The Covid-19 Pandemic has taken it’s toll on the travel industry but one company that has adapted during this time is Devour Tours. They were originally set up to provide authentic food and culture experiences in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, San Sebastian, Paris, Rome, Lisbon and London. However with many of these cities being placed in lockdown during the Pandemic, Devour started offering online experiences with the aim of connecting foodies from around the World with local food. This has indeed proved popular, with them now considering offering virtual experiences even when things hopefully return to normal.
At the end of July I was due to travel to San Sebastian but plans had to be put on hold. I’d seen a Pintxo cooking class advertised by Devour Tours and decided to give it a go. The class was hosted by Claudia, a San Sebastian native who is very passionate about food and is currently studying Gastronomic Science.
The brief stated that we would learn how to cook three iconic Basque Pintxo. Recipes and lists of ingredients were sent beforehand to allow for preparation. The three Pintxo were Gilda, Stuffed Peppers and Burnt Basque Cheesecake. The Gilda is the original Pintxo and consists of an anchovy, green olive and pickled, green, spicy pepper inserted onto a toothpick, and eaten in one go! We prepared some of these prior to the class with produce bought from Brindisa at Borough Market.
We also prepared the world famous Burnt Basque Cheesecake as eaten at La Viña. This dish is to die for! It’s not the most instagrammable dessert you’ll ever see but boy does it taste good!
As well as learning how to cook the Pintxo we also gained an insight into the local culture and customs. Claudia was more than happy to answer questions and my fellow foodies and I gleaned information on everything from the history of each dish, which drinks to pair with them and tips on the best eateries in this foodie hotspot. The class lasted approximately 1.5 hours and cost €19 per screen. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it made up somewhat for not actually making it to Basque Country this Summer. I’m even more determined to get there next year, and try the famous La Viña Cheesecake for myself!
In fact I enjoyed the class so much, I decided to take a look at what else Devour had to offer. They have a number of experiences covering the cities they are based in, with classes on wine, vermouth, olive oil, tapas and pasta, among others.
I decided upon ‘The Spanish Paella Experience’ taught by Aranxta, a cordon-bleu trained chef based in Madrid. Again the recipe and preparation notes were received beforehand and we were taken through how to prepare the iconic rice dish. Arantxa was very informative and explained the origin of the dish and the ingredients. There were lots of useful tips (like not including Chorizo, as the flavour overpowers the others in the dish!) and plenty of opportunity to ask questions. I decided against cooking along and enjoyed observing the class with a large glass of Rioja to hand! I do now feel confident to attempt the recipe at home, and look forward to doing so.
I would thoroughly recommend Devour Tours online experiences. They’ve adapted to the ‘new normal’ but so have we! Who’d have thought at the start of the year that I would be connecting with fellow foodies from all around the World via Zoom?!
Hopefully I will connect with Devour Tours in person when I (hopefully) visit Seville and San Sebastian next year.
If you are interested in the foods and recipes of any the Devour cities then they have a digital cookbook ‘Recipes from Devour Tours Kitchen’ for sale. It’s worth getting just for the recipe for Burnt Basque Cheesecake!
Facebook: Devour Tours