Start with the capital’s best bacon sandwich, stuffed with Gloucester Old Spot bacon on chargrilled, hand-made bread, served with secret recipe ketchup at St. John Bread & Wine. Hop from bread pudding and custard at The English Restaurant to a taster of battered cod, award-winning chips and mushy peas at Poppies. Sample the best British and European cheeses at Androuet and taste salt beef bagels crammed with pink meat, mustard and gherkins, and brave fiery spice on Brick Lane. Guides from Eating London help you tour the best of the East End’s food offerings, visiting the purveyors of Spitalfields’ and Shoreditch’s finest foods where the group enjoys sharing platters and imparting the history of London’s interesting food areas.
More info: Three and a half hour group tours (up to 10 people) cost £59.
This small group tour is an intimate encounter with the Irish capital’s gastronomic delights. This Fabulous Food Trail starts in the city centre where a knowledgeable guide, passionate about food, gives a brief outline of Ireland’s culinary history and current developments. There are seven sociable stops along the way that take you through the heart of the city, avoiding tourist traps. The tour includes free tastings at cheese specialists (try the famous Milleens from West Cork), a chocolate atelier (notice the amazing chandeliers as you savour the ganache), several bakeries (one in a secret garden), delicatessens and pubs. Some interesting historical and architectural titbits are also on the menu.
More info: Half hour tours (12-14 people) cost €55. fabulousfoodtrails.ie
Locals have been gathering, trading, banking and bartering in Venice’s Rialto Market, the indisputed centre of the city’s commerce, for 1,000 years. Led by a local food writer or historian, this Context Travel tour delves deep into the city’s history by way of its fresh ingredients and authentic dishes. After strolling among the stalls selling fresh fish, live crustaceans and produce harvested from the lagoon’s island farms, the small group tour retreats to a cicchetti bar to taste traditional dishes like schie (tiny lagoon shrimp) and sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines) and a fresh ombra (small glass of wine).
More info: Two hour tours from €60 for a group (maximum six); €225 for a private tour. contexttravel.com/city/venice
From Galician shellfish to meaty rural fare, Madrid continues to thrive as a culinary melting pot at the centre of the diverse Iberian Peninsula. Follow the Madrid Food Tour through the capital’s narrow streets to visit tascas, taverns, pastry shops with stop-offs aimed to give an authentic, local experience. The tour offers the chance to step into the kitchens to meet chefs and get a slice of Spanish history while sampling a variety of food and drink. Visit markets and local vendors where highlights include an olive oil tasting and a sample of cured jamón serrano, plus, Asturian cider, manzanilla sherry, and a slow-cooked cocido madrileño (chickpea stew).
More info: Four hour tours (around eight people) cost €95. madridfoodtour.com
Written April 2014