(Much more to come; stay tuned for more photos and descriptions.)
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From January 13-19, 2014, I led ten chefs from Connecticut and New York on a Club Chefs of Connecticut Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes gastronomic journey of discovery through Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante and Madrid. My culinary contacts gave them seminars on pastries, Spanish hams, olive oil, saffron, spices, many kinds of rice preparations and in-depth tours of La Boquería market in Barcelona and Mercat Central in Valencia.
Tour Members included Executive Chefs Robert Rainone, Larchmont Yacht Club, Larchmont, NY; Carey Favreau, Glen Arbor Club, Bedford Hills NYC; Wayne Kregling, Brownson Country Club, Huntington, CT; Wayne Klingman, Garden City Country Club, Garden City, NY; Victor Honrath, Wykagyl Country Club, New Rochelle, NY; Brian Limitone, Meadow Ridge Senior Living, Redding, CT; Gerard Resnick, Century Country Club, Purchase, NY; Dan Neuroth, Bronxville Field Club, Bronxville, NY; Austin Simard , Brownson Country Club, Huntington, CT; and James Rosenbauer, Country Club of Farmington, Farmington, CT.
In Barcelona, they met such star chefs and culinary stars as Barcelona chefs Carles Abellàn, Jordi Cruz (probably soon to be Barcelona’s first three-star chef), Juanito Bayen (owner of the legendary market bar Pinotxo), Quím Marquéz (Quím de la Boquería), Quím Marqués (Suquet de L’Almirall), Roser Torras (Directora of grup gsr - produccions de gastronomia, one of most brilliant culinary event producers in the world) and Jorge Mas, owner of Mas Gourmets. The chefs toured La Boquería with market owners’ association President Salvador Capdevila, La Boquería President Oscar Uribe and Jorge Mas of Mas Gourmets. They also met 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 son) and showed the chefs a pile of prime black truffles.
And they visited the workshops of star pastry makers Christian Escribà at Escribà in Barcelona, Paco Torreblanca in Petrer (Alicante) and the Carmencita spice plant in Novelda (Alicante). In Monóvar (Alicante), the chefs also took a tour of Salvador Poveda winery with Rafael Poveda, where they tasted a wine from a 1947 solera and were invited to write their names on a large barrel head.
In Valencia Paella Maestro-owner Rafa Gálvez, of La Matandeta, a restaurant set in the Albufera lagoon rice fields, just a few kilometers south of Valencia, did a hands-on demonstration of how to make classic Paella Valenciana and a paella de verduras, a vegetable paella, both cooked over wood fires outdoors.
An Ibérico ham and ham cutting seminar and an anchovy seminar were provided by Emiliano and Alejandro García’s Casa Montaña (Valencia) with pro ham cutter Juanma Aguilar and María José San Román gave the chefs seminars on both saffron and olive oil at her one-star Michelin restaurant, then joined us for dinner with a version of her “Menu Gerry Dawes” (the taberna's most popular and most expensive menu eight years running) at her award-winning La Taberna del Gourmet, which was twice named in the past three as the best tapas bar in Spain.
In Madrid, 70s something Lucio Blásquez, owner of the legendary Casa Lucio, entertained the chefs with an impromptu accordian player-accompanied song and dance to the tune of Madrid’s classic castizo schottis, the traditional music of San Isidro. We were also treated royally at Casa Botín, where we had roast suckling pig for lunch, and for our farewell dinner, first Chef-partner Javier Muñoz treated us to Champagne on the spectacular roof terrace of the Palicio de Cibeles, then we took elevators to our private table for a multi-course dinner for the chefs’ last night in Spain.