Courier April/May Courier - Page 32

Foodie cities and scenes Sonoran Tasting Tours provides a good way for your group to experience Southern Arizona’s premier wineries. On the tour, you can sample the grapes, enjoy lunch, and bask in the beauty of the Sonoita Valley and Willcox Wine Country. Want to say you’ve been in the kitchen with a James Beard Award-winning chef? Well, your group can earn bragging rights during a cooking class with Janos Wilder at his downtown outpost, Carriage House. Other noteworthy experiences: See how local whiskey is made—from grain to glass—at Hamilton Distillers (the differ- ence is in the desert flavor of mesquite); try Tucson’s semi-official dish, the Sonoran hot dog (a James Beard America’s Classic award winner); and visit Mission Gardens, a living museum of the Sonoran Desert’s agricultural history, and the site of its first farm fields dating back 4,000 years. For more information, go to visit tucson.org or email Jackie Ludwig at jludwig@visittucson.org. Viva España: Magnet for Michelin stars There are few countries in the world with as rich a culinary history as Spain. Dating back thousands of years, it blends local, Mediterranean and North African influences into a melting pot that is a magnet for Michelin stars. Tour operators taking groups to Madrid should check out that city’s gas- tronomic markets. Some of the centu- ries-old food markets in historical build- ings have been re-imagined as authentic gourmet street markets, where there’s a mixture of traditional and avant-garde. The most famous is Mercado San Miguel, an iron and glass structure housing 20 different vendors selling everything from fish and ham to olives, cheese, wine and the ever-popular tapas. Platea, located in a converted cin- ema, has restaurants, bars and stalls historical districts such as the Gothic Quarter, El Born and the Barceloneta, while tasting dishes ranging from a typical Catalan appetizer to a seafood- rich paella or prime beef from Spain’s northern provinces. With San Sebastian as its epicenter, the Basque Country in northern Spain is often referred to as “Michelin Star Heaven,” the result of nearly 40 restau- rants with the coveted stars. Couple that with the area’s La Rioja wine region and you have what is often described as one of the world’s best gastronomic destinations. Food festivals naturally play an important role in Spain. This year’s 20th annual Gastronomika will be held in overseen by three chefs who boast six Michelin stars among them. A hip new addition to the city’s foodie scene is Mercado San Ildefonso, with 18 stalls and bars spread across three floors. Tour operators should start planning ahead for next year’s Madrid Fusion Summit, which will turn Spain’s capi- tal city into the world’s gastronomic capital. It has been held every year in January since 2003. If Barcelona is your group’s desti- nation, book them on the Barcelona Gourmet Food Tour. You can join an expert guide on a walking tour of the back streets and narrow alleys of San Sebastian from October 7 to 10 and will focus on all things culinary—from tastings to interactive presentations by top national and international chefs. You won’t want to miss introducing your group to Spain’s national drink, sherry. From Seville, take a day trip to Jerez, famous for its fortified sherry wines. You can visit wineries where the old traditions have been main- tained and production methods haven’t changed for centuries. For more information, contact Elisa Sainz of the Tourist Office of Spain at nuevayork@tourspain.es or go to spain.info. Gastronomika 28 April/May 2018