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12/31/2016

Experience Gerry Dawes's Spain: Customized, Specialized Food, Wine Cultural & Photographic Tours of Spain & Tour Advice


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Drinking Godello at Estado Puro in Madrid.
Photo by Harold Heckle, Associated Press, Madrid.

In October 2013, I led 28 people, including baseball great Keith Hernandez, on The  Commonwealth Club of California Taste of Spain Tour with Gerry Dawes 2013 to Madrid, Córdoba, Sevilla, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Ronda, Granada, Almagro, Toledo and Chinchón, highlighting gastronomy, culture and wine. 

In January 2014, I organized and led the Club Chefs of Connecticut and New York on a culinary educational tour through Barcelona, San Sadurni d'Anoia (Cava country), Valencia, Alicante and Madrid. 

The following week, I organized and led John Sconzo (Docsconz:  Musings on Food and Life http://docsconz.com/2014/02/a-master-cortador-makes-his-mark-in-avila/) and his son L. J. on a week-long trip through Segovia, Ávila, Segovia, Cáceres, Mérida, Jabugo, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the Sierra Morenas north of Córdoba, Chinchón and Toledo.  With more posts to come on his blog, John Sconzo wrote this in one of his first entries about the trip:

"Nights like this are ones that just need to be appreciated for the something special that they are. It is no exaggeration that Gerry Dawes, my friend, traveling companion and guide “knows and appreciates Spain more than all but a few Spaniards” let alone people from other countries. That statement came from our host for the evening, Benjamin Rodriguez Rodriguez, the proprietor of the humble appearing, but fully sensational El Rincon de Jabugo situated in the equally humble, but comfortable Gran Hostal San Segundo located just outside the historic walls of Avila near the  San Vicente gate."

“I have said this before and I’ll say it again, nobody knows Spain like Gerry Dawes. I sincerely doubt that there is another American, and very few, if any, Spaniards can approach, let alone surpass his knowledge of the people, food, wine and culture of Spain. He has been frequenting the depths, breadths and heights of the country as a second home for nearly fifty years, leaving no stone, and especially no wine, unturned during that time.” -- Wining and Dining Around Spain with Gerry Dawes: Part 1 (of a 6-part series) by John Sconzo, Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life, March 10, 2015 (From a second trip Sconzo took with me, this one this year.)

“Gerry Dawes is a true gastronomad, walking the culinary and cultural by-ways of the Spanish soul and then sharing every bit of his passion and knowledge (both considerable) with the reader.  I once overheard someone say that James Michener said Gerry was the only one qualified to write the sequel to Iberia.  I have learned so much from his experiences -- he is the "go-to" guy for anything authentically Spanish and is unparalleled in his experience with Spanish wines.  Gerry has introduced the world to Spanish chefs (including Ferran Adria), Spanish food products, wines, history (I especially love his respect for Spain's Jewish culture -- and he's not Jewish), and travel.”  - - Rozanne Gold, Four-time James Beard Foundation award-winning chef and author.  


video
  Video on gastronomy and wine travel in Spain with Gerry Dawes.
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For customized trips, contact Gerry Dawes (based in New York) with desired dates, areas of interest in Spain (gastronomy, wine, art, history, culture, photography, etc.), specific sights you might like to see, number of possible travelers, and an estimated budget for your group. 


Phone: 914-414-6982 
Teléfono movíl (during stays in España): (011 34) 670 67 39 34


5/12/2016

Spanish Artisan Cheeses & Spanish Wines That Complement Them


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 All Photographs copyright by Gerry Dawes 2015.


Spanish Artisan Cheeses & Spanish Wines That Complement Them
Text & Photographs by Gerry Dawes©2015


Spain has become the culinary star of Europe in the past decade, the destination of choice for an ever growing army of chefs, restaurateurs and foodies, who have become increasingly enamored of the country’s top modern restaurants and in the process have the discovered the greatness of Spanish regional cuisine and wines. Less well known, but growing exponentially in popularity are Spanish artisanal cheeses, of which there is a broad array ranging from the spectacular vegetable rennet tortas del Casar and de la Serena (sheeps’ milk) from Extremadura to sublime Monte Enebro (goat’s milk), made by a single producer in Ávila, to Valdeón, one of the world’s great blue cheeses (cow’s and mixed milk). 

Torta de la Serena

Also growing at a rapid pace in America are the sales of Spanish wines that make the best pairings with these cheeses. However, even though it is easier than ever to find great Spanish cheeses in the United States, making the perfect Spanish wine and cheese pairings is not as simple as it might seem since Spain’s best wine regions and great cheese regions do not often coincide. (Following the descriptions of each cheese in this article are suggested wine pairings.)

Experts such as maître fromager Max McCalman, author of The Cheese Table and Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best (Clarkson Potter; August, 2005) and Steve Jenkins, author of The Cheese Primer and cheese maven at New York’s Fairway Market, consider Spanish artisanal quesos some of the finest in the world. In The Cheese Table, McCalman explains that Spanish cheeses display "all the markers of superior cheesemaking: rustic local production; cheeses named after their places of origin; and ancient tradtions upheld by many succeeding generations of farmers, herders, and cheesemakers."



Max McCalman with the Cheese Cart during his days at Picholine, NYC

Some thirty or more Spanish quesos are being imported into the United States. Excellent examples of Spanish artisan cheeses made from vaca (cows’), oveja (sheeps’) and/or cabra (goats’) milk can be found at the cheese counters of Whole Foods stores and at such shops at Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco’s Ferry Market Building, Central Market in Austin, Texas, Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Murray’s Cheese Shop in New York City. 

Picholine restaurant in New York City began serving a wide variety of cheeses several years ago from a cheese cart. The program, run by Max McCalman, who is a fan of Spanish cheeses, was so successful that it spawned Artisanal Restaurant and Fromagerie, which features a retail cheese shop, and Artisanal Cheese Center in New York, which has four different micro-climate cheese lockers for continuing the affinage (elevation or proper aging) of cheeses under ideal conditions. Artisanal also offers master classes and cheese classes with wine pairings, including classes on Spanish artisanal cheeses and wines, which have been well attended, attesting to the growing interest in Spanish food and wine in the United States.

Over the past couple of years I have conducted some dozen classes on Spanish cheeses and the wines that go with them in New York and at conference seminars. Following conventional wisdom, pairing Spanish wines and cheeses seems simple, so in my first few classes I tried to make the wine and cheese pairings as regional as possible. However, over the course selecting the wines that might best go with each cheese, I found that few great artisanal cheeses are made in the greatest wine regions of Spain and, conversely, few great cheese areas also produce great wines.

In La Rioja, Spain’s greatest red wine region, only Cameros, a mountainous area in southern Rioja outside the winegrowing areas makes a cheese of note and it does not rank among Spain’s best. In neighboring Navarra, which produces excellent garnacha-based rosados (rosés), some surprising chardonnay-based whites, well-balanced red wines made from tempranillo, garnacha, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and some stellar moscatel-based dessert wines, there is a good cheese, Roncal, but it comes from high mountain villages in the Pyrenees, where no wine is made.

Around the wine regions of Toro, Castilla-La Mancha and Jumilla, there are Zamorano (sheeps’ milk), La Mancha (sheeps’ milk) and Murcia al Vino (goats’ milk cheese whose rind is washed in monastrell-based Jumilla wine), but few really exceptional wines come from those regions and there are no other cheeses of note made there either. On the other side of the coin, Asturias (Spain’s "Parque Nacional de Quesos" [National Cheese Park]), whose villages in the Picos de Europa mountains and along the green, rainy Atlantic coastlands make some fifty cheeses, including some of the best in Spain, there is very little wine made; the drink is cider.



Pouring cider in Asturias, Spain’s "Parque Nacional de Quesos" (National Park of Cheeses)


Given the fact that there are relatively few natural regional wine and cheese affinities, I began experimenting with other wine factors such as age, acidity, alcohol levels, dryness, sweetness, etc. in choosing the wines to go with each cheese. 

First off, the prevailing practice in the past that the best red wines available should be paired with cheeses turns out to be the last thing that should be done with great red wines, since the complexity for which those wines are usually appreciated loses out to the often forceful flavors of many great cheeses. In fact, most people who regularly pair wines with cheeses now realize that many white wines are a better choice with cheeses due to their acidity, fruit and freshness–the palate-refreshing qualities that make them perfect with cheese: the heavenly classic French combination of Sancerre and crottin de Chavignol goat cheese comes to mind. 

The assertive flavors of many Spanish cheeses, especially those made from goats’ and sheeps’ milk, need the lively qualities of white wines; rosados, of which Spain has some particularly good examples (especially from Navarra, La Rioja and Cigales); and young, fresh, red wines without predominant oak to refresh the palate between bites of cheese.

White Wines from Galicia--Ribeiro, Rias Baixas, Monterrei and Godellos Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras--are far better with cheeses than most red wines. 

I also found in teaching classes at Artisanal Cheese Center in New York pairing Spanish wines with Spanish cheeses that such fortified wines as sherry, Montilla and Málaga often made excellent marriages to such geographically far-flung cheeses as the Mediterranean Mahón cows’ milk cheeses from Minorca to the assertive, wonderful Monte Enebro (goats’ milk) from Avila’s high-altitude continental climate to the stunningly good Valdeón (cows’ milk) blue from the Atlantic climate of the mountainous Picos de Europa in León province. 

Spain’s emerging dessert wine category, which includes many fortified wines, late harvest styles (moscatels from Navarra and Alicante, malvasias from the Canary Islands), the unique sweet moscatel mistelas (fresh grape must whose fermentation is cut short by the addition of alcohol from Valencia and Alicante, and vinos rancios (wines made purposely in oxidative environment) such as the rare Alicante Fondillon proved to be an exceptional match with a wide variety of cheeses.





                  Aliaga Vendimia Tardia Moscatel Petit Grain is great match for cheeses 
(and artichokes and asparagus). 

The cheeses described below are available in the United States and can be purchased in stores or ordered through Internet sites (see box). The wines they are paired with proved successful in a number of tastings over a period of two years.


Quesos de Cabra (Goats’ Milk Cheeses)



Monte Enebro, Ávila province, Castilla y León


A log-shaped, new-artisan cheese made in the Valle del Tiétar* in the mountainous province of Avila, west of Madrid. by only one producer, Rafael Baez with his daughter, Paloma, from pasteurized high-quality goat's milk obtained from goats that graze in the Sierra de Gredos. Sprinkled with penicillin mold spores and then aged in humid conditions, Monte Enebro develops an benign mold that resembles the ash coating of some other goat cheeses. Has a goaty, forest mushroom and raw nut aroma that somewhat resembles that of a blue cheese. A smooth, almost spreadable pasta that is creamy, sharp, acidic, and salty at once with a slightly picante finish. A distinctive and delicious cheese of great character. (*Not to be confused with queso del Tiétar, another goats’ cheese from this area that is made in a distinctly different style.)


The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections Wine Matches: Albariños such as Cabaleiro do Val, Rozas, Avó Roxo, Lagar de Broullón, OForrollo and Lagar de Candes; Txacolis de Getaria such as Agerre; Treixadura-based Ribeiro whites, Manuel Formigo Finca Teira and Teira X;  José Pariente Rueda Verdejo, At Roca Brut Reserva and Brut Rosat Clássic Penedés Metodo Traditional sparkling wines;  Viña Catajarros Rosado from Cigales, young, very lightly oaked Victor Balbás Ribera del Duero vino tinto; Juan Piñero Maruja Manzanilla de Sanlúcar Sherry.

Ibores, Cáceres province (near Trujillo), Extremadura

Designated as a "Denominación de Origen Protegida" (D.O.P.), a protected designation similar to that of a wine region, Ibores cheese is made from the raw (unpasteurized) milk of registered serrana, verata and retinta goats from the environs of historic Trujillo, hometown of the conquistadores, Francisco Pizarro (conqueror of Peru) and Francisco Orellana (discover of the Amazon). When young (semi-curado) it can be semi-soft, creamy, mild, and delicate with a long nutty finish reminiscent of amontillado sherry. Aged (curado) Ibores con be semi-hard, intensely flavored, lightly acidic, salty and even picante with a long, nutty finish. Rinds can be natural, moldy, oiled or rubbed with pimentón de la Vera (paprika from La Vera, is one of the best paprika-producing regions in the world.) Ibores has medium intensity aromas of goat’s milk, aromatic wild plants, and spices (in the pimenton-rubbed types).


Ibores cheese is made in and around the historic hill-top town of Trujillo, hometown of Pizarro (Peru) & Orellana (explorer of the Amazon River).

Wine matches: Many of the same Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections Wines, Albariños such as Cabaleiro do Val, Rozas, Avó Roxo, Lagar de Broullón, OForrollo and Lagar de Candes; Txacolis de Getaria such as Agerre; Treixadura-based Ribeiro whites, Manuel Formigo Finca Teira and Teira X;  José Pariente Rueda Verdejo, At Roca Brut Reserva and Brut Rosat Clássic Penedés Metodo Traditional sparkling wines;  Viña Catajarros Rosado from Cigales, young, very lightly oaked Victor Balbás Ribera del Duero vino tinto; Juan Piñero Maruja Manzanilla de Sanlúcar Sherry, as well as brut nature cava, rosados and if you are up for such wines, stout Extremaduran country wines from Tierra de Barros, young Toro wines, some bigger alta expresion wines from Toro and Ribera del Duero.


Murcia al Vino, Murcia

The region of Murcia in southeastern Spain is the birthplace of the Murciano-Granadina cabra, the best milk producing goat breed in the country. Labeled "Denominación de Origen Protegida" (D.O.P.), a protected designation similar to that of a wine region, Murcia al Vino is a cylindrical 2-4 pound cheese with a smooth reddish purple rind that comes from bathing the rind in red wine, often monastrell-based wine from the Jumilla region in Murcia province. Similar to a Manchego cheese (sheeps’ milk) in size and texture, like most goats’ cheeses it has a white paste, a mild aroma with pleasant acidity, saltiness and firm texture.


Wine Matches: Jumilla monastrell-based red wines, Alicante and Valencia syrah-based and bobal-based wines and dry-fermented white moscatels from Alicante and sweet moscatels such as Aliaga Vendimia Tardía (Late Harvest) Moscatel Dulce from Navarra.
 

Garrotxa, Cataluña


A Catalan goat's milk cheese only recently revived from extinction by weekend cheesmakers in Garrotxa (Gerona province), it is now made in many other areas of Cataluña, which makes it a style of cheese, not one from a strictly defined geographical area. Garrotxa’s tomme shape and velvety blue-gray mold make it distinctive. The semi-soft to hard inside is mild and elegant, with a hint of nuttiness and a clean, smooth finish.


Wine Matches: At Roca Brut Reserva and Brut Rosat Clássic Penedés Metodo Traditional sparkling wines; cava (Spanish champagne), Codorníu’s Pinot Noir Rosado Brut NV cava, Alella Pansa Blanca white, amontillado sherry and young Catalan cabernet sauvignons and merlots.

Quesos de Oveja (Sheeps’ Milk Cheeses)



Manchego, (Castilla-La Mancha)


Manchego is a firm-to-hard textured sheep's milk cheese from La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote, is the most famous cheese in Spain. The classic taste of manchego is tangy, sharp and richly flavored. Manchego pairs perfectly with membrillo (quince paste) or a variety of young red wines and sherries. Much of Manchego is industrially produced, so choose carefully, specifying artisan Manchego cheeses of which there are a number of very good producers, especially from Cuenca province.





            

Wine Matches: Finos from Jerez such as Tío Pepe, Juan Piñero VORS dry Amontillado or dry Oloroso sherries and Montillas, José Pariente Rueda Verdejo or Sauvignon Blanc white wines, young red wines from La Mancha and big red wines (but not complex, long aging styles) from all around Spain. With membrillo, dessert wines such as the moscatels from Alicante, Valencia and Navarra (Aliaga) and the sweet wines of Malaga complement this ubiquitious cheese.


Zamorano, Zamora province, Castilla y León


Zamorano is a firm, flaky texture, assertive, Parmesan-esque, Manchego-like cheese made from the milk of sheep that were until recently raised by semi-nomadic shepherds. All the milk come from registered flocks. The Zamorano and chorizo fondue at Artisanal restaurant has been a hit since the opening. A good Zamorano as the same regal bearing as Beaufort or Parmesan. Pressed, uncooked, and aged a minimum of 100 days. Comes from the province of Zamora, where Toro wines are made and just west of Rueda and Cigales in Valladolid province.



Wine Matches: José Pariente Rueda Verdejo, Viña Catajarros Cigales rosado, the powerful red wines of Toro. Some of the better regional wine-and-cheese matchups.

Roncal, Navarra


Roncal's nutty and piquant flavors come from the rich sheeps' milk of the legendary lacha and Aragonesa breed of oveja (sheep) that, depending on the season, graze in the high Pyrenees (summer) or the dessert-like Bardena area (winter) of Navarra, the province that was the setting for Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.  Roncal, made in one of seven villages in the Valle de Roncal, has a firm, chewy texture. Roncal is similar to a the Pecorino Toscano and also to Manchego, but has its own unique, mouth-watering character. It is a versatile cheese that pairs well with many types of wine.



               


Wine Matches: Aliaga Navarra Rosados, Aliaga DosCarlos Sauvignon Blanc, Aliaga´s young red Tempranillo-based  wines and Aliaga late harvest moscatel, all from Navarra. 

Aliaga Lágrima de Garnacha Rosado from old vines Garnacha grapes, one of the greatest rosados in Spain.

Idiazábal, Basque Country & Navarra

From a village south of San Sebastián, Idiazábal is the Basque Country’s most ubiquitous cheese. It is so revered in the Basque Country that few other cheeses are made and all the great Michelin-starred chefs of region take off one day a year to judge the best of them in the market village of Ordizia. Once formed, Idiazábal is often lightly smoked over apple wood for 10 days, which gives it a smokiness than enhances its rich, nutty flavor. The texture of Idiazábal is similar to zamorano, roncal and manchego.




Wine Matches: Agerre and Agree San Martín Txacoli de Getaria, Aliaga Lágrima de Garnacha and Lágrima de Luna (night-harvested) rosados from Navarra, young red cosechero wines from Bodegas Lecea in southern Rioja Alta, Sherries from Juan Piñero.

Torta del Casar, Cáceres province, Extremadura

A raw sheep's milk cheese from villages near the provincial capital of Cáceres in the Extremadura region of west central Spain. Rustic, delicious, creamy, buttery, hints of dill and thyme, with an assertive, but pleasant finish. Very rich, fairly intense and flavorful cheese that is delightfully creamy and spreadable in the springtime versions. Very similar in style the French vacherin Mont d'Or, except that it not made with cows' milk, Torta del Casar (so named because it is torta-shaped like a Spanish potato omelette, or tortilla) has a somewhat smoky flavor, although it is not smoked cheese. Torta del Casar can be semi-soft and sliced or ripened to the point at which a large round lid-like hole can be cut in the top, so that delicious cheese can be scooped out with a spoon or piece of crusty country bread. Made in areas not far from the Portuguese border, Torta del Casar and its cousin cheese, Torta de la Serena, use only wild milk thistle rennet to coagulate the milk, which is an ancient Moorish and Jewish dietary custom. Max McCalman calls it "a mind-bogglingly delicious cheese, certainly one of Spain's greatest alimentary artifacts and among the best cheeses in the world."




Wine Matches: (See Torta de la Serena, below)

Torta de la Serena, Badajoz province, Extremadura

With much the same characteristics as Torta del Cásar, this exceptional, expensive cheese is often preferred over its better known cousin. In springtime and early summer versions, de la Serena is creamy, buttery, and spreadable like Brie, but with infinitely more intriguing, haunting, rustic flavors. One of the best cheeses in the world.




Wine Matches: For both these two stellar cheeses, Torta de la Serena and Torta del Casar, good palate-refreshing white from Galicia such as Albariño, DBerna or Hacienda Ucediños Godello whites from Valdeorras or from Triay in Monterrei.  Also Ribeiro white wines are good counterpoints and so are rosados from Cigales, La Rioja and Navarra. But these cheeses are also complemented by chilled fino and manzanilla sherries and cellar-temperature dry amontillados and olorosos, as well as a Salvador Poveda Fondillón from Alicante.


Queso de Vaca (Cows’ & Mixed Milk Cheeses)




Tetilla, Galicia

The word "tetilla" (meaning nipple) comes from the traditional shape of this cheese, which is shaped like a woman’s breast with a small nipple on the top. The most characteristic cheese of Galicia (but also produced in the Asturias), Tetilla is easily recognized by its shape and smooth, yellow-ivory colored rind. The paste is soft, thick and smooth with few air pockets. The flavor is clean and buttery and the texture is smooth and very creamy.




Wine Matches: This lovely cheeses marries well with just about any wine you might want to put with it, maybe the perfect foil among Spanish cheeses. If you like cheese with your best red wines, this is the one to try them with: great Rioja gran reservas, Vega Sicilia and the best wines of the Ribera del Duero, Torres Gran Coronas Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. Also excellent with Galician white wines--Albariño, Ribiero, Godello from Valdeorras–and the mencia-based reds of Ribiera Sacra and Bierzo.


Mahón (Minorca, Islas Baleares)


Mahón is the capital and port of Minorca, the most northerly of the Mediterranean Balearic Islands. This rocky island has a mild climate with plenty of rainfall. The high humidity from sea breezes, which help irrigate the pastures, aids in giving the milk good acidity and imparts hints of saltiness to the cheese. Mahón, the origin of the word mayonnaise, one of the world’s great sauces, also gives its name to cow's milk cheeses produced on the island. Originally made from the milk of cow’s exported from England during the British occupation of Minorca, there are many varieties of this cheese, ranging from semi-cured to well aged (Mahón cheeses were made to withstand long-term storage and transportation by sea). The rind is either rubbed with oil or paprika and the cheese pasta is compact and crumbly. Aged versions can be reminiscent of cheddar. Mahón is Spain’s second most popular cheese after Manchego.

                

Wine Matches: Big new-wave Mallorca red wines, Priorat and Montsant wines from the Catalan mainland. Also good with a wide variety of sherries, other fortified wines and dessert wines.


Afuega'l Pitu, Asturias (Spain's National Park of Cheeses)


Called 'fire in the throat' in Asturian dialect, this creamy, but sometimes granular cheese, is not necessarily fiery, but it is a gamey, rustic cheese, whose piquancy comes from Spanish pimentón, the best paprika in the world. Afuega'l Pitu is not yet well-known, but it has a small, but loyal following among cheese aficionados, who can't have enough of it. The texture is similar to that of a young goats' milk cheese.



Wine matches: Because of its lightly picante finish, this cheese needs refreshing white wines such as Txacoli, Ribeiro, Albariño, Alella, cava or rosados from La Rioja and Navarra. A young unoaked Bierzo red works well, too. Asturian or Basque cider is also a great match.

Beyos (cows', goats’, mixed milk), Asturias


This dense, compact, "peasant" style artisan cows' milk cheese from the Picos de Europa mountains has a unique flinty texture and flavor. The cows here graze on grass that grows in the chalk-laced soil of the Sella river valley. The texture of this cheese, which breaks away in shards, is reminiscent of white chocolate. The firmness at first bite melts into a buttery, creamy, chalky paste with a long balanced tangy finish. It is a cider or wine cheese par excellence. Made by just a few producers, versions of Beyos are also made with goats’ milk and mixed cows’ and goats’ milk.



Wine Matches: Spanish cider, Txacoli from Vizcaya, Galician white wines, young mencia-based red wines from Bierzo, Rioja and Ribera del Duero Reservas with good acid.

Quesos Azules (Blue Cheeses), Asturias & León

(Wine matches are generally the same for these blue cheeses, see below for all three.)


Cabrales (Asturias)

Cabrales is a semi-soft blue cheese with a strong, spicy, pronounced flavor. Traditionally, it is made with a mixture of cows’, sheeps’ and goats’ milk, but now it is most often made with raw cows' milk. The three-milk version is a truly exceptional cheese, made smoother by the sheeps' milk component and more piquant by the goats' milk.




Gamonedo (Asturias)


Made from raw cows' milk with some with goats' or sheeps' mixed, Gamonedo is one of the few remaining naturally bluing blues, but its most memorable characteristic is the flavor that comes from being gently smoked over apple wood for 10 - 12 days. It has a creamy, but powerfully pungent flavor.

An Artisan Gamonedo producer

Valdeón (León)


From northeastern León province in the valley of Valdeón in the Picos de Europa mountains, this wonderful cheese is one of the great blues of Europe. Made principally with very fine cows' milk that is sometimes laced with a bit of sheeps' and/or goats' milk, Valdeón is a wonderfully smooth and creamy cheese that has all the character of a blue without its more aggressive traits.


Wine matches: These three cheeses offer the perfect opportunity to show off great sherries, including some of the sweet olorosos and creams, Montilla Pedro Ximénez, Navarra, Málaga and Alicante moscatels, Canary Islands malvasias, Fondillóns and late harvest garnachas from Cataluña. Young, fresh whites, cava and rosados also offer a good counterpoint to the richness and pungency of these cheeses.

Sherry, Montilla and Malvasia (from the Canary Islands).


Sources of Spanish Cheeses:

Artisanal Cheese Center, New York City (http://www.artisanalcheese.com)/)
Despaña Brands, Jackson Heights, NY (http://www.despanabrandfoods.com)/)
Di Bruno Bros., Philadelphia (http://www.dibruno.com)/)
Fairway Market, New York (http://www.fairwaymarket.com)/)
Forever Cheese, Whitestone, New York (http://www.forevercheese.com)/)
Murray’s Cheese, New York City (http://www.murrayscheese.com)/)
The Spanish Table, Seattle, Santa Fe, Berkeley, Marin County (http://www.spanishtable.com)/) La Latienda, Williamsburg, VA (http://www.latienda.com)/)
Whole Foods (More than 150 stores in the US & UK), (http://www.wholefoods.com)/)
Zingerman’s, Ann Arbor, Michigan (http://www.zingermans.com)/)

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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.

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“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

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"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.


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"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
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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. 


Pilot Trailer for a Proposed Television Reality Series
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All Rights Reserved, EO Agency, Copyright
Filmed in Valencia, Alicante, Denia, Monóver, Xinorlet, Parcent, L'Albufera, El Palmar, Alfafar


Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com

4/24/2016

Feria de Sevilla 2016 La Casetita de Los Nietos de Don Manuel - Photos de Familia



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Finally, I got back to Sevilla for Feria this year, and got to spend a lot of time with my Spanish family, the Manolo Esquivias & Mari Carmen Onrubia clans, who have one of the most wonderful casetas in la Feria de Sevilla, La Castita de Don Manuel. 

Mari Carmen Onrubia de Esquivias dressed in another one of her fabulous flamenco dresses with a superb hand-embroidered vintage mantón de Manila shawl (made in Spain, but named for Manila), held in place by a lovely butterfuly pin, Caseta Los Nietos de Don Manuel, Feria de Sevilla, April 14, 2016. Mari Carmen has a different dress and differnet shawl for every day of the Feria. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2016, Canon M3 

My Sevillano brother and my oldest friend in Spain, Manuel Esquivias Fedriani, outside his Casetita de los Nietos de Don Manuel with his great friend, the legendary Casa Anselma (Triana) flamenco club owner, Anselma Jimenez, La Real de la Feria de Abril de Sevilla, April 14, 2016. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2016, Canon M3 




Slide Show
Feria de Sevilla 2016 La Casetita de Los Nietos de Don Manuel Photos de Familia
Photos by Gerry Dawes©2016

(Many more photos to come.  This is just from one afternoon.)

________________________________________________________________________________________________  
About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes is President, Founder & Jefe of 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. 


". . .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.
 
video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

4/18/2016

A Tafona da Herminia, A Pastry Shop in the Barrio Judio (Old Jewish Quarter) of Ribadavia, Ourense, Galicia, Specialinzing in Shephardic Recipe-Inspired Pastries


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Herminia Rodríguez and her selection of pastries that she has been making since 1990 from Sephardic recipes from the 15th & 16th centuries, A Tafona da Herminia, Barrio Judio, Ribadavia (Ourense province), Galicia, Spain.  Photo by Gerry Dawes, Canon M3.
  
 
A Tafona da Herminia, Barrio Judio, Ribadavia (Ourense province), Galicia, Spain.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes, Canon M3.

 Types of Jewish pastries A Tafona da Herminia, Barrio Judio, Ribadavia (Ourense province), Galicia, Spain. 

_______________________________________________________________
About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes is President, Founder & Jefe of 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.
 
video
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

3/10/2016

Looking Back: My Last Lunch at elBulli: A Memorable Day on Cala Montjoi, Dec. 4, 2010



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Because of minor road mishap on the road from Madrid via Zaragoza to Girona province--19 liters of gasoline pumped into Esmeralda Capel's Mercedes station-wagon, a diesel fuel car, which cost us a two-hour delay to get the car pumped out and re-filled--Kay, Esmeralda, her husband  Juan Suárez and I arrived in Port Lligat too late to catch the evening light.  Port Lligat is just a couple of kilometers north of the picturesque fishing village-artists' and expatriates' hangout of Cadaqués and was the home of Salvador Dalí, who, over several decades pieced together a string of fisherman's cottages to build one of the most evocative, charming, idyllic and inspiring homes on the planet.   

Dalí's Port Lligat, where he spent some of the happiest and most productive years of his life, is still relatively unspoiled.  I had stayed the Hotel Port Lligat back in the 1970s when it was a very basic hotel with minimal comfort and again in 1998s before my second trip to El Bulli when I found the place to be upgraded only slightly over my first visit, but the setting, right next door to Dalí's compound and looking out over the fisherman's cove was and still is unbeatable.  I had warned Esmeralda and Juan about the creature comforts (or lack of), but had raved about the location.  They agreed we should try the Port Lligat, so I booked two "especial" double rooms, special because the rooms look out over Dalí's cove, for €100 (about $135.00) per room.

We arrived around 8 p.m. because of our road delay with a brisk cold wind blowing--I feared we might catch the fierce tramuntana wind that is so notorious in the Empordá-Costa Brava.  The legendary tramuntana is blamed for the fact that  residents of the area are known for their strange quirks, since the wind is said to drive people mad during what sometimes amounts to an incessant week-long blow, which blows so strong that it has been known to topple a freight train.   It takes no stretch of the imagination, seeing some of Salvador Dalí's paintings with odd landscapes swept totally clean and pristine by the tramuntana, to believe that the great artist owed some of his peculiar genius to the winds of the Empordá-Costa Brava.

That's why it drives me a little tramuntana crazy myself when I read claims that Ferran Adriá, the dimension-bursting genius chef of elBulli, which is located just a few kilometers southeast of Salvador Dalí's Cadaqués and Port Lligat by boat, is the Picasso of Spanish cuisine.  

See the slideshow below for visuals of this memorable luncheon at elBulli.  I lament to say that my dear, great friend Juli Soler, the driving front-of-the-house force behind elBulli, died last year.  Every January, for the past few years, I would see him for lunch in Barcelona.  There will be a huge void at the end of this month, January 2016, when I go to Barcelona and will encounter only the indelible trail of memories he left in the wake of his passing through this life.


(Double click to see large view of slideshow.)
For more information on the photographs, contact gerrydawes@aol.com.


____________________________________________________________ 

About Gerry Dawes

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 prize in 2009 and received the Association of Food Journalists 2009 Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his retrospective piece in Food Arts magazine about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.


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


Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Culinary Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): mailto:gerrydawes@hotmail.com

2/26/2016

Looking Back: Club Chefs of Connecticut & New York Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes, Days 1 & 2, Jan. 13 & 14, A Gastronomic Adventure in Barcelona


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(Edited by Gerry Dawes with input from Chef Brian Limitone, Meadow Ridge Senior Living, Redding, CT)


 
Club Chefs of Connecticut (and New York) Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes: Outside the trendy wine bar Monvinic in Barcelona about to tour the wine cellar, meet the owner, Sergi Ferrer Salat, and have lunch. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 28mm f2.8 rented from http://lensrental.com for this trip. 


During the week of January 12-19, the Club Chefs of Connecticut, along with several Club Chefs from New York, took a gastronomic journey through Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante and Madrid. This prestigious group of ten executive chefs from Connecticut experienced a crash course in the tastes of Spain under the guidance of Gerry Dawes our organizer, guide and Spanish food and wine expert.

Gerry Dawes is widely recognized as one of the very top American experts on the gastronomy, wines and culture of Spain.  Recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Spanish National Gastronomy Prize (2003) and Food Arts magazine’s Silver Spoon Award (2009), Gerry has long been educating American Chefs about the gastronomy, wines and culture of Spain.

Participating on this tour were Chefs Brian Limitone, Meadow Ridge Senior Living, Redding, CT;  Gerard Resnick, Century Country Club, Purchase, NY; Robert Rainone, Larchmont Yacht Club, Larchmont, NY; Carey Favreau, Glen Arbor Club, Bedford Hills NY; Wayne Kregling, Brownson Country Club, Huntington, CT; Wayne Klingman, Garden City Country Club, Garden City, NY; Victor Honrath, Wykagyl Country Club, New Rochelle, NY;  Dan Neuroth, Bronxville Field Club, Bronxville, NY;  Austin Simard , Brownson Country Club, Huntington, CT; and James Rosenbauer, Country Club of Farmington, Farmington, CT.


Flying out of JFK and arriving in Barcelona early Monday morning we gathered at the Hotel Cram, carrer Aribau 54 the tony Eixample district and proceeded to a classic Catalan breakfast restaurant, Bar Gelida. This small bar-restaurant was bustling with patrons so we were ushered through the tiny kitchen to a table set up in the storeroom. Sitting among boxes and cases of product we enjoyed a multi-course morning feast featuring the grilled sepia (squid), Spanish tortilla (egg and potato omelette), and mongetes amb botifarra (white beans with Catalan sausage).    


Club Chefs of Connecticut Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes: Sitting at the kitchen storeroom 'family' table, just a couple of hours after an all-night flight from New York, at Bar Gelida, Barcelona.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS30 43-86mm f3.3 – f6.4.

Along with strong Spanish espresso coffee to accompany our desayuno, Gerry introduced us to drinking Cava (sparkling wine) from a glass wine vessel called a porrón (a needle-spout glass carafe, from which wine is drunk bota-like, from a long thin stream that must be expertly guided into one’s mouth). 

 
Club Chefs of Connecticut Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes: Sitting at the kitchen storeroom 'family' table, just a couple of hours after an all-night flight from New York, at Bar Gelida, Barcelona, having an old-time Catalan breakfast: Victor Honrath, Wykagyl Country Club, New Rochelle, NY, drinking Catalan Cava (methode champenoise sparkling wine) at Bar Gelida as Wayne Klingman decides to go the safe route and pour himself a glass of Cava.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS30 43-86mm f3.3 – f6.4. 

After our Breakfast of Champions, Gerry led us on an orientation walk around Barcelona’s fashionable Eixample and showed us architect Antoni Gaudi’s famous landmark buildings on the Passeig de Gracia, Casa Mila and Casa Batlló, then before heading back to the Hotel Cram for a nap before lunch, we made an impromptu stop at Reserva Ibérica (the ham shop), which specializes in aged, salt-and-air cured Ibérico hams and charcutería, which we sampled.    

Club Chefs of Connecticut & New York Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes. Chefs James Rosenbauer (r), Country Club of Farmington, Farmington, CT and Victor Honrath, Wykagyl Country Club, New Rochelle, NY observing a ham cutter at Reserva Ibérica (The Ham Shop), Carrer Aragó, 242 Barcelona (http://www.reservaiberica.com), Jan. 13, 2014. 
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

For Gerry, this encounter turned out to be the first stop for him on what would be a two-and-a-half week long ham run through Spain. 

After a shower, a brief nap and a change of clothes, we walked a few blocks from our hotel to fashionable Monvinic, one of Spain’s top wine bar restaurants, where we met the owner, Sergi Ferrer, and toured to wine cellar with wine director César Canovas, Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy’s Best Sommelier 2011 and had a lunch of modern cuisine-inspired Catalan specialties.  

 
Cellar Master / Sommelier César Canovas, Spanish Royal Academy of Gastronomy Best Sommelier 2011 of Monvinic Wine Center, Wine Bar & Restaurant in Barcelona.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24mm f/2.8 (from http://lensrental.com).
 
The afternoon was free to rest before dinner at the classic Barcelona institution Restaurante Set Portes, where we dined on Catalan regional specialites including exquiexada (a ‘salad made with bacalao) and escalivada (grilled vegetables), plus we were introduced to the first of what would be many rice dishes on this trip through Mediterranean Spain: arròs caldoso (a soupy seafood rice dish), arròs negre (black paella with squid ink) and fideuà (pasta, instead of rice, cooked in a paella recipe).   

Club Chefs of Connecticut (and New York) Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes: Fideuà (pasta, instead of rice, cooked in a paella recipe), dinner at the classic Set Portes Restaurant, Barcelona. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS30 43-86mm f3.3 – f6.4.

We drank Catalan wines, cava, rosat and negre and, for dessert, we got our first exposure to crema catalana or Catalan crème brûlée.  After dinner, we migrated to Javier de la Muela’s famous cocktail bar, Dry Martini, located a few blocks from the HotelCram, for a couple of adult libations. 

 
Club Chefs of Connecticut (and New York) Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes: Javier de la Muelas' Dry Martini Bar, Barcelona. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS30 43-86mm f3.3 – f6.4. 
 
The second morning in Barcelona, we visited Jorge Mas’s Mas Gourmet specialty shop in the upscale shopping mall, L’Illa del Diagonal for a sensational second breakfast.  Mas’s shop manager and hamcutter Jordi Ausro gave us a seminar and a dazzling tasting of several kinds of jamón Ibérico and charcutería, pa amb tomaquet (Catalan tomato bread), morcilla (black pudding), smoked salmon, and foie gras tapas accompanied Cava Rimarts Rosat Ahumado sparkling wine, a slightly smoky method champenoise rosé made to accompany smoked salmon.

 
 
 Jordi Ausro, manager and hamcutter at Mas Gourmets, L'Illa Diagonal shop, Barcelona, explaining their gourmet products to the Club Chefs of Connecticut (and New York) Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24mm f/2.8 (from http://lensrentals.com).


 
Slide show, Mas Gourmets de L'Embotits, L'Illa Diagonal shop, Barcelona.
(Double click for larger view of photographs.) 

Our next stop was  a visit to the bakery and  workshop of super star pastry artist and culinary events maestro Christian Escribà at Escribà, where Christian Escribà’s (he was in Portugal) Projects Director Xavier Marcos, showed us a video of some of the dazzling projects in the works at this incredible world-class pastry shop.

 
 Pastry, Desserts & Events Maestro Christian Escribà. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

The chocolatero-pastelero-special events maestro Christian Escribà and wife-creative partner Patricia Schmidt with Gerry Dawes at San Sebastián Gastronomika. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

 
New York contingent posing with Christian Escribà's sensational pastry-and-chocolate creation of New York, New York at San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010. Daniel Boulud, Drew Nieporent, Wylie Dufresne, Colman Andrews, David Chang, Thomas Keller & Tony Bourdain. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

 
At Escribà, where Christian Escribà’s (he was in Portugal) Projects Director Xavier Marcos, showed us a video of some of the dazzling projects in the works at this incredible world-class Barcelona pastry shop. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.


We followed the Escribà pastries visit with a tour of Mercat de la Boquería, one of the world’s greatest markets, where you can buy the freshest of seafood (we were introduced to the shellfish purveyor at her Palmira i Neus - Gemma stand, the lovely Gemma Bosch Roca, always stylishly dressed, like many women in La Boquería, wearing an elegantly embroidered bodice and looking gorgeous, all the while bagging mariscos (exquisite crustaceans and mollusks), cutting up fish, wrapping slices and filets, passing them to customers and taking payment. 

 
 The lovely Gemma Bosch Roca at her Palmira i Neus - Gemma seafood stand.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.
 
In la Boquería, you can also find the freshest produce, mushrooms, meats, chickens, hams and charcutería, spices, candies, nuts, etc.    Our tour guides were Gerry, the market stand owners’ association President Salvador Capdevila, La Boquería President Oscar Uribe and Jorge Mas, owner of Mas Gourmets, which has seven outposts in La Boquería.  

 
 L’Associació de Comerciants de la Boqueria (La Boquería market stand owners’ association) President Salvador Capdevila, at his Avinova stand, which specializes in game, poultry, foie gras, etc.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.
 
We also met another of Gerry’s friends, Llorenç Petras, the now-retired Maestro of Mushrooms, who just happened to be at his Petras stand that day (the stand is now run by his sons) and he showed us a tray with a pile of large prime of trufas negras (black truffles) and a large basket of colmenillas (morels mushrooms). 

The legendary mushroom-and-truffle guru, Llorenç Petràs, now-retired, but who just happened to be at his Bolets Petràs Fruits del Bosc stand in Barcelona’s Mercat de La Boquería that day (the stand is now run by his sons Isaac and Xavier) and showed the chefs a pile of prime black truffles. Club Chefs of Connecticut & New York Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

 
 The legendary mushroom-and-truffle guru, Llorenç Petràs, now-retired, but who just happened to be at his Bolets Petràs Fruits del Bosc stand in Barcelona’s Mercat de La Boquería that day (the stand is now run by his sons) and showed the chefs a pile of prime black truffles. (l to r) Carey Favreau, Glen Arbor Club, Bedford Hills NY; Llorenç Petràs; James Rosenbauer, Country Club of Farmington, Farmington, CT; Austin Simard , Brownson Country Club, Huntington, CT; and Victor Honrath, Wykagyl Country Club, New Rochelle, NY. Club Chefs of Connecticut & New York Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

 
A basket of colmenillas (morels; múrgola, rabassola o morilla in Catalan; colmenilla or morilla in Spanish) mushrooms at the Petràs stand in Barcelona’s Mercat de La Boquería. The legendary mushroom-and-truffle guru, Llorenç Petràs, now-retired, but who just happened to be at his Bolets Petràs Fruits del Bosc stand a that day (the stand is now run by his sons), and showed the Club Chefs of Connecticut & New York Taste of Spain Tour group a pile of prime black truffles. Jan. 14, 2014. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

Before ending our tour of la Boquería, we stopped to have a couple of  tapas--thinly sliced fried alcachofas (artichokes) and some patatas bravas with picante bravas sauce and ailoli with some more rosat Cava--at Quim de la Boquería, one of the best market bars in Spain, where we were greeted by chef-owner Quim Marquez and his son Yuri. This year, Quim de la Boqueria is celebrating their 25th Anniversary.

 Quim Màrquez, Quim de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

 
 Club Chefs of Connecticut (and New York) Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes:  Joan Mora González pouring rosat Cava (Catalan rosé sparkling wine), Quím de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.
 
After we had the tapas and Cava to fortify us, we strolled down Les Rambles, Barcelona’s world-famous pedestrian thoroughfare that leads to the port, stopping for photographs with the Karen, an attractive woman from Argentina who performs as Winged Victory, one of the few human statues left on this street that was once filled with dozens of these performance artists.We continued on to our lunch destination in the Port Vell, Suquet de l’Alimirall, where chef Quim Marquès (no relation to Quim from la Boqueria; his last name ends in ‘s,’, not ‘z,’ cooked a typical Catalan lunch for us in his own personalized style. 

Club Chefs of Connecticut & New York Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes.  Victor Honrath, Executive Chef of Wykagyl Country Club, New Rochelle, NY, schmoozes with Caren, Winged Victory, one of the few human statues left on Les Rambles in Barcelona, Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

Quim, who went to culinary school with José Andrés, has developed his own unique twists on many Catalan classics. Chef Quim opened with plates of jamón Ibérico de bellota, followed by anxoas con poma (cured anchovies encircling an apple compote with olive oil and balsamic vinegar), then pa coca con sardinas ahumados, cebolla caramelizada, tomate cherry, jamón Ibérico & queso Brie (Catalan pizza-like crust with smoked sardines, caramelized onions, a cherry tomato, a slice of cured Ibérico ham and a piece of Brie cheese), buñuelos de espinacas y buñuelos de bacalao con ailoli con miel (spinach fritters and bacalao fritters with honey ailoli), sardinas a la brasa rellenas (stuffed, grilled sardines topped with a slice of Ibérico ham), pa amb tomaquet (Catalan tomato bread), sepia a la plancha con su tinta (grilled sepia with its ink) and alcachofa y huevo (fried artichokes served with a fried egg).  
 
 Club Chefs of Connecticut & New York Taste of Spain Tour 2014, Luncheon at Suquet de L'Almirall,, La Barceloneta, Barcelona. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

 Then Quim Marquès himself came out with two paellas catalanas con mariscos, mar y muntanya (Catalan "sea and mountain" paellas), with cigalas (Dublin Bay prawns), mejillones (mussels), pollo (chicken) and ciruelas pasas (prunes) and plated each portion for our group. 
 
 
Chef-owner Quim Marquès shows his paella Catalana con mariscos, mar y muntanya (Catalan "sea and mountain" paella) with cigalas (Dublin Bay prawns), mejillones (mussels), pollo (chicken) and ciruelas pasas (prunes), Suquet de L'Almirall, La Barceloneta, Barcelona. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

After a walk on La Barceloneta beach, we caught a municipal bus whose route took us from the port to the front door of the Hotel Cram.   We had the rest of the afternoon free until dinner to explore Barcelona.

For our second dinner in Barcelona, Gerry set up a reservation at the Michelin 2-star restaurant, ABaC, where the star chef is Jordi Cruz, the youngest chef ever to receive a Michelin star in Spain and probably headed soon for Barcelona’s first three-star restaurant rating. 

 
Jordi Cruz in his open kitchen at ABaC Restaurante, Hotel ABaC, Barcelona. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

Jordi is one of the most brilliant cocina de vanguardia, avant-garde cuisine, chefs in the world. The value of the reservation was underscored when, as Gerry was lining up to take a photograph of our chefs group in front of ABaC before dinner, a taxi arrived and he was standing face to face with a friend of his, Roser Torras (Directora of grup gsr - produccions de gastronomia, one of most brilliant culinary event producers in the world), who was arriving for dinner as well. We were invited into ABaC's open kitchen, then we were seated at an elegantly appointed table and Jordi Cruz and his kitchen staff began to dazzle us with opening dishes such as a Nitro passion fruit “mojito,” shellfish (razor clams and cockles) bloody Mary snow and Mexican foie gras (foie with mole ice cream, corn powder and Vera Cruz salt), followed by creations such as sea urchin curry with Kafir, an anguila (sea eel) “sandwich,” Parmesan gnocchi with raw mushrooms, nuts, truffle oil and a mushroom infusion with lemongrass. A bone-dry Balma Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava from Mas Bertran was served with the appetizers and was followed by an excellent white La Conreria d'Scala Dei Priorat Les Brugueres 2010 Garnacha Blanca.  

 
 We were seated at an elegantly appointed table at ABaC and Jordi Cruz and his kitchen staff began to dazzle us with opening dishes such as a Nitro passion fruit “mojito.” Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24mm f/2.8 (from lensrentals.com).

In all, there were sixteen dishes on Cruz’s menu, which finished with cocina de vanguardia versions of Casarecce pasta cooked in a squid broth, with sea cucumbers (espardenyes), Comté cheese and lemon basil with white truffles; red mullet with tomato bread, “concentrated” onions and lemongrass alioli; and hare royale with fermented “potato” (bread fermented with shallots, shaped to resemble a potato,) foie gras and Japanese mustard, accompanied by a red from the indigenous Catalan grape Trepat, Succés Vinícola del Viver El Mentider Trepat 2011. 

In just two days in Barcelona, our group of chefs managed to meet a slew of Gerry Dawes's culinary star friends, including Barcelona chefs Carles Abellàn (Comerç 24, Tapas 24 and several other restaurants), ABaC’s Jordi Cruz, Juanito Bayen (owner of the legendary market bar Pinotxo), Quím Marquéz (Quím de la Boquería), Quím Marqués (Suquet de L’Almirall), Roser Torras, Mas Gourmets owner Jorge Mas, market stand owners’ association President Salvador Capdevila, La Boquería President Oscar Uribe, Llorenç Petras, the Maestro of Mushrooms and Sergi Ferrer, the owner of Monvinic Wine Bar and Ferrer Bobet winery in Priorat.
 
Looking out on the intersection of Carrer Aragó and Carrer Aribau from my room in Hotel Cram (with New York locked in the ravages of a Polar vortex winter), where I stayed with our group of chefs.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS30 43-86mm f3.3 – f6.4.

Next up:  Day Three, Jan. 15, San Sadurni D'Anoia (cava country) and authentic paella in Valencia.
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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.

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“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

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"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.


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"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
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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.
 
Mr. Dawes is currently working on a reality television series
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com

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