James Blick Explains Spain
Updated: Feb 2
Avery and I love Spain. A few years ago we went to Italy to get our first European experience as a couple and loved Rome and Tuscany. Italy showed us what can happen when fresh ingredients get involved. In 2018, we made our first trip to Spain and found that the Spanish lifestyle of socialization was a little more in line than what we have to deal with in North America. In our perfect world, we would rather go to 5 bars in over 5 nights and meet a few (sometimes new) people, rather than trying to everyone at once at one event on a weekend. The problem with that is it consumes your weekend. We went back to Spain the following year and travelled the north. After 4 weeks in Spain, we still feel we haven't seen everything. When there is nothing on TV, Avery and I watch James Blick's videos as he travels Spain sampling some of the best food in the world.
In this episode, I speak to James about his company Devour Tours, and how this Kiwi found to his to Spain to become one of Spain's biggest ambassadors to the Anglophone World. If you are planning a trip to Spain, subscribe to his YouTube channel and his Instagram to get you thinking about how you will spend your time when you get there. And food lovers,
James and his team at Devour Tours are on lockdown like the rest of the planet - but that doesn't stop them from connecting you to the food. The company has put together a digital cookbook so you can enjoy Spanish cuisine in your kitchen. Devour Tours hosts events in a number of Spanish cities including Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and San Sebastian, as well as other European destinations like London, Lisbon, Paris and Rome.
Also here is my updated Spain cheat sheet for restaurants is here if you want to download it.
Here's a great example of some of James' work. This is a video featuring 7 bars on the Calle Cava Baja. One of our favourites is Taverna Tempranillo which is featured in this video. Other amazing recommendations from Madrid:
Another one of our favourites that is not in the video but Avery and I visited twice is Lamiuk.
There's also the very tasty Basque influenced Juana La Loca which is just beyond Cava Baja. This recommendation has been backed up by our Spain travel Pal Lindsey Anderson who loved it too! James says the tortilla is top 5 in the city and Avery loved the Suckling Pig and whatever they call "Soft blue shell crab in tempura, seaweeds, spring onion, chives mayonnaise, cucumber, bacon in Chinese steamed bun". for 14,80 Euro.
Also, I've set the video to hit these four amazing spots in Madrid. Each is famous for one thing. You could make a whole afternoon out of these four places:
Anciano Rey de los Vinos - Bull Tail Stew
Casa Revuelta - Fried Salt Cod
La Campana - Calamari Sandwich
Casa Toni - Sweetbreads
We loved Sevilla. We walked the streets of Santa Cruz and I found my favourite Bodega. Bodega Santa Cruz featured sherry, drinks and two Swiss travellers introduced us to the Basque inspired Kalimoxto which is coke and wine. Don't bother with it... but it's always fun to learn new things. The Bodega itself had great food and it was a great way to top off the night. It is always full so elbow your way in. Honourable mention goes to Bar Alfalfa which is a strong Devour tours recommend.
As I mentioned in the show, we missed a whole section of town called Triana which is more old school. So we will definitely be headed back there.
Here is a great restaurant that was a recommend of a voiceover client of mine. She lives in Malaga but insisted we try out Ovejas Negras. Hip, happening and it was the best lunch after a wet morning of touring. On the far right is the rissotto which had a delicious hint of truffle. Also the patatas bravas are very good. You'll likely want to get a reservation for this place and come ready to taste some wonderful modern cuisine.
Casa Morales is a strong recommend from James; likewise James recommends the tortilla espanola which comes in a whiskey sauce. There's also a dish featured in this video call "Beef Cheek" which Matt fell in love with in Spain.
We arrived in Granada and went straight to the Alhambra which is the whole point of Granada. This is the land where the tapas are free and the drinks flow. I would love to do Granada over again because I know there is so much more to eat and see. Here are a few places we went to and loved:
The St. Agustin Market is full of food fun. James and I talked about working these markets in the podcast. This one I can safely report is like the Santa Catarina Market in Barcelona. (Great food and locals shopping) Here are the photos of the Summer Sangria, the Sardines and salt & Vinegar chips, and this wonderful woman yelling at everyone to buy fish. Like most markets in Spain, they will cook the fresh fish you buy and bring you a drink to wash it down.
Avery and I also loved this restaurant called Los Diamantes where every wonderful beer ordered came with a small plate of delicious seafood. One of the reasons we need to go back to Granada for more food experiences is because we spent a fair amount of time touring this amazing city. We shared a few of those places below.
We stayed at this hotel run by two or three wonderful women who helped us out with recommendations. Posada de Quijada is a wonderful place to stay. They had coffee ready for us in our room and breakfast (including delicious tortilla) at 9:30am. It was as though we were apart of the neighbourhood. We went to a Hammam, and these wonderful caves in the hills. Now I want to live there. Near the Posada was a wonderful bar and restaurant where we would get our first drinks on the evening. One night it was raining and we stayed for a wonderful meal after a long day.
Finally, wine efficiados will enjoy Casa de Vinos La Brujidera. If only we remembered more from that first day, other than we had a great day.
If you want to know what to do in Barcelona, James has some incredible advice. Here are our go to places along with an explanation as to why we love it.
Tapas 24: Fun restaurant by Carles Abellan who has a whole bunch of great dishes and nightly specials. Get the "Skinny" which is the best ham and cheese sandwich you will ever eat in your whole life. There might be some sort of truffle oil involved again. There are a number of other dishes we have marvelled at including Sea Urchin.
The second place we always hit is Cervecería Catalana. Fresh fish and beer and razor clams and shrimp and scallops and you get the picture.
There's something really special about a meal on a Saturday afternoon when the bars are full and families are out. Avery and I took James' advice and went to Bar La Plata. We didn't notice it until we saw the video again, but we sat in the same seat that James did.
Another restaurant which is a little upscale is Bar Mut. Innovative dishes including an egg carpaccio dish which is off the hook. And when we mean upscale - our bill was 138Euro. But we got some nice wine and I might have had a vermouth as well.
There's another another old school tapas haunt called El Chigre which is right beside the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar in El Born.. When we say old school - we mean this place was established in 1769.
James also turned us on to Bar La Pla. I made mention of James' video where he had to use time travel to visit the bar. We loved this tapas bar very much. I think of them refilling my glass when I didn't even ask for it. That's hospitality. You must go here if you are in the Goth area.