After a culinary journey through Spain, blogger Rachelle of The Travel Bite sat down for a Q&A with her expert Tour Director, Emilio. Here, both foodies reminisce about the Spanish cuisine they enjoyed during their shared adventure on our Food & Wine: A Taste of Spain tour.
Rachelle: I’m here with my friend Emilio in Madrid. We just finished a twelve-day Food & Wine Tour in Spain. Tell me about your background! What made you decide to get into travel?
Emilio: The passion of traveling. At some point you understand that your passion can be your profession. And why not? You can combine the two things. Usually we spend so much of our life working. So why don’t we do something we really like?
R: Let’s talk about food and wine and what kinds of food we’ve experienced in Spain.
E: I think that we cannot divide the ideal food in Spain from the tapas concept. It’s very interesting. The idea of tapas started many, many years ago. It’s a wonderful way of eating in general because it can be paired with the new concept of healthy food that suggests we eat several times during the day but just a small portion of something. You can definitely do this in Spain with the tapas or pintxos—it depends where you are. Just stop and have a small bite of something amazing paired, obviously, with good wine.
R:What are the types of food you think people have to try when they come to Spain?
E: The ham. They have to. Travelers should know that in every Mediterranean country, they can have wonderful vegetables. In every kind of tapas that you can try, you find a small part of vegetables. In the tortillas there are the potatoes and peppers. It’s amazing.
R: The peppers have been really good. I’ve also really enjoyed the fruit. When we were in the city of Logroño, which is wine country at the head of La Rioja, it seemed there was a fruit stand on every block and we picked up grapes that tasted like wine.
E: But in every market also. You can find fresh fruit everywhere. In Barcelona, La Boqueria Market, Santa Caterina Market. In Madrid, the Market of San Miguel. Oh my gosh!
R: What was your favorite part of the trip we just went on in Spain?
E: Basque Country. You know, northern Spain is not very famous. So, I suggest everybody go there and stop in San Sebastian, definitely.
R: I think it’s a little bit more difficult to get to, so being on the tour was great because we didn’t have to worry about driving. And you took us to a cider place, which was really cool.
E: Yes, wow. Even in the United States and Canada, people know about cider—hard cider you call it, right? In other countries of Europe it’s not very popular. It’s really something specific and traditional from the Basque.
R: I always think of Spanish wine but I don’t think of cider, and it was great to try. It was also really wild because you have these huge casks and they open a tap that’s above your head and a stream of cider comes shooting out. You have to put your cup underneath the stream and then somebody comes up to catch it right after you.
E: It’s pretty wonderful for travelers from the U.S. and Canada.
R: And it was very tavern-like. The food was all kinds of shared plates.
E: Yes, because that place is regional for fishermen, so it’s rustic.
R: Very rustic, and I loved the grilled cod and the peppers. Definitely really good seafood. I also have a sweet tooth, so what would you recommend for pastries or sweets in Spain?
E: The churros!
R: How could I forget the churros and chocolate? The churros here do not have the sugar and cinnamon that we put on them in the U.S. They’re more of a plain, fried donut and there’s a really thick chocolate that you dip them in. It’s delightful. You need an espresso afterward to kind of cut the sweetness. We also had a little fast food, comida rápida. We were looking for something quick to go and we ended up getting ham and chorizo in a cone.
E: For some protein!
R: The three basic food groups: chocolate, coffee, and ham. The cone of ham looks like an ice cream cone except it’s filled with meat.
E: You eat also, especially here in Madrid, the fried calamari.
R: Yes! You can do the calamari sandwich.
E: It’s really unique. Only in Spain. I’ve seen that only in Spain.