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The Gourmet Tapas & Wine Tasting Tour from Devour Madrid was the PERFECT way to spend our first evening in Spain. It was so good to go out on a tour with an English speaking guide and get the basics of the food scene. It really helped prepare us for our 12 day trip in Spain.
Meeting the Group
At 6:30 pm, which is a bit early for dinner in Spain, we met up with Joy, our guide for the evening. But it was awesome to be on the early side because 1) it meant that we were in the final restaurant before things really got too busy to accommodate a group and 2) jet lag and we were hungry!
Devour keeps their tours small and intimate - ours was capped at 10 people. They usually offer 6 different tour options all with a different focus. It was great to get to know our fellow travelers and found many connections between us. Joy is originally from New York, where we lived for awhile and one person was even from our hometown!
Tapas & Wine Tasting Tour Stops
There were 3 stops on the Tapas & Wine Tasting Tour, each special for different reasons and the perfect progression for sampling some great foods in Madrid.
Calle Colón, 11
Because tapas are all basically appetizers, it's not really fair to call this the appetizer stop. However, this was the fried finger food stop! The decor of this tiny spot was so cute and it was nice that it was early and not yet crowded.
We were able to sample 2 popular dishes that we saw pop up on many more menus during our trip, patatas bravas being the most common. Also, we were able to try a brand new beverage to us: vermouth.
These were quite good. Crisp outside and soft inside with a great paprika sauce. We were told that when we get to Barcelona (the following week) that they will likely serve the patatas with this sauce and with an aioli… but according to Joy, they only do it like that in Barcelona. It was interesting comparing this dish as we traveled throughout Spain.
Berenjena Frita con Salmorejo (Fried Eggplant with tomato sauce)
This was my favorite dish the whole night… except for maybe dessert at our final stop.The batter was delicious and the eggplant was the perfect texture (normally texture is the reason I pass on eggplant). However, it was the salmorejo sauce that stole the show!! I wanted more eggplant just to be able to keep dipping. Joy, our guide for the evening, even said that she’d even just eat it with a spoon - and I agree!!
Vermouth was 100% not what I was expecting! Being from the US, I think of dry vermouth - used in making cocktails, which is NOT something anyone I know would want to drink on it’s own. This beverage made me think of alcoholic flat coke (or maybe more like Pepsi?)... that may not sound terribly appealing, but I’d 100% recommend that you try it if you get the chance. The tip we were given was to be sure to try it from places that have it on tap - then you know it’s good and they go through it quickly so it’s more fresh!
Calle Libertad, 12
At stop number 2, we all squeezed into 2 small tables in the back of a tiny wine bar to participate in a wine and cheese pairing. It was a popular spot and I would have loved to stop back in on our own if we had more time in Madrid. We were served 2 white wines to go with 4 Spanish cheeses.
Comparing 2 white wines
They went soooo fast I barely had time to snap a photo!
Calle de la Reina, 4
Finally, on to dinner! Angelita is a family restaurant run by the 2 sons, most of the veggies come from their parents' garden. How cool!! However, they really want to be known for their wine list. There are so many by the glass options! It wouldn't be a tapas & wine tasting tour without multiple small plates to share and wines paired with each dish.
4 Wines for 4 Courses
- Amontillado sherry - which is in the middle range of sweetness as sherries go. It was not my favorite, but much better than my previous experience with dry sherry in Cadiz. It could probably grow on me or maybe I just haven’t tried it with the right food pairing.
- 2 reds - Sadly, I did not catch the names of these 2 wines. One was lighter and more like a Pinot Noir and the other was more tannic and closer to a Chianti (but not quite as peppery) both good and paired well with the food. Spanish red wine is at the top of my list! Here's on of my favorites.
- Pedro Ximenes - dark, sweet sherry… My new favorite over port?? Maybe so! Triana from Bodegas Hidalgo was the producer we tried. It was a bit sweeter and with slightly less alcohol burn than the port the hubs and I usually drink and was amazing with the dessert selection .
- Ham & beef plate - pig in Spain… not sure there is anything better - I really enjoyed the loma (the cured loin) and the cured beef. We tried so many kinds of cured pork on this trip. The only bad part is that you really can’t bring it back to the states with you.
- Toast with tomato, onion, pepper spread - and a quail egg yolk and 2 cute drops of aioli - not my favorite… but I’m not a huge pepper fan. My husband was more than happy to finish my share though.
- Chocolate cake with white and chocolate mousse & sour cherry sorbet - this was so rich and decadent. The sour cherry + chocolate combination was absolutely lovely.
Would we take a tapas & wine tasting tour again?
I would totally recommend starting off any trip with a tour like this!! We enjoyed it so much, we booked the same themed tour (Tapas & Wine Tasting Tour with Devour Barcelona) in our next major city stop a week later. This really helped us compare the cuisine in the different regions and really enhanced our cultural knowledge.
Any time you start exploring somewhere new orienting yourself can be so helpful! Get to know some of the basics of the cuisine in the area, ask for some recommendations from a local (in English - for those of us that do not know Spanish well), and get a feeling for how you can best enjoy all the foods on the rest of your trip!
We will certainly think of Devour Tours again when we are in one of the cities that they offer tours! Happy to support small businesses and locals who, like me, love food, wine, and sharing that passion with others!