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Campervan adventures in Spain with Rick Stein

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David Pritchard David Pritchard | 10:14 UK time, Thursday, 14 July 2011


Rick Stein with campervan


It was a mistake to use my beloved campervan on the new series of Rick Stein’s Spain. It will never be the same again. We were thinking of getting a little SEAT 600, the type of car used in the film of Graham Greene’s novel Monsignor Quixote starring Alec Guinness, but it was far too small to carry Rick and the crew, plus all the equipment. In the end it was the man who composes all of our lovely music, Malcolm Ironton, who suggested my campervan would be the perfect vehicle for such a journey.

Rick regarded the VW camper as his Rocinante after the tired old nag that Don Quixote rode on his famous adventures in La Mancha. He got very excited about the prospect of cooking in it. We were at the start of our journey near Cap Finisterre in Galica when he discovered numerous tins of beans, stewing steak and corned beef in the camper’s larder.  “We won’t be needing these,” he said in a slightly superior way, “No, I’m planning to go to markets and cook real Spanish food… not tins of beans.”  In fact, as it turned out cooking would be the easy bit – it was driving that proved to be a bit of a nightmare.

The brave Don Quixote had more chance of discovering the Holy Grail than Rick did of finding first gear in the campervan’s forgiving gearbox. “Crunch! Scrawnch! Kerrang!” would be the sounds that greeted us after breakfast as we set off for a new leg of the journey. My spirits plummeted – how could I let this happen? After all, I’ve had this lovely old vehicle for over fifteen years.  Memories of happy holidays, a sense of freedom and delicious meals are all wrapped up in the persona of this very special campervan.

Plate of food with campervan from Rick Stein's Spain.

“This ***ing gearbox is crap!” Rick would shout fairly often as he shifted gears, taking pot luck on which one to choose. This amused the film crew no end and sometimes they’d clap when he found the right one. I’d give them my ‘stare of a thousand deaths’, but they still continued to giggle like naughty children. In the end I decided not to travel in the camper, it was more than my nerves could take and instead I chose to go in the crew car. Please don’t think Rick and I fell out about this, he’s still my second best friend and I really do think he’s the best cook on television by a very long way – but driving the campervan or ‘Campy’ as she’s affectionately known, caused us a few headaches.

Campervan looking out over mountains

Sometimes we in the crew car would go ahead and find a vantage point to film Campy. I remember seeing the camper as a little white speck in a vast valley in the Picos mountains in Asturias. The warm air would be full of birdsong and bees going about their business until Campy got closer to the camera. “Scrawnch! Kerrang! Kerrunch!” could clearly be heard as she bravely huffed and puffed up steep mountain passes. Sometimes Rick would surprise us and leave the handbrake on, leaving pretty trails of white smoke as Campy did her best to speed through the landscape of Rioja. If that wasn’t bad enough finding reverse proved to be the impossible dream.  Another nail in Campy’s coffin but that’s another story...

Rick Stein cooking outside.

Tune in tonight and see Campy in all her glory. Let us know what you think of the show - recipes from the first episode are online now.

David Pritchard is the Producer of Rick Stein’s Spain.



  • Comment number 1.

    Really enjoyed the first programme. So surprised there are so many similarities to UK culture. Trouble is Ricks programmes like the outdoors as he discussed really give you a big appetite.. Looking forward to the rest of the series..

  • Comment number 2.

    Just watched Rick Stein in Spain. Brought back memories of some good cycling holidays when we used to get menu of the day in a comador behind a bar, with all the locals, wherever we happened to be.

  • Comment number 3.

    I enjoyed the ethos of Rick's programme but why this inane over-commentary which only serves to state the bleedin obvious? I can see that Rick, his local mate and the spanish chef have 3 glasses of red wine - why employ a weak voiced actor to restate the fact? Get rid of the weak voiced actor and allow us to use our eyes.

  • Comment number 4.

    Loved the programme.
    Looking foeward to the rest of the series, although I'm sure there were plenty of people squirming at the pig's head and bottles of blood!

  • Comment number 5.

    Don't want to drag any the focus away from Rick Stein's excellent programme but the author of this blog, David Pritchard, is quite the star himself, responsible to getting Keith Floyd on our screens, as well as Rick. You can read more about his producing work in this Guardian review of his book here:

  • Comment number 6.

    Brilliant programme. You were in one of my favourite areas of Spain and it made me want to go back there as soon as I can. I love this part of Spain as it is relatively untouched by lager louts and offers a real glimpse into the Spanish way of life. Muchas Gracias BBC and Rick

  • Comment number 7.

    Looking forward to another truly European adventure - an English chef, German vehicle and Spain!

    Take it easy driving the campervan on unfamiliar terrain. Classic VW vans need careful, loving drivers in order to get another fifteen years of adventures, happy holidays, a sense of adventure and freedom from your lovely old vehicle

  • Comment number 8.

    Loved your programme, can't wait to see next one. My son has lived near Valencia for 8 years so I have visited every 2 months, enjoy Valenciano food especially enormous village fiesta gigantic paellas, featuring both seafood and meat ones. Also, traditional local food is wonderful and so healthy. (I now eat a Spanish "breakfast" in summer consisting of what locals eat there: salad, jamon, peanuts, bread, allioli, queso, avocado, fruit etc.) What variety and all the balanced "5-a-day" eh? I feel Spanish food is underrated and you are bringing their super local dishes and culture into focus for us all. (Better than cornflakes and burgers, surely?) I also wish "tapas" were available here in UK (ie in pubs, locally? - just an idea). Thank you for the first of what looks to be an enthralling series.

  • Comment number 9.

    As a Spaniard that has lived in Scotland for over 20 years, programmes like this make me salivate, naturally. Rick Stein is always so good and the series so far is very truthful to the real Spain. Shame about the subtitles translation ( I tend to have the subtitles on in BBC iplayer, as I mainly watch it in bed, with the sound not too loud), but to read words like 'potatas' instead of patatas. 'eheas', instead of mijas, 'uvas rancheras' instead of huevos rancheros, 'Don Estia', instead of Donostia, 'camper one' instead of campervan, oh well, that last one nothing to do with Spanish...

  • Comment number 10.

    Knowing Spain and the food culture very well, I really appreciate the show, if it wasn't for the very fantasyful pronunciation of Rick.
    It really hurts the ears hearing Rioja as Rioka ...

  • Comment number 11.

    loving the series. We travel Spain twice a year in our campervan and love the food, wine and people. Oh, and the scenery. I'm trying to work out where in Andalucia his hideway house is. Anyone have any idea?

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi, would just like to say that i am enjoying the programmes immensely! As Rick says, it shows all of what we love most about Spain, the food, the people and the traditions. Especially Easter! We actually live in the Murcia region of Spain, near Mazarron and quite a few of the tapas and meals on the programme are similar to those we have here, with the odd tweek! The area where we are is renouned for great vegetables, but specially Tomatoes!! among other foods, and as for the fish! well! Watch out for the lorries bringing our veggies to Tescos from the Murcian region, or even direct from Mazarron, where we are! Also when the guy was cooking the "chuleton" on the wood oven in the mountains, it makes your mouth water, we have these here too, great flavour meat! as is all the meat here. Also in this area we have the "Pimenton" Rick was using, there is a wonderful eco shop selling products like this straight for the factory next door, and also special local honey and olive oil etc. Great to see the peppers and tomatoes drying outside in the sun! ready for the factory. So, maybe next time. a visit to the Murcia region is in order! Oh I forgot to mention we have great wine here too! well thats another story! thanks again, looking forward to the next episode! x jan

  • Comment number 13.

    Loving the programme! But I must say that last night when you were preparing the mussels, the amount of salt you chucked in to the blender while preparing the tomato sauce was a bit scary.

    Aren't the mussels already a bit salty?

  • Comment number 14.

    Just watched Rick Steins Spain, However I am more worried about Campy, I think that she is a Holdworth Villa, and I feel sorry that her beloved owner felt it necessary to to allow someone else to drive her. I have a Holdsworth and belong to the Holdworth Owners Club, Would we allow others to drive our beloved machines NO!! Come on David if Campy is a Holdworth come and join us.

  • Comment number 15.

    Loved the shows so far. I doubt it will ever come close to his French Odyssey which I tend to watch over and over again whenever the sun comes out, but it's nice to see him explore Spain a bit. I don't think that's been done enough in recent times.

  • Comment number 16.

    further to my comment number 12, here is the website of the local producer to us of pimenton etc, its really good stuff!

  • Comment number 17.

    I have really enjoyed viewing the different areas of spain and their "authentic cuisine "
    I really enjoy the true culture of Spain and it's food, as true Spanish food is not exactly that well known, in comparison to other countries, such as France etc.
    However, Rick Stein, whom I consider to be a decent British person, who I apreciate eats meat, which is fine by me, so long as it is " humanely sourced !" but you interviewed a British man who used to "Run with the Bull's" of Pamplona, Where the Bulls are terrified and run through the streets being teased by so called " brave men" until they are driven to the Bull Ring to endure a Horrific Death at the hands of Spains matcho men. Surely " Rick " you do not condone this " barabaric" and "archaic" torture to animals, even if you do enjoy Spanish Cuisine? When you show these acts of torture, as if they are an acceptable way of life, you are only helping to encourage " Bull Fighting" to continue. When all of us who respect animals are fighting to "STOP" this, outdated. outragous and completely unnecessary act of animal cruelty. We have all listened to the Spanish defence " Bull Fighting" is part of our culture and trandition, but so was " Slavery " and " Bear Baiting" in Britain,which we banned hundreds of years ago,so come on Spain, " get on board" and move forward to the 21st century, it doesn't mean you have to lose your other traditions and culture. Just "STOP" illtreating poor innocent animals for your enjoyment!!
    "Rick "Please let us all know publicly your views on this matter.

    2 brave men "

  • Comment number 18.

    I have watched this show because of the terrific scenery and the people and their own recipes, but Rick's lack of humour, stunted interviews and superior attitude are tiresome. Keith Floyd must be spinning.

  • Comment number 19.

    It's a shame Rick doesn't know in China one variety of garlic is called single-headed garlic that has got only one clove. He and his chefs would love that variety (one of the top quality garlics in China too) more than Spanish garlic if size is concerned.

  • Comment number 20.

    Great series so far guys. Not just the recipes but the wonderful scenes from around Spain. I also think the music used has been excellent (particularly that used in last night's episode where Rick is preparing Paella) and was wondering whether anyone could give me the names of some of the tracks used. Thanks!

  • Comment number 21.

    Oxfordsceptic wondered where Rick's hideaway house was and I believe I have the answer. In the first (i think) episode, Rick mentions that he bought his cabbage in a village called Casarabonela. Judging from the background to his tabletop photo, and the view from his base kitchen window, he is in the hills to the east of this beautiful village, which is roughly midway between Malage and Ronda on the map.

  • Comment number 22.

    Love the house Rick Stein is using for his cooking. Where exactly in Andalucia is it, as my husband and I lived in the village of Comares, 900m on top of a mountain, for over 3 years. It was magical.

  • Comment number 23.

    Good programme and some excellent camera work but I have to agree with Cristina about Rick's dreadful pronunciation. And worse, poor translation. In the episode where he visits the Costa Blanca and watches the preparation of the delicious looking tomato salad, the chef holds the dish for Rick to taste and as the fork goes in says, 'Falta madurar un poquito.' Rick turns to the camera and tells us, 'He says it needs a bit more salt.' Then goes on to make some inane point about having quite enough salt in his diet already, thank you very much. This is rubbish. What the man presenting the meal said can be translated as, 'It isn't quite matured yet.' This refers to the practice of leaving the salad in the fridge for an hour or more for the lovely olive oil and vinegar mixture to infuse into the tomato and onion.
    Can you seriously imagine someone in a very well respected restaurant handing you the prepared dish and saying, 'Of course, it's not properly seasoned'? I don't think so...

  • Comment number 24.

    I enjoyed the Rick Stein food tour of Spain but having travelled extensively throughout Spain over many years I feel the cooking in Spain is very dissapointing. As a country they are so lucky to have all these amazing ingredients of fresh local fruit and vegetables, excellent quality beef and pork and of course the most incredible variety of fish and seafood. I can't understand when you order fish or a meat dish in a restaurant and you get a piece of the above, covered in olive oil and usually lukewarm. What do they do with vegetables in Spain? With such a great variety of ingredients the food tends to be bland and uninspiring. The best way to eat in Spain is to buy the ingredients and do what Rick Stein does and cook your own food.

  • Comment number 25.

    Watched the programme last night in Sevilla. Rick commented how southern Spaniards love goat meat but it is unavailable in Britain. Of course it is, Rick!! Perhaps it's not widely available in Padstow but I can quite confidently walk into a butchers shop in London and buy some. As much as I like Rick's style of culinary travelogue, he is prone to these types of silly statements. Perhaps his enthusiasm is getting the better of him.

  • Comment number 26.

    We've enjoyed the series so much we'd like to visit many of the same places. Is there an itinerary we can get hold of?

  • Comment number 27.

    Come on Rick Stein and David Pritchard, get a grip! Your cookery series on Spain was absolute tosh with poor old Rick struggling with cliché after cliché, rubbish camera-work, trying to make tomatoes, bits of pig, more tomatoes, not much fish and yet more tomatoes look appetising and worth trying out. “That's what its all about!” is the mantra. No it wasnt and dont give me the idea that you all travelled round in that campervan – if so, no wonder the programmes were so desperate in their content! If you needed to find out more about regional cooking then try eating in a Parador, they do know what they're doing. Hmm, hasn't the campervan idea been done before by a certain Jamie Oliver and Keith Floyd would be turning in his grave – his Spanish series has just been repeated on one of the Food channels, may be an old series but it was excellent – food, camera-work, script, presentation – and directed by David Pritchard! What happened David between then and now???? I do have experience of Spanish rural food as we have had a cortijo in the Alpujarra – Chris Stewart country – for many years and the food in that area has not improved at all and is so basic its boring with bread thats like a brick the following day, which is difficult when you live in the campo and not within walking distance of a baker. So I was hoping for lots of inspiration and confirmation that I'd made a mistake about Spanish food and you failed horribly all round. Just been watching “Fruits of the Sea”. Rick you knew what you were talking about, you loved what you were doing, the visuals were good, you were not struggling with the script and very importantly you were not desperately trying to make the food acceptable – because it was. Think back to 2007/8 with “Food Heroes”. There you were in the Spanish series making out that Spanish cheese/fish/customs couldnt be bettered in England – have another look at the “Heroes” series. You were happy talking about cooking, you cooked great food, loved meeting the food producers, camera-work was good, script was genuinely enthusiastic. Stick with what you're good at in future – good, non-poncey food, good script. Nothing wrong with what you were doing before Rick and David – stick with it.

  • Comment number 28.

    Great series - as post 26, is there a travel itinerary anywhere?

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Well done Rick for the great, great show. Glad you visited Campo De Criptana as well, many a childhood memories there for me. Garlic Soup and Mijas, what rustic loveliness.

  • Comment number 31.

    I must say I absolutely loved this - not sure what post 27 is on about.

    Brings back great memories I had as a child visiting Spain. I especially love that the [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] plays such an important character in the journey. My aunt had one very similar when she was younger but sold it because it was too much hassle. What a classic it would be now!

    Great programme guys, when's the next?


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