Devour Barcelona Cheeses

Discovering the Flavors of Spain with Devour Barcelona Food Tour

Posted on Posted in Activities/Experiences, Barcelona, Europe, Spain, Travel

I went on a Devour Barcelona food tour and ate all of the food! Now for most people this doesn’t seem odd – go on a food tour and eat the food but for me who has suffered from lactose intolerance for almost 15 years, this was a big thing!  Suffered is probably too strong a word but I really dislike having to play roulette with foods since dairy is often an added ingredient. That’s why I’m not a food blogger because I’m not really a fan of food – I keep it simple which makes me miss out on so many flavors and tastes around the world. Devour Barcelona allowed me to taste the flavors of Spain easily.  The staff and vendors accommodated my issues (no dairy or seafood) as well as others (shellfish allergy, vegetarian, etc.) which was fabulous.  Knowing that I could eat food and not worry about getting sick was such a relief, I could actually enjoy the experience.

Devour Barcelona Cheeses
Just a few cheese options at the market in Barcelona

Meeting the guide, Renee, an American ex-pat, who like so many others left the U.S. for a year but found her love and stayed in Spain.  This is her dream job and her enthusiam for the food and the shop owners can be seen throughout the tour.  Meeting outside of the Valentino store on the Passeig de Gracia was easy.  I arrived first followed by a solo traveler from Chicago, another blogger from the TBEX conference and a family of nine (the group is capped at 12).  We were told a bit of the history of the city and the neighborhood of Gracia that we would visit on our four hour tour.  The area had been a village that was absorbed by the city of Barcelona yet retains so much of that small town feel that few tourists get to visit despite its proximity to so many other must see attractions. We were provide a handout with all of the spots we were visiting but I put it away and wanted to be surprised.

Mural Barcelona Market
Mural outside the Barcelona Mercat de lAbaceria Central

Warning: The Photos contained in this post may make you hungry!  So don’t read on an empty stomach and remember I’m not a food blogger so I either like it or I don’t like it – simple as that

Spanish Second Breakfast

The Spanish like to have a second breakfast around 10:30 a.m. (who am I to argue this) so we visited a small shop for a grilled botifarra sandwich.  The bread was fantastic paired with the spicy sausage, I really inhaled this it was so good.  We were given a glass of cava (sparkling wine which is the “confused cousing of champagne”) to toast with.  Cava is like water I’m told and can be drunk all day, some costing less than a euro a glass.

Cava in the morning
Starting our second breakfast with a glass of Cava to toast the tour
Can Tosca Barcelona
The tastiest bread ever combines with the slightly spicy sausage botifarra

The Barcelona Market Stop

We walked about ten minutes to the first stop, the local market, one of the oldest in the city.  Here we would have two visits – the first to a family run olive shop and the second to the cheese stand.  The market reminded me of Philly’s Reading Terminal market of local fresh foods.  We would pass the lady in the fresh egg stand, a stand big enough for just her and the eggs.

Egg Lady at Barcelona Market
Selling a variety of eggs in the market

The Olive Stand 

Started by his parents, the current owner renamed the shop after his mother who used to work in the shop while her husband socialized.  With a variety of olives to choose from, our first tasting would be sea salted cod stuffed olives.  I’m not an olive fan so passed on this tasting.

Conserves Gloria Barcelona Olives
So many options with olives in Barcelona at Conserves Gloria
Devour Barcelona Conserves Gloria
Conserves Gloria offers up the olive and salt cod skewer
Conserves Gloria Devour Barcelona
If you like olives, you must go to the market to find Conserves Gloria

The Cheese Stop 

I ate cheese!  While everyone received three different Spanish cheeses, I was given lactose free cheeses – two Spanish and one Swiss.  I really don’t remember when I last ate cheese without popping a few Lactaid pills with fingers crossed.  The Spanish cheeses were creamy, the one with the jam was a tasty combination, the Swiss was a bit harsh for me.

La Trobada del Gourmet Barcelona
A selection of Spanish and Catalan Cheeses on the Devour Barcelona Food Tour
Lactose free cheese in Barcelona
My lastose free cheeses – two Spanish and one Swiss

Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil Tasting

Wine Tasting, yes, I’ve done that but Olive Oil tasting was a first for me.  We entered what seemed like the fancy wine shop only to see all shelves lined with bottles of extra virgin olive oils.  The group moved to the back room where tables were set up with bottles of olive oil, baskets of bread and bottles of water.  Our guide shared the history of olive oil production in Spain (produces 45% of the world olive oil) and then we sampled olive oil both on spoons and with bread.  It was interesting to see the results and hear everyone’s opinion.

Oli Sal Olive Oil Tasting
Forget wine tasting, on the Devour Barcelona Food tour, you do an Olive Oil tasting
Olive Oil Tasting Oli Sal Barcelona
Its not wine but Olive Oil for sale at this shop, the site of my first olive oil tasting

The Bomba,  Tomato Bread and glass of Penedes wine

Having spent time in Catalonia region, I learned of the tomato bread and quickly became a fan.  It’s a do it yourself meal where you rub garlic (optional) on your bread, then take special small tomatoes (exclusively grown for this) and cut the top off and squeeze the tomato juice across the bread.  Top with a bit of olive oil and you have the poor man’s bruschetta (without the diced tomatoes) which is called pa amb tomaquet.

Pa Amb Tomaquet Devour Barcelona
Ingredients needed to create your own tomato bread – pa amb tomaquet
Devour Barcelona pa amb tomaquet
The owner shows us how to make the tomato bread calls pa amb tomaquet

With a glass of local Catalonia wine (or beer), I next sampled an AMAZING flavorful bit of “Bomba”.  It’s a potato and ground beef croquette with brava sauce and aioli. It was my favorite of the day.  The owner of the shop has a story too (they all do!) – he and his wife lost their jobs and took over this beloved neighborhood restaurant.

Devour Barcelona Bomba
The best taste of the day – the “bomba” a mix of potato and ground beef

Filled with happiness – tomato bread, wine and Bomba,we moved on eager to see what could top this! It was a clear sunny day and wonderful to walk the neighborhood with nary a tourist in sight (other than our group).

Town Square of Gracia
Town Square of Gracia

A Tasty Syrian treat

We next visited the famous pastisseria with Barcelona’s adopted Syrian supplier of desserts.  I tried the triple chocolate pastry and it was interesting – not my favorite pastry due to the textures – I was expecting chocolate filled or other gooey treat but the one I picked was a bit dry for my tastes. There were so many options, my default is always chocolate – others said their picks were good so next time I should focus on honey or almond or other.

Pastisseria Principe Barcelona
Syrian pastries in Barcelona are quite popular
Pastisseria Principe Triple Chocolate
The triple chocolate syrian pastry

The Old Man Bar

Told that this is “the place” for anchovies and vermouth, the old man bar (just a bar with lots of old men), happily gave me my sample without the pickled anchovies.  The atmosphere and the happy old man and his wife (?) who wanted to share with us made me feel like this was a special place. It was fill with so much memorabilia that I wanted to stay for hours to explore but alas we moved on.

Devour Barcelona Pickled Anchovies
Perruchi red vermouth with fuest and pickled anchovies
Spanish meat Devour Barcelona
Passing on the side of anchovies, I enjoyed my sample

Time for Lunch at the smallest restaurant in the neighborhood

With only four seats at the counter, this takeaway restaurant was our next stop.  Surprisingly, all but four of us fit in the shop for the tasting.  I stayed outside on the small sidewalk.  The owner appeared with two trays to sample.  First up a spoon filled with vegetables as escalivada and romesco “pintxo”, next homemade meatballs in a bean and snow pea gravy.

Devour Barcelona Vegetarian Food Tour
A spoon to sample of vegetables – escalivada and romesco pintxo
Devour Barcelona Food tour homemade meatballs
The homemade meatballs in a bean and snow pea gravy
Devour Barcelona Food Tour
The homemade meatballs or spinach for the vegetarians

Coffee & Dessert

Just as my stomach was getting used to the blind date with the foods, we made our last stop  for dessert.  Judging by the window alone, I knew this wouldn’t disappoint. We received a mini cremat custard treat.  This pastry was a million times tastier than it looks in the photo – it really was that good.  Wanting more, the owner had only made enough for the group (the universe telling me not to have too much of a good thing).

Pastisseria Ideal Barcelona
Amazing is all i can say about this little mini cremat at Pastisseria Ideal

Check Please! I’m Stuffed!

Don’t eat a big breakfast! Walking around Gracia helped pace the food experience so you didn’t feel too full.  The Devour Barcelona tour was fantastic and that fact that they accommodated my food issues really meant a lot to me that they care so much about the food experience that they don’t want to exclude anyone.

Devour Barcelona Food Tour
Renee showing us pictures of the Gracia neighborhood and its festivals

Right now, the tours are offered Tuesday-Saturdays sell out in advance.  The cost is €65 per person. I was provided the tour complimentary as an attendee of the TBEX Costa Brava conference, opinions are all mine though and I’d happily pay for any tour that is lactose free!  The pricing is reasonable for the amount of foods you get, the timing and the small group experience.  It’s a bespoke food experience that all visitors to Barcelona should add to their “must eat” list. Your stomach will thank you, your Facebook friends will envy you and your Instagram/Pinterest photos will definitely get a ton of likes once you tag it #foodporn! So go forth and Devour Barcelona!

Pastisseria Ideal Devour Barcelona
Larger desserts on display for sale – tempting, very tempting

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