Amazing Culinary Vacation in Spain
I've been meaning to write a posting describing Chris and my vacation back in late September, but have been at a loss for how to accurately describe it. We booked a one week stay with Esme Tours. It would be easy to say it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I can see myself returning in a heartbeat. Life-changing is also too dramatic. What I have decided on is that this week was an amazing life enriching experience that goes way beyond our vacations in the past.
Basically two wonderful people invite you into their life for a week and they are both kind and special humans. Chef Esme has multiple decades of professional chef experience in Spain and throughout the world. Laura also has vast experience running the front end operations of food operations. They are both kind heard souls with a passion for their craft and they brought that everyday during our stay with them. Sous Chef Laura also helps out in the kitchen so that Chris and I had one on one attention :)
The reason you see only five glasses of cava in the picture above is that when you book with Laura and Chef, you will be their only guest. No one else is competing for their attention, they focus the entire week on Spanish food, culture, and touring the local region with you.
Our main base of operations was the tiny town of Pozos Spain, its so small and remote that Google maps doesn't even have a close up of it (try to zoom in for street view). The closest major town is 35 minute drive to Astorga. In September, the town had a population of about 15 people, thankfully Laura, Chef, and Laura are three of them. Chef Esme grew up in Pozos and was able to talk about his childhood and the town. They clearly enjoy bringing their lives back to his village and helping to restore the homes there.
The first night and last night of our tour was spent overnight in Leon and Astorga in the nicest rooms in town with touring and feasting at wonderful restaurants accompanied by Chef and Laura. We let Chef Esme choose most of the meals and it was the correct move.
The remaining days were in Pozos where they have lovingly restored a farmhouse that contains 2 bedrooms on the second level (only room for 4 people in a party) this level also has an outdoor patio where we had breakfast each morning and ended the evening with a glass of wine by the outdoor fireplace. (that was kindly lighted each night while we ate dinner downstairs) The main level has a professional equipped kitchen and indoor and outdoor dining areas. When not cooking, you have the whole place to yourself. Our hosts live a short walk away.
As part of the experience you can cook alongside Chef Esme and sous Chef Laura as much as you desire or you can just let them create exquisite multicourse meals. Needless to say Chris and I were in the kitchen as much as possible. Chef asked if there was any meal we wanted to learn to prepare and at first I was stumped. Anything and everything could have been the appropriate answer. The following day I remember, how in the past I have failed miserably at preparing octopus, so I mentioned it to Laura. Low and behold the following day, was octopus day and I must say when we got home, I have successfully implemented the secret recipes at home :)
Pampering, genuine caring, and making us feel special were a natural part of the visit. On the first evening in Pozos, Chris and I realized that all the cooking we were doing was just for the two of use. Dinners were romantic candle lit multi course extravaganzas. We actually felt uncomfortable that first night because of all the pampering for just the two of us, but that's the experience that they want to provide.
In addition to cooking in the kitchen, we hiked the beautiful countryside around town with the local dogs leading us. Laura also brought us to local villages for hiking and sightseeing. They tailor the day based on your abilities and preferences. Chris and I are so grateful for the time we spent in Pozos and we still have fond memories when we cook in our own home.
Here are some pictures of us hiking and exploring
Thank you Laura and Chef Esme for treating us to a life enhancing experience.