Share This Gerry Dawes's Spain Post


Instagram



Food Arts Silver Spoon Award to Gerry Dawes


 Premio Nacional de Gastronomía - - James Beard Foundation Nomination (Best Wine Writing)
Premio Periodistíco Cava

Gerry Dawes's Article Medieval Riches of El Cid's City (About Burgos, Spain)
Front Page, The New York Times Sunday Travel Section

 About Blog Author Gerry Dawes, Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award)




10/08/2018

Spanish Brandies to Warm Your Soul


* * * * *
Text & Photos
by Gerry Dawes
©2018

(*See postscript about Los Artesanos 1902* in Madrid.)
 
Pouring Gran Duque de Alba Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez in warmed snifters at , like it used to be done at the Gran Café in Granada.

There used to be a wonderful classic bar called the Gran Café Granada, located in the center of that great old Moorish city in Southern Spain.  The Gran Café, known to generations of granadinos as "El Suizo," was near an equally wonderful old hotel, the Victoria, where I used to stay when I lived in Spain and would go periodically to Granada to visit the magical Alhambra and the gardens of the Generalife; the Cathedral's Royal Chapel to see the tombs of Isabel and Ferdinand and their daughter and son-in-law, Juana la Loca and Phillip the Fair; and the Sacristy, just off the Royal Chapel, where I was smitten with the exquisite beauty of Queen Isabela's superb, once-lost collection of Flemish masterpieces by Van der Weyden, Memling, and Bouts.

 The Alhambra, Granada.

 A XV Century Hans Memling, one of the great paintings in the Flemish collection of La Capilla Real in Granada.

 Tomb of Queen Isabel and King Fernando in La Capilla Real in Granada.

The Hotel Victoria disappeared some years ago, along with the naughty Victorian cartoons on the walls of its bar, but El Suizo hung on until the 1990s when it was demolished for a department store, an apartment building, or God knows what.  El Suizo was one of those big, bright places with lots of big mirrors, columns holding up the tall ceilings, and marble-topped, wrought-iron tables; it was like those clean, well-lighted places that Hemingway wrote about.

El Suizo had journeyman waiters with white jackets who would warm your brandy glasses for you on cold nights in February, when even the palm trees and olive groves up on the the fabled Alhambra hill would be dusted with new snow blown down from the Sierra Nevadas that tower majestically over the landscape south of town.  Nothing much could ever warm your feet in Andalucia in the winter in those days; the Andalucians just simply refused to acknowledge that cold was a factor in these Southern climes, so public places (and most private ones, too), lacked central heating.  But, you could heat your insides with a good shot of Spanish brandy, especially when it was warmed for you like it was by the waiters at the El Suizo.

 A white-jacketed waiter at Churrería-Chocolatería Los Artesanos 1902 in Madrid, bringing brandy snifters with hot water to warm them like it used to be done at the Gran Café in Granada.

On this occasion, a well-heeled friend from America was inviting us to the best, so we each chose a different top-of-the-line Jerez brandy to compare.  We ordered the smooth, well-balanced Carlos I (Primero) from Domecq, the paler, elegant Lepanto from Gonzalez-Byass, and the dark velvety Gran Duque de Alba.

Our waiter at the El Suizo came to our table bearing a tray with steaming demi-tasse cups of strong, black Spanish café, and three brandy snifters filled with piping hot water, each topped with a cloth napkin. 

 At Churrería-Chocolatería Los Artesanos 1902 in Madrid, brandy snifters with hot water to warm them like it used to be done at the Gran Café in Granada.
 
The waiter took the snifters one at a time, removed its napkin, poured off the hot water into metal pitcher, and carefully dried each glass.  Then he poured a generous ration of the brandy, re-covered each snifter with a napkin, and placed them in front of us to allow the warming aromas to build to a crescendo.

 Pouring Gran Duque de Alba Solera Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez in warmed snifters at Los Artesanos 1902 in Madrid, like it used to be done at the Gran Café in Granada.

I had chosen Gran Duque de Alba.  As I removed the napkin from the heated glass, the exotic, caramel-laced vapors rushed out with a promise of warmth that one sip of the lush brandy soon delivered.  And, although those latter-day saints, the perfectionists who continually dissect the fine art of drinking, will tell you that you are not supposed to do this to fine spirits, I will tell you that none but a Philistine could resist the ritual warming of the brandy at El Suizo on a winter's night in Granada.

The Brandy de Jerez denominación de origen was created to protect the sales domain of the big Sherry producers who make this fine stuff, and also to find a good excuse to promote the brandies, since the sale of spirits is vitally important to many Sherry bodegas.  The denominación específica (DE), or specific denomination, Brandy de Jerez refers as much to the method of elaboration as it does to region since most of the wine distilled for use in Jerez brandies comes from La Mancha and Extremadura, although, obviously, the brandy must be aged in Jerez to qualify for this new denominación.  And it should be remembered that Brandy de Jerez does not include any of the superb Charentais-method brandies of Catalunya, nor any of the other brandies of Spain.

In Spain practically every hotel, restaurant, and bar carries a broad selection of Spanish brandies ranging from inexpensive styles made by the continuous distillation process to expensive brands produced by long solera aging and/or the French Charentais (pot-still) process.  Although brandy is produced all across Spain, it is the big sherry producers of Jerez who account for the majority of Spanish brandies, and it is their brands that you are most likely to encounter both in Spain and abroad.  The unique qualities of Jerez brandies come from being aged in the solera system like sherry, which not only guarantees a continuity of quality and style, it allows the young brandy to assume the characteristics of the older, more mature, stocks.

The best Jerez brandies, ranked by many experts alongside French cognac and armagnac as among the top brandies in the world, are now called Solera Gran Reserva, after the method of production that requires a minimum of three years of barrel aging.  Most of these fine, smooth old Gran Reserva brandies, however, spend 10 to 15 years in a solera that originally may have been established up to a hundred years ago.  They are sweeter, smoother, softer, and not as fiery as cognac or armagnac.

Several top brands of Solera Gran Reserva Brandies de Jerez are available in the United States.  Most of these fine Solera Gran Reserva brandies are put up in attractive stoppered glass decanters or unusually shaped bottles packed in red felt boxes, satin-lined boxes, and even cork boxes that make distinctive, prestigious gifts for the holidays.  Besides the luxury brandies, Gran Duque de Alba, Lepanto, and Domecq's Carlos I, that we drank at El Suizo, there are there are several other stellar brands to consider: the superb Sánchez Romate Hermanos Cardenal Mendoza, an exceptional brandy in a cork box; Domecq's top-of-the-line Carlos I Imperial, in a crystal decanter; Osborne's Conde de Osborne in an odd-shaped bottle originally designed by Salvador Dali; and Garvey's Renacimiento (Renaissance), a very fine, smooth old brandy from the bodega that makes San Patricio fino sherry.

- - The End - -

*Postcript:   My experiences with this classic Brandy warming technique was in the early 1970s.  I would see it repeated on a few other occasions, usually in Sevilla and usually when I specifically requested it, but I had none seen this done for decades until I took Chefs Ryan McIlwraith and Joel Ehrlich (Bellota and Barcina, San Francisco) on an exploratory gastronomic and wine trip around Spain in 2014 prior to the opening of Bellota.  One of my old haunts in Madrid, the classic Chocolatería San Ginés had changed hands and no longer served good Brandies de Jerez, with which I used to spike the chocolate that I dipped my churros in.  With a little research, I discovered Churrería-Chocolatería Los Artesanos 1902, which is just a couple of blocks from  Chocolatería San Ginés, is less mobbed and has a full bar, plus the chocolate and churros are just as good and the Brandy service is terrific.


_________________________________________________________________

 Gastronomy Blogs
 About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on WPWL 103.7 FM Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York.



Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

9/24/2018

Gael Greene in The Bite on Ibiza Tapas Danbury by Ignacio Blanco


* * * * *

Gael Greene in The Bite on Ibiza Tapas Danbury by Ignacio Blanco 

"Gerry Dawes, passionate lover of all things Spanish, insisted I come to Ibiza Tapas Danbury for dinner.

September 24, 2018 | BITE: My Journal

Come From Away: Ibiza Tapas
 
Feroe Islland salmon with maple syrup and aged sherry vinegar is served on crisp rice soccarat.

          
Alas, I don’t feel I have a choice. It’s not like I had big plans for Saturday night when my one-time tapas buddy,  photographer and Spanish grapenut Gerry Dawes, called to say I needed to explore Ibiza Tapas Wine Bar. Dawes, mono-manically crazed champion of everything Spanish, had made Manhattan tapas rounds with me in 2008 (Click here to read Manhattan Tapas Crawl). He’s bold and willing. He and his wife Kay would drive down from Patterson, NY to pick me up.


“That’s crazy,” I say. “If you’re coming to New York, let’s have dinner here.”

The wines list offers 14 whites from Chile, Spain, Italy, California amd Uruguay, plus two dozen from Spain. 

           
On reconsideration of geographic challenges, it seems the owner of Ibiza will send a car and driver. If tapas coercion were a little bit sexier, I would expose this plot on #MeToo. I certainly feel slightly pressured, but I am free after all, and the traffic going north won’t be like Friday night. Now it sounds like an adventure and I agree to come.

The dining room is separated from the bar by colorful glass panels.


At last. We pull into the designated lookalike little mall. I’m here.  A blur: Ibiza stretches long and wide with a 14-seat banquette running the length of the room, a bright painting at one end and tiny fiber-optic lights embedded in the bar-counter.

 
Gerry Dawes, passionate lover of all things Spanish, insisted I came to Danbury for dinner. 

           
Dawes and his wife Kay sit sipping a sparkling rosé with Robert Brown, author of Restaurant Politics.com and his mate, Susan Reinhold of the graphics gallery Reinhold Brown. I’m offered my choice of seats and Gerry pours some pink bubbles for me.

 
Legend says one in nine shishito peppers will be torrid. My two are just a bit hot.


A waiter delivers a platter of fried shishito peppers and Dawes introduces Ibiza’s owner Ignacio Blanco – he’s not a cook, Dawes says, but he’s the creator here. Blanco protests. Salt-cured tuna scallops with tomatoes, red onion, ginger and scallion are set before us.




"This is not authentic Spanish food,” Dawes announces, spearing some tuna for his wife and some for me. “It’s all invented by Ignacio.”

Salt-cured tuna is served with tomatoes, red onions, ginger, scallions and micro greens.

         
“But of course we have Gil Trejo,” Ignacio protests. “He is the chef.”



           
“But you dream up this stuff,” Dawes persists.

 
Salt-baked sea bass with raisins, pinenuts and paprika oil sits atop potatoes, carrots and mushroom confit.

           
The tuna plates are removed to make way for a stunning platter of salmon rectangles smeared with Taconic Distillery sweet maple syrup sauce, a scattering of baby greens and orchid flower petals on top. It looks like a festival against the black painted wood table. Not till I taste it do I realize the fish is sitting on a nutty crisp. It’s socarrat, the baked-on crust that sticks to a paella pan.

 
Large shrimp served in a bowl with a dressing of garlic, parsley, lemon, tomato and guindilia pepper. 

           
Now it’s time for shrimp. The first little bowl is garlicky with parsley, lemon, tomato and guindilla pepper. Large grilled shrimp in barbecue-scented seaweed escabeche are mounded in a second dish. 

 
Grilled Stonington scallops with pickled onions and drops of alioli nest on black socarrat rice.

          
Smoked Galician octopus with smoked Spanish paprika, cucumber and mango follows. The tender chunks are sitting on smoky bomba rice. Scatterings of coarse salt bite the tongue. Black rice socarrat appears again, this time under grilled scallops decked out with radish, pickled onions, and little sprigs of green. There are small islands of aioli on the plate and more sauce in a bowl alongside.


Romesco escabeche flavors the duck confit cannelloni.

          
All these tapas are filing. I find myself staring at the salt baked bass strewn with raisins, pine nuts on a hill of potato, carrot and mushrooms confit and groaning.  I take a small taste. 

“Just one more dish,” Gerry assures us.  “Or maybe two,” he corrects himself.

I plan to take just a small taste of the foie gras hazelnut nougat layered with salt-cured tuna.

A plate of fresh fruit cut in chunks signals that dinner is reaching a dessert climax.

           
Each individual cannelloni of duck confit with foie gras and veal in Romesco escabeche seems large, but it’s so good. I manage a few bites. I plan to take just a small sample of the foie gras hazelnut nougat, colorfully layered with salt cured tuna, and caramelized mango on toast on rich streaks of Pedro Ximenez reduction. It turns out to be salty and lush and sweet.  I manage to put away a substantial little pileup.

Desserts accumulate including donuts to dip in chocolate. The evening’s only flaw, curdled chocolate.

There is cheesecake among the desserts. I can resist that too.

         
I consider abstaining from dessert, but then it appears. Gerry spoons up some crema catalana (the Spanish inspiration for crème brûlée).  I take a spoonful of the crackle and custard of his dish, and then another. 
I have bypassed most of the desserts to save myself for two spoonsful of crema catalana.

           
The long drive home always seems faster.  Especially when you’ve been basted and amused and stuffed brilliantly in good company and you manage to fall asleep.



          
Ibiza Tapas Danbury, 93 Mill Plain Road. Danbury, CT. 203 616 5731.Tuesday to Thursday 5 pm to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 5 pm to 11 pm. Sunday 5 pm to 9 pm. Closed Monday.

 ___________________________________________________  

 Gastronomy Blogs
 About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on WPWL 103.7 FM Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York.

  Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

9/10/2018

Clemente Gómez, Maestro Cortador de Jamón Slicing the Superb Jamón Ibérico Pata Negra de Bellota de Pedroches (Córdoba), Producers of Some Amazingly Good Jamones


* * * * *

Maestro Cortador Clemente Gómez with a freshly cut slice of  
Jamón Ibérico Pata Negra de Bellota de Pedroches (Córdoba) at Madrid Fusión.

Slide show of Clemente Gómez cutting Jamón Ibérico Pata Negra de Bellota
de Pedroches (Córdoba) at Alimentaria 2010 in Barcelona in March.
* * * * *
Clemente Gómez, Maestro Cortador de Jamones, when not slicing Pedroches hams at gastronomy fairs, can be reached at his 'day' job in Andalucía as owner of:

Supermercado Atlántida
1ª pista de La Barrosa
Chiclana (Cádiz)
956 494 164 - 615 326 637
clementegomezcortador@hotmail.es

* * * * *

About Gerry Dawes

Writing, Photography, & Specialized Tours of Spain & Tour Advice

For custom-designed tours of Spain, organized and lead by Gerry Dawes, and custom-planned Spanish wine, food, cultural and photographic itineraries, send inquiries to gerrydawes@aol.com.  

I have planned and led tours for such culinary stars as Chefs Thomas Keller, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Michael Lomonaco and Michael Chiarello and such personalities as baseball great Keith Hernandez and led on shorter excursions and have given detailed travel advice to many other well-known chefs and personalities such as Drew Nieporent, Norman Van Aken, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg, Christopher Gross, Rick Moonen, James Campbell Caruso and many others.
 * * * * *
“The American writer and town crier for all good Spanish things Gerry Dawes . . . the American connoisseur of all things Spanish . . .” Michael Paterniti, The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and The World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

* * * * *

"Gerry Dawes, I can't thank you enough for opening up Spain to me." -- Michael Chiarello on Twitter. 

"Chiarello embarked on a crash course by traveling to Spain for 10 days in 2011 with Food Arts
contributing authority Gerry Dawes, a noted expert on Spanish food and wine.  Coqueta's (Chiarello's new restaurant at Pier Five, San Francisco) chef de cuisine, Ryan McIlwraith, later joined Dawes for his own two week excursion, as well. Sampling both old and new, they visited wineries and marketplaces, as well as some of Spain's most revered dining establishments, including the Michelin three-star Arzak, Etxebarri, the temple to live fire-grilling; Tickets, the playful Barcelona tapas bar run by Ferran Adrià and his brother, Albert; and ABaC, where Catalan cooking goes avant-garde." - - Carolyn Jung, Food Arts, May 2013.


* * * * *

"In his nearly thirty years of wandering the back roads of Spain," Gerry Dawes has built up a much stronger bank of experiences than I had to rely on when I started writing Iberia...His adventures far exceeded mine in both width and depth..." -- James A. Michener, author of Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections

 * * * * *
Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés. ". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
* * * * *

Trailer-pilot for a reality television series 
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

9/09/2018

Jewish Spain: The Incredible Remnants of Jewish Culture in the Old Jewish Quarters of Spain: Segovia, Toledo, Cordoba, Sevilla, Ribadavia (Galicia), Tudela (Navarra), Girona (Catalunya), Hervás (Cáceres)


* * * * * 
  Bronze symbol in the shape of a map of Spain with Hebrew lettering embedded in a street of the old Jewish quarter of Ribadavia (Ourense), Galicia. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012; gerrydawes@aol.com 


 
Santa María la Blanca, now a Christian church, is the loveliest synagogue that I have seen in Spain.  Moorish Mudejar architecture under Jewish influence. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2008. gerrydawes@aol.com


Also named Santa María la Blanca, this church in Sevilla, began as a synagogue in 13th century and was later converted in a Christian church.
 

A Slide Show
All Photographs by Gerry Dawes©2016 
Absolutely no photographs may be used without prior written permission and credit.
__________________________________________________________________________________  
About Gerry Dawes

Dawes is Presidente-Jefe & Chairman of the Board, The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections

Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.  

 In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009.
 
Related Posts with Thumbnails