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12/31/2015

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."
 
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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



1/23/2015

English Version of Boquería Gourmand (Published by Viena Edicions), a Book about Barcelona's Fabulous La Boquería Market (Foreword by Gerry Dawes)



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Boquería Gourmand
English edition, published in October 2011 by Viena Edicions (www.vienaeditorial.com)

Email me at gerrydawes@aol.com for information about obtaining a copy of the book.



La Boquería:  My Favorite Pueblo is a Gastronomer’s Paradise
(Foreword includes additional paragraphs not in the published version.)

By Gerry Dawes©2011

Premio Nacional de Gastronomía 2003
(Stay tuned for many more photographs of La Boquería.)


“I felt dizzy with the idea that I was part of that paradise of food. It was, and still is, a petit poble (small village) inside the big city.” - - Quím Marquéz, Chef-owner, Quím de la Boquería, Parada 606 (location), El Mercat de La Boquería. 

Quím Marquéz, Chef-owner, Quím de la Boquería
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

For forty years I have been traveling in the patrias chicas of the Iberian Peninsula.  I lived for eight years in Andalucía and have repeatedly crisscrossed El País Vasco, Galicia, Valencia, Navarra, Aragón, La Rioja, Asturias, Extremadura, the lands of Castilla y León, and all of the other provinces of Iberia, including Catalunya.  Over these decades of travel, I have come to love many "pueblos" across the vast, wonderful and exotic Iberian landscape-Sanlúcar de Barrameda (where my soul resides) and Ronda in Andalucía: Chinchón just outside Madrid; Covarrubias (Burgos); Burguete (Navarra); Haro (La Rioja), Cangas de Onís (Asturias), Gratallops (Tarragona) and Cadaqués (Girona), among many. 

As much as I long to return to such places for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a multitude of friends and memories, few have quite the compelling attraction of Barcelona's El Mercat de San Josep, La Boquería market, which as Quím Marquéz put it so well, "still is a petit poble (small village) inside the big city" and is literally one of my favorite pueblos in the world.


El Mercat de San Josep, La Boquería. 
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Ever since I spent six weeks in Barcelona in 1970--first working as an extra on the American movie, The Great White Hope (many of the boxing scenes were filmed on Montjuic) and having anecdotal quality adventures off the set with the actor, James Earl Jones--this exciting city has occupied a favored spot in my heart.  While working on the movie, I stayed in a steeply discounted small room in the Hotel Ritz, then I moved to a very modest pensión, ironically on the calle de la Boquería.  Each day, I lived the rich Bohemian life of the legendary pedestrian artery,  Les Rambles, and the narrow, labyrinthine streets of the Barri Gotic, Raval and Born, incessantly taking photographs, including a memorable Sunday when I captured soulful images of Catalan sardana dancing in front of the Cathedral.  


Caren (from Argentina), Winged Victory. Les Rambles, Barcelona.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

In those early days, I was not yet the gourmet and gourmand that I would become as a writer-photographer specializing in the gastronomy of Spain--in 1997, Food Arts magazine (http://www.foodarts.com/Foodarts/FA_Feature/0,4041,387,00.html) published my article on  Ferran Adrià, the first major article in the U.S. on elBulli's superstar chef.   I wandered into La Boquería on occasion (and returned there periodically on subsequent trips), but then usually I went on to explore Barcelona's other attractions- Les Rambles, the Barri Gotic, Montjuic, La Barceloneta and Antoni Gaudi's architecture.  


Lovers in Antoni Gaudí's Parque Güell, Barcelona. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

It was not until 1992 that I was properly introduced to La Boquería on a pre-Olympic, gastronomic scouting trip with two major American journalists, Bryan Miller of The New York Times and William Rice of The Chicago Tribune.  With us was Spanish expatriate restaurateur, Gabino Sotelino from Chicago, who seemed to know everyone.  On our first day in Barcelona, we had an incredible breakfast in La Boquería at Bar Pinotxo, where Juanito Bayen held court and posed for his famous trademark two-thumbs-up photographs.  Catalan culinary luminaries, American chef Jonathan Waxman and writer Colman Andrews (author of Catalan Cuisine), all stopped by to say "bon día" to Juanito and see what he and his battery of cooks were serving that morning.

Juanito Bayen, owner of Pinotxo in La Boquería, Barcelona. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2008. Contact: gerrydawes@aol.com

There were egg dishes, mongetes (little white beans) and butifarra blanca (Catalan sausages), grilled asparagus and more, all washed down with lots of glasses of cava (Catulunya's fine sparkling wine), then carajillos, brandy-spiked espresso with the naughty name.   Later, we went with Isidre Gironés, owner of the legendary Ca L'Isidre restaurant, to Petras's mushroom stall, where I photographed Isidre with a large box of truffles.

Each time I returned to Barcelona after that 1992 encounter, I went straight to La Boquería to see Juanito at Pinotxo, have a glass of cava and a plate of gambas, more of those mongetes or a café con leche and a xuxo (chu-cho), a sweet, crême anglaise-filled breakfast pasty "to die for."  After Pinotxo and my "first breakfast"--now served to me by my friend, Jordi Asín (sadly his co-chef, brother Albert died in February 2011)--I go on to photograph the purveyor stalls of La Boquería, entering a gastronomer's paradise where I often lose myself for hours. 
Everywhere in La Boquería there is color. Artistically arranged in tiers are red, green, yellow and orange peppers; yellow-and-blush pink peaches, red, yellow and green apples, oranges, lemons and limes; shiny black or purple eggplant; green zucchini squash, green and white asparagus, artichokes and chirmoyas (custard apples); little baskets of red raspberries and currants; red and red-green tomatoes; white and red radishes, hanging strings of garlic and dried dark red ñora peppers.  Around a corner, a stand sells a dozen varieties of cured green, black and purple olives, pickled cucumbers, pickled onions, garbanzos, etc.  And another specializes in a Catalan staple, bacalao, salt cod in small stacks or in trays soaking in water, being de-salinated before cooking.

Jordi Mas's (co-author of Boquería Gourmand) family establishment, Mas Gourmets de L'Embotit (five stalls in La Boquería), specializes in Spanish hams and a variety of traditional and innovative embotits (cured meats and sausages).  Hanging from hooks attached to metal rods suspended from the ceiling are a dozen types of jamónes Ibéricos de bellota--exquisite pink-to-wine red, streaked with ethereal white-yellow fat hams from free-range pata negra (black hoof breed) pigs fattened on acorns-specially selected from three separate denominaciones de origen in western Spain.  And, in La Boquería, a variety of butcher shops offer everything from steaks and pork chops to whole lamb, suckling pig, goat, rabbit and game birds.  Some specialize in offal--brains, livers, hearts, mounds of snow white tripe and "off" parts, pigs' trotters, lambs' heads, etc.

Another stall offers a wide range of imported and local cows', ewes' and goats' milk cheeses from Catalan Garrotxa to Extremaduran torta del Casar to French Vacherin Mont d'Or. A number of bakeries sell a wide variety of breads, pastries and pa coca, the original Catalana version of pizza.  A favorite photo opportunity is Ous de Calaf, which specializes in an impressive array of eggs from hens (organically raised), bantams, turkeys, ducks, pheasants, partridge, quail, ostrich and even emu!!  And, at Avinova Ous i Caça (Eggs and Game), my friend Salvador Capdevila, depending upon the season, will have rows of rabbits, partridge, ducks, geese and other game, including venison, hanging in his cases to be hand dressed or cut according to the needs of his customers, which include some of the top restaurants in Catalunya. 

 
Another major attraction is the seafood purveyors selling a stunning selection of fresh fish (all arranged on beds of ice) from both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, interspersed with  a wide variety of shellfish--pink gambas (shrimp) from Denia and Pálamos on the Mediterranean, carbineros (bright scarlet prawns) from Huelva, red or blue-green llagostas (lobsters), walnut-colored, razor-case shaped navalles (razor clams) and white-pink cigalas (Dublin Bay prawns) from Galicia (many so fresh they are still alive!). These colorful market stalls bustle with constant movement with fishmongers. 

For years I have always stopped to photograph my friend, the lovely Gemma Bosh, 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.  Many of the women of La Boquería go to work dressed like they are going after work to attend a performance at the nearby Gran Teatre de Liceu (on Les Rambles), Barcelona's equivalent of Milano's La Scala.  (Years ago, one such well-dressed woman in a Boquería butcher's shop--before the health authorities made everyone wear gloves--spread open the carcass of a goat hanging in her stall for me to photograph with her carefully manicured, bright carmine, lacquered fingernails and the gold ring with diamonds she was wearing juxtaposed against the pink flesh of the freshly butchered animal.)

At the back of the market, I always return to the famous stall of Bolets Petras, which even though my friend owner Llorenç Petràs has retired and left the business in the capable hands of his son, Xavier, still sells a multitude of mushrooms in season, along with truffles like the ones in the box that Isidre Gironés of Ca L'Isidre held for me to photograph twenty years ago.  

 
I always finish my tour of la Boquería at Quím de la Boquería, another legendary market bar, whose slogan is "El Arte de Comer en Un Taburete" (The Art of Eating on a Barstool). I
f he is not crazy busy, I get a thumbs-up and a big abrazo from Quím Marquéz, the owner. From a small stove in impossibly tight quarters his sauteé pans flame and his plancha grill sizzles as Quím and his crew prepare some of the best food in food-crazy Barcelona.  For my "second breakfast"--the first was at Pinotxo-knowing that I am going to be fed like a king I put myself in Quím's hands, like he did with me when I took him and his two young sons to New York City's Chinatown a few years ago.  

Quím may make me a bowl of steaming beberechos (cockles); a plate of grilled asparagus or deep-fried artichoke hearts; an exquisite dish of shrimp with the heads still on; my beloved mongetes with butifarra and aioli; then a perfectly cooked slab of foie gras with crispy fried leeks, all accompanied by glasses of cava rosat (rosé), Catalan Champagne. 

At Quím de la Boquería, I usually meet my old friend, Salvador Capdevila, owner of Avinova and now President of La Boquería owner's association.  Sometimes Salvador, then Vice President, would come with the amiable and highly regarded Manel Ripoll, who was President of La Boquería and who also became a friend.  (Sadly, Manel and two other friends of mine, the three-star Catalan chef Santi Santamaría and Pinotxo's Albert Asín, all died early in 2011).  And during the course of the hour I may spend at Quím de la Boquería, I sometimes see some of the most famous names in Catalan gastronomy such as Juli Soler (Ferran Adrià's partner at elBulli); Ferran's brother, Albert, chef-owner of Tickets; and Christian Escribà, Barcelona's supremely talented pastry maestro and event planner.

But, regardless of who shows up, when I return to this gastronomic paradise that is La Boquería, I always feel like I have come home to the pueblo of my dreams.

-Fin-
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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 “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. 
  
 

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

1/01/2015

Finding Long Lost Marujas (Water Plant Shoots) in Restaurante Sacha (Madrid), Salamanca, Casaserra, El Heliocoptero, Roman Bridges and Serving Marujas for Christmas in Sevilla





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Article & Photos by Gerry Dawes©2015
 
My old friend Mari Carmen Honrubia de Esquivias eating a bowl of marujas (tiny green water plant shoots) with pomegranate seeds, dressed with a garlicky vinegreta made with Spanish Extra Virgen Aceite de Oliva, Sherry vinegar, minced garlic and sea salt, Christmas Day on Manolo and Mari Carmen Esquivias house in Sevilla.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com YouTube / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Sony RX100 III 20.1 MP / Zeiss 24-70mm f1.8-2.8.

Years ago in Salamanca at a classic place called Candil that is now sadly out of business, I had a dish of local greens that I was told came from cold water streams in the mountains around Salamanca.  We were given a big bowl them dressing with what I thought was a way too garlicky vinagreta dressing. However, the memory of the potential of that dish had stuck with me all these years.

I had been to Salamanca for a night in 2006, but had not encountered the dish. I went back to Salamanca in September 2014 with Chefs Ryan McIlwraith and Joel Ehrlich from San Francisco with a specific mission:  to eat at Cala Fornells, where my old friend Juan Santamaría had made such an impression with his paella divida (several different types of arroces/paella in the same divided paella pan) and his Minorcan-inspired cuisine, including an incredible caldereta de langosta (a seafood stew cooked with a whole lobster in it), that I was contracted by Food Arts magazine to do an article on him more than a decade ago. 

Chefs Ryan McIlwraih and Joel Ehrlich of San Francisco getting ready to enjoy the caldereta de langosta, a Minorcan specialty, at Cala Fornells restaurant in Salamanca, Sept. 21, 2014.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  
Olympus Stylus 1 - 10.7x i.Zuiko Optical Zoom Lens 28-300mm (equivalent) f/2.

Paella divida with four kinds of paella--(clockwise, duck, mushrooms, shellfish, black rice with cuttlefish--at, Cala Fornells, Salamanca. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest. 
Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.
 
Alas, when I e-mailed his daughter Elisa about Juan and a reservation, she informed by e-mail that Juan had died almost a year earlier in September.  Partly in homage to Juan and partly to see if the restaurant had kept up his standards, I decided to take the chefs there anyway. It was not likely that they were going to encounter either the paella dividida or the caldereta de langosta anywhere else on this trip. I mean,really, a Balearic Islands Minorcan cuisine restaurant in a suburb one of the most castizo cities in Castile.  Fortunately, both dishes turned out to be as good as I had remembered.

In the evening, we went to Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor looking for Candil, tostón (roast suckling pig with a especially crackling skin) and that once-encountered elusive dish of those spectacular greens.  Instead, we found a modern cuisine restaurant that impressed none of us. 

Plaza Mayor, Salamanca.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest. 
Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.
 
In mid-December, I was back in Madrid with Kay and out to dinner with Madrid Fusión Director Esmeralda Capel and her husband Juan Suárez (a retired lawyer who is a great cook), my friend Harold Heckle of the Associated Press Madrid bureau and his girl friend Mercedes Morcillo at Sacha, a top restaurant run by Sacha Hormaechea where famous chefs hang out on their nights off (one night I was there with Ferrán Adria, Juan Mari Arzak and José Andrés).  
  
Kay and Juan Suárez (a retired lawyer who is a great cook at Sacha, a top restaurant owned by Sacha Hormaechea, shown explaining his dishes.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com YouTube / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  
Sony RX100 III 20.1 MP / Zeiss 24-70mm f1.8-2.8.  

Among many excellent dishes that we were served during a dinner that to my chagrin was accompanied by wines, save one, that I did not like at all, was a salad of those mythic greens which Sacha called corujas. My interest in these rare and elusive was piqued again.

Corujas, known as marujas in Salamanca, at Restaurante Sacha, Madrid.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com YouTube / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  
Sony RX100 III 20.1 MP / Zeiss 24-70mm f1.8-2.8.

The next day, after finishing the dinner at Sacha far too late—we got into bed at 03:00—we were off in the direction of Galicia to make the rounds of my Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group suppliers, then make the long trek south to arrive in Sevilla on Christmas Eve.

After three days in Galicia, I decided that another stop in Salamanca was in order as we headed south towards Sevilla.  Kay, who had never been to Salamanca, and I stayed at the Hotel Puente Romano, where I stayed with chefs McIlwaith and Ehrlich The hotel is comfortable and was close to Cala Fornells, but it is in an unprepossessing neighborhood, south of the Tormes River, with a gas station for a neighbor.

However, for my September trip with the chefs, the hotel was also close to the escape route to Guijuelo, where I had made an Ibérico jamón appointment for the chefs and me at Carrasco the following morning.  And the aptly named Hotel Puente Romano is just a block from the Salamanca’s magnificent pedestrian-only Roman bridge, which leads to Salamanca’s Cathedrals, the new and the old, and up the Rua Mayor to the Plaza Mayor, one of the best plazas in Spain.   

Roman bridge and Cathedral, Salamanca.    
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest.  
Canon EOS 7D / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM (38.4-168mm equivalent).  

In the 1970s, I had crossed this Roman bridge in my vintage Volkswagen sedan--not a VW bug type, when there were signs saying that said all traffic over 16 tons had to use the Roman bridge instead of the new steel and concrete highway bridge, because the Roman bridge was sure to be able to support heavier traffic, while the authorities were unsure that the new bridge could handle the weight.  My Volkswagen was nowhere near 16 tons, but what the Hell, it’s a Roman bridge, one of three major Roman bridges (Córdoba and Mérida being the others) in Spain that I once crossed in a car, but are now pedestrian only.

Salamanca's Roman bridge on a foggy winter morning, Dec. 23, 2014.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest.
Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS.
 
Because we arrived late in Salamanca and had been on a five hundred-kilometer plus-wine road warrior trip that day, with fog and fatigue big factors, I asked at the hotel desk if there might be a decent restaurant within walking distance.  The fellow on duty at the hotel directed us to Casaserra, around the corner from the hotel.  

We expected a neighborhood restaurant of adequate cuisine, but no miracles, instead we found Casaserra, one of the great surprise restaurants of Salamanca, not the least of which was at first off-putting, but later gregarious and cantankerously charming owner, Heli (Heliodoro) Casanueva Serradilla, whom I would later dub Helicóptero because he never stopped gyrating around the dining room. 

Helicóptero "Heli" Casanueva Serradilla and his son Jorge Casanueva in their restaurant Casaserra in Salamanca. 
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube /  Pinterest.  
Canon G15 / Canon f/1.8 – f/2.8 5X 24-140mm IS USM.

And lo and behold, once I began talking to Heli, I asked him about the corujas I had had in Madrid.  We had already had a simple early-to-bed dinner: a surprisingly good for winter ensalada de lechuga, tomate y cebolla (classic lettuce, tomato and onion salad dressed with Spanish extra virgin olive oil and vinegar), pimientos de piquillo rellenos de bacalao (bacalao-stuffed red piquillo peppers) and revueltos con setas y gambas (scrambled eggs with mushrooms and shrimp), irrigated with a fine bottle of José Pariente Verdejo 2013 white wine from Rueda.  

Heli with his simpático waiter-son Jorge, joining periodically, hovered near our table nearly all evening (it was a Monday night), entertaining us with his running repertoire of Helidodoro-ismos.  In the course of this non-stop banter, I asked him about the corujas I had had in Madrid at Restaurante Sacha.  He informed me that in Salamanca, these tender green leaf shoots from mountain streams are called marujas and claimed he was the only one in Salamanca who had them.  Soon he brought us a bowl of the marvelous tiny shoots, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and properly dressed with a garlicky aliño (vinaigrette).   I was ecstatic.  I had finally re-encountered this scarcest of Spanish regional dishes.  

Marujas con semillas de granada (water plant shoots with pomegranate seeds), Restaurante Casaserra, Salamanca, Dec. 23, 2014.    
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube /  Pinterest.  
Canon G15 / Canon f/1.8 – f/2.8 5X 24-140mm IS USM.

The next morning Kay and I walked over the Roman bridge and up to the Plaza Mayor, where we had a very good breakfast of coffee, chocolate con churros, a kind of flan with shrimp, a great tortilla española with potatoes and onions, and spinach and mejillones aliñados (mussels with chopped onion, bell pepper and fresh tomatoes in a vinaigrette) at the excellent cafe, La Marina de Salamanca. 

Kay at breakfast with coffee, chocolate con churros, a kind of flan with shrimp, a great tortilla española 
with potatoes and onions, and spinach and mussels in a vinaigrette at La Marina de Salamanca, December 23, 2014.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest. 
Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

After breakfast, we headed out of the Plaza Mayor and across the street to the Mercado Municipal de Salamanca, where I found two big boxes of marujas at the fruit-and-vegetable stand of Cándido González. I asked the marujas  would keep a couple of days, Cándido said they would and I promptly brought a half kilo for nine Euros to take south to Sevilla for Manolo and Mari Carmen’s Christmas celebration.  

I had him add a pomegranate—yellow, not red--here and with paler seeds—so I could duplicate the dish served by Heliodoro at Casaserra. Cándido put the marujas in a nice paper bag with a liner and we put them and the pomegranate in the trunk of the car, where they would keep cool on the journey south to Sevilla. After having lost touch with marujas for more than a decade, I had suddenly encountered them three times within a week.  
 

Cándido González at his fruit and vegetable stand in the Mercado Muncipal de Salamanca filling a bag with a half kilo of marujas
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest. 
Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

Two days later, on Christmas Day at the home of Manolo and Mari Carmen Esquivias, where some 30 members of Mari Carmen’s family gathered (we went to Manolo’s 92-year old mother Alegria’s place on Christmas Eve), I made a vinegreta with Oro de Bailen Extra Virgen Olive Oil, Sherry vinegar, white wine vinegar, coarse sea salt and chopped fresh garlic.  I popped the seeds out of the pomegranate, washed and dried the marujas and put them in a big glass bowl. I decided I would serve each person a made-on-the-spot bowl of marujas con granos de granada aliñadas. I served a bowl to each person individually, sprinkled on a ration of pomegranate seeds and added a spoonful of properly garlicky vinagreta


Granos de granada (pomegranate grains or seeds) for marujas (tiny green water plant shoots) with pomegranate seeds, dressed with a garlicky vinegreta 
made with Spanish Extra Virgen Aceite de Oliva, Sherry vinegar, minced garlic and sea salt.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com YouTube / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Sony RX100 III 20.1 MP / Zeiss 24-70mm f1.8-2.8.
 
Dressing for marujas con granos de granada (pomegranate seeds), a garlicky vinegreta made with Spanish Extra Virgen Aceite de Oliva, Sherry vinegar, minced garlic and sea salt. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 gerrydawes@aol.com YouTube / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  
Sony RX100 III 20.1 MP / Zeiss 24-70mm f1.8-2.8. 

The dish was a big hit. None of the guests had ever tasted marujas either. From that half kilo, we had a little left to bring to Cádiz to make two more small salads for Kay and me. I vowed that it would not be another decade before I had this dish again, but that will surely require another trip to Salamanca and another walk across the Roman bridge up to the Plaza Mayor and the Salamanca market.  Maybe this time I will get the Helicoptero to go with me. 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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 “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, October 2009. 



video
A professional of Gerry Dawes leading New York Chef Terrance Brennan on a culinary
adventure through the Valencia and Alicante regions of Spain.


12/06/2014

José Andrés on The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections


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"You have worked on Spain like no one else.  You have done it a step at a time, little by little, but I think it is great that you are finding success (with The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections) and that after so many years of trips to Spain and of knowing and loving Spain, that your efforts are finally going to pay off.  You deserve to make it with your new venture and I am very happy for you." 

- - José Andrés, James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef 2011 and Chef-Partner of ThinkFoodGroup in Washington, D.C. and Operator of such restaurants as Jaleo (four locations in metro D.C. area and one in Las Vegas; minibar, Zaytinya, Oyamel, America Eats in D.C.; The Bazaar by José Andrés at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, California; and China Poblano by José Andrés in Las Vegas.


José Andrés & Albert Adrià at Tickets, Barcelona.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / http://www.spanishartisanwinegroup.com / 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 “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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A professional of Gerry Dawes leading New York Chef Terrance Brennan on a culinary
adventure through the Valencia and Alicante regions of Spain.
 

12/05/2014

Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group Stars from Ribeira Sacra: The most awesomely beautiful wine region on earth. "Tasted the new Holy Grail of Ribeira Sacra producers yesterday - Decima, Sabatelius, Toalde, Cazoga - just insanely good, low octane fireworks." - - John B. Gilman, Publisher of View From The Cellar


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Tourist boat on the Sil River in the Amandi subzone of la Ribeira Sacra. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact gerrydawes@aol.com.

Ribeira Sacra: A Renewed Obsession 
by Chris Barnes, Chambers Street Wines, New York City

“The Mencia grape is to Ribeira Sacra as Gamay is to Morgon or Syrah is to Cote Rôtie – a grape perfectly matched to its terroir. One doesn’t have to be a viticultural historian to know that it takes inspired people in addition to great grapes and great terroir to spell success. Today we’re celebrating a superb vintage in Ribeira Sacra, the burgeoning career of a new importer, and one young winemaker’s outstanding work with a special three-pack selected to renew your obsession with Ribeira Sacra. 

Gerry Dawes has been travelling in Spain for over 30 years. He has been to Ribeira Sacra many times and considers himself a true Galicia-phile.

Tired of passing his discoveries off to other importers, Gerry has taken the plunge and started importing his favorite Spanish wines to the States, with a focus on the northwest of Spain.  This has been a breath of fresh air; the wines are delicious, and show the best of what Ribeira Sacra has to offer: vibrancy of aroma and flavor, layers of red fruits, juicy acidity, minerals, and flowers with a lingering saveur, “red wines with the soul of white wines”, to use a colleague’s words. 

Esteemed critic John Gilman, upon tasting Gerry’s group of wines, proclaimed on his Twitter-feed that he had tasted “the new Holy Grail of Ribeira Sacra producers”, calling them, “low-octane fireworks.”


John Gilman at a tasting lunch for The Spanish Artisan Wine Group -Gerry Dawes Selections 
at Barcelona Wine Bar, Greenwich, CT.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com


(John Gilman, the great wine palate who publishes the best wine newsletter in the United States, View From the Cellar, loved the wines of The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections: @JohnBGilman on Twitter ,  "Tasted the new Holy Grail of Ribeira Sacra producers yesterday - Don Bernardino, Decima, Sabatelius, Toalde,  Cazoga - just  insanely good, low octane fireworks."- - GD)

As Gerry’s first customer here in NYC, I concur;  Sabatelius, Decima, and Cazoga are delicious and authentic to their respective places.  I am especially fond of the Sabatelius from the Chantada sub-zone on the western side of the Minho.  This is a project led by sculptor/painter turned vigneron, Primitivo Lareu.  Chantada is the coolest and most Atlantic influenced Ribera Sacra sub-zone and Lareu produces wines with beautiful freshness.  Thanks to Gerry for bringing these wines our way!”

We brought not just the three afore-mentioned wineries from La Ribeira Sacra, but FIVE* (and possibly 7 or 8) bodegas! We love La Ribeira Sacra and its small artisan producers.  We believe it is somewhat like Burgundy's mix of small estate producers and reminiscent of the Loire Valley as well, but the grapes are not Pinot Noir or Chardonnay as in the case of Burgundy, but the native red Mencía grape is very reminiscent of the Loire's Cabernet Franc and the white grape Godello can be on a par with Chardonnay.   Look for pomegranate-cranberry fruit and graphite (lead pencil) minerality in these great value wines."


Décima, José Manuel Rodríguez, Vilacha (Lugo)


José Manuel Rodríguez, President of the D.O. Ribeira Sacra and producer of  Décima, showing 
California chef Michael Chiarello around his precipitously steep Ribeira Sacra vineyards on the Sil River.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Décima Amandi Mencia Tinto 2011 Ribeira Sacra 12.5% 12/750ML $21.99   

“My favorite tinto (red wine) was the sophisticated 2010 Décima made from the mencía grape in the Ribeira Sacra region.  Beautifully structured,  quietly scintillating, almost poetic, it requires a patient, careful reading.” - - Howard G. Goldberg

Thomas Carter, Wine Director of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, pours Décima Ribeira Sacra Mencia 2011,
Manuel Formigo Finca Teira Ribeiro 2011 and Viña Catajarros Cigales Rosado 2011 by the glass. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

The unique, rich, pomegranate-like fruit-driven Décima Mencia (with 10% garnacha tintorera) from Amandi is underpinned by a graphite-like slate minerality that comes from the preciptiously steep pizarra terraces on which Décima’s vineyards grow. The vineyards are owned and farmed by José Manuel Rodríguez, who in addition to farming his own vines, is also the President of the Consello Regulador de La Ribeira Sacra.  This wine is a masterpiece, reminiscent in style and quality, if not in Pinot Noir flavors, of a wine from Burgundy’s northern Cótes de Nuits. 



I have been visiting vineyards and bodegas with José Manuel for nearly a decade and count him among my best friends.  He has not only introduced me to the bodegueros and wineries we are bringing in, he has lead me to nearly three dozen other bodegas and tasting of hundreds of wines, which helped me immeasurably in the research for my articles on the region, but also in finding this particular set of unique wines.

 
Sabatelivs, Primitivo Lareu, Chantada (Lugo)


Primitivo Lareu, owner of Sabatelivs, Chantada, Ribeira Sacra.
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Sabatelius from Primitivo Lareu, both a Godello-and-Treixadura white and a Mencía-based red, are both truly special wines from the westernmost Chantada subregion. Primitivo, who is a painter-sculptor, is one of the most dedicated viticulturists we know and his attention to his vineyards shows in his superb terroir-driven wines.

Sabatelivs Godello/Treixadura 2010 Ribeira Sacra 12.5% $21.996/750ML $21.99

 
Exotic, white peach and stone fruit flavors, with a mineral-laced finish.  A superb white wine that is 60% Godello, 40% Treixadura.


Chantada, Ribeira Sacra, Primitivo Lareu makes Sabatelivs Godello/Treixadura, 
 Sabatelivs Mencía Tinto Joven & Sabatelivs Mencía Carballo, which is aged in oak.
  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com

Sabatelivs Mencía Tinto Joven 2011 12.5% 6/750ML $21.99

Medium deep pomegranate color.  Pomegranate and graphite nose.  An intriguing, compelling wine reminiscent of a great Cabernet Franc-based wine from the Loire Valley, but distintive because of the difference in soils (the Loire is calcareous, here it is granite and slate.  Excellent, clean, sharp fruit flavors reminiscent of pomegranate, laced with cranberry and lead pencil, with an intriguing, complex finish from the stony vineyards on which these grapes grow.  This young Mencía-based tinto will benefit from decanting to allow the aromas and flavors to fully develop.  


Primitivo Lareu, owner of Sabatelivs, Chantada, Ribeira Sacra.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com


“From old vines on the Sil River, this is "back-country" wine as described to me by the importer Gerry Dawes.  I am not sure if he is referring to the rustic qualities of the wine or the people that make it.  Either way, "the ram's head" is all rustic beauty - cherry, raspberry, smoky, spicy, meaty with lifted aromas of lavender and rosemary. Cazoga is serious business.  Although drinking now, I would hold onto this; there is enough density, concentration and balance to age at least for a few years.” - - Chris Barnes, Chambers Street Wines    


Toalde, Roberto Regal, Ribeiras do Miño (Lugo)

 

Roberto Regal, artisan producer of Toalde Mencía, in Ribeira Sacra vineyards 
overlooking a bridge over the Miño River in Belesar near Chantada.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012 / gerrydawes@aol.com 


 

Toalde Mencía Tinto 2010 Ribeira Sacra 13.0% 6/750ML $24.99
    


From Ribeiras do Miño, one of the five sub-regions of La Ribeira Sacra, the mineral-driven, but soft and voluptous Toalde Mencía is made by the talented young enologist, Roberto Regal from stunningly beautiful, bucolic vineyards overlooking the Minho River. A silky, pomegranate & mineral-driven jewel. One of the best wine in our portfolio.

Mencía grapes, with traces of other old vines indigenous varieties, grow here on steep rock (the majority granitic, some slate) terraces with a 66% incline.  The soil is poor and shallow, which drives the vines deep in search of nutrients.  The orientation of the vineyards is from northeast to southeast.  The altitude of the vineyards is 820 to 1150 feet above sea level, which allows a progressive harvesting the grapes, beginning with the grapes from the warmer lower vineyards, which ripen first, and finishing with the higher vineyards, which ripen last.

The Atlantic climate helps provides aroma and freshness to the wines and the Iberian sun provides the necessary heat in the summer and moderate temperatures in autumn and the Minho river, over which the vineyards perch, provides a moderating influence.  Average rainfall is 750mm in Winter; 250 mm in summer.


Viña Cazoga, Jorge Carnero, Amandi (Lugo)

Even the most expensive wine in Dawes's porfolio, "Viña Cazoga Don Diego Crianza from Ribera Sacra, an exotic, chocolate- and tobacco-flavored wine with some of the "wild" character the French call animal, retails for only $50." - - Colman Andrews, The Daily Meal.




Jorge Carnero, Viña Cazoga, La Ribeira Sacra (Lugo province), Galicia.
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Viña Cazoga Tinto 2010 Ribeira Sacra 13.5% 12/750ML $26.99

Viña Cazoga Tinto 2010 ($27). Another Ribeira Sacra mencia, surprisingly soft, with a generous bouquet, a blackberry-and-black-pepper tang on the palate, and a long, satisfying finish. - - Colman Andrews, The Daily Meal.  Read more: Spanish Wines — A Seductive New Crop: Godello, mencia, and other less-than-famous Iberian grapes shine in a new selection from Spanish wine expert Gerry Dawes
 
Viña Cazoga Don Diego Tinto 2008 Ribeira Sacra 13.5% $49.99

"Oh, and he doesn't have much patience with excessive pricing, either, and all but one of the 30-plus selections in his portfolio (he is adding more) have a suggested retail price of less than $30 a bottle, and some are less than $20. (Even the exception, Viña Cazoga Don Diego Crianza from Ribera Sacra, an exotic, chocolate- and tobacco-flavored wine with some of the "wild" character the French call animal, retails for only $50.)"- - Colman Andrews, The Daily Meal.  Read more: Spanish Wines — A Seductive New Crop: Godello, mencia, and other less-than-famous Iberian grapes shine in a new selection from Spanish wine expert Gerry Dawes

One of the stars of this group is a unique wine from a rustic bodega in the back country. It is owned by a young winemaker, Jorge Carnero, who took over his late father’s vineyards and decided to make his own very personal wine, Viña Cazoga. We import both Jorge’s Viña Cazoga Tinto 2010 and Viña Cazoga Don Diego 2008, a wine that spends some several months time in 4-year old, 500L re-conditioned Allier oak.

We don’t expect either of these wines to be for everyone because they are so unique and unlike other red wines you may have tasted before.  For this reason, on my fourth visit to the winery when I took a guest l I decided not to say anything and just let him make up his own mind about the wine without any pre-suggestion from me. Cazoga wines were the ones the guest liked the best of all from our 2,500 km., 20-winery trip.


Viña Cazoga Don Diego 2008, a wine that spends some several months in 4-year old, 500L re-conditioned Allier oak, is one of the top wines in The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections.
 Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Cazoga wines show themselves best with food. By the time you get to the last glass in the bottle, you realize you have been drinking something unique and special.  And you don't like that old-fashioned label with the Cazoga (ram) head you say.  Cazoga is Gallego for Carnero, or ram, the owner’s name.  Get over it and concentrate on the wine in the bottle.  We wouldn't change a thing about this place.  Besides, there is not enough wine to fill even the modest demand we think those who really like this wine will create.  The Spanish Artisan Wine Group’s wild child; if you don't like it, I will drink it.

Viña Cazoga consists of 3.9-acres in a single plot bordering on a slope just above the water line of the Sil River.  The site wine was traditionally recognized as the best for growing wine grapes in the parish of Amandi.  The grapes are 95% Mencia, the rest Merenzao and Tempranillo.
The history of the winery is very old.  Jorge Carnero’s grandfather Raimundo Vidal owned the largest winery  in Amandi, which he inherited from his father. Carnero’s grandmother remembered from her childhood bringing down to the fair in Monforte 37 carts each with a cask of new wine.

But at the beginning of the 20th century the cultivation of those steep river banks was not profitable, so there was much emigration and many descendants inheriting their portion of a vineyard )under the Galician mini-fundia iherititance rules, so the old family vineyard was divided into dozens of plots among the cousins, some of whom kept making wine for themselves for home consumption, but other vineyards were abandoned. 
It was not until the late 70's when Jorge Carnero’s father, Diego Carnero Vidal, set out to re-unite the former vineyards of the Vidal family, re-open the old winery and recuperate the denominaciónde origin claim for Amandi, for which he always acted as ambassador, when, at a time, it was considered insane to try to cultivate those precipitous river banks.

While the Carneros were in the process of reconstructing the old winery, they  used a cuba (a large horizontal wine vat, a huge barrel) from the epoque of Jorge’s great grandfather to sleep in.  They cut a door in one end of the barrrel and put a bed, lights and a television inside, making a bedroom out of the ancient barrel.  They called my father “el tolo de Cazoga,” the crazy Cazoga, slept in a barrel and was going to bury los cuartos, the money from the vines.  The barrel now has a taxidermist-prepared head of a ram mounted on the front of the barrel, the image of which is on Cazoga’s wine labels.

 

Jorge Carnero (Carnero is Cazoga, or “ram,” in Galego, thus the ram’s head,  the symbol of the winery), tasting his wines with a visitor.  Jorge Carnero is inside a large barrel formerly used to make wine, now with door installed and a bed and television inside. Carnero sometimes spends the night in the barrel during the long hours of the grape harvest.  Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2011.

Cazoga was the first important winery in what would later become the Ribeira Sacra D.O.  Cazoga is a pago, a single vineyard cru, in the most rocky location with the best orientation.  Among those who know the Amandi subregion, the wine was always considered the best.  The production is very low and most of  the vines are a century old. 

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