Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Madrid "Ultimate Spanish Cuisine" Food Tour

"These are delicious!" exclaimed J, chewing on the orejas (pigs ears) laid out on our table at Casa Toni. I assented, preferring the more succinct "yum" to escape out of my lips. The rest of our group were busy partaking of the other dishes - pimientos de padron (peppers), callos (tripe), chipirones (cuttlefish), among others.

This feast of Spanish dishes was the culmination of our Ultimate Spanish Cuisine food tour, one of the tours run by Madrid Food Tours.  Our group of six tourists and foodies had spent the last four and a half (!) hours together, walking and tasting around Madrid's center, and although most of us were stuffed, there's always a little more room for great eats.

Casa Toni
I am a lover of Spanish food; well, of food in general, and of food tours. The more memorable ones I have taken were in New York City (numerous!), Istanbul, San Sebastian and Quebec City.

However, for sheer length (again, 4.5 hours!) and volume of food there was no comparison to the Ultimate Spanish Cuisine food tour - I felt so stuffed afterwards that I had to take dessert from La Mallorquina to go!

The tour doesn't cover that great of a distance, sticking mainly to the Puerto del Sol area, and included stops at a couple of my favorites, Chocolateria de San Gines and Mercado San Miguel (this is my second time in Madrid).

 I won't give away the rest of the tastings, but suffice it to say that all the food was delicious, and you definitely get your money's worth. Our tour leader, Paula Movil, a native of Guatemala who has settled in Madrid, was a lot of fun and helpful in answering most of the group's (mostly mine) questions.

The tour is a must for those who are well-versed in Spanish food but need guidance in discovering reputable shops and restaurants, and also if you're not quite familiar with some dishes but have an adventurous spirit. Thus, the pigs' ears and tripe, two specialties that tend to polarize diners, but in our group's case, there was near unanimity on how delicious they tasted.

Sadly, due to other commitments I didn't have time to join any of the other gastronomic experiences offered by Madrid Food Tours, but will definitely do so on my next visit to Madrid.