if you want by separating a portion of the dough with your hands and working in a bit of instant coffee flakes, candied fruit or cinnamon. Then roll back up into individual balls. Bake just long enough to brown the pine nuts, usually about 4 minutes. Remove the panellets immediately using a spatula before they cool and stick to the cookie sheet. Not just for All Saint’s Day, these warm, squishy sweets are especially comforting during the cold and crisp days of fall – that’s why we always stop to try some in our favorite Barcelona pastry shops on our Barcelona food and Wine Weekend Tour.

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    November sees the air temperatures lowering in Spain, but in the kitchens the heat is definitely  on as mid-month the much anticipated Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal 2015 is to be presented revealing the Michelin Starred Restaurants for Spain and Portugal for 2015. This year’s ceremony will be presented from Marbella, on the 19th of November 2014, at the Salón Real of the Hotel Los Monteros.  We’ll keep you updated on the results of the New Michelin 2015 restaurant guide to Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain and Portugal, but, in the meantime, there is a lot of speculation around and many chefs hope, not only for extra stars but to hold on to the ones they’ve got! Last year saw DiverXO joining the Michelin 3 star restaurants in Spain list bringing the total up to 8. El Portal del Echaurren and M.B. joined the Michelin 2 star restaurants in Spain list bringing the total to 17.  Michelin 1 star restaurants in Spain are rife and the list is long but a total of 20 NEW Michelin 1 stars were awarded to Spain for 2014. But what’s in store in the Michelin stars restaurant world in Spain for 2015? Barcelona is still shooting for that 3rd Michelin starred restaurant! Will the talented Jordi Cruz, with his restaurant ABaC, produce the goods to give the city of Barcelona its first Michelin 3 star restaurant ? And, what about Mugaritz in the Basque Country?  Year after year it fails to be recognized with the top Michelin star honor. Seem strange? Well, it has been considered one of the World’s best restaurants since 2006 by the prestigious Restaurant Magazine! Mugaritz, in the hands of Andoni Luis Aduriz, is currently ranked the sixth best restaurant in the World behind Dinner (London) in 5th place, Eleven Madison Park (New York) in 4th , Osteria Francescana (Modena) in 3rd ,  El Celler de Can Roca (Girona) in 2nd and  Noma (Copenhagen) in the Number 1 spot. Mugaritz earned the first Michelin star in 2000 and, five years later, in 2005, the prestigious Michelin Guide awarded the second one. Maybe this restaurant is going up in multiples of 5 and now, 10 years since the last Michelin Star, Mugaritz may finally get that 3rd Michelin star! Paco Pérez, too, is a hopeful for a 3rd Michelin Star as he looks to promote at least one of his Michelin 2 star restaurants by Paco Pérez – Miramar in Llançà and Enoteca in Barcelona – and our bet, shhhhhh, is on Miramar which has been a Michelin 2 star restaurant in Spain since 2010. In the run-up to the presentation of the Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 we’ll be running a series on the TOP MICHELIN STARRED CHEFS IN SPAIN. Here’s a recap of the current Michelin 2 and 3 star restaurants in Spain: The 8 Wonders of Spain – Michelin 3* restaurants 2014 (in alphabetical order) Akelarre. Pedro Subijana (Guipúzcoa) Arzak. Juan Mari Arzak (Guipúzcoa) Azurmendi. Eneko Atxa (Vizcaya) DiverXO. David Muñoz (Madrid) El Celler de Can Roca. Joan Roca (Girona) Martín Berasategui (Guipúzcoa) Quique Dacosta (Alicante) Sant Pau. Carme Ruscalleda (Barcelona province)   Michelin 2 Star Restaurants in Spain for 2014 (in alphabetical order): Abac. Jordi Cruz (Barcelona) Atrio. Toño Pérez (Cáceres) Calima. Dani García (Marbella) Casa Marcial. Nacho Manzano (Asturias) El Club Allard. María Marte (Madrid) El Portal. Francis Paniego (La Rioja) Enoteca. Paco Pérez (Barcelona) La terraza del Casino. Paco Roncero (Madrid) Lasarte. Martín Berasategui. (Barcelona) Les Cols. Fina Puigdevall (Girona) M.B. Martín Berasategui (Santa Cruz de Tenerife) Miramar. Paco Pérez (Girona) Moments. Raül Balam (Barcelona) Mugaritz. Andoni Luis Aduriz (Guipuzcoa) Ramón Freixa (Madrid) Santceloni. Óscar Velasco (Madrid) Sergi Arola Gastro (Madrid) We’ll keep you posted with the results of the Michelin Guide Spain 2015 on the 19th ! In the meantime, “Bon Appetite!”, and Good Luck chefs!! With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain with 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.  

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    The Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 is fast approaching and we’ll keep you updated with the results of the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain for 2015! In the meantime, over the next few days we’ll be showcasing some of the Best Michelin starred Chefs in Spain, if not the World, with our own Pre-Michelin Starred Restaurants 2015 SuperChef Series by Gourmand Breaks – An insight into the world of some of the current Michelin 3 star and Michelin 2 star chefs in Spain! First off, and in no particular order, a chef shooting for that 3rd Michelin star in 2015 with 2 contenders: Paco Pérez - Recognized with five Michelin stars (two at Enoteca restaurant in Barcelona, two at Miramar in Llançà and one at restaurant “5”  in Berlin), his innovative cuisine reflects the essence of the Mediterranean Sea with cooking based on tradition and high quality local Spanish produce.  To be enjoyed on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours :) Paco Pérez was born in Huelva but at just 6 months old his family moved to Llançà in Girona, a small fishing village on the Spanish North Costa Brava coast, where he subsequently grew up. At age 12, Paco Pérez discovered his passion for cooking when he started helping out, at weekends and in the holidays, at the tapas bar owned by his family in Llançà. He then combined his studies with summer jobs in various local restaurants. After finishing his studies Paco Pérez worked in diverse local restaurants and even went to France to train alongside one of the founders of “nouvelle cuisine” Michel Guèrard. But what most probably set Paco Pérez on the culinary Superchef path was when he returned to Catalonia and joined Ferran Adrià at El Bulli in 1993.  Here, and over 5 years, he took various courses and placements and acquired much of his philosophy of pioneering techno-emotional cuisine. In 1997 Paco Pérez married Montse Serra, daughter of the owners of the Miramar Hotel-Restaurant on the seafront promenade of Llançà, Girona, Spain and together, keeping it in the family, they embraced the development of the Miramar. After three years of producing modern Catalan cuisine, during just the summer season, they decided to up the stakes and open all year round in the hope of turning this place into a landmark restaurant in the world of pioneering cuisine.   Paco Pérez, together with his wife, managed to gradually convert the Miramar from the past traditional restaurant of a hostal, first opened in 1939, into the avant-garde cuisine restaurant that it is today. Betting on traditional and local cooking using high quality products from an ideal environment Paco Pérez’s talent, technique and innovative twists on traditional seafood dishes have earned the Miramar its current two Michelin stars (2006 and 2010). Also for Paco Pérez in the Michelin 2* Restaurants List for Spain 2014 is: Enoteca Restaurant in Barcelona Paco Pérez spreads the heart and soul of contemporary Mediterranean cuisine by bringing the essence of the Miramar and its culinary philosophy, with an emphasis on fish and seafood, to the luxurious 5* Hotel Arts in Barcelona. His guidance at Enoteca, for contemporary cuisine with a traditional base, top quality ingredients and excellent attention to detail,  has led to it receiving two Michelin stars since the 2013 Michelin Guide. Michelin 2 star restaurant Enoteca offers a contemporary classic Mediterranean cuisine with outstanding quality and imagination and a wine cellar that features more than 500 types of wine. Paco Pérez is not the only Superchef with a restaurant at the Hotel Arts in Barcelona. Sergi Arola, of Michelin 2* Restaurant Sergi Arola Gastro (Madrid) fame, showcases innovative tapas style traditional Mediterranean cuisine at “Arola”.  Sergi is a disciple of Ferran Adrià and Pierre Gagnaire. Also by PACO PÉREZ: Restaurant 5 – Das Stue 5* Hotel (Berlin) This Michelin 1 star restaurant is the extension of the Miramar Restaurant into Germany. It is named after Paco Pérez’s focus on the five senses, and also a reference to the five fingers of the hand, because the kitchen produces pioneering works of culinary art. Mirror Restaurant – The Mirror Hotel (Barcelona) One of the best restaurants in Spain for luxury rice and seafood dishes,  in the heart of Barcelona. L’EGGS Restaurant by Paco Pérez – Passeig de Gràcia (Barcelona) The first gastronomic themed restaurant in Barcelona featuring eggs as the star dish. A fun and casual restaurant offering eggs in all their formats. La Royale Restaurant – Uptown Barcelona Upscale hamburgers in uptown Barcelona.  La Royale presents a revolution of the concept of a hamburger in the city, with signature ideas and the best refreshing gin and tonics. Black Restaurant – Uptown Barcelona The cosmopolitan Manhattan-esque cocktail lounge at La Royale. Offering the signature Burgers of La Royale as well as the best vodka & tonics and a great champagne collection.   With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain, home to 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.  

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    The Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 is fast approaching and we’ll keep you updated with the results of the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain for 2015! In the meantime, over the next few days we’ll be showcasing some of the Best Michelin starred Chefs in Spain, if not the World, with our own Pre-Michelin Starred Restaurants 2015 SuperChef Series by Gourmand Breaks- An insight into the world of some of the current Michelin 3 star and Michelin 2 star chefs in Spain! Yesterday we showcased Paco Pèrez of Michelin 2 star restaurants Miramar and Enoteca, and in no particular order, today a Michelin Starred chef shooting for that much desired 3rd Michelin star in 2015 is: Andoni Luis Aduriz – Proudly heads Michelin 2 star restaurant Mugaritz in the Basque Country, ranked the sixth best restaurant in the World.  Still failing to gain that 3rd Michelin star though, will 2015 be Mugaritz’s year? To be enjoyed on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours :) Andoni Luis Aduriz was born in San Sebastián in 1971 and took his first steps in the culinary world by studying at the Donostia School of Cuisine in San Sebastian, Spain. Expressing himself through flavours and textures came easier to Andoni Luis Aduriz than academia and this is when he started to cultivate his love of the New Basque Cuisine and the land. Andoni Luis Aduriz  worked under great chefs such as Pedro Subijana, Juan Mari Arzak and Ramón Roteta, and in 1993, he went to Catalonia to join the team at El Bulli under Ferran Adrià. This opportunity set him on the Superchef culinary path but not before returning to his homeland where he worked under Martín Berasategui at the chef’s restaurant outside San Sebastian. Finally in 1998 Andoni Luis Aduriz hedged his bets and started his solitary project – his own restaurant – Mugaritz in Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, Spain. Mugaritz closes for four months a year, a time for reflection and experimentation which is devoted almost exclusively to creativity. Mugaritz means “oak border” in the Euskara language in reference to the location, with the oak on the border. The surroundings offer the chef a canvas on which to unleash his creativity, as well as being a place surrounded by tradition and local products.   Andoni Luis Aduriz strives to shock and surprise his diners as well as delight them and achieves the perfect combination between avant-garde and traditional Basque cuisine which has resulted in Mugaritz first being classed as a Michelin 2 star restaurant and then as being a World Top Ten Restaurant. Mugaritz earned the first Michelin star in 2000 and, five years later, in 2005, the prestigious Michelin Guide awarded the second one. Mugaritz has been considered one of the World’s best restaurants since 2006 by the prestigious Restaurant Magazine! In the hands of Andoni Luis Aduriz, Mugaritz is currently ranked the sixth best restaurant in the World behind Dinner (London) in 5th place, Eleven Madison Park (New York) in 4th , Osteria Francescana (Modena) in 3rd ,  El Celler de Can Roca (Girona) in 2nd and  Noma (Copenhagen) in the Number 1 spot. Apart from his work at Mugaritz,  Andoni Luis Aduriz gives classes at the University of the Basque Country, corroborates in various methods of communication  and assesses other restaurants. Since 2012 he has been the gastronomic director and culinary consultant at 5* Hotel Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine Restaurant in Valladolid. A restaurant in a 12th century monastery may well be a challenge in itself, however  the creative vision of tradition and using local ingredients is respectfully followed to offer an irresistible culinary experience.   With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain, home to 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.

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    The Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 is fast approaching and we’ll keep you updated with the results of the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain for 2015! In the meantime, over the next few days we’ll be showcasing some of the Best Michelin starred Chefs in Spain, if not the World, with our own Pre-Michelin Starred Restaurants 2015 SuperChef Series by Gourmand Breaks- An insight into the world of some of the current Michelin 3 star and Michelin 2 star chefs in Spain! Previously  we showcased Paco Pèrez of Michelin 2 star restaurants Miramar and Enoteca, and Andoni Luis Aduriz of Michelin 2 star restaurant Mugaritz. Today, and in no particular order, a Michelin Starred chef shooting for Barcelona’s first 3 Michelin star restaurant: Jordi Cruz – Received his first Michelin star at just 24 years old and is chef at Michelin 2 star restaurant  ABaC, Michelin 1 star restaurant  L’Angle and Ten’s Tapas Restaurant-  all in Barcelona.  Jordi Cruz is also a TV personality, being one of the judges on Masterchef -Spain. To be enjoyed on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours :) Jordi Cruz was born in Manresa – Barcelona, in 1978. He developed his culinary skills by studying at the “Escola Superior de Hostelería Joviat” in Manresa and at age 14 began working in the restaurant Cercs Estany Clar, Barcelona. Here, he received his first Michelin star in 2002, becoming, at just 24 years of age, the youngest chef in Spain to receive such an honor. In December 2007, Jordi Cruz left Estany Clar and became the manager and head chef at the restaurant L’Angle in Sant Fruitós de Bages (Barcelona). In November 2008 the restaurant was awarded with one Michelin star. In May 2010, Jordi Cruz took the helm of ABaC, which is now the gastronomic reference of the city and awarded with the Best Restaurant of Catalonia 2011 by the Catalan Academy of Gastronomy. In 2012, Jordi Cruz opened Ten’s Tapas Restaurant in the Born district of Barcelona and with 2 kitchens already in the city, in 2013, L’Angle was relocated to Barcelona city, hence giving Jordi Cruz easy access to his 3 kitchens. Local, seasonal produce is a must in all of Jordi Cruz’s kitchens and Michelin 2* restaurant ABaC provides a creative yet traditional take on high quality produce. ABaC restaurant first opened it’s doors in 2000 in the premises of the now Ten’s Tapas Restaurant by Jordi Cruz. It was relocated in 2008.  ABaC is currently a Michelin 2 Star Restaurant (since the 2012 Michelin Guide) but as the city of Barcelona is still shooting for that 3rd Michelin star, will the talented Jordi Cruz, with ABaC, produce the goods to give the city its first Michelin 3 star restaurant ? With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain, home to 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.

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    The Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2015 is fast approaching and we’ll keep you updated with the results of the Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain for 2015! In the meantime, over the next few days we’ll be showcasing some of the Best Michelin starred Chefs in Spain, if not the World, with our own Pre-Michelin Starred Restaurants 2015 SuperChef Series by Gourmand Breaks- An insight into the world of some of the current Michelin 3 star and Michelin 2 star chefs in Spain! Previously, we showcased Michelin 2 star chefs Paco Pèrez – Miramar and Enoteca, Andoni Luis Aduritz – Mugaritz and Jordi Cruz – ABaC, and in no particular order, today a Michelin 3 Starred chef who last year gave Madrid its first Michelin 3 star restaurant: David Muñoz– Proudly heads Michelin 3 star restaurant DiverXO in Madrid, which is also placed in the Top 100 restaurants of the World list by Restaurant magazine.  To be enjoyed on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours :) David Muñoz was born in Madrid in 1980.  He got his taste for the culinary world as a child by eating at his favorite restaurant Viridiana by Abraham García in Madrid. Years later he went to work at Viridiana before heading to London to work in restaurants such as Nobu and Hakkasan.  David Muñoz returned to Madrid in 2007 and opened DiverXO, creating a radical fusion of diverse cuisines.  DiverXO gained its first Michelin star in 2010 and 2 years later the second Michelin star arrived. Groundbreaking chef David Muñoz is on the rise and in 2013,when the NEW Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal 2014 was presented, DiverXO received the illustrious 3rd Michelin Star that had been missing from the capital city since 1995. Back in 1987 Zalacaín (today a Michelin 1 star restaurant in Madrid) was the first Spanish restaurant to achieve the Michelin 3 star restaurant status, but this status was lost in 1995. Since then the Spanish capital of Madrid failed to produce a Michelin 3 star restaurant until the 2014 Michelin Guide for Spain was presented and DiverXO put Madrid back on the Michelin 3 star restaurant map of the World. DiverXO has also been awarded a place in the Top 100 restaurants of the world list.  Madrid’s only Michelin 3 star restaurant DiverXO was awarded 94th place in the the Restaurant Magazine’s acclaimed World’s 50 (well 100) Best Restaurants Awards List of 2014. Michelin 3 star restaurant DiverXO in Madrid, was also awarded 15th place in the recent presentation of the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards – World’s Best Restaurants of 2014. DiverXO moved this year to larger premises,  to the NH Eurobuilding hotel in Madrid, to enable David Muñoz to exploit his flagship restaurant to its fullest, flying pig decoration and all! Also by David Muñoz – StreetXO – a casual concept of street food with an open kitchen and diner interaction.  StreetXo opened in 2012 in Madrid  on the top floor of El Corte Inglés, Callao. But not one to rest on his laurels David Muñoz is spreading the “XO” world with advanced plans to open StreetXO in the prestigious area of Mayfair in London.   And in the future? New York, Singapore  …… With Spanish Chefs taking the World by storm, now is the time to visit Spain, home to 10% of the World’s Best Restaurants and numerous Michelin starred Restaurants!  On one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours you can indulge in the Best Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain.  Contact us for your personalized quote.        

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