Art, nature, history, music, language or even technology, there are several reasons to choose a destination when planning a holiday but, no doubt, gastronomy is a high priority for many of us. As one of the key elements that shapes cultural identity it’s perhaps at the table where travellers can best relate interactively with the area and its locals.
Spain and Portugal stand out from the long list of gastronomic destinations around the world. A history full of diverse cultural influences combined with a wide variety of terrains and contrasting climatic conditions have determined a strong regional gastronomy in both countries. In the face of the “fast food” onslaught the locals, fortunately, remain committed to their traditional flavours and cooking techniques.
Each region has its specialities and proudly offers its own flavours giving special emphasis to local seasonal produce. From delicious fresh fish and seafood along the coastline, top-quality vegetables and fruits from their fertile valleys, to the extraordinary meat-dishes of the mountainous areas, the Iberian Peninsula has much to offer.
Keen “foodies” ourselves, we’ve drawn on over 30 years of arduous gastro-exploration to create our Spain and Portugal Food Guides which we give to all our clients as part of our Vamoos Travel App.
Northern Spain – from Michelin stars to delicious local fare…
From the Basque Country to Galicia, Spain’s north-west coast is rightly gaining fame on the world gastronomic stage. Michelin stars abound but the culinary tradition goes much deeper and you will find remarkably good local fare at very good prices. Fresh fish and seafood stand out but don’t miss the excellent Galician beef, the bean stews of Asturias and Cantabria and of course the wonderful pintxos of the Basque country – see our North Spain tours
Andalucia, an identity shaped by countless influences
Here you’ll find the finest cured ham in the world, the revered Atlantic bluefin tuna and arguably the best olive oil to be found anywhere alongside simpler pleasures like a well made Gazpacho or a dish of fried fish with a glass of ‘fino’ sherry. Apart from the myriad varieties of sherry, Manzanilla and Montilla-Moriles, you’ll find some excellent reds and whites in the Sierra de Málaga and delicious dessert wines in Málaga and the Axarquia region just to the east.
In particular the region’s Moorish past and proximity to Africa have made their mark and differentiate the local cuisine from that of the rest of Spain – see our Andalucian tours
Spanish Pyrenees – authentic flavour in every bite
Perhaps not normally considered a gastro-destination, the Spanish Pyrenees offer some fine mountain fare and a cuisine which varies from valley to valley. In the western valleys of Navarra Basque and French influences are brought to bear on the excellent local ingredients. In the central valleys there are wonderful meat dishes and stews and in the east the Garrotxa region offers its own twist on things with Cocina Volcanica. You’ll also find some surprisingly good wines along the way, not least in Somontano, a long term favourite of ours – see our Spanish Pyrenees tours
Madrid & Inland Spain – hearty food and wonderful wines in the interior…
Burgos lamb, Guijuelo ham, El Bierzo peppers or the famous suckling pig from Segovia. The fine olive oil and cheeses of Extremadura or lamb cutlets of La Rioja…
The cuisine of the Spanish interior is hearty and wholesome with some real treats for the discerning foodie traveller. Couple that with a truly vast selection of Spain’s best wines and you’re in for a feast! See our Madrid & Inland Spain tours
Portugal – more than 365 dishes of salt cod “bacalhau”!
It is said that the Portuguese say ”I love you” through food. The gastronomy is simple but flavourful, with the emphasis on quality ingredients.
Signature dishes are Caldeirada (seafood stews) and Bacalhao (salt cod) and the northern hills are well known for their pork dishes, roast kid and beef. Accompany these with a superb variety of wines, from the Vinho Verde from the far north to the exquisite reds of the Dao, the Alentejo and the Alto Douro – the oldest demarcated wine region on Earth – and of course, the classic Ports.
See our Portuguese tours
Spain & Portugal – Cross-Border Tours
We all love to compare and contrast when we travel from region to region – so what better than to visit two world-class gastronomic, wine producing countries in one trip!
Follow the Duero as it becomes the Douro, compare Lisboan tascas with the tapas bars of Madrid. Taste both the well-known Alentejo wines and the up and coming reds and whites from Extremadura, see for yourself which side of the border has the best Albariño wine, the best seafood, tasty cheeses, the best cured ham…
See our Cross-Border tours
Food Tours Spain & Portugal – Casas Cantabricas Food guide
Travel with Casas Cantabricas and you’ll receive our Spain and Portugal food guides with vocabulary and all the foodie terms you really need to know as part of your personal paper-free Vamoos Travel App for mobile devices. You’ll also get a regional guide including where to eat, vineyards to visit and local specialties together with important travel documentation and key holiday information.
And you can always call our expert team for help and advice before you go – we’d love to hear from you!