I'm with them. After several years of trying nueva cocina (nouvelle cuisine) in the big cities, I am convinced that Spain's best food is served at traditional regional restaurants in the countryside, where quality is a bigger priority than novelty. With that in mind, here are three short gastronomic excursions: from Madrid, from Seville and from Barcelona. Each includes visits to cultural destinations like the Dalí museum, gorgeous drives, overnight stays in paradors (government-owned hotels) and stops at top wineries.
From Madrid: Castile and Rioja
Suckling Lamb, Red Wine and El Cid's Hometown
Day 1 Travel north from Madrid until you see a billboard that reads Aranda de Duero, Vino y Cordero. Aranda de Duero is the town; vino is wine (such as Vega-Sicilia, Spain's most expensive and renowned red, and Pesquera, the new star, which has been compared to Château Pétrus); and cordero is supernal suckling lamb, roasted whole in brick ovens with nothing but water and coarse salt. Aranda has a dozen asadores, or roast houses, and they have been the object of many a modern pilgrimage.