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Food Arts Silver Spoon Award to Gerry Dawes


 Premio Nacional de Gastronomía - - James Beard Foundation Nomination (Best Wine Writing)
Premio Periodistíco Cava

Gerry Dawes's Article Medieval Riches of El Cid's City (About Burgos, Spain)
Front Page, The New York Times Sunday Travel Section

 About Blog Author Gerry Dawes, Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award)




5/21/2018

Jewish Spain: Toledo Santa Maria La Blanca 12th-Century Ibn Shushan Synagogue


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Toledo Santa Maria La Blanca  
12th-Century Ibn Shushan Synagogue

Now maintained by the Catholic Church as la Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blanca, this unique 12th-Century Ibn Shushan synagogue, thought to be the oldest synagogue in Europe, is of Mudéjar construction and was contracted by Jews in Toledo and built by Moorish craftsmen in a style desired by their Jewish patrons, when all three religions were living in relative "convivencia." There are few greater examples in the world of the influences of three great religions under one roof. Although this marvelous structure with its horseshoe arches could easily be mistaken for a mosque and an exceptionally beautiful one at that, it was a synagogue. 

During the period when this synagogue was flourishing in the late 12th to early 15th centuries, Toledo became a city of exceptional historical importance to the Western World, because of the Toledo School of Translators, many of the best of them Jewish. Here the great philosophical, scientific and religious works of the Greeks and Arabs were translated, at first into Latin, later into what was nascent Castilian Spanish. This was being done at a time in Spain when the rest of Europe was living in the Early Middle Ages and considered many of the works being translated in Toledo to be heretical. 

"Under Alfonso's leadership--GD note: 13th century, Alfonso X de Castilla, el Sabio, the Wise, ruled from 1252-1284, at a time when this synagogue was flourishing--Sephardic Jewish scientists and translators acquired a prominent role in the School. They were highly valued by the King because of their intellectual skills and mastery of the two languages most used in the translations: Arabic and Castilian.  The King kept some of the Jewish scholars as his personal physicians, and recognized their services with splendid favors and praises. Alfonso's nephew Juan Manuel wrote that the King was so impressed with the intellectual level of the Jewish scholars that he commissioned the translation of the Talmud, the law of the Jews. . . ." -- Wikipedia (Google Toledo School of Translators)

So, this lovely synagogue in Toledo is a great symbol of what people from various religions can achieve when they work together towards goals that are beneficial to all, not just to their own narrow interests, as some minds of the Middle Ages mentality are trying do in this country today, striving towards bigotry rather than enlightment. 

Photographs by Gerry Dawes copyright 2017.

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

5/10/2018

Viña Cazoga, Jorge Carnero, The Spanish Artisan Wine Group's "Wild Child" From Ribeira Sacra


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Viña Cazoga Mencía - Jorge Carnero, Ribeira Sacra, Amandi sub-region (Lugo province), Galicia


Jorge Carnero, Viña Cazoga, La Ribeira Sacra (Lugo province), Galicia.

Tuesday, May 8, 2015 on Gerry Dawes & Friends on WPWL Pawling Public Radio 103.7 FM in Pawling, New York, my guest Ron Miller and I tasted The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group wine Viña Cazoga 2016 (Ribeira Sacra, Amandi sub-region, Sil River).


One of the stars of The Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirts Group is a unique wine from a rustic bodega in the back country. It is owned by a young winemaker, Jorge Carnero, who took over his late father’s vineyards and decided to make his own very personal wine, Viña Cazoga. We import both Jorge’s Viña Cazoga Tinto 2016 and Viña Cazoga Don Diego 2012 & 2015, a wine that spends some several months in 6-year old, 500L re-conditioned Allier oak.  For more information on Viña Cazoga or any of the other wines of The Spanish Wine & Spirits Group - Gerry Dawes Selections, please e-mail:  contact@spanishartisanwine.com

Viña Cazoga Mencía 2016***  $27.99  13.5% (alcohol)



Tasting Viña Cazoga Ribeira Sacra Mencía 2016
from Gerry Dawes on Vimeo.

Viña Cazoga has a long history of fine wine production in the Ribeira Sacra and was once one of the largest and most important estates in the area, but during the nadir of the region’s fortunes- which really started at the dawn of the twentieth century, when so many of these steep vineyard sites were abandoned and young people emigrated en masse in search of more profitable work- Jorge Carnero’s family’s vineyard holdings in the village of Amandi dwindled down to almost nothing. 

Jorge’s grandfather, Raimundo Vidal, was instrumental in starting to resurrect the Ribeira Sacra region in the 1970s and today the family owns a single, 3.9 hectare parcel of vines right above the Sil River that was long recognized as the finest vineyard in Ribeira Sacra. Almost the entire vineyard is planted with vines in excess of one hundred years of age, with ninety-five percent planted to Mencía and the balance made up of a mix of Tempranillo and Merenzao.

The 2010 Viña Cazoga Mencía is a beautiful wine, offering up a deep, very intense and complex nose of black cherries, pomegranate, black pepper, a touch of spiced meats, slate soil tones, espresso and a topnote of cigar smoke. On the palate the wine is deep, fullbodied and very sappy at the core, with great focus and grip, excellent balance, bright acids, virtually no tannins and outstanding length and grip on the dancing and palate-staining finish. Great Ribeira Sacra! 2012-2020. 94. -- John B. Gilman, View From The Cellar

"From old vines on the Sil River, this is "back-country" wine as described to me by the importer Gerry Dawes.  I am not sure if he is referring to the rustic qualities of the wine or the people that make it.  Either way, "the ram's head" is all rustic beauty - cherry, raspberry, smoky, spicy, meaty with lifted aromas of lavender and rosemary. Cazoga is serious business.  Although drinking now, I would hold onto this; there is enough density, concentration and balance to age at least for a few years.” - - Chris Barnes, Chambers Street Wines   

Even the most expensive wine in Dawes's porfolio, "Viña Cazoga Don Diego Crianza from Ribera Sacra, an exotic, chocolate- and tobacco-flavored wine with some of the "wild" character the French call animal, retails for only $50." - - Colman Andrews, The Daily Meal.

To read more, click on title:
Spanish Wines — A Seductive New Crop:Godello, mencia, and other less-than-famous Iberian grapes shine in a new selection from Spanish wine expert Gerry Dawes.

Gerry Dawes, Jorge Carnero and John Gilman at Cazoga with the 1995 Mencía, which was made by Jorge's late father.

"Jorge Carnero is one of the sweetest and most self-effacing winegrowers in all of Ribeira Sacra, and I am not really sure if he truly knows just how spectacular his wines are, but he is quite clearly one of the stars in the region. He very generously offered to open a few older bottles the morning following our dinner with other growers at O Grelo in Monforte, but apologized in advance that “Mencía from the decade of the 1990s was going to be a very old wine and probably no good to drink!” We chuckled, anticipating something a wee bit more vibrant at that age, and the following day, I think the light was beginning to go on for Señor Carnero regarding the aging capability of his wines, as his 1995 Mencía was absolutely stellar!" – John Gilman, View From The Cellar

The 2014 Mencía from Viña Cazoga is another absolutely stellar wine from Jorge Carnero, who has run this small family estate with great skill since taking over from his father several years ago. The wine offers up a superb and youthfully complex bouquet of blackberries, pomegranate, wood smoke, a touch of pepper, a fine base of slate minerality and a touch of tree bark. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and still fairly primary in personality, but with the complexity to come readily apparent. The wine is sappy at the core, focused and seamless in balance, with moderate tannins and outstanding length and grip on the vibrant finish. While this is deceptively easy to drink today, it is still a puppy and I would give it at least three or four years in the cellar to start to develop some of its secondary layers of complexity. It is a great bottle of Mencía in the making! 2019-2045+. 94.- - John Gilman, View From The Cellar    

Viña Cazoga Don Diego 2008, a wine that spends some several months in 4-year old, 500L re-conditioned Allier oak, is one of the top wines in The Spanish Artisan Wine Group - Gerry Dawes Selections.  Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.


Viña Cazoga Tinto 2010 ($27). Another Ribeira Sacra mencía, surprisingly soft, with a generous bouquet, a blackberry-and-black-pepper tang on the palate, and a long, satisfying finish. - - Colman Andrews, The Daily Meal.  Read more: Spanish Wines — A Seductive New Crop: Godello, mencia, and other less-than-famous Iberian grapes shine in a new selection from Spanish wine expert Gerry Dawes

Viña Cazoga Don Diego Tinto 2011 Ribeira Sacra 13.5% $39.99

"Oh, and he doesn't have much patience with excessive pricing, either, and all but one of the 30-plus selections in his portfolio (he is adding more) have a suggested retail price of less than $30 a bottle, and some are less than $20. (Even the exception, Viña Cazoga Don Diego Crianza from Ribera Sacra, an exotic, chocolate- and tobacco-flavored wine with some of the "wild" character the French call animal, retails for only $40.)"- - Spanish Wines — A Seductive New Crop: Godello, mencia, and other less-than-famous Iberian grapes shine in a new selection from Spanish wine expert Gerry Dawes

One of the stars of this group is a unique wine from a rustic bodega in the back country. It is owned by a young winemaker, Jorge Carnero, who took over his late father’s vineyards and decided to make his own very personal wine, Viña Cazoga. We import both Jorge’s Viña Cazoga Tinto 2014 and Viña Cazoga Don Diego 2011, a wine that spends some several months time in 7-year old, 500L re-conditioned Allier oak.

We don’t expect either of these wines to be for everyone because they are so unique and unlike other red wines you may have tasted before.  For this reason, on my fourth visit to the winery when I took a guest, l I decided not to say anything and just let him make up his own mind about the wine without any pre-suggestion from me.  Cazoga wines were the ones the guest liked the best of all from our 2,500 km., 20-winery trip.

Cazoga wines show themselves best with food. By the time you get to the last glass in the bottle, you realize you have been drinking something unique and special.  And you don't like that old-fashioned label with the Cazoga (ram) head you say.  Cazoga is Gallego for Carnero, or ram, the owner’s name.  Get over it and concentrate on the wine in the bottle.  We wouldn't change a thing about this place.  Besides, there is not enough wine to fill even the modest demand we think those who really like this wine will create.  The Spanish Artisan Wine Group’s wild child; if you don't like it, I will drink it.

Viña Cazoga consists of 3.9-acres in a single plot bordering on a slope just above the water line of the Sil River.  The site wine was traditionally recognized as the best for growing wine grapes in the parish of Amandi.  The grapes are 95% Mencía, the rest Merenzao and Tempranillo.
The history of the winery is very old.  Jorge Carnero’s grandfather Raimundo Vidal owned the largest winery  in Amandi, which he inherited from his father. Carnero’s grandmother remembered from her childhood bringing down to the fair in Monforte 37 carts each with a cask of new wine.

But at the beginning of the 20th century the cultivation of those steep river banks was not profitable, so there was much emigration and many descendants inheriting their portion of a vineyard )under the Galician mini-fundia iheritance rules, so the old family vineyard was divided into dozens of plots among the cousins, some of whom kept making wine for themselves for home consumption, but other vineyards were abandoned. 


It was not until the late 70's when Jorge Carnero’s father, Diego Carnero Vidal, set out to re-unite the former vineyards of the Vidal family, re-open the old winery and recuperate the denominación de origin claim for Amandi, for which he always acted as ambassador, when, at a time, it was considered insane to try to cultivate those precipitous river banks.

During the grape harvest and fermentation period, they used a cuba (a large horizontal wine vat, a huge barrel) from the epoch of Jorge’s great grandfather to sleep in.  They cut a door in one end of the barrel and put a bed, lights and a television inside, making a bedroom out of the ancient barrel.  "They called my father “el tolo de Cazoga,” the crazy Cazoga, slept in a barrel and was going to bury los cuartos, the money from the vines," Jorge told me.  The barrel now has a taxidermist-prepared head of a ram mounted on the front of the barrel, the image of which is on Cazoga’s wine labels.

 
Jorge Carnero (Carnero is Cazoga in Galician, which means “ram,” thus the ram’s head, the symbol of the winery), tasting his wines with a visitor from New York.  Jorge Carnero is inside a large barrel formerly used to make wine, now with door installed and a bed and television inside. Cazoga sometimes spends the night in the barrel during the long hours of the grape harvest.  Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2011.

Cazoga was the first important winery in what would later become the Ribeira Sacra D.O.  Cazoga is a pago, a single vineyard cru, in the most rocky location with the best orientation.  Among those who know the Amandi subregion, the wine was always considered the best.  The production is very low and most of  the vines are a century old. 

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______________________________________________________________________  
 Gastronomy Blogs
 About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on WPWL 103.7 FM Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York.

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. 

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

5/07/2018

English Version of Boquería Gourmand, a Book about Barcelona's Fabulous La Boquería Market (Foreword by Gerry Dawes)



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Boquería Gourmand
English edition, published by Viena Edicions (www.vienaeditorial.com)



La Boquería:  My Favorite Pueblo is a Gastronomer’s Paradise
(Foreword includes additional paragraphs not in the published version.)

By Gerry Dawes©2018

Premio Nacional de Gastronomía 2003
(Stay tuned for many more photographs of La Boquería.)

El Mercat de San Josep, La Boquería. 
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2018 / gerrydawes@aol.com.
“I felt dizzy with the idea that I was part of that paradise of food. It was, and still is, a petit poble (small village) inside the big city.” - - Quim Marquéz, Chef-owner, Quim de la Boquería, Parada 606 (location), El Mercat de La Boquería. 

Quim Marquéz, Chef-owner, Quim de la Boquería
Photo: Gerry Dawes©2011 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

For forty years I have been traveling in the patrias chicas of the Iberian Peninsula.  I lived for eight years in Andalucía and have repeatedly crisscrossed El País Vasco, Galicia, Valencia, Navarra, Aragón, La Rioja, Asturias, Extremadura, the lands of Castilla y León, and all of the other provinces of Iberia, including Catalunya.  Over these decades of travel, I have come to love many "pueblos" across the vast, wonderful and exotic Iberian landscape-Sanlúcar de Barrameda (where my soul resides) and Ronda in Andalucía: Chinchón just outside Madrid; Covarrubias (Burgos); Burguete (Navarra); Haro (La Rioja), Cangas de Onís (Asturias), Gratallops (Tarragona) and Cadaqués (Girona), among many. 
 
Gerry Dawes, Juanito Bayen and Juli Soler at Pinotxo Bar, Barcelona, Jan. 14, 2014. 
 / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS30 43-86mm f3.3 – f6.4.
 Photo courtesy of Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com
 
As much as I long to return to such places for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a multitude of friends and memories, few have quite the compelling attraction of Barcelona's El Mercat de San Josep, La Boquería market, which as Quim Marquéz put it so well, "still is a petit poble (small village) inside the big city" and is literally one of my favorite pueblos in the world.

Ever since I spent six weeks in Barcelona in 1970--first working as an extra on the American movie, The Great White Hope (many of the boxing scenes were filmed on Montjuic) and having anecdotal quality adventures off the set with the actor, James Earl Jones--this exciting city has occupied a favored spot in my heart.  While working on the movie, I stayed in a steeply discounted small room in the Hotel Ritz, then I moved to a very modest pensión, ironically on the calle de la Boquería.  Each day, I lived the rich Bohemian life of the legendary pedestrian artery,  Les Rambles, and the narrow, labyrinthine streets of the Barri Goti, el Raval and Born, incessantly taking photographs, including a memorable Sunday when I captured soulful images of Catalan sardana dancing in front of the Cathedral.  


Caren (from Argentina), Winged Victory. Les Rambles, Barcelona.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2008 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

In those early days, I was not yet the gourmet and gourmand that I would become as a writer-photographer specializing in the gastronomy of Spain--in 1997, Food Arts magazine (http://www.foodarts.com/Foodarts/FA_Feature/0,4041,387,00.html) published my article on  Ferran Adrià, the first major article in the U.S. on elBulli's superstar chef.   I wandered into La Boquería on occasion (and returned there periodically on subsequent trips), but then usually I went on to explore Barcelona's other attractions - Les Rambles, the Barri Gotic, Montjuic, La Barceloneta and Antoni Gaudi's architecture.  


Lovers in Antoni Gaudí's Parque Güell, Barcelona. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

It was not until 1992 that I was properly introduced to La Boquería on a pre-Olympic, gastronomic scouting trip with two major American journalists, Bryan Miller of The New York Times and William Rice of The Chicago Tribune.  With us was Spanish expatriate restaurateur, Gabino Sotelino from Chicago, who seemed to know everyone.  On our first day in Barcelona, we had an incredible breakfast in La Boquería at Bar Pinotxo, where Juanito Bayen held court and posed for his famous trademark thumbs-up photographs.  Catalan culinary luminaries, American chef Jonathan Waxman and writer Colman Andrews (author of Catalan Cuisine), both stopped by to say "bon día" to Juanito and see what he and his battery of cooks were serving that morning.

Juanito Bayen, owner of Pinotxo in La Boquería, Barcelona. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2008. Contact: gerrydawes@aol.com

There were egg dishes, mongetes (little white beans prized here as fesols de Sant Pau) and butifarra blanca (Catalan sausages), grilled asparagus and more, all washed down with lots of glasses of cava (Catulunya's fine sparkling wine), then carajillos, brandy-spiked espresso with the naughty name.   Later, we went with Isidre Gironés, owner of the legendary Ca L'Isidre restaurant, to Petras's mushroom stall, where I photographed Isidre with a large box of truffles.

 
Breakfast of Champions, calamarsets saltats amb fesols  de Sant Pau, beans with tiny squid dressed with a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar, with beer or cava (Catalan Champagne), Pinotxo Bar, La Boquería, Barcelona, Jan. 11, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

 



























After Pinotxo and my "first breakfast"-- now served to me by my friend, Jordi Asín (l).  Sadly his co-chef and a great friend of mine, brother Albert (r) died in February 2011.

Everywhere in La Boquería there is color. Artistically arranged in tiers are red, green, yellow and orange peppers; yellow-and-blush pink peaches, red, yellow and green apples, oranges, lemons and limes; shiny black or purple eggplant; green zucchini squash, green and white asparagus, artichokes and chirmoyas (custard apples); little baskets of red raspberries and currants; red and red-green tomatoes; white and red radishes, hanging strings of garlic and dried dark red ñora peppers.  Around a corner, a stand sells a dozen varieties of cured green, black and purple olives, pickled cucumbers, pickled onions, garbanzos, etc.  And another specializes in a Catalan staple, bacalao, salt cod in small stacks or in trays soaking in water, being de-salinated before cooking.

 
Eduard Soley, Vice President of La Boquería Owners Association bags a purchase at his stand in la Boquería. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com.

Jordi Mas's (co-author of Boquería Gourmand) family establishment, Mas Gourmets de L'Embotit (five stalls in La Boquería), specializes in Spanish hams and a variety of traditional and innovative embotits (cured meats and sausages).  Hanging from hooks attached to metal rods suspended from the ceiling are a dozen types of jamónes Ibéricos de bellota--exquisite pink-to-wine red, streaked with ethereal white-yellow fat hams from free-range pata negra (black hoof breed) pigs fattened on acorns-specially selected from three separate denominaciones de origen in western Spain.  

 
 Jordi Mas at on of his five Mas Embotits stands at la Boqueria market in Barcelona.
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.


And, in La Boquería, a variety of butcher shops offer everything from steaks and pork chops to whole lamb, suckling pig, goat, rabbit and game birds.  Some specialize in offal--brains, livers, hearts, mounds of snow white tripe and "off" parts, pigs' trotters, lambs' heads, etc.

Another stall offers a wide range of imported and local cows', ewes' and goats' milk cheeses from Catalan Garrotxa to Extremaduran torta del Casar to French Vacherin Mont d'Or. A number of bakeries sell a wide variety of breads, pastries and pa coca, the original Catalana version of pizza.  A favorite photo opportunity is Ous de Calaf, which specializes in an impressive array of eggs from hens (organically raised), bantams, turkeys, ducks, pheasants, partridge, quail, ostrich and even emu!!  



And, at Avinova Ous i Caça (Eggs and Game), my friend Salvador Capdevila, depending upon the season, will have rows of rabbits, partridge, ducks, geese and other game, including venison, hanging in his cases to be hand dressed or cut according to the needs of his customers, which include some of the top restaurants in Catalunya.


 
 Salvador Capdevila, owner of Avinova, and Catalan food writer and personality Xavi Agulló at Bar Pinotxo, Barcelona.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2010 / gerrydawes@aol.com.
 
Another major attraction is the seafood purveyors selling a stunning selection of fresh fish (all arranged on beds of ice) from both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, interspersed with  a wide variety of shellfish--pink gambas (shrimp) from Denia and Pálamos on the Mediterranean, carbineros (bright scarlet prawns) from Huelva, red or blue-green llagostas (lobsters), walnut-colored, razor-case shaped navalles (razor clams) and white-pink cigalas (Dublin Bay prawns) from Galicia (many so fresh they are still alive!). These colorful market stalls bustle with constant movement with fishmongers.  


 
Gemma Bosch Roca at her great seafood stand in La Boquería. 
 Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS30 43-86mm f3.3 – f6.4.

For years I have always stopped to photograph my friend, 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.  Many of the women of La Boquería go to work dressed like they are going after work to attend a performance at the nearby Gran Teatre de Liceu (on Les Rambles), Barcelona's equivalent of Milano's La Scala.  (Years ago, one such well-dressed woman in a Boquería butcher's shop--before the health authorities made everyone wear gloves--spread open the carcass of a goat hanging in her stall for me to photograph with her carefully manicured, bright carmine-lacquered fingernails and the gold ring with diamonds she was wearing juxtaposed against the pink flesh of the freshly butchered animal.) 

At the back of the market, I always return to the famous stall of Bolets Petras, which even though my friend owner Llorenç Petràs has retired and left the business in the capable hands of his son, Xavier, still sells a multitude of mushrooms in season, along with truffles like the ones in the box that Isidre Gironés of Ca L'Isidre held for me to photograph twenty years ago.  


 The legendary mushroom-and-truffle guru, Llorenç Petràs, now-retired, but who just happened to be at his Petras stand in Barcelona’s Mercat de La Boquería that day (the stand is now run by his son) and showed the chefs a pile of prime black truffles.Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.
 
I always finish my tour of la Boquería at Quím de la Boquería, another legendary market bar, whose slogan is "El Arte de Comer en Un Taburete" (The Art of Eating on a Barstool). I
f he is not crazy busy, I get a thumbs-up and a big abrazo from Quím Marquéz, the owner. From a small stove in impossibly tight quarters his sauteé pans flame and his plancha grill sizzles as Quím and his crew prepare some of the best food in food-crazy Barcelona.  For my "second breakfast"-- the first was at Pinotxo-knowing that I am going to be fed like a king I put myself in Quím's hands, like he did with me when I took him and his two young sons to New York City's Chinatown a few years ago.  

 
 Quím Marquéz, legendary market bar, whose slogan is "El Arte de Comer en Un Taburete" (The Art of Eating on a Barstool). 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon EOS 6D / Tokina 17-35mm f/4.

Quím may make me a bowl of steaming beberechos (cockles); a plate of grilled asparagus or deep-fried artichoke hearts; an exquisite dish of shrimp with the heads still on; my beloved mongetes with butifarra and aioli; then a perfectly cooked slab of foie gras with crispy fried leeks, all accompanied by glasses of cava rosat (rosé), Catalan Champagne. 

At Quím de la Boquería, I usually meet my old friend, Salvador Capdevila, owner of Avinova and now President of La Boquería owner's association.  Sometimes Salvador, then Vice President, would come with the amiable and highly regarded Manel Ripoll, who was President of La Boquería and who also became a friend.  (Sadly, Manel and two other friends of mine, the three-star Catalan chef Santi Santamaría and Pinotxo's Albert Asín, all died early in 2011).  And during the course of the hour I may spend at Quím de la Boquería, I sometimes see some of the most famous names in Catalan gastronomy such as my dear friend, (the late) Juli Soler (Ferran Adrià's partner at elBulli); Ferran's brother, Albert, chef-owner of Tickets; and Christian Escribà, Barcelona's supremely talented pastry maestro and event planner. 


 
My late great friend Juli Soler and I in front of a photo of Christian Escribà at Escribà on Les Rambles, next to La Boquería Market, Barcelona, Jan. 11, 2014. 
Photo by a friend of Juli Soler, Hubert Wiese Tornoe, Montblanc Iberia, SLU.

But, regardless of who shows up, when I return to this gastronomic paradise that is La Boquería, I always feel like I have come home to the pueblo of my dreams.
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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. 
  
 

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