No Reservations ~ Spain

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According to Anthony Bourdain, Spain—outside of Asia—is the single greatest location for culinary achievement in the world, thanks in part to Albert Adria. If you're looking for the best most exciting stuff to eat, it's no longer France, it's here in Spain.  Spain is where all the young chefs are who want to work.  Spain is where the innovation is, where all the creativity is happening.  There are also intense local culinary traditions that add to the gastronomic prowess of northern Spain.

Anthony is traveling to Barcelona and San Sebastián to meet some of Spain's most innovative chefs who are constantly pushing the envelope.  Where what you did last year, even if it changed the world, is not enough this year.  Along the way, he explores the art of chocolate.



Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula.  Spanish territory also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the African coast, and two autonomous cities in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla, that border Morocco. Furthermore, the town of Llívia is a Spanish exclave situated inside French territory. Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union after France, and the fourth largest country in Europe after Russia, Ukraine and France.

Because of its location, the territory of Spain was subject to many external influences since prehistoric times and through to its dawn as a country. Spain emerged as a unified country in the 15th century, following the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs and the completion of the reconquest, or Reconquista, of the Iberian peninsula in 1492. Conversely, it has been an important source of influence to other regions, chiefly during the modern era, when it became a global empire that has left a legacy of over 500 million Spanish speakers today, making it the world's second most spoken first language.

Spain is a democracy organized in the form of a parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy. It is a developed country with the twelfth largest economy in the world by nominal GDP, and very high living standards (20th highest Human Development Index), including the tenth-highest quality of life index rating in the world, as of 2005. It is a member of the United Nations, European Union, NATO, OECD, and WTO.


Barcelona is the capital and the most populous city of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain, after Madrid, with a population of 1,621,537, being the sixth-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Ruhr area, Madrid and Milan.  About five million people live in the Barcelona metropolitan area.  About 62% of the inhabitants were born in Catalonia, with a 24% coming from the rest of Spain.  Of the 14% from other countries, a proportion which has more than tripled since 2001 when it was 4%, the majority come from (in order) Ecuador, Peru, Morocco, Colombia, Argentina, Pakistan and China.

Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona.  After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, it became one of the most important cities of the Crown of Aragon.  Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona is today one of the world's leading tourist, economic and cultural centres, and its influences in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world's major global cities.  One of Europe's principal Mediterranean ports can be found here.  It is, indeed, a major economic centre and a growing financial centre.

Barcelona is located on the Mediterranean coast 160 km (100 mi) south of the Pyrenees and the Catalonian border with France.  It has a Mediterranean climate, and is generally a sunny city.  Barcelona was the 12th-most-visited city in the world and 4th most visited in Europe after Paris, London, and Rome.  It is in addition the most popular tourist destination in Spain (receiving over 5 million tourists every year).  Particularly renowned are architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner that have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.  The city is well known in recent times for the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Barcelona is the 16th most "livable city" in the world according to lifestyle magazine Monocle.  Similarly, according to Innovation Analysts 2thinknow, Barcelona occupies 13th place in the world on Innovation Cities™ Global 256 Index.  It is the 4th richest city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world.

Wine Tasting Program

San Sebastián

The Basque Country is the name given to the region in the western Pyrenees that spans the border between France and Spain on the Atlantic coast.  The region is considered the home of the Basque people, their language, culture and traditions.  Nevertheless the area is neither linguistically nor culturally homogeneous; there are seven traditional regions.  The Basque Country has a population of about 3,000,000 as of early 2006.  Currently, the predominant languages in the Spanish Basque Country and French Basque Country are, respectively, Spanish and French.

San Sebastián is the capital city of the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country.  Locals call themselves donostiarras both in Spanish and Basque.  Its population is 183,090 (2007 estimate), and the population of its metropolitan area is 405,098.  The city is in the north of the Basque Country, on the southern coast of the Bay of Biscay.  San Sebastián's picturesque coastline makes it a popular beach resort.  Adding to the seaside environment, it benefits from hilly surroundings.

San Sebastián shows a dynamic cultural scene.  The city bids to become European Capital of Culture in 2016 with a basic motto, "Waves of people's energy", summarizing a clear message:  people and movements of citizens are the real driving force behind transformations and changes in the world.  Events ranging from traditional city festivals to music, theatre or cinema take place all year round, while they specially thrive in summer.  In the last week of July, San Sebastián's Jazz Festival, the longest, continuously running jazz festival in Europe is held.

San Sebastián is renowned for its Basque cuisine.  San Sebastián and its surrounding area is home to a high concentration of restaurants boasting Michelin stars, namely Arzak (in San Sebastián), Berasategi (in Lasarte), Akelarre (in district Igeldo) or Mugaritz (in Errenteria) to mention but a few.   Adding to these cooking highlights, the city features tasty snacks similar to tapas called pintxos, which may be found at the bars of the Old Quarter. 

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Episode Recap

Anthony starts in gastronomic tour of Spain in Barcelona. 

Enric Rovira:  Enric Rovira is one of Barcelona's master chocolatiers.  His creations are inspired by the architecture of Gaudi and the skyline of Barcelona.  Anthony visits Enric's studio and gets an insider's look at how Enric creates his famous chocolate eggs.

Quimet & Quimet:  Anthony visits Quimet & Quimet, a tiny Barcelona vermouth bar.  Quimet & Quimet is known for its variety of vermouth and its selection of montaditos, small Basque-style tapas on crisp bread.

Espai Sucre:  Espai Sucre is an all-desserts restaurant in Barcelona.  Anthony joins Jordi Butron, owner of Espai Sucre, and El Bulli chef Albert Adria for a number of savory and sweet desserts.

Espinaler Bodega:   The Espinaler family opened Espinaler Bodega in the fishing village of Vilassar de Mar in 1896.  The town is both a tourist centre and a dormitory town for Barcelona, and is also known for its horticulture.  Anthony Bourdain and his guide, Lucy Garcia, meet Miguel at Espinaler for a feast of their canned seafood and accompanying Espinaler sauce.

Asador Etxebarri:  Asador Etxebarri is located in the Basque Region, an hour south of Spain's northern coastline, in the mountainous village of Axpe.  The village of Axpe, in the valley of Atxondo, nestles under the limestone heights of 4,777-foot Amboto—one of the highest peaks in the Basque Country outside of the Pyrenees.  Amboto, with its spectral gray rock face, is a sharp contrast to the soft green meadows running up to the very foot of the mountain. The tasting menu includes prawns, oysters, eels and fresh chorizo.

Mugaritz:  Mugaritz is a Michelin-starred restaurant, is located in the San Sebastian countryside, owned by Chef Andoni Aduriz. His restaurant was voted 4th best in the world in Restaurant (magazine) Top 50 2008 (7th in 2007).  In 2011 the restaurant had climbed to the 3rd place on the chart.  Before the meal, Andoni and Tony take a trip to the countryside to collect herbs that will be used in the meal.

Hotel Rural Els Casals:  An hour north of Barcelona in the Catalan countryside, Oriol Rovira and his wife, Marta, run a small inn and restaurant known as Hotel Rural Els Casals.  Tony and Lucy Garcia are treated to a meal created with ingredients grown and raised on the family's farm.


ARGENTINA:  From the Tango to paragliding to cattle rustling to trekking along icy glaciers, Anthony experiences it all.

AUSTRALIA:  Melbourne has been described as San Francisco without the fog.  Anthony is off to discover what makes it so special.

BERLIN:  Anthony finds himself in Berlin, a city that is for him both good and evil, Eastern and Western, repulsive and appealing.

BRAZIL:  Some say São Paulo feels like LA threw up on NYC.  But Anthony's back for the great food and its welcoming people.

Anthony revisits his love for India's vibrant culture, cuisine & communities with a trip to Kolkata & Mumbai.

COLOMBIA:  A bright and beautiful country that has gone from drug capital to food capital.  Anthony explores its unique cuisine.

EGYPT:  Anthony skips the long lines and tour buses, and visits with Egyptian locals to get a taste for what it means to be Egyptian.

GHANA:  Anthony heads to Ghana, West Africa, a land of old forts and slave castles, and a culture filled with great food and music.

GREEK ISLES:  Anthony is on a culinary odyssey to discover if Greece really does have the world's healthiest diet. 

HONG KONG:  A wonder-land of colors, lights and speed, a perfect marriage of modern and traditional, and home to great Asian cuisine.

IRELAND:  Ireland's steeped in history and traditions, both oral & written.  Anthony dispels the myths that it has the worst food on the planet.

JAMAICA:  Jamaica is a vibrant, colorful land full of resorts and reggae music.  Anthony is there to uncover the lesser-known Jamaica.

KOREA:  Anthony gives in to his employee's pressure to visit Korea and, next thing you know, they're in Seoul and the adventure begins.

MEXICO:  Carlos, a head chef in NYC and good friend, gives Anthony a culinary tour of his hometown Puebla and nearby Mexico City.

OSAKA (Japan):  Anthony learns all about kuidaore, which means to bankrupt oneself with extravagance in food and drink!

PARIS: In this very first episode of the series, Anthony heads to the "City of Light" to show, at least the Americans, why the French don't suck.

PERU:  Anthony is on a mission to obtain personal enlightenment in a land of ancient culture, rich cuisine, and vibrant people.

QUEBEC (Canada):  Anthony is off to Québec to indulge in one of his most hedonistic pleasures–foie gras (fatty duck liver).

RAJASTHAN (India):  From gorgeous sights to enticing smells, Anthony explores the magical and delicious offerings of Rajasthan.

ROME:  Anthony adopts the mindset of the Roman people–living a simple life and eating fresh, seasonal ingredients.

RUSSIA:  Anthony explores Russia, where the food is hearty.  Along the way he meets a former Cold War spy and Miss Russia.

SHANGHAI (China):  Anthony is back in China.  From Shanghai to Tibet, he searches for the mythical Shangri-La.

SICILY:  Anthony starts his gastronomic tour through Sicily in style by sharing a spleen sandwich with Sicily's president.

SINGAPORE:  Singapore is serious about food and offers up a cuisine like no other.  Anthony dives in head-first.

TOKYO:  Anthony is off to Tokyo in search of the relationship between a perfect piece of sushi and a perfect knife blade.

TUSCANY:  Anthony travels to the beautiful Tuscan countryside to visit with friends and enjoy some homemade pasta that's out of this world.

URUGUAY:  Anthony and his brother are on a mission to connect with their roots in Uruguay after learning that Bourdains once settled here.

Anthony visits Vancouver, home to a thriving film industry, gorgeous scenery, and an evolving food scene.


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