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3/20/2010

Principado de Asturias Journal: Día de San José, March 19, 2010. A Very Pleasant Night in the Asturias at La Quinta de Villanueva with Beatrice Montes and Camino Guerra

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As part of my plan to learn about different hotels on my trip in March to El Principado de Asturias, I asked my trip organizers to put me in a different hotel each night (not recommended for those for whom unpacking and re-packing every day and sleeping in a different bed every night are a problem!)--with the stipulation that each place have FREE wi-fi available in the rooms (all but one, whose desk person said the wi-fi was not functioning do to the wind [it was a still night], worked). 

On the night of March 19, after visiting the goat cheese producer, La Chivita, Nacho Molina and I crossed the Sella River and wound our way to the village of Villanueva, where Nacho left me at La Quinta de Villanueva, a house built by an Indiano in the 19th century.   Indianos were local men who emigrated to Spanish America, often the Indies--Cuba, etc --made their fortunes and returned to their home cities and built large homes that reflected their wealth. These often ostentatious homes can be found in towns all over the Asturias, in Galicia and in the Canary Islands, especially.  


Ironically, this wine, food and cheese road warrior was uncharacteristically without a car and since La Quinta has no formal restaurant, the owners, Beatrice Montes (Beatrice of the Mountains, who spent a couple of years living in New Jersey) and her partner, Camino Guerra (another irony, literally, "Road War," two women serious about running a good bed-and-breakfast, kindly invited me to share dinner with in the downstairs breakfast room. After rummaging about for a suitable bottle of wine, we settled into an impromptu dinner of Spanish serrano ham and a Spanish vegetable tortilla, the vino and good conversation until bedtime.

The next morning, I had breakfast looking out over the gardens that Beatrice and Camino planted with flowers and plants that mirror the way the gardens were planted in the 19th century.   If you find yourself in the Eastern Asturias, right by the Cantabrian border--the Río Selles--you will be only minutes from the coast and minutes from a wonderful mountain road that follow the Selles (which eventually starts out as the
Río Cares) into the interior of the Asturias.   I highly recommend a Quinta de Villanueva as an overnight stop on any trip to the Asturias.



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About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

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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