Barcelona Tour Itinerary

Day 1Bienvenido a Barcelona! We begin our culinary journey at the Hotel Pulitzer, a chic, four-star boutique hotel recently named the best hotel in Barcelona for 2008. This evening we'll visit the Gran Hotel La Florida, an early 20th century Art Nouveau hotel perched above the city on historic Mount Tibidabo. After enjoying tapas out on the deck as the sun sets over Barcelona and the Mediterranean beyond, we'll tour the hotel and be treated to the chef's tasting menu, each course paired with cava and wine, at the acclaimed La'Orangerie restaurant.  

Day 2Our day begins with a bike tour of Barcelona accompanied by our tour guide who will recount the history of the city. Setting out through El Barrio Gotico and neighboring El Born, the Roman and Gothic centers or "Old Town" of Barcelona, we'll continue down to the marina and along the Barceloneta beach boardwalk, past Olympic Village, site of the 1992 summer games, and back around to Old Town. We'll enjoy a paella lunch at Port Vell with views of the magnificent yachts and sailboats docked there.

Our afternoon consists of the first of our cooking classes with Valencian native chef Bego Sanchis at her school, Cook and Taste, a short walk along Avenida de las Ramblas from Hotel Pulitzer. As we sip Catalan vino tinto (red wine), Bego will teach us about traditional Catalan cuisine and together we'll savor all of the dishes she's prepared.  

Day 3Our private bus will take us on a tour of some of Barcelona's most recognized buildings by Catalan's favorite architect, Antonio Gaudi, including the still unfinished cathedral, La Sagrada Familia, and the Dr. Suess-like spiraled turrets and wavy, ceramic-tiled benches of Park Guell. We'll savor a classic Catalan barbeque lunch at Asador de Aranda, known as much for its lechazo (Catalan for "lamb") seared to perfection in earthenware ovens, as it is for the intricately designed palace in which the restaurant is housed.

After an afternoon of shopping, resting, or sightseeing at your desire, we'll rendezvous at a wine shop near the Hotel Pulitzer for a private wine and cheese tasting. A wine expert will offer 10 tasting wines, an assortment spanning the country's various regions, and we'll be joined by a local cheesemonger who will suggest cheese pairings and offer a sampling of Jamon Serrano, a dry-cured Spanish ham generally served raw in paper-thin slices. Our evening will conclude with a sweet dessert note to balance the savory.  

Day 4Today our private bus will take us along Spain's famous eastern coastline, Costa Brava, dotted with small villages and vacation spots. Our afternoon will be spent in Aula Gastronomica de l'Emporda, a private professional cooking school, were we will have the opportunity to interact with the chef as he prepares our three-course lunch. On our way back to Barcelona, we'll stop at a Catalan pottery village to view or purchase a piece of traditional artwork. This evening will be free to explore the city on your own or accompany me to get a taste of Barcelona's nightlife.  

Day 5We'll join our cooking instructor for a tour of Barcelona's famous open-air market, Mercat de la Boqueria, located just off Avenida de las Ramblas. I made a daily trip to this market when I was living in Barcelona. It remains one of my favorite places in the city and is a feast for the senses.

A morning tapas presentation will follow our tour of the Boqueria at one of Barcelona's most prestigious cooking schools, the Hofmann School, which received its first star in 2004, the only European cooking school restaurant to receive one. After a free afternoon, we'll return to the Hofmann School restaurant to a tasting menu prepared for us by the school's full-time students in a private room overlooking the kitchen. It's sure to be a very creative meal and accompanied with cava and Spanish wine, of course.  

Day 6This morning we'll head straight to the heart of Catalonia's wine region, the Penedes. The oldest family business in Europe, Codorniu Cava Bodega, will host our tour with a few samplings of its famous cava and a tour of the family home. We'll travel to the small town of Pugdaber to savor bacalao (dried codfish), pork, or lamb with glasses of regional wine favorites in the private courtyard of Can Ferran. After lunch we'll visit the Catalonia Wine Museum and top off our tour with another wine tasting.

This evening, I will have the honor of introducing you to the most highly touted and written about tapas bar in Barcelona, Cal Pep. A sliver of a restaurant in a small square, Cal Pep is always crowded and most locals stand in line to enjoy Cal Pep's cuisine,but I have talked Pep into opening his private room to us for the evening. Pep will serve us plate after plate of the day's freshest fare, accompanied with cava and vino tinto. We can pop into one of the hip bars in El Born on our walk back to the Hotel Pulitzer.  

Day 7You'll have the day free to wander the city now that you've become quite an expert on it, but make sure to meet us at Cacao Sampaka, the most unbelievable chocolate shop in Spain. Owned by Ferran Adria's brother (owner of world famous El Bulli restaurant on the Costa Brava), he does with chocolate what Ferran does with produce. After a chocolatier explains the making of chocolate, we'll sample some of Cacao Sampaka's finest creations.

Our farewell dinner at Cinc Sentits (Catalan for "five senses") will conclude our gastronomic tour. Chef Jordi Artal, trained in both New York City and San Francisco, returned to his native Barcelona to open Cinc Sentits, one of the city's newest restaurants, and has personally designed our food-tasting menu and will be joining us to talk about his unique dishes. Join me at Luz de Gas, renowned for its Latino Jazz, to celebrate our trip.  

Day 8Farewell at the Hotel Pulitzer. Adios Barcelona!  

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Virginia Taylor :: 824 Covington Road, Belmont, CA 94002 :: (650) 598-0160 ::