Gourmet Madrid Food Tour - Four Essential Delicacies
Deep in the heart of the colorful neighborhoods of Chueca and Malasaña, lie four city-center shops, specializing in four Spanish food treasures: Artisan Cheese, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Wine, and Jamón Ibérico de Bellota (Acorn-fed Iberian ham).
This gourmet Madrid food tour takes you on a journey to discover the essence and history - not to mention the flavors! - behind the best examples of these cherished natural foods. Keep reading for details on each savory stop.
Shop #1 - Artisan Spanish Cheese
Spain is one of Europe’s great cheese producing nations. Many of the country’s roughly 120 types of cheese have been honored at competitions around the world, including the 2012 gold medal for the world’s greatest cheese, beating out 2,700 other cheeses at the prestigious World Cheese Awards. To taste part of this amazing offering, our food tour begins at Madrid and Spain’s greatest cheese shop, named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the ten best in all of Europe.
It would be reason enough to visit this mecca of artisan cheese for its more than 300 references – a third of which are Spanish. What makes the shop truly unique however, is that they are the only cheese shop in the country with their own maturing chambers, where they carry out the age old art of affinage. We’ll learn more about this craft and the crucial role it plays in the cheese making process, as we taste a selection of Spain’s most representative and unique cheeses, such as their incredible raw milk Manchego cheese.
Shop #2 - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
At our next stop, we’ll immerse ourselves in one of mankind’s oldest, tastiest and healthiest products: Extra Virgin Olive Oil. As the world’s largest producer of olive oil, Spain makes over 40% of world supply from some 300 million trees. Only a fraction of this however is transformed into the finest category of Extra Virgin, and identifying the characteristics that define it, as well as detecting falsely labeled extra virgin olive oil, is an important part of our tasting.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is also famous for being the only commercially significant oil of its kind that can be consumed raw, thus conserving its vitamins, healthy Omega-9 fats, and other antioxidants. As we taste and compare extra virgin olive oil from different Spanish varieties and regions, we’ll learn more about what’s responsible for these health benefits and what they share in common with jamón ibérico.
Shop #3 - Spanish Wine
Our third stop will take us to one of the neighborhood’s premier wine shops, where we’ll enjoy a wine tasting of one of my favorite bottles of Spanish wine.
Few people know that Spain has more vineyard land than any other nation on earth, and as of 2014, it’s also the world’s largest producer. Even fewer know that Spain is Europe’s second highest country after Switzerland, and this elevation plays a crucial role in the structure of Spanish wine.
As a certified sommelier, I’ll use the tasting to talk more about these aspects as we walk through the fundamental elements of Spanish wine, in order to understand why a wine’s style is as important as its quality. You’ll learn how Spanish wine combines Old World and New World philosophies, and about the revolution that’s been taking place in Spanish wine making, shifting the country’s focus from quantity to quality in only a few decades.
Shop #4 - Jamón Ibérico
Last but not least, we’ll pay a visit to Madrid’s very first jamonería, opened back in 1919. Run today by the founder’s grandson, this tiny family shop has been providing locals with the country’s best acorn-fed hams for almost 100 years now.
Annually, Spain produces almost as many hams as people, yet less than 15% of that production is turned into top quality jamón ibérico de bellota. The country’s passion - some would say obsession - for acorn-fed Iberian ham, the different quality categories, and how to select the best examples, will be discussed at length during our tasting of high-end, jamón ibérico de bellota.
We’ll also talk about one of Spain’s most enduring landscapes, the 9 million acres of dehesa forests that are inhabited by the Iberian pig. These forests provide the magical ingredient in the pig’s diet, and are responsible for transforming jamón ibérico de bellota into the quintessential Spanish tapa and one of the most celebrated foods in the world.
Gourmet Madrid Food Tour - 100€ per person
- Group tours of 6 people maximum
- 2 people: 100€ per person, 3-4 people: 90€ pp, 5-6 people: 80€ pp
- Private tours also available, unlimited number of people, contact for prices
- Discounts available for larger private groups
- Seating available at some stops
- Duration: 4 hours, start time at 10:30am, Monday - Saturday
- Meet at Alonso Martinez Metro Station, exit Plaza Santa Barbara
- Includes copy of our very personalized Madrid Restaurant Guide