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Review: Gourmet trails with Ibiza Food Tours

Gastro adventures

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A food tour? “Yes, please.” was my reply when I learned I'd be going on this trip. Lifelong foodie that I am, I jumped at the chance to delve into the cooking of Ibiza and Spain with Ibiza Food Tours. Surprisingly little is known about Spanish food as a whole, beyond paellas and tortillas and that's a shame, because Spain has some amazing and very varied food traditions and an extensive culinary repertoire.

Food Tours Ibiza started earlier this year and now runs regular morning and afternoon food tours around Ibiza Town. The main rule is not to eat in the morning unless you're Michael Phelps in - which case, chow down. Arriving bright and early for the morning tour, we met in Ibiza's harbour by the statue of the fisherman. Once we were all there, Erick, our guide, led us to our first venue for a spot of breakfast, with a bit of a history lesson about the port. As well as being really knowledgeable about food (he's also a chef), he threw us little titbits from Ibiza's past, like how when boats left the harbour they used to stream toilet paper from them as a kind of celebration of the island's maritime past - that is until someone banned it.


Brandy and pastries

Our first stop was an old fishermen's café/bar built in one of the old warehouses that are now seafront restaurants and bars in the marina. We sat down inside, admiring the old wooden ceiling above as we waited for our coffees, which came in four different varieties, including an espresso style coffee (called a "solo" here) fortified with brandy. Then we were served ensaimada, a big swirl of rich pastry stuffed with sweetened pumpkin, which for my money beats the croissant hands down.

Then it was on to a lovely tea shop, where we had a special Ibiza blend of the herbs used to make the local liqueur, hierbas. This non-alcoholic version was a lovely refreshing beverage served with turron, delicious bite-sized sweeties made from almonds. We sat, ate and drank in this most civilised of places with the sound of soothing classical music wafting over us. Next it was onto the baker's shop that made our morning ensaimada for a little tour around the back to see the men at work rolling out pastry and making them into lovely baked goods. We then tried the Ibiza version of a Magdalena, tasting more like a macaroon and looking like a small tart. If you ever see these, do grab one – they are delicious.


Hams, cheese and other stories

After this we went to the covered market of Mercat Nou, where we tried some amazingly fresh fish on a stall run by two sisters. Try the smoked sardine and tell me it's not heaven on a plate. Then time for cured sausages on another stall, where we tried a lovely sobrasada, a deliciously soft cured sausage, spiked with smoked paprika. Moving on from the market, we dived into a shop serving the great hams of Spain, trying normal “white” pork up to the famous acorn-fed Iberico ham, considered the best in the world. I'll let you decide when you try.

At this point, I was feeling glad that I didn't eat before leaving as we were then onto tapas in a traditional old Ibicenco bar; a place off the tourist trail mainly serving locals. More wine and some tasty fried octopus with chunks of potato and peppers and a fat wedge of tortilla arrived to greet us. We then moved on to a café that serves the specialites of Asturias in northern Spain for croquetas. Most of us will know the ones made with potato, but the Spanish version is a world away from that, using a very thick and creamy béchamel. We had ours, made with minced beef and pork, washed down with cider from the same region, poured from a great height to add natural bubbles. A few of us had a go at pouring, including me and I actually got most of it in the glass, honest!


Ice cream finish

As the tour started to wrap up we finished close to the end of the tour, it was on to try some delicious ice cream handmade in a little shop in the old part of town. Ices are nice after such a banquet and we tucked into a mango and chilli sorbet, an ice cream made with rice milk which was fabulous and a few more decadent flavours just because we could. Our final stop was in the old covered market, Mercat Vell at the foot of the medieval citadel for a shot of artisinally-made hierbas. Thus, a sweet ending to a great day out and a very full tummy and lots of contented faces.

This tour is a great gastronomic guide to get you started expanding your knowledge of the food of this island and Spain. You don't have to be a foodie to go on it; you just have to love great food. Buen provecho!

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WORDS | Julian Heathcote PHOTOGRAPHY | Ibiza Food Tours

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