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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


1/17/2016

Jewish Spain: The Incredblie Remnants of Jewish Cultue 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, the loveliest synagogue that I have seen in Spain. Moorish Mudejar architecture under Jewish influence. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2008. gerrydawes@aol.com


 

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

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



* * * * *
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

1/15/2016

A Taste of Northern Spain 2015 With Gerry Dawes & John Sconzo (Docsconz) – Part 3: Basque Bravos – Bilbao to Axpe

* * * * *
A Taste of Northern Spain Tour 
with Gerry Dawes & John Sconzo 
Report fromDocsconz: Musings on Food & Life 

(click on link for article)


"When it comes to food – culture, production and crafting – is there a better place on Earth than the Basque Country of northern Spain? Blessed with a bounty from both land and sea and the know-how to use it all, Euskadi or Spain’s Pais Vasco is a culinary wonderland. The problem, if it can be considered as such, is that there are simply way too many choices. The breadth and depth of quality is so much that having to choose amongst the myriad of possibilities is daunting. The best part, though, is that it is very difficult to make a poor choice.

Thus, Gerry Dawes and I had to make a few tough decisions when we planned the itinerary for just a few short days in the Basque Country. It turned out that some of our choices were guided by timing and made for us. It was timing that kept us away from places like Azurmundi and Elkano, the former because its opening hours did not work with our schedule and the latter because they were closed for vacation while we were in the area. When it came to choosing a Michelin Three Star restaurant in San Sebastian, we selected one of the two I had not previously been to. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for more.. . ." - - Docsconz

 Gerry Dawes with Chef-Owner Victor Arguinzoniz at Asador Etxebarri 
in the Basque Country of Spain.
Taste of Northern Spain Tour 2015. Photo by John Sconzo
 ______________________________________________________________________________________________
 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. 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 
com

A Taste of Northern Spain Tour with Gerry Dawes & John Sconzo (Docsconz) – Part 2: Asturias – Queso, Sidra & Much More


* * * * *
A Taste of Northern Spain Tour 
with Gerry Dawes & John Sconzo 
(Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life) 

(click on link for article)

"Returning to Galicia was one of the main reasons Gerry Dawes and I put this trip together, but the opportunity to explore more of northern Spain, some for my first time, put it over the top for me personally. The region of Asturias, known for its mountains, beef, beans, sidras (ciders) and quesos (cheeses) amongst other things, was one of those places. . ." - - Docsconz

Gerry tries his hand at it.
 Pouring cidra at Tierra Astur in Oviedo.
 ______________________________________________________________________________________________
 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. 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 
com

1/12/2016

Emblematic Monuments to Jewish Heritage in Spain: Toledo, Segovia, Córdoba & Sevilla


* * * * *


Santa María la Blanca synagogue, Toledo.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2008. gerrydawes@aol.com

Although I am not Jewish (I once was in the second half of the 15th century), I lived for parts of five years in the Old Jewish Quarter of Sevilla and I try to seek out and photograph remnants of Jewish heritage in Spain. From some of my trips, I have put together a slide show of my photographs of some of the most important, emblematic monuments to Jewish heritage in Spain, the El Tránsito and Santa María la Blanca synagogues, both in Toledo, along with photos of a Toleda wine cellar in a 9th century Jewish home; the Sinagoga Mayor (main synagogue) in Segovia; the statue in Córdoba to the great 12th-Century Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, and Sevilla's Judería, the Old Jewish Quarter, where I lived in the 1970s.




(*"El Tránsito and Santa Maria la Blanca, both in Toledo, are two of the finest examples of this Moorish architecture under Jewish influence.")
______________________________________________________________________________________________  
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. 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

1/10/2016

Gerry Dawes & His Amazing Spanish Artisanal Wines, Huffington Post

* * * * *

by Brad Haskel, Huffington Post
 
 Drinking Godello at Estado Puro in Madrid.
Photo by Harold Heckle, Associated Press, Madrid. 

With his uniquely artistic vision, Gerry Dawes has knitted together a portfolio of family owned Spanish wineries of incredible quality. Recently, he formed a sales and marketing company called The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group-Gerry Dawes Selections, that has already begun appearing in great restaurants around the country. Gerry's path for leading the company is based on his many years of experience selling the wines selected by other historically notable wine merchants; Gerald Asher, Colonel Frederick Wildman, Robert Haas, and Leonardo LoCascio. His fine wine experience, and an adult lifetime love affair with Spain is the perfect recipe for this company. His strengths are an undying passion for finding wines that represent what is true, either by tradition, or by an uncluttered vision for the cutting edge.  

Ask him about his wines and he will tell you very surely why they are in the selection.
 
"It is easy," he says, "I just hate wines that suck."

Gerry is an acquired taste. His wines are not. I am his business partner, and I have been in the wine trade more than 25 years. I can honestly say this is as fine a portfolio of wines I have ever tasted. Gerry's passion fuels a  ferocious point of view for what great wine should be at all levels of the spectrum. 

He looks for wines with purity, cleanliness, typicity, low alcohol levels, little to no use of oak, with the exceptions of regions where the tradition requires it. Even then, he starts to rant, if the levels of barrel aging are out of balance to the wine itself. His belief is in the vineyards and what they produce, with as little interference from winemaking tricks as possible. Purity and terruño, the Spanish version of terroir, is what makes Gerry smile.

 Read More Here
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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. 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

12/17/2015

Article about Gerry Dawes and The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections in La Voz de Galicia Dec. 17, 2015 (in Spanish).

* * * * * 

La edición americana del «Huffington Post» dedica un reportaje 
a uno de los grandes valedores de Ribeira Sacra en ese mercado

Gerry Dawes, en una viña de la ribera de Belesar, durante un reciente viaje a la Ribeira Sacra.
 ______________________________________________________________________________________________  
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. 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

12/16/2015

The Original Drinker: Spanish Wine Master Loves a $15.99 Rosados, Hates Wood and Always Avoids Wine Bars



* * * * *   
 

Gerry Dawes enjoying Rosado at Rincon de España in Burgos, Spain. (Photo by Jaana Rinne)

Gerry Dawes, Photo by Janna Rinne.

"Gerry Dawes loves Spain, and he loves Spanish wines. And the man knows whereof he speaks. The country bestowed upon him its prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomia (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003, and here’s what James A. Michener said about him in Iberia: SpanishTravels and Reflections: “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 … ”

I first reached out to Dawes when I was planning a culinary journey to Barcelona, Rioja, and the Basque region of Spain, in 2011. I found his website and began reading, and have been learning from him ever since. Then, when I was preparing to stage at Arzak, in 2012, Dawes offered me some sound advice: learn Basque. He is opinionated – “You must decide whether you love wine or carpentry. If you want wood in your wine, suck on a toothpick as you drink your vino.” – he lives life with passion, and he respects wine and the men and woman who make it. Here’s to Gerry!"  

To read the whole article click here.
______________________________________________________________________________________________  
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. 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

11/22/2015

Taste of Northern Spain Tour October-November 2015 with Gerry Dawes and John Sconzo - Day One Hit The Ground a' Runnin' in Galicia (Vigo - Pontevedra - Cambados) Thursday, October 29


* * * * *


Taste of Northern Spain Tour 2015
October 29 – November 8
With Gerry Dawes & John Sconzo 
(Docsconz: Musings on Food and Life)

 
Fish market, Mercado Municipal de Pontevedra, October 29, 2015, 
Gerry Dawes-John Sconzo Taste of Northern Spain Tour.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015 / gerrydawes@aol.com YouTube / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Olympus OM-D E-M1 / Olympus M. Zuiko 14-54 mm (28-108mm equivalent) f/2.8-3.5 ED lens with Olympus MMF-3 4/3 adapter.

Over the decades since I have come to know Spain, I must have taken more than 20 groups and individuals on specialized gastronomy and wine tours of Spain:  The American Club in Andalucía, Senator James Abourezk (D-SD), Chefs Thomas Keller and Ali Barker, Chef Mark Miller (six times) and his Coyote Café restaurant managers, Chef Mark Kiffin of Santa Fe, The Wine Society of The Club Managers of America, Chef Terrance Brennan (twice), The Commonwealth Club of California (twice), The Club Chefs of NY & CT, Chef Michael Chiarello and Chef Ryan McIlwraith (twice) of San Francisco (Coqueta and Bellota), the Zoomies (a group of Air Force Academy graduates/pilots, twice) plus there have been other shorter forays in Barcelona, Madrid or San Sebastián with such luminaries Noman Van Aken, Drew Nieporent, Charlie Trotter, Tetsuya Wakuda, Ruth Reichl, Rick Moonen, Christopher Gross, Michael Whiteman, John Sconzo (four times), and others.

Many of those trips went very well, but inevitably problems sometimes surface:  A bus strike in the middle of one trip, a sick chef on another trip, food poisoning from a restaurant on an off night that was not on the itinerary and a traveler from Hell on another.   Most trips, considering that 2-25 people are being moved across Spain, eating and drinking for ten days, have their built-in sets of the normal challenges that any traveler faces.

The recently completed trip that I just led with John Sconzo for seven fellow travelers across Northern Spain was remarkable, because of its relative lack of problems, the conviviality of the group, the chance encounters we had with friends of mine and the sheer luck of some of our serendipitous adventures on this trip.  

Pre-arrival, I was a bit worried that we might be off on a not-so-great adventure when I was turned down by Hertz for the rental car I had reserved (I had suspended partial payment of my last rental due to an attempted 400 Euro rip-off due to some scratches on the bumper).  I was supposed to drive to Galicia to meet up with the group in Vigo, but once I was told I was on the Hertz black list, I found that no other car company had any cars for less than 400 Euros on such short notice, so I booked another night in my hotel in Madrid, called the bus company and arranged to ride up with the driver the next afternoon.

Then, I began getting e-mails from some of our fellow travelers about flight delays into Spain and, from one, the news that a person with a suspected case of Ebola had just been admitted to a hospital in Spain.  In the hospital in Vigo, no less, where all of our travelers were due to arrive the next day!  However, since we did not have the hospital at Vigo on our itinerary, I figured that there was a better than even chance that some of our fellow travelers might survive, so I told them all to buy a bubble suit and come on to Vigo.  But it was not an Ebola outbreak that was worrying me, it was the advance forecasts had predicted rain for at least the first five days of the trip!  "Well," I reasoned, "you have no control over the weather."  I prayed anyway.

The bus didn’t arrive to pick me up in Madrid until 17:00 and we had a seven-hour drive facing us, with a mandatory rest stop for the driver for 45 minutes after four hours.  Because of the late pickup, which would have left both the driver and myself sleep deprived the next morning, I was not happy.  Otherwise the bus service was excellent.  I had requested a driver who had driven me on two previous trips, but he was not available.  Antonio Carrasco was the driver and he turned out to be terrific.  I always try to turn the bus drivers into my new best friends, because they invariably will go that extra mile when you really need a favor for the group along the way.  

 
 Bus driver Antonio Carrasco driving our 24-seat bus from the Esteban Rivas company in Madrid.   
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest.   Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 17-40mm f/4L USM.

On the long, rainy trip to Galicia, Antonio and I had plenty of time to talk and become friendly, plus, because of the obligatory stop bus drivers are required by law to observe, I was able to arrange for us to have a 10:00 p.m. light dinner at Bodegas Triay, one of my top artisan producers just five kilometers off the main highway, in Oimbra in the Monterrei D. O.  Antonio Triay and his wife, Puri García received my bus driver Antonio and me with an impromptu dinner of pumpkin soup, Spanish charcutería and cheeses and Galician empanada, along with their superb Triay Godello and Mencía, which The Spanish Artisan Wine and Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections proudly represents in the United States.

 
 Antonio Triay and his wife Puri García received my bus driver Antonio and me with an impromptu dinner of pumpkin soup, Spanish charcutería and cheeses and Galician empanada, along with their superb Triay Godello and Mencía, which The Spanish Artisan Wine and Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections proudly represents in the United States.  Because he was driving my driver was limited to just sniffing these wonderful wines.   It was the perfect respite, a food and wine break on the long trip north on a rainy night.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015.4


After a long rain and fog punctuated trip, Antonio and I arrived at our Hotel Casa Rosita, my home away from home in the Rías Baixas wine district, at 2:30 a.m.  My friend at the night desk, Benito, was very accommodating, especially considering the hour.  I checked my e-mails as soon as I got into the room and found that our scheduled 9 a.m. pickup of Robin Causus and Sheldon Hochberger at Vigo airport had been delayed—by five hours!  That meant that both of us could catch some sleep before going to the airport for a noon pickup of John Sconzo, Judy Shertzer (Indiana and, now, North Carolina), Wendy Miller (Seattle) and Beth Lang (Chicago).  George and Anne Morris (New York) were due to arrive later that afternoon from London, where they had spent a few days, and I soon learned that Robin and Sheldon (Albuquerque, NM) would be arriving around the same time.

Day One Vigo – Pontevedra - Cambados

We picked up half the group at Vigo airport and employing the hit the ground a’ runnin’ philosophy of travel, we went directly to Pontevedra, where I had arranged lunch at a new restaurant that sounded very promising, but to which I had never been.  Our driver, Antonio, dropped us off at the Pontevedra market, which is one of the most important fish and shellfish markets in Spain.  We spent 20 minutes touring the market and, in a light rain, walked a few blocks through the old quarter to the Praza da Leña (named as the plaza where people went for firewood, leña), where our first gastronomic adventure awaited us at Chef Iñaki Bretal’s Restaurante Eirado da Leña, Praza da Leña, 3, 36002 Pontevedra, Galicia.  Eirado can mean a small plaza in Galego. 

 Eirado da Leña, Praza da Leña, Pontevedra, October 29, 2015. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Although Chef Bretal was not there for lunch, his team took great care of us and our first meal on the trip, of the Chef’s stylized, modernized traditional, product-centered, locavore food turned out to be superb, plus I had arranged with the restaurant to taste all six of The Spanish Artisan Wine and Spirits Group – Gerry Dawes Selections Albariños from the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas producers whom we would be visiting the next day.  While we were waiting for our Albariños to chill, I chose a Godello from Valdeorras from the wine list.

As Taste of Northern Spain Tour 2015 member Beth Lang looks on, Gerry Dawes peruses the wine list at Eirado da Leña, Praza da Leña, 3, 36002 Pontevedra, Galicia, first day of the trip, October 29, 2015.  Photo by John Sconzo.
 
The Albariños had just been opened and we were beginning to taste them as we were waiting for the food, when I looked up and was amazed to see an old friend walk through the door.  It was tall, handsome Agustín Santolaya, the General Manager of Bodegas Roda in Haro, La Rioja.  He was in town with his distributor promoting his wines.  I introduced him to our group, then coaxed him and his representative to taste all six Albariños and promised to send him a check for showing up to make me look good!

Agustín Santolaya, the General Manager of Bodegas Roda in Haro, La Rioja, tasting the  Albariños of the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas at Eirado  da Leña, Praza da Leña, Pontevedra.  Photo by John Sconzo, Docsconz.

The meal featured stylized versions of a Galician potato dish with pureed potatoes, Spanish paprika, an egg yolk and migas, crisply fried bread; navajas (razor clams), a wonderful fabas bean dish, lubina (sea bass) with a creamy, restrained pumpkin sauce, and a ‘gintonic’ dessert.  The lineup of artisan Albariños were great companions to this excellent opening meal. 

 Navajas (razor clams) at Eirado  da Leña.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.


Fabes de Lourenzá con langosta (fat white beans from the Lourenzá valley in the province of Lugo, Galicia with a slice of local spiny lobster meat) at Eirado da Leña, Praza da Leña, 3, 36002 Pontevedra, Galicia.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes.

After lunch, we walked back to the market, where Antonio, who had joined us for lunch, was waiting with our bus.  We drove to Cambados and checked into the Casa Rosita, then Antonio drove back to Vigo airport to pick up George and Anne Morris, Robin Causus and Sheldon Hochberger.

Given the fact that the group had just arrived that day from international flights, with plane changes in Madrid and delayed flights, I decided that it would be prudent to scratch the planned dinner out in the Cambados area, so I planned dinner in the Hotel, which has an excellent reputation as a shellfish and fish restaurant in its own right.   It turned out to be a excellent relaxing choice for the first night, especially since the trip from their hotel room to the dining room table was just an elevator ride and few paces across the dining room.

I had spoken to the kitchen early in the afternoon, found out they had percebes (goose barnacles), the legendary, prized and quite expensive Galician specialty that tastes of the essence of the sea, and asked them to save a few hundred grams for our group.  It is always fun introducing initiates to the rites of percebes eating, which requires twisting off the coarse, leathery outer casing from the multi-toed foot and basically biting off the somewhat gelatinous, ocean-flavored flesh beneath.  This operation invariably causes shots of sea juices to fly across the table until each new initiate gets the hang of wrapping a hand around the percebe to keep the sea spray down. 

 
 Percebes (goose barnacles) Casa Rosita, Cambados, Galicia, Oct. 29, 2015.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

The percebes were followed by pass-around shared plates of salpicon de mariscos (Spanish seafood salad; a signature dish at Casa Rosita), pulpo a la gallega, octopus with olive oil, Spanish pimentón (paprika) and sea salt, with potatoes; small, one-bite, pink-orange camarones, small Galician shrimp from local waters; exceptional Galician amejas (clams) with fabes (beans), with filloas (Galician crêpes) and tarta de Santiago (almond cake) for dessert, following by a brief introduction to Galician orujo-aguardiente (marc-firewater) and an early turn-in.  

Pulpo a la galega (octopus Galician style with olive oil, sea salt and Spanish pimentón, paprika), Casa Rosita, Cambados, Galicia, Oct. 29, 2015.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

 
Camarones, small Galician shrimp from local waters, Casa Rosita, Cambados, Galicia, Oct. 29, 2015.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes.

Fabes con almejas (beans with clams), Casa Rosita, Cambados, Galicia, Oct. 29, 2015.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

We needed the early night to be ready for our first  incredible day of adventures of the following day: A visit to Santo Tomé, the old fishermen’s and fisherwomen’s port, an area of Cambados with exceptional touristic merit, where we would watch the morning procession of mostly women shellfish harvesters head out at low tide;  a trip out into the ría de Arousa (fjord) to visit the bateas (shellfish farming rafts), eat freshly harvested, steamed on board the boat mussels, then feed the leftovers to seagulls who hover and pluck the mussels from the shell; a spectacular luncheon and encounter with a visiting Barcelona dining fraternity at D’Berto, one of the world’s greatest seafood restaurants; a visit and tasting at the iconic Palacio de Fefiñanes in the center of Cambados; a brief siesta respite at Casa Rosita, then a short ride to the town of Meaño to Bodega Cabaliero do Val, in a granite building dating to 1837, where we would drink Albariños from six producers who were there and participate in the ancient Galician ritual of the quiemada, the flaming pumpkin, more about which I will report in the next episode.

End of Day One.


______________________________________________________________________________________________  
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. 
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Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 
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