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

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    Heading to Portugal as part of your next European adventure ? There are some great places to eat and drink and a wonderful 14 Michelin Starred restaurants in Portugal for 2016. The recently presented Michelin Guide to Spain and Portugal 2016 offers a whopping 174 Michelin starred restaurants in Spain for 2016 but just 14 in Portugal. While there are still NO Michelin Three Star Restaurants in Portugal, there are 3 excellent Michelin Two Star restaurants and 11 Michelin One star restaurants:   Michelin 2 Star Restaurants in Portugal 2016: Albufeira, Faro – Vila Joya Armação de Pêra, Faro – Ocean Lisbon – Belcanto Michelin 1 Star Restaurants in Portugal 2016: Carvoeiro, Algarve – Bon Bon  NEW Amarante, Porto – Casa da Calçada Lisbon – Eleven Lisbon – Feitoria Cascais, Lisbon  – Fortaleza do Guincho Almancil, Faro – Henrique Leis Funchal, Madeira – Il Gallo d’Oro Porto – Pedro Lemos Almancil, Faro – São Gabriel Vilamoura, Faro – Willie’s Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto – Yeatman   Experience Portugal’s growing gastronomy and fantastic wine regions on a Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tour.  Portugal is an ever-increasing destination choice with our guests and can easily be combined with Spain  for a two-center vacation.   More Michelin Starred Restaurants 2016 reading: COMPLETE LIST MICHELIN STARRED RESTAURANTS 2016 50 Michelin Starred Restaurants in Catalonia, Spain 20 Michelin Starred Restaurants in The Basque Country, Spain 17 Michelin Starred Restaurants in The Community of Madrid, Spain 13 Michelin Starred Restaurants in Andalucia, Spain 13 Michelin Starred Restaurants in Galicia, Spain

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    Repsol recently announced their New Guide for Spain and Portugal Restaurants 2016! But! – I hear you say – “Didn’t we just have the New Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal 2016 announced?” The answer is YES! The New Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal 2016 was presented in November and offers us 174 Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain and 14 Michelin Starred Restaurants in Portugal for 2016. So – you ask – “What is the Repsol Guide? and what do they award?” Well, for over 35 years Repsol has been highlighting the best restaurants in Spain and Portugal, and similar to Michelin, every year, awards the best restaurants and publishes the New Guide.  While Michelin awards Stars, Repsol awards Suns. The Repsol Suns, as the Michelin Stars, are prestigious distinctions, a symbol of culinary excellence awarded to the best restaurants and chefs in Spanish and Portuguese gastronomy. It is no surprise, therefore, to find lots of Michelin stars shining in the Repsol Guide. The highest accolade is 3 suns, then 2, then 1 – Just like Michelin. However, Repsol is a little more generous than Michelin and offers a total of 476 restaurants in Spain (36 with Three Suns, 147 with Two Suns and 293 with One Sun) and 88 restaurants in Portugal (7 with Three Suns, 21 with Two Suns and 60 with One Sun) As you can imagine, with 564 Repsol Sun Restaurants between Spain and Portugal 2016, that’s a looooooooog list. So here are the  REPSOL 3 SUN RESTAURANTS FOR SPAIN AND PORTUGAL 2016 (36 in Spain and 7 in Portugal compared with 8 Michelin Three Star restaurants in Spain 2016 and 0 Michelin Three Star Restaurants in Portugal 2016 ):   SPAIN 2016 – Three Soles “3 Suns” Restaurants ABaC – Michelin 2* – Barcelona Akelarre  – Michelin 3*- Donostia/San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa Aponiente – Michelin 2* – El Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz Arzak  – Michelin 3* – Donostia/San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa Atrio – Michelin 2* – Cáceres Azurmendi  – Michelin 3* – Larrabetzu, Bizkaia Cabaña Buenavista [NEW] –  Michelin 1* – El Palmar, Murcia Can Jubany  – Michelin 1* – Calldetenes, Barcelona Sant Pau – Michelin 3* – Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona Casa Gerardo  – Michelin 1* – Prendes, Asturias Cenador de Amós  – Michelin 1* – Villaverde de Pontones, Cantabria Coque  – Michelin 2* – Humanes de Madrid, Madrid Dani García – Michelin 2* – Marbella, Málaga DiverXo – Michelin 3* – Madrid Dos Cielos  – Michelin 1* – Barcelona El Celler de Can Roca  –  Michelin 3* – Girona El Portal – Michelin 2* – Ezcaray, La Rioja Etxebarri (Asador) – Michelin 1* – Atxondo, Bizkaia Hispània  – Arenys de Mar, Barcelona Kabuki Wellington – Michelin 1* – Madrid L’Escaleta – Michelin 1* – Cocentaina, Alicante La Terraza del Casino – Michelin 2* – Madrid Martín Berasategui – Michelin 3* – Lasarte-Oria, Gipuzkoa Mugaritz – Michelin 2* – Errentería, Gipuzkoa Nerua  – Michelin 1* – Bilbao, Bizkaia O’Pazo – Madrid Quique Dacosta Restaurante –  Michelin 3* – Dénia, Alicante Ramón Freixa – Michelin 2* – Madrid, Ricard Camarena – Michelin 1*- Valencia Rodero – Michelin 1* – Pamplona, Navarra Santceloni – Michelin 2* – Madrid Sergi Arola – Sot (part of his restaurant which is Michelin 2*) – Madrid Solla – Michelin 1* – San Salvador de Poio, Pontevedra Vía Veneto – Michelin 1* – Barcelona Zalacaín – Madrid Zuberoa –  Michelin 1* – Oiartzun, Gipuzkoa   PORTUGAL – Three Soles “3 Suns” Restaurants Belcanto – Michelin 2* – Lisbon Feitoria – Michelin 1* – Lisbon Fortaleza do Guincho – Michelin 1* – Cascais, Lisbon Il Gallo D’Oro – Michelin 1* – Funchal, Madeira Ocean – Michelin 2* – Armação de Pêra, Algarve Sâo Gabriel – Michelin 1* – Almancil,  Algarve Vila Joya – Michelin 2* – Albufeira, Algarve     Experience Michelin Starred and Repsol Sunned Restaurant dining opportunities on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours .   You will have the chance to indulge in the best restaurants in Spain and Portugal!  Contact us for your personalized quote.

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    FELIZ NAVIDAD / BON NADAL / FELIZ NATAL MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS “Cheers!” from the Priorat Wine Region of Spain We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy & Prosperous New Year 2016! With compliments of the festive season from Ursula, Joanne and the Gourmand Breaks team ! 

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    Marg and Phil Roeterdink joined us from Perth, Australia, back in May/June 2015, for their Private Gourmand Breaks Food, Wine and Cultural Tour covering Spain and Portugal.  In a Customized 17 day itinerary Marg and Phil were able to experience the sights and delights of Barcelona, Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Ronda, Salamanca and Madrid in Spain as well as Lisbon and the Douro Valley in Portugal. Marg has since shared  her impressions with us through paintings that she entered into her Personal Journal along the way. Here are some of the beautiful paintings that Marg has very kindly allowed us to share with you:   Many thanks againto Marg for sharing these beautiful impressions of the Spanish and Portuguese experiences she shared with her husband Phil. We’d love to help you make your own special memories  too in Spain and Portugal and look forward to welcoming you on a Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tour with Gourmand Breaks.

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    The capital city of Spain is Madrid There are 50 provinces in Spain There are 17 autonomous communities in Spain – Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Country, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castile- La Mancha, Castile and León, Catalonia, Extremadura,  Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, Navarre and Valencian Community. There are also 2 autonomous cities, Ceuta and Melilla. The Spanish language is spoken by around 420 million natives and apart from Spain it is the official language of 19 countries in America. Other official languages in the country of Spain are : Basque “Euskara”, Catalan and Galician The dialing code for Spain is (00) 34 Before the Euro was introduced Spain’s currency was the Peseta Spain is the World’s main producer of Olive Oil Spain has many wine regions or “DO’s” (Denominaciones de Origen). 2 are classed as “qualified” DO’s, meaning their quality standards are a bit higher than the rest – DOC Rioja and DOQ Priorat. There are over 400 grape varieties planted throughout Spain Rioja is the most famous and most productive wine region of Spain Spain is home to the World’s Number One Restaurant – El Celler de Can Roca, Girona There are 174 Michelin Starred Restaurants in Spain (8 ***  /  20 ** / 146 *) The National Anthem of Spain has no words Henry VIII’s 1st wife, Catherine of Aragon, was Spanish Since the beginning of the Modern Olympics in 1896 Spain has hosted 1 Olympic Games – Barcelona 1992 The World’s oldest restaurant is in Spain. Other restaurants claim to be older, but the Guinness World Records awarded the title to Restaurante Botín in Madrid, open since 1725. Roast suckling pig is their signature dish. There are 44 UNESCO sites in Spain Spain was neutral in World War 1 and World War 2 Visit Spain on one of our Private Culture, Food and Wine Tours to see the wonderful historic treasures and fascinating culture of this country and taste fine wine, local foods and much, much more!

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    World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. The aim – to protect and preserve National Heritage. Spain accepted the convention on May 4, 1982, making its historical sites eligible for inclusion on the World Heritage List. In 1984 five sites were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List: the Mosque of Córdoba, the Alhambra and the Generalife of Granada, Burgos Cathedral, the Monastery and Site of the Escorial of Madrid and the collective Gaudi works of Park Güell, Palau Güell and Casa Milà in Barcelona. There are currently 44 World Heritage Sites in Spain listed by the World Heritage Committee on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Spain is the 3rd country with the most World Heritage Sites behind Italy with 49 and China with 45. World Heritage Sites in Spain LIST, with their first year of inclusion: 39 Cultural World Heritage Sites in Spain: • Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada (1984) • Aranjuez Cultural Landscape (2001) • Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993) • Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco (2000) • Archaeological Site of Atapuerca (2000) • Burgos Cathedral (1984) • Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí (2000) • Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (1987) • Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain (1985) • Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana (2011) • Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija (2012) • Historic Centre of Cordoba (1984) • Historic City of Toledo (1986) • Historic Walled Town of Cuenca (1996) • La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia (1996) • Las Médulas (1997) • Monastery and Site of the Escurial, Madrid (1984) • Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias (1985) • Mudejar Architecture of Aragon (1986) • Old City of Salamanca (1988) • Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches (1985) • Old Town of Cáceres (1986) • Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct (1985) • Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona (1997) • Palmeral of Elche (2000) • Poblet Monastery (1991) • Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde (1998) • Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza (2003) • Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula (1998) • Roman Walls of Lugo (2000) • Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain (1993) • Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe (1993) • San Cristóbal de La Laguna (1999) • San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries (1997) • Santiago de Compostela (Old Town) (1985) • Tower of Hercules (2009) • University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares (1998) • Vizcaya Bridge (2006) • Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984) Seven properties built by the architect Antoni Gaudí 1852–1926: Parque Güell; Palacio Güell; Casa Mila; Casa Vicens; Gaudí’s work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia; Casa Batlló; Crypt in Colonia Güell. 3 Natural World Heritage Sites in Spain: • Doñana National Park (1994) • Garajonay National Park (1986) • Teide National Park (2007) 2 Mixed World Heritage Sites in Spain: • Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture (1999) • Pyrénées – Mont Perdu (1997) Visit Spain’s World Heritage gems on one of our Private Culture, Food and Wine Tours to see the wonderful historic treasures and fascinating culture of this country and taste fine wine, local foods and much, much more!  

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    World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. The aim – to protect and preserve National Heritage.  Portugal adopted the convention on September 30, 1980 – before its neighbor, Spain, who  accepted the convention on May 4, 1982. There are currently 15 World Heritage Sites in Portugal listed by the World Heritage Committee on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  Spain, with 44 World Heritage Sites, is the 3rd country with the most World Heritage Sites behind Italy with 49 and China with 45.   World Heritage Sites in Portugal LIST, with their first year of inclusion:  14 Cultural World Heritage Sites in Portugal: Alto Douro Wine Region (2001) Central Zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo in the Azores (1983) Convent of Christ in Tomar (1983) Cultural Landscape of Sintra (1995) Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (2012) Historic Centre of Évora (1986) Historic Centre of Guimarães (2001) Historic Centre of Oporto (1996) Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture (2004) Monastery of Alcobaça (1989) Monastery of Batalha (1983) Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém in Lisbon (1983) Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde (1998) University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia (2013)   1 Natural World Heritage Site in Portugal:  Laurisilva of Madeira (1999)     Visit Portugal’s World Heritage gems on one of our Private Culture, Food and Wine Tours to see the wonderful historic treasures and fascinating culture of this country and taste fine wine, local foods and much, much more! Portugal is easily combined with Spain so why not enjoy the best of both worlds and customize your private tour to combine both Spain and Portugal!

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    The Dordogne region of France has literally hundreds of caves, many of them open to visit.   The most important caves in France are here, located near the village of Montignac, called the Lascaux caves. The original cave has been closed to the public for more than 50 years and is now under close surveillance in order to preserve it. However, a replica cave has been built nearby, Lascaux II, and is open to visit. In its 2 galleries the same paintings, same techniques and same pigments have been meticulously reproduced to enable everybody to discover the prehistoric masterpieces. The Grotte de Rouffignac is one of the largest caves in the region. It is a development of about eight kilometers of galleries on three levels – some are ten meters high, others just 12 meters wide. Apart from a small brook, running along the deepest galleries, most of the network is totally fossil with friezes of woolly rhinos, engravings of mammoths and hollows scratched out by hibernating bears. The town of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac  sits comfortably under a limestone cliff and is the doorway to the prehistoric capital of France. Early Homo sapiens lived about 40,000 years ago, and skeletal remains of Cro-Magnon man were first found here in 1868. Today a number of excavated caves and grottoes are open for public viewing. The Grotte du Grand Roc, just a few kilometers from the town of Les Eyzies, is a marvellous natural cave located half way up a cliff face above the Vezere river. It contains amazing stalactites and stalagmites. The main cavern is a fairy grotto but never enters out into a large space – it is more of a winding pàssage with thousands of tiny and small stalactites on either side clinging to the ceilings and crystallized rivers of calcified rock running down the walls. But, there’s so much more!!!!!! Staying within the triangle of Perigueux, Bergerac and Sarlat, you will be able to explore the beautiful Dordogne region of France on a Gourmand Breaks Private Tour Itinerary. The South West of France is easy to combine with Spain and, as all our tours are private,  we can happily customize any of our Spain and France Food, Wine and Cultural Tours to include the Dordogne region of France for you.

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    What’s Hot? – What’s Not? – Who’s cooking what in the pot? The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 list is coming in June!!  There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England from London! Will the Roca Brothers hold on to Number 1 for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016?   We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème” But, first, here’s a quick recap…… The current Top 3 World’s Best Restaurants are: 1.El Celler de Can Roca, Girona (Spain) – THE World’s Best Restaurant 2015 + Nº1 in 2013 2.Osteria Francescana, Modena (Italy) 3.Noma, Copenhagen (Denmark) – World’s Nº1 in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 El Celler de Can Roca, however, is not the only Spanish restaurant that features in the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Spain is actually home to 10% of the World’s Best 100 Restaurants, as awarded by Restaurant Magazine in 2015! Here’s a recap of who’s currently where on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List and what happened last year: 6.Mugaritz, San Sebastian (Spain) A non-mover between 2014 and 2015 staying firm at  nº 6 – First entered the prestigious list in 2006 and has remained constantly in the Top 10 ever since!  Will Mugaritz stay in the Top 10 for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? 13.Asador Etxebarri, Atxondo (Spain) Received the Highest Climber Award for 2015 rising from nº 34 in 2014 to nº 13 in 2015. Will Asador Etxebarri keep climbing in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? 17.Arzak, San Sebastian (Spain) Surprisingly fell to nº17 in 2015  from its Top 10 position of nº 8 in 2014 !! Arzak has constantly featured in the acclaimed Restaurant Magazine World’s Best 50 restaurants list, for 10 years in the Top 10. Is this the start of decline for Arzak? 19.Azurmendi, Larrabetzu (Spain) Climbed from nº 26 in 2014, only a few places,to nº 19 in 2015. Will Azurmendi, slowly but surely, keep climbing in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? 39.Quique Dacosta, Denia (Spain) Climbed in 2015, from nº 41 in 2014 but it’s a bit of a yo-yo ride for Quique Dacosta where in 2012 he entered the prestigious list at Nº 40 then rose to Nº26 for 2013 only to fall to Nº 41 for 2014 then rise again in 2015 to Nº39. Following this pattern does 2016 suggest a decline for Quique Dacosta? 42.= Tickets, Barcelona (Spain) Climbs from nº 57 in 2014 to joint Nº42 place with Boragò, Santiago (Chile). Will the phenomenon that is Albert Adrià take Tickets even higher The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? 59.DiverXO, Madrid (Spain) 2014 saw David Muñoz enter the prestigious list in 94th  position. In 2015 DiverXO climbed a whopping 35 places for its current 59th position!! Can we expect to see DiverXO in the Top 50 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? 61.Martin Berasategui, San Sebastián (Spain) Another big faller !!!  Left the top 50 in 2015, after re-entering the prestigious list in 2014, and fell from  nº 35 to its current place at nº61!! Will Martin Berasategui fall more in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? Or rise again and enter the Top 50? 68.Nerua, Bilbao (Spain) NEW ENTRY for 2015 entering the list for the first time at nº68!  A great start for Nerua!! Can we expect a climb further up the list for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? If you would like to experience some of the best restaurants Spain has on offer, then something like our Ultimate Gourmet Tour  is perfect for sophisticated diners who are looking to experience the best of Spanish cuisine.

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    Wes Albinger and Charles Pierce joined us recently, from New York City, for a fantastic 22 day Customized Private Highlights of Spain Tour. We could tell you where they went, what they saw, where they ate etc but we’ll leave that to them. Travel with Wes and Charles all over Spain as you read their FULL review in their own words, with no censorship from us  – Bon Voyage :-): After a reflective week or so, we’d like to share a few thoughts about our Gourmand Breaks journey through Spain. Top line: We loved it!  It was a pleasure to meet you on that first day in Barcelona. The printed booklet you presented us with was helpful. We referred to it often and having the blank pages did, in fact, inspire us to keep a journal. Barcelona was a great place to begin. Our guide gave us a real understanding of Catalonia as well as a wonderful tour of the Sagrada Famillia — the first of many marvels we saw on our trip. It was astounding, enhanced by our guide’s intimate knowledge. Thanks for recommending Ten’s, as it was outstanding. Lasarte was an elegant, comfortable restaurant but frankly, we enjoyed Ten’s more! (A waiter knocked a full glass of wine and a full glass of water over Wes during our meal at Lasarte …it was unfortunate and this may have colored our overall impression of the place. They upgraded our wine after the incident, but otherwise charged us the full amount, which was surprising). As you know, on the last day in Barcelona we suffered food poisoning. Luckily, the malaise didn’t last long. When we got to Grenada, we found a place that served chicken soup and it was curative! Grenada was delightful. Our expert guide maneuvered us gracefully through the crowds and took us on a memorable and knowledgeable tour of the Alhambra — the second marvel of our trip. Your suggested stop in Ronda was the perfect way to break up the drive. We loved the hotel in Seville. Our room was huge and the hotel manager was very attentive, welcoming us with a bottle of bubbly. Our guide, Paloma, was terrific. Her tour of the cathedral was excellent and we had such a good time with her afterwards. We loved the flamenco show and the manager made us feel welcome when he sought us out at the end of the performance to thank us for coming. And, of course, the scent of orange blossoms lingers in our memory. We tried a restaurant suggested in your booklet, Az-Zait, and it turned out to be a good choice. (The Iberian pork dish was delicious!). Elena, our guide in Cordoba, was very good and clearly at home. Strolling through the old town with her made us feel like locals, as she knew many folks along the way. Her knowledge of the Mezquita was extraordinary and her commentary greatly enhanced our visit to this magnificent sight — the third marvel of our trip. When we told her afterwards that we’d prefer to have a proper lunch rather hopping around for tapas, she picked just the right place. She worked with the waiters to plan us a delectable meal and we were the only tourists in the place. It was great watching local families enjoying a long, leisurely Saturday lunch. And then came Madrid. The many neighborhoods, museums, the vitality, Retiro Park and the oh-so-friendly people won us over. The hotel had a few issues…and perhaps not quite as special as the other hotels you chose for our journey but the location was great and the room was generous, quiet and comfortable. The staff was very helpful. Our guide, Olga, used a map to help us understand Madrid and it’s charms before taking us on an informative and comprehensive tour of the city. The Prado art collection was yet another marvel and Olga’s insight was impressive. We loved tapas-hopping with her afterwards and were particularly pleased with the places she picked. She left us feeling very satisfied at the Mercado de San Miguel. We visited the Royal Palace, saw a few other sights and, as Olga had suggested, had something eat in the food courts at El Cortes Inglés for dinner. The Museo Thysson-Bornemisza museum was yet another marvel. It’s a beautifully curated art collection where we spent hours and loved every minute of it. It was like taking an art history class! Our two-star dinner at El Club Allard started out with a bang. The first five courses were good but the service was rushed and the final courses lacked finesse. Just the same, it’s a beautiful place and they made us feel quite comfortable. We loved our guide in Toledo. His English was excellent and he knew the city so well. (He even spotted, and helped coordinate, the arrest of two pickpockets by sending their photos instantly to the local police!). After our tour, he took us to a small but terrific local restaurant where we had a lunch menu for twelve euros, including a glass of wine! Segovia was a great side trip, too. We arrived early enough to have a quick visit of the cathedral and to marvel at the Roman aqueduct. After that, we stopped to sample the ponche Segoviano, loving the sponge cake and marzipan confection. We wandered through the old town, visited the Alcázar and even went through a local history museum. But the highlight was lunch at José Maria where we had the famous “cochinillo.” What a treat! The poor piglet couldn’t have been more than six weeks old, just large enough to fit in a roasting pan, and it was fun to watch the waiters use ordinary serving plates to cut the pig into equal portions for serving. We loved it. Then came San Sebastián. Wow! The train trip was a bit uncomfortable as we noted but San Sebastián was a perfect ending. We loved the hotel and the view from our room […]

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    What’s Hot? – What’s Not? – Who’s cooking what in the pot? The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 list is coming in June!!  El Celler de Can Roca, Girona (Spain)  is THE current World’s Best Restaurant 2015. In fact,  Spain holds 10% of the  1- 100 list of the World’s Best Restaurants, as awarded by Restaurant Magazine in 2015! We recently gave you the current placings for the 10 Spanish Restaurants featuring in the current Top 100 World’s Best Restaurants , but what about Portugal? There are some great restaurants in Portugal but while Spain sparkles with Michelin stars, the French  Red Guide has only awarded 14 of them with Michelin Starred status, and, of those 14 only 2 have made it into the World’s Best Restaurants list:   91. Belcanto, Lisbon (Portugal) Acclaimed the best restaurant in Portugal and is the flagship restaurant of young talented chef José Avillez  – the first Portuguese chef to obtain the Michelin 2 Star Restaurant honor in Portugal.  Belcanto entered the list last year in 91st place. Can we expect Belcanto to climb up the chart in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016?   98. Vila Joya, Albufeira (Portugal) Dieter Koschina holds two Michelin stars, since 1999, for his Algarve restaurant ! However, it seems the World’s Best 50 list is not so favorable as after climbing up and up and up –  2011 at nº 79,   2012 at nº 45,  2013 at nº37 and  2014 at nº22 – Vila Joya dropped a whopping 71 places last year to 98th place! What does The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 list hold for Vila Joya, in, or out?     We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish and Portuguese movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème” There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England from London! Will the Roca Brothers hold on to Number 1 for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016?   Experience Top Restaurant dining opportunities on one of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours  where you will have the chance to indulge in the best restaurants in Spain and Portugal!  Contact us for your personalized quote.

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    El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, is the current World’s Number 1 Restaurant!! The NEW World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 will be presented next month but, in the meantime, we’ll be looking at how the current Spanish and Portuguese entries (from the 2015 list) have evolved  in the prestigious Restaurant Magazine’s list in our “A la Crème de la Crème” Gourmand Breaks Blog series. In 2006 El Celler de Can Roca entered the acclaimed Worlds Best 50 restaurants list, compiled by Restaurant Magazine, in 21st place, rising to 11th place in 2007 and then falling to 26th place in 2008.  In 2009 El Celler de Can Roca established it’s Top 10 placing and  rose to 5th place then in 2010 and 2011 rose even higher, to 4th and 2nd places respectively. In 2012 El Celler de Can Roca stayed put in 2nd place but the following year, in 2013, hit the Number 1 spot, but just for one year as in 2014 Noma regained its crown and El Cellar de Can Roca had to settle for 2nd place.  But, not for long as in 2015 El Celler de Can Roca took it’s place at the Top and is the current Number 1.   Can THE Best Restaurant in the World, in 2013 and 2015, El Celler de Can Roca, hold on to Number 1 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 ? We’ll let you know on the 13th of June …… There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England, from London! We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème”   Although El Celler de Can Roca is booked up well over a year in advance we have many fine dining opportunities for you all over Spain and / or Portugal. Any of our sample private Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours gives you the chance of fine dining – contact us for your personalized quote!.  

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    Mugaritz, in the Basque Country, Spain, is the current World’s Number 6 Restaurant!! The NEW World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 will be presented next month but, in the meantime, we’ll be looking at how the current Spanish and Portuguese entries (from the 2015 list) have evolved  in the prestigious Restaurant Magazine’s list in our “A la Crème de la Crème” Gourmand Breaks Blog series. Mugaritz has been considered one of the World’s best 50 restaurants since 2006 by the prestigious Restaurant Magazine where it entered in 10th place!  Since then it has always appeared in the Top 10 with it’s highest placing being in 3rd place in 2011 and 2012. Here’s a recap of Mugaritz’s fantastic Top 10 placings over the years: 2015 + 2014  – No 6 2013  – No 4 2012 + 2011  – No 3 2010 – No 5 2009 + 2008 – No 4 2007 – No 8 2006 – No 10 Can Mugaritz keep true to form and stay in the Top 10 for another year in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 ? We’ll let you know on the 13th of June …… There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England, from London! We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème”   We have many fine dining opportunities for you all over Spain and / or Portugal. Any of our sample private Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours gives you the chance of fine dining – contact us for your personalized quote!.

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    Asador Etxebarri, in the Basque Country, Spain, is the current World’s Number 13 Restaurant!! The NEW World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 will be presented next month but, in the meantime, we’ll be looking at how the current Spanish and Portuguese entries (from the 2015 list) have evolved  in the prestigious Restaurant Magazine’s list in our “A la Crème de la Crème” Gourmand Breaks Blog series.   An unlucky number for some but not for Asador Etxebarri as, probably the best BBQ in the World, claimed it’s highest ever placing at Number 13 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2015.  Etxebarri  also received the Highest Climber Award in 2015 for rising from nº 34 in 2014 to nº 13 in 2015. Nº 13 is the highest ever placing for Asador Etxebarri and here’s a recap of its progress over the years: 2014 – No 34 2013 – No 44 2012 – No 31 2011 – No 50 2010 – No 61 2009 – No 39 2008 – No 44 2007 – No 76 Will Asador Etxebarri keep climbing in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016?  We’ll let you know on the 13th of June … There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England, from London! We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème” We have many fine dining opportunities for you all over Spain and / or Portugal. Any of our sample private Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours gives you the chance of fine dining – contact us for your personalized quote!.

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    Arzak, in the Basque Country, Spain, is the current World’s Number 17 Restaurant!! The NEW World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 will be presented next month but, in the meantime, we’ll be looking at how the current Spanish and Portuguese entries (from the 2015 list) have evolved  in the prestigious Restaurant Magazine’s list in our “A la Crème de la Crème” Gourmand Breaks Blog series. Michelin 3 star restaurant Arzak has constantly featured in the acclaimed Restaurant Magazine World’s Best 50 restaurants list, but surprisingly for 2015, after being in the Top 10  since 2006, included, Arzak fell to it’s current position of No 17! Here’s a recap of Arzak’s progress in the Top 50 over the years: 2014, 2013, 2012 +  2011- No 8 2010 – No 9 2009 + 2008 – No 8 2007 – No 10 2006 – No 9 2005 – No 21 2004 – No 22 2003 – No 40 Will Arzak regain a Top 10 place  in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? We’ll let you know on the 13th of June … There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England, from London! We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème” We have many fine dining opportunities for you all over Spain and / or Portugal. Any of our sample private Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours gives you the chance of fine dining – contact us for your personalized quote!.

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    Azurmendi, in the Basque Country, Spain, is the current World’s Number 19 Restaurant!! The NEW World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 will be presented next month but, in the meantime, we’ll be looking at how the current Spanish and Portuguese entries (from the 2015 list) have evolved  in the prestigious Restaurant Magazine’s list in our “A la Crème de la Crème” Gourmand Breaks Blog series. Michelin 3 star restaurant Azurmendi was a NEW ENTRY,  in 26th place,  in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2014.  That same year Azurmendi  received The Sustainable Restaurant Award, sponsored by Pago Los Balancines, in the 2014 World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony.  In 2015 Azurmendi rose to it’s current position of 19th place. Will Azurmendi climb more places in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? We’ll let you know on the 13th of June …   There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England, from London! We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème” We have many fine dining opportunities for you all over Spain and / or Portugal. Any of our sample private Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours gives you the chance of fine dining – contact us for your personalized quote!.

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    Quique Dacosta, in Alicante, Spain, is the current World’s Number 39 Restaurant!! The NEW World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 will be presented in less than 2 weeks but, in the meantime, we’ll be looking at how the current Spanish and Portuguese entries (from the 2015 list) have evolved  in the prestigious Restaurant Magazine’s list in our “A la Crème de la Crème” Gourmand Breaks Blog series. Quique Dacosta Restaurante in Denia, Alicante, entered the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List in 2012 in 40th position.  Quique Dacosta then rose to 26th place in 2013, fell in 2014 to 41st place and then rose again to its current position of 39th place for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List 2015. Following this yo-yo pattern,  up – down – up,  does this year suggest a decline for Quique Dacosta in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 ? We’ll let you know on the 13th of June ……? There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England, from London! We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème”   We have many fine dining opportunities for you all over Spain and / or Portugal. Any of our sample private Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours gives you the chance of fine dining – contact us for your personalized quote!.  

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    Tickets, in Barcelona, Spain, is the current World’s (Joint) Number 42 Restaurant!! The NEW World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 will be presented in less than 2 weeks but, in the meantime, we’re looking at how the current Spanish and Portuguese entries (from the 2015 list) have evolved  in the prestigious Restaurant Magazine’s list in our “A la Crème de la Crème” Gourmand Breaks Blog series. In 2013 Tickets, by Ferran Adrià’s brother – Albert – was at 77th pace in Restaurant Magazine’s prestigious World’s Best Restaurants List. Tickets then climbed to nº 57 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List 2014 and rose again to its current joint Nº42 place (with Boragò, Santiago, Chile), for 2015. Albert Adrià is also the The current World’s Best Pastry Chef which, sponsored by Cacao Barry, which was the title he was awarded at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2015. Will the phenomenon, that is Albert Adrià, take Tickets even higher in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? We’ll let you know on the 13th of June … There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England, from London! We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème” We have many fine dining opportunities for you all over Spain and / or Portugal. Any of our sample private Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours gives you the chance of fine dining – contact us for your personalized quote!.

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    DiverXo, in Madrid, Spain, is the current World’s Number 59 Restaurant!! The NEW World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 will be presented next week but, in the meantime, we’ve been looking at how the current Spanish and Portuguese entries (from the 2015 list) have evolved  in the prestigious Restaurant Magazine’s list in our “A la Crème de la Crème” Gourmand Breaks Blog series. DiverXo entered the prestigious Restaurant Magazine list in 2014 in 94th place. The only Michelin 3* star restaurant in Madrid then climbed a whopping 35 places in 2015 to it’s current 59th place. Can DiverXo climb any higher in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016? We’ll let you know on the 13th of June … There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England, from London! We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the next couple of weeks we’ll be taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème” We have many fine dining opportunities for you all over Spain and / or Portugal. Any of our sample private Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours gives you the chance of fine dining – contact us for your personalized quote!.

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    RESULTS ARE IN for the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 places 51-100!!!!!   Martín Berasategui, in The Basque Country, Spain, is the current World’s Number 59 Restaurant!! The NEW World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2016 will be presented next week but, in the meantime, we’ve been looking at how the current Spanish and Portuguese entries (from the 2015 list) have evolved  in the prestigious Restaurant Magazine’s list in our “A la Crème de la Crème” Gourmand Breaks Blog series. Martín Berasategui Restaurant entered the World’s Best 50 restaurants prestigious list in 2006 in 37th place. Going up and down in the Top 50 restaurants list until 2011 included, Martín Berasategui restaurant reached it’s highest placing, 27th, in 2007.  In 2012, however, the restaurant left the Top 50 for nº67 and in 2013 only rose to nº64. In 2014 the restaurant re-entered the Top 50 at 35th place but fell in 2015 to nº61!! There are literally thousands of restaurants all over the world – hundreds of thousands! – and acclaimed Restaurant Magazine narrows it down to organize, compile and present, year after year, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards and List. This prestigious list, coming up to its 14th year,  is an annual recollection of the opinions and experiences of over 900 international restaurant industry experts and the ceremony is attended by the world’s finest chefs, international media and the world’s most influential restaurateurs. This year, 2016, sees the awards ceremony being presented from the United States of America, the first time the ceremony has moved from its beginnings in England, from London! We’ll keep you updated on the results of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016  (June 13th 2016 live from New York) but in the meantime over the last few weeks we’ve been taking a look at the Spanish (and Portuguese) movers and shakers in our Gourmand Breaks series “A la Crème de la Crème” We have many fine dining opportunities for you all over Spain and / or Portugal. Any of our sample private Gourmand Breaks Private Food, Wine and Cultural Tours gives you the chance of fine dining – contact us for your personalized quote!.

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