If, like me, you’re into museums and food, the best way to get both at the same time is to go to food and drink museums! I love seeing where my food comes from – whether that’s where it’s grown or where it’s made and it’s hard to just turn up to a factory or farm to see that, so I’m glad there are museums to satisfy my need for edible knowledge.
When I’m planning travel activities, there’s always a few museums in there and I’m always on the lookout for any that focus on food or drink.
While in Andalucia recently as part of the Tasty Andalucia campaign, I was excited to visit some of the region’s best food and drink museums.
Trying Spain’s best ham at Cinco Jotas
Cinco Jotas jamon is considered some of the best Spanish ham in the world and one of the most expensive. There’s a good reason for the high cost though – the company invests a lot of time and money into the acorn-fed Iberico pigs (known as pata negra) used for the end product. The pigs live free range –one pig to two hectares of land—and spend their days exploring their home and rooting around for acorns. In short, they are very happy pigs. Cinco Jotas have farms all over Spain and Portugal, but all of the magic happens at their bodega in Jabugo Huelva and you can visit.
For about €15, you can book a time to visit their curing cellars, see the museum and the process of getting the pig to your plate and then you’ll get to taste it. And, you’ve never tasted anything like it – when sliced correctly (thinly), the fat melts in your mouth and imparts a nutty flavour, thanks to the acorns of course. Please do enjoy the jamon slowly, it’s quite the treat!
To book a tour visit the Cinco Jotas website.
The olive oil with a history at Hacienda Guzmán
Did you know that Christopher Columbus’ son, Hernando Colón, produced olive oil? He owned the Hacienda Guzmán mill just outside Seville, and the centuries old building that housed the mill still stands. Back then, all the olive oil produced by Colón went to the Americas; but now, the family-run business produces gourmet extra virgin olive oil (made with significantly more modern processes, of course). It’s also home to an olive museum with more than 150 varieties of olive trees and original antique tools used in production of olive oil from the 17th and 18th centuries, including a mill and press.
You can visit Hacienda Guzmán in Andalucia for a guided tour and olive oil tasting (yes, olive oil tasting is a thing and it’s a really interesting experience) for €19.50 per person. For more information take a look at the Hacienda Guzmán website.
Sherry tasting at Gonzalez Byass
Take a tour of the one of the best-known sherry houses in Spain, Tio Pepe (part of the Gonzalez Byass family). I’ve never been to such a big winery before and certainly not one with so much history! I was surprised to find out that one of the sherry cellars had even been designed by Gustave Eiffel (before he designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris).
There are a number of tours available at the the Tio Pepe winery, starting from €15 for just a tour or €110 pp, which includes the tour, a tasting and lunch or dinner. Visit the Bodegas Tio Pepe website for more details and to book.
Brandy and tapas at Osborne Toro Gallery
Another sherry house with a lot of history is Osborne (pronounced Os-bor-nay, not Os-born). This one is for lovers of sherry and brandy, and an interest in advertising. You’ll start off with a tour of the centuries old facilities –Thomas Osborne Mann started the Osborne Bodega in 1772—followed by a visit to the Toro Gallery, an initiative by Osborne’s charity arm, the Osborne Foundation. The Toro Gallery is dedicated to the Osborne’s advertising over the last century, including their famous mascot, Toro de Osborne. I really enjoyed the Toro Gallery because it’s so fascinating seeing how advertising has changed over the years.
After your museum tour and tasting, head over to Osborne’s tapas restaurant.
For a tour (€12), contact Osborne.
Wine tasting at Bodegas Robles
Bodegas Robles is not quite a museum, but you can see in the ins and outs of the winery, which focuses on the production of organic wines and (seriously delicious) wine-based products. The winery opened in 1927 and has always been run by the Robles family — today organic and sustainable processes are the focus. Not only does this make for amazing chemical-free wine, it also has less impact on the environment. For example, instead of using chemicals to keep the insects at bay, they have planted a range of herbs and flowers to balance the ecosystem. In the process they have also been developing wine-based products like vinegars and jams and I’d have loved to fill my suitcase with one of everything they were that good!
For Bodegas Robles tour (€10 pp) information, contact: [email protected]bles.com
Local ingredients in Montilla at Taberna Bolero
While you’re in the area, stop for lunch at Taberna Bolero, which has been trading since 1929 – originally as a bar and later extended to a restaurant. They focus on local ingredients and I loved that the vegetables in the dish below were all grown by local families and sold to the restaurant.
BONUS: Lunch with a view at Aires de Doñana
This doesn’t quite fit into the category of museums, but it’s certainly worth a mention. It’s within Andalucia’s gorgeous Doñana National Park and overlooks El Rocio, a major pilgrimage site that attracts more than one million people per year.
Andalucia for food (and knowledge) lovers!
You can get to Andalucia via the Seville airport, so block out a few days and enjoy some time in the centre of foodie heaven.