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10/28/2011

Food Arts Tapas Dancing: Tapas Bars in the United States


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Food Arts Tapas Dancing

About the author

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.


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

10/27/2011

Wall Street Journal Europe: A Conservative Front-Runner for Premier Has Emerged Amid Economic Turmoil

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EL VENDRELL, Spain—Mariano Rajoy looks set to become Spain's next premier after moving his conservative Popular Party closer to the center, but the longtime politician will face a big challenge of overhauling one of the euro zone's largest ailing economies.


Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy, major Spanish political figure, is predicted to become Spain's next Prime Minister after the Spanish elections on November 20. Rajoy's party holds a 15% lead in the polls at this stage. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2006 / gerrydawes@aol.com.  (This photo is not a part of The Wall Street Europe article.)

Formerly a peppy growth engine, Spain is now at the core of the euro zone's sovereign-debt crisis after the collapse of a decadelong housing boom sent unemployment spiraling and punched a large hole in its public-sector accounts. International investors worry Spain will struggle to close a budget gap that stood at more than 9% of gross domestic product in 2010, revitalize its sluggish economy and create jobs—further complicating efforts to stem the region's debt turmoil.

Although the incumbent government of the Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero last year pushed through budget cuts and politically painful overhauls such as an overhaul of the country's rigid labor laws, many economists view these measures as too little, too late.

Mr. Rajoy has promised to tackle Spain's economic problems with renewed vigor and his party's economic pedigree lends him credibility, analysts said. The PP-led governments of José María Aznar from 1996-2004 are remembered for far-reaching overhauls that helped set the stage for a lengthy economic boom. Mr. Rajoy headed various ministries during that time.

On the campaign trail in Catalonia, Spain's second-most-populous region and industrial heartland, Mr. Rajoy spoke at a lunch with local business leaders last week about the measures he advocates for small businesses, including tax breaks for job creation and reinvested profits and a reduction of bureaucratic red tape.

"Catalonia is a land of entrepreneurs," Mr. Rajoy told a few hundred guests in a makeshift auditorium in the town of El Vendrell. "Entrepreneurs must be in the sights of any government."

The speech got a favorable reception. Josep González, head of the PIMEC small-business association, said Mr. Rajoy inspires confidence. "Right now, everyone wants a change and a package of new anticrisis measures," he said.

In an interview, the 56-year-old politician pledged decisive action to meet Spain's European Union commitments, which include reducing its deficit to 3% of GDP by 2013, if he is elected. Other priorities include cleaning up and recapitalizing Spanish banks and a new, deeper labor overhaul, after Mr. Zapatero's efforts failed to solve many of the job market's toughest problems. "We will have to take many measures right away. Others will be taken throughout the next four years, but many will be taken in the first 100 days," he said.

Ahead of the Nov. 20 general elections, the PP holds a commanding lead of around 15 percentage points in recent polls. Although Spanish elections have at times produced unexpected results, many analysts expect the PP to win and possibly obtain a parliamentary majority, which would make it easier to govern.

Mr. Rajoy's party is being helped by the electoral collapse of the incumbent Socialist party as it suffers from Mr. Zapatero's handling of the economy. For much of 2008, when Spain's budget deficit hit 11% of gross domestic product and unemployment nearly doubled to 14%, the prime minister refused to acknowledge the severity of the crisis, referring to it as an economic slowdown. Mr. Zapatero said he wouldn't seek re-election earlier this year, and his party chose veteran politician Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba as its candidate.

But the PP is also reaping the rewards of Mr. Rajoy's strategic shift after he lost the 2008 national election to Mr. Zapatero, primarily because of strong showings by the Socialists in Catalonia and Andalucia. It was Mr. Rajoy's second loss to Mr. Zapatero, after the Socialist leader came from behind to win in 2004.

The 2004 result was widely seen as influenced by the bungled response by Mr. Aznar's PP-led government to the Madrid train bombings days before the elections. But the 2008 defeat triggered an internal push to oust Mr. Rajoy, perceived by many party members as too timid in his opposition to Socialist policies like gay marriage, greater autonomy for Catalonia and negotiating with Basque terrorist group ETA.

Mr. Rajoy fended off the challenge to his leadership by rallying his own supporters and then opted for a still-more-conciliatory stance on traditional hot-button issues for Spain's right-wing sectors. He reasoned that the high-voltage rhetoric urged by some in his party alienated many voters, especially in places like Catalonia, an independent-minded region with its own language. In an effort to modernize his party, he also brought women to the front lines, naming María Dolores de Cospedal its No. 2 official and Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría its parliamentary spokeswoman. Today, with his standing in the polls, Mr. Rajoy enjoys the full support of his party.


Mariano Rajoy and Manuel Fraga Iribarne, former Minister in Dictator Francisco Franco's regime, President of the Xunta of Galicia from 1990 to 2005 and now a Spanish Senator, at the Festa do Albarinho in Cambados, August 6, 2006.  Fraga will be 89 years old on November 23, 2011.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2006 / gerrydawes@aol.com.  (This photo is not a part of The Wall Street Europe article.)

"I think Spanish society is moderate, it just wants problems solved," Mr. Rajoy said. "It wants a moderate tone, which also fits my personality better."

Mr. Rajoy's new style was on display last week when ETA announced an end to its violent campaign for Basque independence. The PP leader welcomed the news without reservation, while some other politicians and conservative media commentators demanded the group move quickly to decommission its arms and ask its victims for forgiveness.

Nonetheless, some people inside and outside of the party still question whether the veteran politician with the dour expression and grizzled beard has the strength and charisma to marshal support for politically difficult budget cuts and economic overhauls.

"I don't know if he is capable of exciting and galvanizing Spanish society," said Emilio Lamo de Espinosa, a sociology professor at Madrid's Complutense University.

Others say his conciliatory approach will serve him well. "He is somebody who is careful to not create problems where they didn't exist before… he needs to be tough but moderate," said Víctor Pérez-Díaz, head of consultancy Socio-Political Analysts. -- Wall Street Journal Europe

The Economist: After 40 years of bloodshed, ETA (Basque Terrorist organization) throws in the towel


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WHEN ETA broke off a ceasefire in 2007, Jesús Eguiguren, a Basque negotiating on behalf of the Spanish government, warned his separatist counterpart, Francisco Javier López Peña, that his destiny was to spend years in jail. “And you should buy black ties,” Mr López Peña retorted, for the funerals of future victims of the Basque terror organisation.

Both men were right. ETA killed ten times over the next three years. Mr Eguiguren was pall-bearer at the funeral of Isaías Carrasco, his friend and fellow Basque Socialist. But in 2008 Mr López Peña, then ETA’s leader, was captured in France.

One reason ETA has downed arms is that hardliners like Mr López Peña are behind bars. Another is that the campaign of terror he had planned failed to happen. Several of his successors were detained in a series of joint Spanish-French police operations. ETA became virtually inoperative. Ten killings in three years was paltry by its standards. “Spanish democracy has defeated ETA,” declared Antonio Camacho, the interior minister.

Yet it is too early to write ETA’s obituary. It has neither disarmed nor disbanded. A violent breakaway group, similar to the Real IRA in Northern Ireland, could emerge. ETA has asked for talks with Spain and France. This, it says, is how “armed confrontation” can be finally overcome.

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s Socialist prime minister, deserves credit for dragging ETA this far. But the job of negotiating with the group will fall to his successor, after a general election on November 20th. That will almost certainly be Mariano Rajoy, whose conservative People’s Party (PP) looks set to win a landslide.

Talking to ETA is “a betrayal of the dead,” Mr Rajoy once said. But so far he has displayed moderation. “This is a great piece of news,” he said, before calling for ETA’s dissolution. When Spaniards start to enjoy a peace dividend in the form of lower security costs and higher tourism receipts in the Basque country, pressure will build to sort out the remaining issues.

Concessions to ETA’s demand for a separate Basque state are out. But the government could take other steps, such as moving some of the 700 ETA prisoners in Spanish and French prisons closer to the Basque country, or exercising leniency on day- and early-release programmes. Still, ETA is not in a strong bargaining position. Mass prisoner-release programmes, if they ever come, must wait. The problem of ETA members in hiding, like Mr Pla, is trickier. Most Spaniards want to see them in court. They may prefer to be exiled to a beach somewhere in the Caribbean.

ETA’s arms, hidden in France and the Basque country, must inevitably be given up, says Brian Currin, a South African lawyer. The PP has denounced his fellow “mediators”, including Kofi Annan, a former UN secretary-general, as unwelcome meddlers. Mr Rajoy may, however, need them to oversee a discreet disarmament process.

A separate demand comes from the politicians who led ETA away from violence. Banned front parties, like Batasuna, want to be allowed back into mainstream politics. A coalition they linked up with, Bildu, won 26% of Basque votes in municipal elections in May, suggesting that it has much to gain from Spanish democracy. Mr Rajoy will come under pressure to respond. All this will take years but, happily for the long-suffering Basques, there is no taste for turning back.

10/25/2011

Pulpo a la Gallega (Gal: Polbo a la Galega), Octopus Galician Style is Close to Being the National Dish of Galicia, is Enjoyed All Over Spain and is a Great Match for Ribeiro Wines

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Polbo (pulpo, or octopus) is so highly estemed in Galicia that monuments such as this public water source 
in the village at Vilanova de Arosa (Pontevedra) is dedicated to Galician women cooking octopus. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

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Perhaps with the exception of lacón con grelos (a dish made with grelos, turnip or parsnip greens, pork shoulder, chorizo, potatoes and Spanish pimentón) and caldo gallego (a stew of pork, beef and or chicken with chorizo and/or bacon; turnip greens, collard greens or green cabbage; white beans and potatoes), pulpo a la gallega (polbo a la galega in Galcian) is the most ubiquitous dish in Galicia.  Although it is a dish now served in many parts of Spain, the Gallegos never seem to get enough of it.


Pulpo that has been steamed, at a restaurant in Ribadavia in the Ribeiro wine district. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Octopus is usually frozen to tenderize it--sometimes it is pounded--then boiled until tender in a stock pot or, in Galician fiestas, in large metal kettles. The steamed octopus is then cut with kitchen shears with bit-sized pieces, placed on a plate (best on the now forbidden [in restaurants, at least] round wooden plates, as served at fiestas; the wooden plates absorb some of the water, instead of allowing it to pool up below the octopus as on a normal plate. After the octopus is plated, it is dressed with Spanish extra virgin olive oil, Spanish pimentón (paprika) and sea salt, speared with toothpicks and served with good Galician bread. Sometimes steamed potatoes, another adored Galician staple are served with the pulpo.

Steamed polbo a la galega (pulpo a la gallega; octopus Gallician style) dressed with olive oil, Spanish pimentón (paprika) and sea salt, though no prohibited by the health authorities, best served on a wooden plate, which absorbs excess water.  At Bar Pintos, Cambados (Pontevedra), Galicia. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

It is claimed that the best octopus cooks are women from the inland towns of Carballiño and Ribadavia in the province of Ourense.  Since the best polbo a la galega supposedly comes from frozen octopus, this is not as unreasonable as it sounds, even though these towns are at least an hour from the nearest seacoast.  One Sunday morning in the center of Ribadavia, which has an exceptional old Jewish quarter (14th-16th centuries), I encountered a woman in front of a bar preparing polbo a la galega (see photos in slide show).


Galician woman outside a restaurant in Ribadavia (Ourense), Galicia, preparing steamed polbo a la galega (pulpo a la gallega; octopus Galician style) dressed with olive oil, Spanish pimentón (paprika) and sea salt. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Another day, I was invited by my friend Manuel Formigo de la Fuente, who makes an exceptional Ribeiro wine in nearby Beade, to a special polbo a la galega day at a restaurant in Ribadavia.  The was a wait to get into the restaurant even though this dish can be found in almost any tapas bar or traditional restaurant in Galicia on any given day. 

Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Slide show, Octopus.  
(Double click on images to enlarge.)
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________
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.

10/22/2011

The Chiarello Chronicles: My Travels in Spain in October with Napa Valley Bottega Chef-owner Michael Chiarello & Botegga Executive Chef Ryan McIlwaith



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"Las investigaciones gastronómicas son unas putadas, pero alguien tiene que hacerlas.”
(Gastronomic research is Hell, but somebody has to do it.)


Paco Dovalo and Gerry Dawes eating percebes and drinking Cabaliero do Val, Paco's great Albariño 

at Paco's Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas Feria de Vinos de Autor in  Val de Salnés, Rías Baixas, Galicia.


As I normally do when I am taking someone around Spain, I arrive in the country a day or more earlier in order to get over jet lag and tie up any loose ends before the trip begins.
 
On Sunday, October 2, I arrived in Madrid's Barajas Terminal One, then took an Air Europa flight two hours later from Terminal Two from Madrid to Vigo in Galicia and Ole!, the Air Europa flight was a pleasant surprise. Air Europa, an economy airline, had comfortable seats and plenty of leg room on this one-hour, in-country flight (unlike the monumentally uncomfortable, no  legroom,  seven hour-plus Atlantic crossing on an American carrier).

After landing at the Vigo airport, I called Hertz Rental Car, who (in Spanish) gave me directions to the bowels of the airport garage where an employee was waiting to drive me to an off-airport site a quarter mile away. Hertz is rapidly becoming a rental car company to avoid for the average traveler. Too many off-airport or off-train station sites, like the one at Barcelona Sants train station, which is a nightmare during which you have to be a magician--or have already been there to figure out where to pick up and drop off the car. Other companies like Avis and National are usually on-site.

Alright, rants aside, most of them about the first day.  I arrived in Galicia, got the car and was about to embark on a two-week adventure with Michael Chiarello, Chef-owner of Bottega Restaurant and Napa Style (a specialty item and imports food store, who products are available on-line) in Yountville, California.


Chef Michael Chiarello and Chef Ryan Mcilwaithe
in the port of Cambados on their first day, Galicia. 

Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


I left the airport, crossed the awesome bridge over the Río de Vigo, where thousands of bateas (anchored rafts for farming Galicia’s famous shellfish) fill the broad estuary.



View of the Rías de Vigo with bateas from Bueu. Thousands of bateas (anchored rafts for farming Galicia’s famous shellfish) fill the broad estuaries of the Rías (fjords) de Vigo, Pontevedra and the other Rías of Galicia. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Just across the bridge, I exited the tollway and drove south towards Marín to find a town on the coast called Bueu and a place called Playa de Beluso, where my new-found friend, Javier Rioyo, Executive Director on the Instituto Cervantes in New York, told me I would find A Centoleira, a century-old fishermen's tavern turned restaurant. I found the place, but it was too early and the owner had not yet arrived, so I had my first tapas--deviled eggs and tuna empanada with Estrella Galicia draft beer--of the trip at the bar, then decided to push on to Cambados, check into my lodgings Hotel Rosita, then find lunch in Cambados. 


After I checked in to Casa Rosita, I was tempted to stay there and try the well-regarded salpicón de mariscos (a melange of shellfish in a vinaigrette), but, since it was still early in the dining room of Casa Rosita's restaurant was still empty, instead I decided to set out to find a fishermen's quarter bar-restaurant I had heard about on an earlier trip.


Casa Rosita Hotel in Cambados (Pontevedra).
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


I had been told that this bar served bi-valves that were harvested directly by the women licensed to collect shellfish at low tide off Cambados and that the bi-valves served there went straight to the restaurant without passing through the depurificacion plants, where they undergo several days of water changes before being released for sale. They were purported to have very natural, fresh-from-the-sea flavors.  Here I have to say that I have no verification that the restaurant in quesion serves such untreated bi-valves. I did not ask because I was tired and forgot to, but they would not have told me anyway, since serving such straight-from- the-wild oysters, clams, etc. is not exactly kosher. 


Beach as low tide, Santo Tomé, the ancient fishing port barrio of Cambados (Pontevedra), Galicia. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


I made a couple of passes by the fishing port and saw two restaurants, but neither looked to be the storied place that I sought, so I drove up into the narrow streets of the old Santo Tomé fishermen's quarter and parked my car alongside a plaza that had a house whose façade was completely covered in scallop shells.
 

Scallop shells as decorative siding on a house in Santo Tomé, the old fishing port of Cambados. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Then up a side street, I saw a sign that said "Ostras (oysters) - Bar Pintos" and pointed in the direction of the restaurant.  Down the street a hundred feet was a nondescript building of recent vintage, but the cooking smells emitting from the spot and the sounds of diners inside sounded promising.   

Bar Pintos in Santo Tomé, the ancient fishing port barrio of Cambados (Pontevedra), Galicia. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


I climbed the half-flight of stairs and entered a simple, clean dining room with a few tables filled.  I was seated by Mari Carmen one of the two sisters--MariaTeresa is the other--and given a plastic covered menu that consisted mostly of quite inexpensive seafood items.  


Oysters, Galicia. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Of course, I had to try a half-dozen raw oysters with the house's (and only) own Albariño, then a square of tuna empanada and a vieira (a baked scallop with onion and bread crumbs).  Mari Carmen and Maria Tere took me into their kitchen and showed me plates of beberechos (cockles), navajas (razor clams), nécoras (small crabs),  camarones (small shrimp) and zamburiñas (small scallops, still with their coral).  


Maria Tere y Mari Carmen Pintos DaPorta at Bar Pintos, Barrio de Santo Tomé, Cambados, 
with a lineup of the day's specialties: cigalas, beberechos, zamburiñas, navajas, nécoras, and camarones
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Tomorrow, I thought this would be the perfect casual place to introduce Chefs Chiarello and McIlwaith, both just off long plane trips from California.  They will be tired, but hungry.  An inexpensive, but delicious lunch at Bar Pintos, then a siesta at Casa Rosita would be the best way to get them started.  I paid the bill and drove back to Casa Rosita, where I decided to have their salpicón de mariscos and a beer before heading up for my own siesta.  They wouldn't sell me a half ración, even though I was booked into the hotel for three nights, so I opted for a whole portion, ate about half of it and went up for a nap.  I have had many other better versions of this dish (one of my favorites), most notably at Casa Rafa in Madrid and at Restaurante Mirador de Doñana and Casa Bigote, both in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.


Salpicón de mariscos seafood melange in a vinaigrette), Casa Rosita Hotel Restaurante. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


A couple of hours later, I awoke to go to the bathroom and either a bad oyster and something in the salpicón--the lukewarm oysters, number three of six I suspect as the culprit--hit me full force and I spent the better part of the next three hours worshipping off-and-on, off-and-on at the ivory throne, sometimes clinging to cold porcelain projective vomiting and telling myself how glad I was to be back in Spain again.  

But a bad piece of shellfish was not going to stop me.  I still planned to take Chiarello and McIlwiath to Casa Pintos the next day.  I just didn't intend to eat oysters or let them eat them.  Why would I go back to Casa Pintos?  Because a bad oyster is a bad oyster.  I got one in a oyster dish once at Sign of the Dove in New York (That was an adventure involving the George Washington Bridge and the woods off the Palisades Parkway in New Jersey!).  My ex-wife got one at the Oyster Bar at Grand Central and I got a bad piece of shellfish at one of my favorite restaurants in Sanlúcar de Barrameda and something worse in Burgundy.  This happens during the course of in-depth gastronomic research and it can be Hell, but as they say "somebody has to do it."  Mercifully, over more than forty years of traveling, eating and drinking in Spain, it has not happened that often. 


Stay tuned, this was just Day Zero!



Slide show of Day Zero in Galicia:  Vigo - Bueu - Playa de Beluso - Cambados
(Double click to enlarge slides.)


________________________________________________________________________________  
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.

The Chiarello Chronicles: Day One, October 3, Galicia. A Sublime Seafood Dinner at D'Berto Restaurant with Do Ferreiro Owner Gerardo Méndez

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Gerardo Méndez of Do Ferreiro, Chef Ryan McIlwaith of Bottega Napa Valley, D' Berto owner 
Alberto “Berto” Domínguez and Chef Michael Chiarello at D'Berto Restaurante, O Grove, Galicia. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

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D' Berto owner Alberto “Berto” Domínguez clowning around with a cigala (Dublin Bay prawn) at D' Berto, 
O Grove (Pontevedra), Galicia. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

 Restaurante d’Berto
O Grove (Pontevedra), Galicia


D’Berto specializes in simply prepared but sensational crustaceans, mollusks and fish from the beautiful Rías Baixas (lower fjords) of the northwestern region of Galicia: cigalas (Dublin Bay prawns), langostas (spiny, clawless lobsters), camarones (small, succulent shrimp), vieiras (scallops with their orange coral) and centollos (big spider crabs). Owner Alberto “Berto” Domínguez’s pristine selections are matched by his chef-sister Marisol’s spot-on cooking techniques, and the wine list features stellar picks, like Albariño Do Ferreiro “Cepas Vellas,” one of Spain’s best whites. Dinner, $70. 84 Avenida Teniente Domínguez, O Grove, Pontevedra, Galicia; 34-986/733-447. -- Gerry Dawes, Departures (on-line), May 2011.


Roe on a female cigala (Dublin Bay prawn) at D'Berto, O Grove, Galicia.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Slide show on our dinner at D'Berto.
(Double click on the images to enlarge the slide show.)

  Where to Stay: Located roughly ten miles south of O Grove, the Gran Talaso Hotel Sanxenxo (rooms, from $175; 3 Paseo Praia de Silgar; 34-986/691-111) overlooks the Ría de Pontevedra. Nearby, two other options are the classic beachfront Gran Hotel La Toja (rooms, from $300; 34-986/730-025) and the Parador Nacional de Cambados (rooms, from $200; Plaza Calzada; 34-902/547-979), set in a 17th-century mansion. -- Gerry Dawes, Departures (on-line), May 2011.

We stayed at Hotel Casa Rosita in Cambados, a reasonably priced, comfortable hotel that looks out on the wetlands and fishing port of Cambados.  Casa Rosita has become one of my favorite road warrior hotels.  

Hotel Casa Rosita
Avenida de Vilagarcía, 8
36630 - Corvillón / Cambados (Pontevedra)
Phone: 986 543 477/986 542 878 




__________________________________________________________________________________  
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.

10/21/2011

Time: ETA Declares Peace. Is Spain Ready to Believe It?

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Lisa Abend, Time's Madrid correspondent and author of 
The Sorcerer's Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià's ElBulli.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /  gerrydawes@aol.com.

The words Spaniards have waited 43 years to hear finally came on Thursday evening. In a video sent to a handful of media outlets, three masked figures wearing the typical beret of the Basque country appeared on screen and declared, "ETA has decided to bring its armed activity to a definitive cessation." And with that, the separatist violence that has plagued Spain for more than four decades — and left 829 people dead — appeared to end. By Lisa Abend, Time, Madrid, Oct. 21, 2011

Basque Tourism Event with Wynton Marsalis & Teresa Barrenechea at Guastavino in NYC, Oct. 20, 2011

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Cookbook-author and chef Teresa Barrenechea, Master of Ceremonies and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis 
at the Basque Country promotional event last night at Guastavino in NYC. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Last night at Guastavino in New York City, The Basque Government (of Spain) presented a Basque tourism video, a fashion show dedicated to Getaria-born designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, a pintxos-tapas (with nearly fifty different Basque specialites) and a tasting of txacolis and Rioja Alavesa wines and music and by Basque folkloric performers, including a txistulari (flute and drum player).


Txistulari (txistu = flute), flauta y tambor (flute and drum) player at the Basque Country event last night 
at Guastavino in NYC. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

The event's Master of Ceremonies was Chef-author Teresa Barrenechea (The Basque Table) and jazz star Wynton Marsalis, who has appeared frequently at the Vitoria Jazz Festival, spoke on behalf of the Basque Country.  

Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis and cookbook-author and chef Teresa Barrenechea, 
Master of Ceremonies at the Basque Country event last night at Guastavino in NYC. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Also spotted at the event were star chefs Juan Mari Arzak (Restaurante Arzak) and Andoni Aduriz (Mugaritz), Kukuxumuzu tee-shirt tycoon Mikel Urmeneta, Instituto Cervantes President Javier Rioyo, Íñigo Ramírez de Haro, Consulate General of Spain for Cultural Affairs, and Terry Zarikian, Director of Product Development for Jeffrey Chodorow’s China Grill Management Group and Creative Director of Bar Basque in Manhattan.


Two-star Basque chef Andoni Aduriz of Mugaritz near San Sebastián with Kay Balun 
at the Basque Country event last night at Guastavino in NYC. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.



Slide show on the Basque event at Guastavino.
(Double click to enlarge.)

Gerry y Sus Amigos (A one- minute trailer in Spanish filmed in The Basque Country for a proposed television series in Spain).

_________________________________________________________________________________  
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.

10/19/2011

The Best of the Great Basque Three-Star Chef Martín Berasategui's Cuisine, at Bar Basque, Monday, Oct. 17, 2011.


* * * * *

Martín Berasategui at the Basque Country promotional luncheon, 
The Best of Martín Berasategui's Cuisine, at Bar Basque, Monday, Oct. 17, 2011.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /  gerrydawes@aol.com.

From pintxos-tapas using Basque products to a six-course retrospective, The Basque Country sponsored Best of Martín Berasategui's Cuisine at the Bar Basque was a tour-de-force, executed beautifully by Chef Berasategui and his pick-up crew in the kitchen.  The pintxos were delicious and the luncheon featured dishes from 2011 back to 1995 (the brilliant Bersategui signature dish of puff pastry layered with foie gras, smoked eel, spring onions and green apple), was as good as an out-of-house sit-down luncheon gets.  The dishes were paired to Basque Country wines such as Txomín Etxaniz Txacolí 2010 and Marqués de Riscal Reserva (Rioja Alavesa) from the great 2001 vintage. 


Slide show on The Best of Martín Berasategui's Cuisine luncheon at the Bar Basque.
(Double click on images to enlarge.)

In attendance were several dignitaries from the Basque Country, including Basque lehendakari (prime minister/president), Patxi López; Joxe Mari Aizega, Director of the Basque Culinary Center (BCC) in San Sebastián (a new exchange agreement between BCC and The Culinary Institute of America was signed Monday evening); and three-star chef Juan Mari Arzak, the godfather of modern Basque and Spanish cuisine.  Other distinguished culinarians and dignataries spotted were author and television personality Anthony Bourdain, International Wine Cellar wine critic Josh Raynolds, Instituto Cervantes President Javier Rioyo, Culinary Event Stager Mike Cimino, Food Arts Managing Editor Beverly Stephen, former elBulli stagiere Najat Kanaache (who assisted Chef Berasategui) and Wunderkind aspirant chef Greg Grossman.


Mike Cirino, events specialist, and Greg Grossman, aspirant chef 
at the Basque promotional luncheon at Bar Basque in Manhattan on Oct. 17, 2011.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

There was also a show of Basque food products and wines featuring such products as Idiazabal cheese, squid ink and squid ink sauce from Nortindal Seafood Products, bacalao from La Bacalandera, Alkorta and Giraldo, surimi and faux angulas from Angulas Arguinaga, Agiña Piperrak's Ibarra guindillas (long thin piquant chartreuse peppers that are an indispensable condiment for Basque bean dishes),  Zallo tuna, Hijos de José Serrats tuna, Corpa anchovies and turron from Gorrotxategi.  
 

Slide show on Basque products (Double click to enlarge.)


__________________________________________________________________________________  
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.

10/18/2011

The Basque Culinary Center (San Sebastián, The Basque Country, Spain) Signs An Exchange Agreement with The Culinary Institute of America


* * * * *


Basque Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz speaking in the Danny Kaye Theatre at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York during one of the first lectures that are part of the agreement between the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastián and the CIA-Hyde Park. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes copyright 2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

The Basque Culinary Center will reveal the secrets of the Basque cuisine in the United States. As a partner, it will count on the world’s most important gastronomic university center, The Culinary Institute of America. 

Both institutions signed a cooperation agreement last Monday in New York, aiming to promote the education and the cultural and teacher exchange between both students and professors, as well as to deepen their sharing research on Basque and Spanish gastronomy, wine and culinary heritage.  Both agreed to promote values and benefits of the Mediterranean diet in the United States.


Joxe Mari Aizega, director of the Basque Culinary Center, and L. Tim Ryan, president of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), closed a deal in the presence of Basque lehendakari (prime minister/president), Patxi López.


Chef Andoni Aduriz of Mugaritz (2cd from right) and his crew with 
Joxe Mari Aizega, Director of the Basque Culinary Center (far right), 
at the Conrad Hilton Library at The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY.
Photo by Gerry Dawes copyright 2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Basque chefs Juan Mari Arzak, Martin Berasategui and Andoni Luis Aduriz, members of the Board of the Basque Culinary Center, were also present at the ceremony. Later, Basque chef Andoni Luis Aduriz offered a master class to the students at the CIA.


Basque Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz at the Danny Kaye Theatre at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York during one of the first lectures that are part of the agreement between the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastián and the CIA-Hyde Park. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes copyright 2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


The Culinary Institute of America is a world renowned gastronomic learning center. Its main campus is located in Hyde Park (New York), but it has also centers in St. Helena (California), San Antonio (Texas) and Singapore. It has about 3,000 students and 43,000 former students.
___________________________________________________________________________

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

10/06/2011

Don Quixote, Casa de Cervantes, Valladolid (Castilla y León)


* * * * *


Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Author of Don Quixote*

* * * * *
Casa de Cervantes, Valladolid


Dostoevsky in The Diary of a Writer on Don Quixote*

"There is nothing in life more powerful than this piece of fiction. It is still the final and the greatest expression of human thought, the most bitter irony that a human is capable of expressing; and if the world came to an end and people were asked somewhere there: ‘Well, did you understand anything about your life on earth and draw any conclusion from it?’ a person could silently hand over Don Quixote. ‘Here is my conclusion about life. Can you condemn me for it?’"

Highly Recommended:  Edith Grossman's translation of Don Quixote:

“The extraordinary significance and influence of this novel were reaffirmed, once again, in 2002, when one hundred major writers from fifty-four countries voted Don Quixote the best work of fiction in the world.”  Translator’s Note to the Reader, Don Quixote: A New Translation by Edith Grossman (Ecco, Harper Collin, New York, 2003.)




"Miguel de Cervantes was born on September 29, 1547, in Alcala de Henares, Spain. At twenty-three he enlisted in the Spanish militia and in 1571 fought against the Turks in the battle of Lepanto, where a gunshot wound permanently crippled his left hand. He spent four more years at sea and then another five as a slave after being captured by Barbary pirates. Ransomed by his family, he returned to Madrid but his disability hampered him; it was in debtor's prison that he began to write Don Quixote. Cervantes wrote many other works, including poems and plays, but he remains best known as the author of Don Quixote. He died on April 23, 1616." -- Harper Collins website.

Valladolid -- See Valladolid: Castilla y León's Capital & Historical Treasure Trove -- was the capital of Spain for five years (1601-1606) under Phillip III after the city bribed the Duque de Lerma, the royal favorite and one of the most corrupt individuals ever to hold power in Spain, 400,000 ducats to move the court from Madrid. 




Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, spent three years in Valladolid during this period in a house on the calle del Rastro. The Casa de Cervantes is located at calle del Rastro 7, two and a half blocks east of Plaza de Zorilla (just south of the Plaza, don’t miss the Campo Grande park where magnificent semi-tame peacock–with the emphasis on “semi”– fan their feathers and strut about the park doing their mating dance for the peahens and tourists alike).



Cervantes, along with more than 20 of his relatives, friends, and perhaps a down-at-heel servant or two, crowded into 13 rooms above an old tavern that was the hangout for butchers from the nearby slaughterhouse.

My old friend and some-time mentor, the late William Byron, author of the definitive biography of Cervantes (Cervantes: A Biography), describes what the building was like in those days, "one of five new houses jerry built by a small-bore speculator hoping to cash in on an influx of riffraff into the city. It was an instant slum."

Cervantes was arrested in this house, though, after the mysterious death from sword wounds of a nobleman killed in the dangerous streets of this quarter. Cervantes and his family helped the man into their apartments, where he died two days later, and when no one could put a finger on the man's assailant, Cervantes and several members of his family were arrested, albeit briefly, thus adding Valladolid to list of jails–Algiers, Castro del Rio, Argamasilla de Alba and Sevilla–that the great writer graced with his presence–most unjustly in all the instances. 



Don't expect to moved by the spirit of the great writer in today's contrived surroundings, however; the house is more interesting as a refurbished 17th-century dwelling, certainly in better shape now than it was in those days, than as a Cervantes museum. Besides, by the time Cervantes moved here, Volume I of Don Quixote was already finished and in the hands of his publisher, Francisco de Robles, who had moved to Valladolid from Madrid to be close to the real money - - in this epoch certainly - - around the supremely corrupt duke of Lerma and the court of Phillip III. 

More on Cervantes:



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