Club Chefs of Connecticut (and New York) Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes: Outside the trendy wine bar Monvinic in Barcelona about to tour the wine cellar, meet the owner, Sergi Ferrer Salat, and have lunch. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / firstname.lastname@example.org / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 28mm f2.8 rented from http://lensrental.com for this trip.
During the week of January 12-19, the Club Chefs of Connecticut, along with several Club Chefs from New York, took a gastronomic journey through Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante and Madrid. This prestigious group of ten executive chefs from Connecticut experienced a crash course in the tastes of Spain under the guidance of Gerry Dawes our organizer, guide and Spanish food and wine expert.
Gerry Dawes is widely recognized as one of the very top American experts on the gastronomy, wines and culture of Spain. Recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Spanish National Gastronomy Prize (2003) and Food Arts magazine’s Silver Spoon Award (2009), Gerry has long been educating American Chefs about the gastronomy, wines and culture of Spain.
Participating on this tour were Chefs Brian Limitone, Meadow Ridge Senior Living, Redding, CT; Gerard Resnick, Century Country Club, Purchase, NY; Robert Rainone, Larchmont Yacht Club, Larchmont, NY; Carey Favreau, Glen Arbor Club, Bedford Hills NY; Wayne Kregling, Brownson Country Club, Huntington, CT; Wayne Klingman, Garden City Country Club, Garden City, NY; Victor Honrath, Wykagyl Country Club, New Rochelle, NY; Dan Neuroth, Bronxville Field Club, Bronxville, NY; Austin Simard , Brownson Country Club, Huntington, CT; and James Rosenbauer, Country Club of Farmington, Farmington, CT.
Flying out of JFK and arriving in Barcelona early Monday morning we gathered at the Hotel Cram, carrer Aribau 54 the tony Eixample district and proceeded to a classic Catalan breakfast restaurant, Bar Gelida. This small bar-restaurant was bustling with patrons so we were ushered through the tiny kitchen to a table set up in the storeroom. Sitting among boxes and cases of product we enjoyed a multi-course morning feast featuring the grilled sepia (squid), Spanish tortilla (egg and potato omelette), and mongetes amb botifarra (white beans with Catalan sausage).
Club Chefs of Connecticut Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes: Sitting at the kitchen storeroom 'family' table, just a couple of hours after an all-night flight from New York, at Bar Gelida, Barcelona. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / email@example.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS30 43-86mm f3.3 – f6.4.
After our Breakfast of Champions, Gerry led us on an orientation walk around Barcelona’s fashionable Eixample and showed us architect Antoni Gaudi’s famous landmark buildings on the Passeig de Gracia, Casa Mila and Casa Batlló, then before heading back to the Hotel Cram for a nap before lunch, we made an impromptu stop at Reserva Ibérica (the ham shop), which specializes in aged, salt-and-air cured Ibérico hams and charcutería, which we sampled.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / firstname.lastname@example.org / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.
We drank Catalan wines, cava, rosat and negre and, for dessert, we got our first exposure to crema catalana or Catalan crème brûlée. After dinner, we migrated to Javier de la Muela’s famous cocktail bar, Dry Martini, located a few blocks from the HotelCram, for a couple of adult libations.
The second morning in Barcelona, we visited Jorge Mas’s Mas Gourmet specialty shop in the upscale shopping mall, L’Illa del Diagonal for a sensational second breakfast. Mas’s shop manager and hamcutter Jordi Ausro gave us a seminar and a dazzling tasting of several kinds of jamón Ibérico and charcutería, pa amb tomaquet (Catalan tomato bread), morcilla (black pudding), smoked salmon, and foie gras tapas accompanied Cava Rimarts Rosat Ahumado sparkling wine, a slightly smoky method champenoise rosé made to accompany smoked salmon.
Slide show, Mas Gourmets de L'Embotits,
Our next stop was a visit to the bakery and workshop of super star pastry artist and culinary events maestro Christian Escribà at Escribà, where Christian Escribà’s (he was in Portugal) Projects Director Xavier Marcos, showed us a video of some of the dazzling projects in the works at this incredible world-class pastry shop.
We followed the Escribà pastries visit with a tour of Mercat de la Boquería, one of the world’s greatest markets, where you can buy the freshest of seafood (we were introduced to the shellfish purveyor at her Palmira i Neus - Gemma stand, the lovely Gemma Bosch Roca, always stylishly dressed, like many women in La Boquería, wearing an elegantly embroidered bodice and looking gorgeous, all the while bagging mariscos (exquisite crustaceans and mollusks), cutting up fish, wrapping slices and filets, passing them to customers and taking payment.
We also met another of Gerry’s friends, Llorenç Petras, the now-retired Maestro of Mushrooms, who just happened to be at his Petras stand that day (the stand is now run by his sons) and he showed us a tray with a pile of large prime of trufas negras (black truffles) and a large basket of colmenillas (morels mushrooms).
After a walk on La Barceloneta beach, we caught a municipal bus whose route took us from the port to the front door of the Hotel Cram. We had the rest of the afternoon free until dinner to explore Barcelona.
Jordi is one of the most brilliant cocina de vanguardia, avant-garde cuisine, chefs in the world. The value of the reservation was underscored when, as Gerry was lining up to take a photograph of our chefs group in front of ABaC before dinner, a taxi arrived and he was standing face to face with a friend of his, Roser Torras (Directora of grup gsr - produccions de gastronomia, one of most brilliant culinary event producers in the world), who was arriving for dinner as well. We were invited into ABaC's open kitchen, then we were seated at an elegantly appointed table and Jordi Cruz and his kitchen staff began to dazzle us with opening dishes such as a Nitro passion fruit “mojito,” shellfish (razor clams and cockles) bloody Mary snow and Mexican foie gras (foie with mole ice cream, corn powder and Vera Cruz salt), followed by creations such as sea urchin curry with Kafir, an anguila (sea eel) “sandwich,” Parmesan gnocchi with raw mushrooms, nuts, truffle oil and a mushroom infusion with lemongrass. A bone-dry Balma Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava from Mas Bertran was served with the appetizers and was followed by an excellent white La Conreria d'Scala Dei Priorat Les Brugueres 2010 Garnacha Blanca.
In just two days in Barcelona, our group of chefs managed to meet a slew of Gerry Dawes's culinary star friends, including Barcelona chefs Carles Abellàn (Comerç 24, Tapas 24 and several other restaurants), ABaC’s Jordi Cruz, Juanito Bayen (owner of the legendary market bar Pinotxo), Quím Marquéz (Quím de la Boquería), Quím Marqués (Suquet de L’Almirall), Roser Torras, Mas Gourmets owner Jorge Mas, market stand owners’ association President Salvador Capdevila, La Boquería President Oscar Uribe, Llorenç Petras, the Maestro of Mushrooms and Sergi Ferrer, the owner of Monvinic Wine Bar and Ferrer Bobet winery in Priorat.
About Gerry Dawes
For custom-designed tours of Spain, organized and lead by Gerry Dawes, and custom-planned Spanish wine, food, cultural and photographic itineraries, send inquiries to email@example.com.
"Gerry Dawes, I can't thank you enough for opening up Spain to me." -- Michael Chiarello on Twitter.
"Chiarello embarked on a crash course by traveling to Spain for 10 days in 2011 with Food Arts
"In his nearly thirty years of wandering the back roads of Spain," Gerry Dawes has built up a much stronger bank of experiences than I had to rely on when I started writing Iberia...His adventures far exceeded mine in both width and depth..." -- James A. Michener, author of Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections
In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés.
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.