Share This Blog Post

Instagram

2/21/2017

Quim de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona. Five Dalí POM (Persistence of Memory) Melting Watches


* * * * * 
Five Dalí POM (Persistence of Memory) Melting Watches

to  Quim de la Boquería, Where You Eat Like a King on a Taburete (Barstool)



 Gerry Dawes's Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí) Melting Watch Awards.

All photos by Gerry Dawes©2017 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.

Quim Marquéz, Quim de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona with his costillas de ternera (veal ribs) with potatoes, Maldon salt and black Chinese garlic.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. 


English Version of Boquería Gourmand (Published by Viena Edicions), a Book about Barcelona's Fabulous La Boquería Market (Foreword by Gerry Dawes)
(With an opening quote from Quim Marquéz, Quim de la Boquería. Click on link above.)



Yuri Marquéz, son of Quim Marquéz, Quím de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona.
 It seems only like just last year, when I took Quim, Yuri, then barely a teenager, and his little brother to Chinatown in New York City for dinner.  Now the guy is the heart-throb of La Boquería.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4. 

* * * * *

This article on Quim de la Boquería in Barcelona, is another in  a series of articles on restaurants and tapas bars from around Spain that I think, from my very personal experience, deserve Five of Five Dalí POM (Persistence of Memory) Melting Watch Award pins.  I frankly don’t give a damn about Michelin ratings, Repsol or any of the rest.  I have been traveling and eating and drinking wine all over Spain for nearly 50 years and I have been to the restaurants in these articles multiples times.  Yes, I am influenced by the friendly relationships I have with many of the chefs and owners of these establishments and I take into consideration the downside for those who might not be connected in some of the restaurants I am writing about.  Nonetheless, I have had repeated Five Melting Watch experiences in all the places I am going to write about.

I have been to Quim de la Boquería at least a score of times, but when I arrived, looking for barstools for me and Kay, on the late afternoon of Friday, Feb. 3, I realized that Quim Marquéz, his ingredients, cooking style, cooking crew including his son Yuri, had moved to another dimension.  We sat down around 4 p.m. (!) to what would be a multi-course meal of five-star world class dishes, even in a white table cloth restaurant. 

Quim Marquéz and his son Yuri at Quím de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona.
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. 

Our lunch at Quím de la Boquería

Quim Marquéz and his crew in the tiny kitchen that turns out the incredible food at
Quím de la Boquería.

The blackboards at Quím de la Boquería with menu items and gastronomic pronouncements.

Our lunch was liberally lubricated with the excellent Cava Juvé y Camps Rosé Reserva Brut (100% Pinot Noir) at Quim de la Boquería, Chef Quim Márquez Durán's incredible market bar in la Boquería market, Barcelona, Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2017.    Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 gerrydawes@gmail.com

 Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp with black garlic from China), as good as this dish gets.

Ceviche de corvina, corvina fish ceviche.

 Chanquetes con huevos fritos, fried whitebait with fried eggs.

Calçots con vieras, chipirones y romesco, young tempura leek-like onions with small scallops, baby squid and romesco (hazelnut, peppers, tomatoes, garlic) suace.


Quim Marquéz with his costillas de ternera (veal ribs) with potatoes, Maldon salt and black Chinese garlic.   Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest

 Cheesecake with passion fruit for dessert. 

Photos from other encounters at Quím de la Boquería

 
Joan Mora González pouring rosat Cava (Catalan rosé sparkling wine), Quím de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.


  Alcachofas fritas (crispy fried artichokes) and rosat Cava (Catalan rosé sparkling wine), Quím de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.


 
Alcachofas fritas (crispy fried artichokes) and rosat Cava (Catalan rosé sparkling wine), Quím de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

Patatas bravas with picante red bravas sauce and alioli, Quím de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

 
Club Chefs of Connecticut and New York Taste of Spain Tour 2014 with Gerry Dawes:  Quím Crab Burguer, Quím de la Boquería, a Boquería market, Barcelona,  Jan. 14, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.


___________________________________________________________________________________________

About Gerry Dawes


Writing, Photography, & Specialized Tours of Spain & Tour Advice
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 gerrydawes@aol.com.  


I have planned and led tours for such culinary stars as Chefs Thomas Keller, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Michael Lomonaco and Michael Chiarello and such personalities as baseball great Keith Hernandez and led on shorter excursions and have given detailed travel advice to many other well-known chefs and personalities such as Drew Nieporent, Norman Van Aken, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg, Christopher Gross, Rick Moonen, James Campbell Caruso and many others.

 * * * * * 
“The American writer and town crier for all good Spanish things Gerry Dawes . . . the American connoisseur of all things Spanish . . .” Michael Paterniti, The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and The World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

* * * * *

"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
contributing authority Gerry Dawes, a noted expert on Spanish food and wine.  Coqueta's (Chiarello's new restaurant at Pier Five, San Francisco) chef de cuisine, Ryan McIlwraith, later joined Dawes for his own two week excursion, as well. Sampling both old and new, they visited wineries and marketplaces, as well as some of Spain's most revered dining establishments, including the Michelin three-star Arzak, Etxebarri, the temple to live fire-grilling; Tickets, the playful Barcelona tapas bar run by Ferran Adrià and his brother, Albert; and ABaC, where Catalan cooking goes avant-garde." - - Carolyn Jung, Food Arts, May 2013.


* * * * *

"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

 * * * * *
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
Pilot for a reality television series with Gerry Dawes  
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com

2/20/2017

Horchata, Chufa de Valencia, Tigernuts, A Tuber Cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians and the Moors, Who Left an Enduring Legacy with This Drink Along the Mediterranean


* * * * * 
All photographs by Gerry Dawes©2017. 
(Publication prohibited without written permission.)

Chufas are now widely grown in the sandy soils of La Comunitat Valenciana and are used to the make the very popular milky-like drink, horchata de chufa, L'Orxatería, Mercat Central de Valencia.

D. O. Chufa de Valencia display at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017.

Tigernuts or chufas (also known as almendras de la tierra, earth almonds), as they are known in Spanish are not a nut, they are a tuber.  Chufas were cultivated and prized for their healing and regenerative powers back in ancient Egypt and traces of them have been found in Egyptian tombs.  Chufas are now widely grown in the sandy soils of La Comunitat Valenciana and are used to the make the very popular milky-like drink, horchata de chufaChufas even have their own denominación de origen status (like wines), Chufa de Valencia. 

Horchata at a outside terrace table at Peret on the magnificient palm tree-lined Explanada pedestrian-only walkway just across from the port of Alicante.

The tigernut about the size of an almond, but round-shaped and with a rough, pitted exterior.  As a tuber, it is buried beneath the ground until it is harvested and prepared for consumption. The chufa tubers are harvested, washed to rid them of sand or small stones, then dried in the sun for two-to-three months and turned several times to insure even drying.  Later, the chufas are rehydrated by soaking them in water for several hours, often overnight, then either blended with water and sugar and drunk as horchata and eaten as a snack, like almonds or peanuts, except the chufa has a natural sweetness.   


Directora General de Turisme de la Generalitat Valenciana (Director of Tourism for La Comunitat Valenciana) Raquel Huete Nieves tastes a chufa, which is sweet and can be eaten as a snack, from la Comunitat Valenciana at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 #amf17

The chufa is though to have arrived in Spain in the Levante, the Comunitat Valenciana, during the Moorish occupation of Spain.  The Moors brought in irrigation channels and made the dry regions of the Mediterranean flourish with citrus groves, almond trees, chufa plantations and other crops. 

Chufa de Valencia, the Tigernut tuber that is using to make the very popular drink horchata, a sweet refreshing cold drink that can be readily found in the provinces of Valencia and Alicante.

Though horchata is mostly associated with a cold summer drink, it is served all year round in la Comunitat Valencia–the provinces of Valencia, Alicante and Castellón–often in special cafes called Orxaterías, horchata can be found all of over Spain in cafeterias and bars that offer it as a specialty drink.  I love to drink horchata at L'Orxatería located just outside the main entrance to the Mercat Municipal de Valencia or sitting outside at a table at Perot on the magnificient palm tree-lined Explanada pedestrian-only walkway just across from the port of Alicante. 

 L'Orxatería del Mercat Central de Valencia, offering chocolate, churros, orxata (horchata), gelats artisanals (artisanal ice cream), granissats (flavored ices) and suc de taronja (fresh-squeezed orange juice) at the entrance to Valencia's main market, Jan. 15, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

L'Orxateria is the café closest to the stairs to the main entrance to the Mercat Central, Valencia, to the left of the famous paella pan and kitchen utensil stands, Jan. 15, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

Kay Balun sipping horchata at Peret Horchateria on la Explanada in Alicante.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015.

 Churros con chocolate and horchata at L'Orxatería, Mercat Central, Valencia, Jan. 15, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Canon 24 105mm f/4L IS USM.
_______________________________________________________  
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
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017: Tapas Hopping with Colman Andrews in Madrid, Jan. 24, 2017


* * * * * 
Because the foreign press contingent was ensconced in an isolated hotel along Route M-40 in northwestern Madrid, some 15 kilometers from downtown Madrid, this year's tapas excursions at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017 were somewhat curtailed compared to other years, but Colman Andrews, Managing Editor of The Daily Meal, and I managed one breakaway and I was able to  get to Marisquería Rafa on the Sunday night before Madrid Fusión 2017 began.


Colman and I managed to hit just two tapas bars, included the highly rated La Catapa and La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, which specializes in casquería (offal) and whose kitchen was closing just as we arrived at 11:00, so we had to settle for just one dish there, callos (tripe).

 
 On a tapas prowl with Colman Andrews, Editorial Director of The Daily Meal and Spanish cuisine expert at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto, 48. Madrid. Tel. 91 451 10 00, Jan 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017
 
 Chef-owner Javi Estévez, La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto, 48. Madrid. Tel. 91 451 10 00, Jan 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017
 
 Specialist in Casquería (Offal) dishes:   Callos with picante sauce (tripe in a picante sauce), served with a Piñeiro Oloroso de Jerez at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto # 48, Madrid. Photo by Gerry Dawes.

 Callos (tripe), some of the best tripe (which I do not particularly like) that I have ever had, at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto, 48. Madrid. Tel. 91 451 10 00, on a tapas prowl during Madrid Fusión 2017 with Colman Andrews, Editorial Director of The Daily Meal and Spanish cuisine expert, Jan 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017.

 
 The menu at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez (in English)

Some of the dishes Colman and I missed out on:

 Beef Cheek, SweetBreads, Liver, Tripe, Shank and Snout; Lamb Sweetbreads, Brains, Neck, Lung & Liver; Pork Baby Pig Tail, Cheek, PigTrotters and Ear; plus Tuna Heart, Cod Tripe, Tongue, Kidneys and Cockscomb. 



Plus Cabeza de cochinillo confitada (roast suckling pig head) with salad



Or aceitunas de Málaga (olives), lengua de cerdo Ibérico (Ibérico pig tongue), bread, aceite de oliva variedad Sikitita (peppery full flavored Isbylla extra virgen oiive oil made from the Sikitita olive variety, from Sevilla)  and a glass of Leirana Albariño 2013 from Forjas de Salnés at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto # 48, Madrid. Photo by Gerry Dawes.


Or riñones de conejo Meuniere (rabbit kidneys Meuniere with butter, lemon and hazelnuts) at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto # 48, Madrid. Photo by Gerry Dawes.


La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto # 48, Madrid. Photo by Gerry Dawes.

* * * * *
 Bar La Catapa, Calle Menorca, 14, Madrid (Zona Retiro).  Phone: 686 14 38 23.

"Today we have tripe with garbanzos" on the blackboard and "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - - Benjamin Franklin, inscribed on a post at Bar La Catapa, Calle Menorca, 14, Madrid (Zona Retiro).  Phone: 686 14 38 23.  La Catapa is rated as one of the top gastrobars in Madrid.   Luckily, we passed on the tripe at la Catapa, especially since that was the only dish offered to us at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017

 Erizos del mar (sea urchins) on a tapas prowl with Colman Andrews, Editorial Director of The Daily Meal and Spanish cuisine expert at Bar La Catapa, Calle Menorca, 14, Madrid (Zona Retiro).  Phone: 686 14 38 23.  La Catapa is rated as one of the top gastrobars in Madrid, Jan 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017
 
 Exceptional alcachofas (artichokes), which we suspect may have been "poached" in olive oil, on a tapas prowl with Colman Andrews, Editorial Director of The Daily Meal and Spanish cuisine expert at Bar La Catapa, Calle Menorca, 14, Madrid (Zona Retiro).  Phone: 686 14 38 23.  La Catapa is rated as one of the top gastrobars in Madrid, Jan 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017

___________________________________________________ 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
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017: More Photos of the 15th Anniversary Edition, January 23-25, 2017


* * * * * 

Myriam López, GrupoGourmets-Salón de Gourmets, with legendary chef Juan Mari Arzak (Arzak) at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 #amf17

 Long-time friend Fernando Gurucharri, President of the Union de Catadores Españoles (Union of Spanish Winetasters), at the tasting of 11 historic vintages going back more than 30 years of D. O. Ribera del Duero wines at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017 on Jan. 24, 2017.   Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017.


Galician Chef Pepe Solla of Casa Solla, Poio (Pontevedra), Galicia demonstrated lampreia eel cooking at a demonstration at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017, Jan 25, 2017.  There is a cult-like devotion among some groups, mostly men, who make piligrimages to spot on the Miño River, the border between Spain and Portugal, when the eel are available around this time of year.

 Chef Juan Cruz (Saborea España) and Matilde Asián González, Secretaria de Estado de Turismo at Saborea España, Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017, Palacio de Congresos, Madrid.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 #amf17

 Chef Elena Arzak (Arzak) and Albert Raurich (Dos Pebrots, Barcelona) at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 #amf17 


Gerry Dawes and long-time friend, champion cortador de jamones (professional hand-slicer of Ibérico hams) Florencia Sanchidrián at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017, Palacio de Congresos, Madrid.

___________________________________________________ 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
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 

2/19/2017

The Bar at Marisquería Rafa: A Five Dalí POM (Persistence of Memory) Melting Watch Award Experience


* * * * *
Gerry Dawes toasting with Champagne at the Bar at  Marisquería Rafa, Madrid.
Photograph by John Sconzo (Docsconz:  Musings on Food & Life)


 Gerry Dawes's Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí) Melting Watch Awards.

This article on Marisquería Rafa in Madrid, is the first post in what will be a series of articles on restaurants and tapas bars from around Spain that I think, from my very personal experience, deserve Five of Five Dalí POM (Persistence of Memory) Melting Watch Award pins.  I frankly don’t give a damn about Michelin ratings, Repsol or any of the rest.  I have been traveling and eating and drinking wine all over Spain for nearly 50 years and I have been to most of the restaurants in these articles multiples times.  Yes, I am influenced by the friendly relationships I have with many of the chefs and owners of these establishments and I take into consideration the downside for those who might not be connected in some of the restaurants I am writing about.  Nonetheless, I have had repeated Five Melting Watch experiences in all the places I am going to write about.  

Rafael Andrés & María José Orbe with Gerry Dawes at the Bar at Rafa.
   Photo copyright by Harold Heckle.

Though this list of establishments receiving my highest rating does not include all the eating experiences I plan to include in this series, among these establishments are the following:

1.    Extebarri in the Basque Country has refined grilling a magical art form, so almost ever dish you get is something special.

2.    Elkano and Kaia in the fishing village of Getaria is the place to go for the best txangurro (spider crab scrape from the shell, put back into the shell with leeks, sherry, brandy and breadcrumbs and passed under the broiler and whole rodaballo (turbot) cooked outside over a wood fire.

3.    El Crucero, in the overlooked town of Corella, in southern Navarra, which is a vegetable region.  The creative chef, Nabor Jiménez does dishes such as sliced, fried small artichoke hearts with foie gras (have a sweet Aliaga Late Harvest muscatel with dish, since only sweet wines don’t clash with artichokes. 

4.    La Taberna del Gourmet, María José San Román’s incredible tradtional cuisine restaurant in Alicante, just a block of the palm-lined Explanada.  The best product, the best technique. Maybe the best tapas restaurant in Spain.   Gambas rojas de Denia, rice dishes, sea urchins, etc.  Whatever is fresh from the market that day.  Coverage of the remarkable GrupoGourmet culinary empire in Alicante, including her Michelin-starred Monastrell, the Tribeca beer and hamburger bar and her son-in-law’s grilled meat restaurant, La Vaquería, El Campello (Playa de San Juan de Alicante).

5.    Casa Elias, in the pueblo of Xinorlet inland in the province of Alicante, for thin-layer arroz cooked in paella pans over a grape vine cuttings fire. 

6.    D’Berto in O Grove (Pontevedra), Galicia.  Certainly among the greatest shellfish restaurants in the world. 

7.    Casa Bigote and Bar Bigote in Sanlúcar de Barrameda in Andalucía.  Exceptional seafood, friend fish, composed fish dishes and those wonderful Langostinos (prawns) de Sanlúcar, fresh off the plancha grill. 

8.    Quim de la Boquería in la Boquería market in Barcelona.  Put yourself in Quim Marquéz’s hands for a five-star dining experience on a taburete (barstool).  Plump gambas al ajillo, among the best in Spain.  Lovely ceviche de corvina with mango with Juve i Camps Pinot Noir Rosat (rosé) Cava.  Fried tiny fish, chanquetes con huevo frito, with a fried egg.  You can also go to front of the market to the legendary Pinotxo and have Xuchos, a wonderful pastry, and Calamarsets Saltats amb Fesos de Santa Pau (baby squid with tiny white Santa Pau (a village north of Barcelona on the Mediterranean.

9. Ganbara, in the old quarter of San Sebastián, has numerous varieties of mushrooms.  Have an assortment grilled, use a raw egg yolk as the sauce and you will be in mushroom heaven. 

10. Madrid, on Sunday nights most restaurants are closed, so I go to two places.  First, Marisquería Rafa, in the other side of Retiro Park in the Ibiza Metro area, where Rafa Andrés serves one of the best salpicónes, either with lobster or with shellfish in vinaigrette, one of the best ensaladillas rusas (“Russian” potato salad), wonderful jamón Ibérico and other dishes such as beberechos (cockles).    

After having some of Rafa’s dishes as appetizers, I usually go to Casa Lucio on Cava Baja in the Old Quarter of Madrid and eat setas a la plancha (plancha-grilled mushrooms with garlic, for which I request a raw egg yolk or two as a sauce, and huevos rotos con patatas (eggs “broken” over friend potatoes) and maybe a steak brought out on a sizzling platter.  Yes, Casa Lucio is getting my Five Dalí POM (Persistence of Memory) Melting Watch Award as well.  If I am in Madrid on a Sunday night, 99% of those nights I will end up at either Casa Lucio or Marisquería Rafa.   Yes, I know there are supposed to be better places for traditional Castilian food in Madrid than Lucio and Rafa and I know a lot of them, but both places are home and family to me and it would be hard to beat the overall experiences at either place. 


Marisquería Rafa
Calle de Narváez, 68
28009 Madrid, Spain
Phone: +34 915 73 10 87
  
 Juanjo Mateos Fornelio with mariscos at Marisquería Rafa, Madrid. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2016.
   
Marisquería Rafa, which has been in business since 1958, began for me more than twenty years ago as one of those Sunday nights-in-Madrid-when-everything-else-is-closed experiences and, over the period of a decade, became a regular stop on my prowl of Madrid restaurants.  And, because Casa Rafa was reliable I booked a couple of gastronomic tour groups that I was taking around Spain into the upstairs dining room, where I could bring special wines in and talk to my fellow travellers about them over lunch or dinner.

I began to establish the relationship I have today with Rafa Andrés, who owns Rafa with his cousin Miguel Angel Andrés, who alternates between being Chef and running the front of the house.


 Gerry and Rafa having a serious discussion about some item of gastronomic importance.   Maybe I am bugging Rafa to triple the size of the small entry way bar area, which might seat a half dozen people on one side, with maybe room for three-to-four more patrons at a side bar.

Though I have been going to Rafa for more than two decades, my afición really began to ratchet up, beginning with the advent of the Madrid Fusión Gastronomic Summit in 2003, which is held in Madrid every January.   The foreign chef and press contingent always arrives on Sunday the day before the event begins, so I began to look for places where I could take visiting journalists and chefs for one of the only free nights on the town in Madrid.  Thus, Marisquería Rafa and Casa Lucio, both being open on Sunday nights, when many other restaurants are closed, became my go to places to take foreign gastronomic luminaries to experience traditional Spanish cuisine before they began the vortex of cocina de vanguardia Ferran Adrià-inspired creative fusion cuisine on Monday morning.  

  Amercian journalists Arthur Bovino, John Sconzo and George Semler at the Bar at Rafa. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015.

I began to rally groups of invitees to Madrid Fusión to these nights on the town.  Over the years they have included Chefs Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar & Grill (NYC), Michael Ginor (Hudson Valley Foie Gras), Ken Oringer (Toro, Boston), Jonathan Benno (then Chef of Per Se, NYC), Santa Fe’s Mark Miller, author Harold McGee, Ruth Reichl (then editor of Gourmet magazine), Jeffrey Steingarten (food critic of Vogue), Colman Andrews (Managing Editor, The Daily Meal and author of Catalan Cuisine), journalists Arthur Bovino, George Semler and John Sconzo (Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life). 



Several Madrid Fusión Gastronomic Summit attendees at the bar at Marisquería Rafa.  Among them Anne E. McBride of the Culinary Institute of America, John Sconzo (Docsconz) and Catalan events promoter, Santi Mas de Xaxàs, CEO and Founder of HuddleApp.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2016.

But, the year that the Bar at Rafa legend began to kick into high gear was 2006, when the likes of Charlie Trotter, Norman Van Aken, Tetsuya Wakuda and Don Alfonso Iaccarino were all at Madrid Fusión.  That year, I arranged, along with star Spanish food journalist, Juanma Bellver, to meet them all–three of the chefs with their significant others with them–at the Bar at Rafa for some stellar shellfish tapas, a bit of bubbly and some conversation. 
 

  Gerry Dawes, Tetsuya Wakuda, Rochelle Smith, Livia Iaccarino, Janet Van Aken, Charlie Trotter and Norman Van Aken.  Photo by Don Alfonso Iaccarino.

Casa Rafa would be the first stop, then we were going on to Sergi Arola’s new place.  Still, between the plates of jamón Ibérico de bellota, gambas rosas, salpicón de mariscos and Champagne, we managed to run up an impressive bill.  

Norman Van Aken pulled out an American Express Platinum card and tried to pay the bill.  Charlie Trotter trumped him with TWO American Express Platinum cards, then Tetsuya Wakuda pushed them both aside and plopped down his American Express BLACK card and paid the bill. 

 Spanish journalist Juanma Bellver, the late Charlie Trotter and his great friend Chef Norman Van Aken at the bar at Marisquería Rafa.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2006.

Over the years, with or without celebrity chefs in two–more often it is talented foreign journalists who join me on these jaunts–Casa Rafa had become one of my favorite places in Madrid.  Usually with friends, sometimes alone with my friend Rafa Andrés, drifting in and out as he fulfills his duties as maitre’d and cashier, I corner one or more of the half dozen seats at the small bar and the parade of superb quality product-driven begins.

The All-Star Food Gallery at Casa Rafa
(All photos copyright 2017 by Gerry Dawes; gerrydawes@gmail.com)

 Rafa Andrés, who owns Rafa with his cousin Miguel Angel Andrés Poyo, alternates between being Chef and running the front of the house.  Miguel Angel with a plate of gambas rebozadas with romesco sauce (deep-fried, tempura-like battered shrimp).

 Rafa Andrés at the bar with his prized salpicón de bogavante, lobster melange in vinaigrette.

 Rafa's salpicón de bogavante, lobster melange in vinaigrette.

Employee at Rafa shows off a huge centollo, spider crab.

Ham cutter at Casa Rafa slicing a jamón Ibérico de bellota (ham from acorn-grazed pigs) from Joselito in Guijuelo, Salamanca.

Plate of Jamón Ibérico de bellota (ham from acorn-grazed pigs) from Joselito in Guijuelo, Salamanca at Casa Rafa.

 My long-time friend Gabriella Llamas at a table on the sidewalk terrace at Casa Rafa having the house ensaladilla Rusa (Russian potato salad with ventresca de bonito, bonito belly tuna), which has been proclaimed one of the ten best ensaladillas in Spain.

Almejas a la marinera, superb clams in a light sauce, at Marisquería Rafa.

 Boquerones en vinagre, fresh anchovies dressed in vinegar and oil at Marisquería Rafa.

 Percebes, prized Galicia goose barnacles, that taste of the essence of the sea, at Marisquería Rafa.

Rafa's salpicón de langostinos, exceptional prawns in vinaigrette.


 Espardenyas, rare "Royal" sea cucumbers, from Catalunya, an expensive and prized delicacy in Spain, at Rafa.

 Angulas, baby eels caught in estuaries in northern Spain, another rare, expensive and legendary Spanish delicacy at at Marisquería Rafa.


 American journalist Arthur Bovino doing justice to his share of angulas, baby eels caught in estuaries in northern Spain, another rare, expensive and legendary Spanish delicacy at Marisquería Rafa.
 

  Fried salmonetes, excellent small red mullet, at Marisquería Rafa.

 Langostinos cocidos, steamed prawns, at Marisquería Rafa.


 
  Exquisite gambas rosas de Denia at Marisquería Rafa.

 Exquisite gambas rosas de Denia at Marisquería Rafa done on the plancha grill with sea salt.

  Exquisite gambas rosas de Denia at Marisquería Rafa done on the plancha grill with sea salt.

 
  A pair of exquisite gambas rosas de Denia at Marisquería Rafa done on the plancha grill and served on a brick of sea salt.

My fiancee Kay Balun with a pair of exquisite gambas rosas de Denia at Marisquería Rafa done on the plancha grill and served on a brick of sea salt.

It is not all seafood at Casa Rafa, mollejas de cordero (lamb sweetbreads), served with a bottle of Décima, a lovely Ribeira Sacra Mencía-based red wine made by my friend José Manuel Rodríguez, an artisan grape farmer-winemaker, who is the only viticulturist in Spain who is the President of his denominación de origen (Ribeira Sacra).


Chuletas de cordero, baby lamb chops with fried potatoes at Casa Rafa, also with a bottle of Décima.


My long-time friend, Juan Suárez, lives near Rafa and sometimes meets me at the bar for a glass of vino and a tapa or two.   Even though Marisquería Rafa is one of the best seafood restaurants in Madrid, it is still somewhat of a neighborhood hangout in the well-to-do barrio beyond Madrid's Retiro Park.

____________________________________________________________________________________________  
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
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 
Related Posts with Thumbnails