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In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019)

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.

36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel gerrydawesspain.com

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 customized gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. Frequency about 2 posts per week."






"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . . For Gerry, Spain is more than just the Adriàs and (Juan Mari and Elena) Arzaks. He has connected with all manner of people working at every level and in every corner of Spain. I’m always amazed at this reach. You can step into a restaurant in the smallest town in Spain, and it turns out they know Gerry somehow.” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019

"I have said this before and I’ll say it again, nobody knows Spain like Gerry Dawes. I sincerely doubt that there is another American, and very few, if any, Spaniards can approach, let alone surpass his knowledge of the people, food, wine and culture of Spain. "-- John Sconzo, Dosconz: Musings on Food & Life

"Trust me everyone, I have traveled with this man in Spain, if Gerry Dawes tells you to eat somewhere it's like Anthony Bourdain, believe it!!" - - Chef Mark Kiffin, The Compound Restaurant, Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Spain wouldn’t be as known to Americans without the stories Gerry tells and writes.” - - Superstar Catalan Chef Ferran Adrià, elBulli

"In his nearly thirty years (now fifty) 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

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)


Gerry Dawes at Marisquería Rafa in Madrid.
Photo by John Sconzo, Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life 


Custom-designed Wine, Food, Cultural and Photographic Tours of Spain Organized and Led by Gerry Dawes and Spanish Itinerary Planning

7 Days, 7 Nights: Beyond Paella, A Video Culinary, Wine & Travel Adventure in Valencia & Alicante with Gerry Dawes & Special Guests

If you enjoy these blog posts, please consider a contribution to help me continue the work of gathering all this great information and these photographs for Gerry Dawes's Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel. Contributions of $5 and up will be greatly appreciated. Contributions of $100 or more will be acknowledged on the blog.

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2/12/2020

A Taste of Ernest Hemingway’s Spain, July 17 – 28, 2020 With John Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s Grandson. A Customized Adventure Designed, Organized & Led by Spanish Gastronomy, Wine & Culture Expert / Ernest Hemingway Aficionado Writer-Photographer Gerry Dawes


* * * * *
July 17 – 28, 2020
(11 days, 10 nights)

A Taste of Ernest Hemingway’s Spain


 A window commemorating Ernest Hemingway at Casa Botín, an EH favorite which figured prominently in the final pages of The Sun Also Rises.


A Customized Adventure Designed, Organized & Led
by Spanish Gastronomy, Wine & Culture Expert / Ernest Hemingway Aficionado Writer-Photographer Gerry Dawes

Premio Nacional de Gastronómía 2003
(Spanish National Gastronomy Award)

* * * * *
With John Hemingway,
Ernest Hemingway’s Grandson
& Author of Bacchanalia:  A Pamplona Story

$4,995 per person; $5,995 single supplement
(without airfare) 

(All photographs, except where otherwise designated, by Gerry Dawes©2020.)
  
* * * * *
“Please join me John Hemingway and Gerry Dawes for this exceptional trip through Spain following the footsteps of my grandfather Ernest Hemingway.  I am an expert on my grandfather’s legacy and literature and Gerry, a decades long follower and friend of several friends of  Don Ernesto, is one of the world’s top experts on Spanish gastronomy, wine and culture.” - - John Hemingway

* * * * * 


About John Hemingway 

 
John Hemingway is a Canadian/American novelist and journalist. His memoir Strange Tribe (The Lyons Press, 2007) describes the often turbulent relationship between his father Dr. Gregory Hemingway and his grandfather, Ernest Hemingway. His recent novel Bacchanalia, A Pamplona Story (November, 2019) is a modern take on the Fiesta de San Fermin. It follows the activities of a group of expatriates as they live the nine-day festival to its fullest, running with the bulls in the morning, watching the bullfights in the afternoon and in between drinking, partying, feasting, flirting like there was no tomorrow. John has been to the Fiesta nine times and has run with the bulls seventeen times. His short stories have been published in magazines and literary reviews such as The Saturday Evening Post and Provincetown Arts. Currently John and his wife Kristina live in Montreal, Quebec with their black lab, Hugo.

 About Gerry Dawes


Gerry Dawes at Madrid’s Palace Hotel, one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorites.


"In his nearly thirty years (now forty) 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 received Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) and 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 (€14,000) for his article on Cava, 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.  He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish gastronomy, wine and cultural themes.  

Dawes has organized and led numerous gastronomic and cultural trips to Spain, including for the Commonwealth Club of California (twice), the mythical 61st Tactical Fighter Squadron (twice), The World Trade Center Club (NYC), The Club Chefs of NY & CT.  And he has led Spain trips for many top American chefs and culinary figures such as Thomas Keller, Mark Miller (six times), Michael Chiarello, Michael Lomonaco, Mark Kiffin, Ryan McIlwraith, Norman Van Aken, cookbook author Rozanne Gold, and many others, including baseball great Keith Hernandez.  

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless criss-crossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life." -- Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés of José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019.

Gerry Dawes had also traveled in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway to all of the places we will visit on this trip (and to many EH favorites in France).  In all our travels, we will be dining in restaurants specially selected by Gerry Dawes for their relationship to Ernest Hemingway and his writings and, when the original places no longer exist, he will chose gastronomic experiences for their authenticity, quality, uniqueness and approximation to what Hemingway would have eaten in those locales.  Our meals will be accompanied by wines chosen by Gerry, who is one of the world’s top experts on Spanish wines,  to reflect the best aspects of each locale. 


A Taste of Ernest Hemingway’s Spain Itinerary

A complete prospectus and trip contract will be sent to each interested party.  Travel insurance is recommended.  Check with your credit card provider or personal insurance company.   Email : gerrydawes@aol.com

Please note:  All bullfight tickets are optional and not included in the tour.  If you wish to attended any of the designated corridas, we need to now so we can arrange for the tickets which must be purchased in advance and guaranteed by cash.    We may, depending on the schedules have the opportunity to attend 2-3 corridas on this trip. 

Day 00 Friday, July 17 USA to Málaga, Spain

Flights directly to Málaga or Málaga via Madrid.

Day 01 Saturday, July 18 Málaga

We will rendezvous at our centrally located Málaga Palacio hotel and, for those who arrive in time, have a casual tapas luncheon in the old quarter of Málaga, then stroll around the old quarter.

View of Málaga harbor from the Hotel Málaga Palacio.

In the evening, we will have drinks at the Gran Hotel Miramar, where EH, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor and others stayed.  The Dangerous Summer p. 167 has descriptions of the people at the Marimar after a Málaga bullfight. 
Dinner will be at a seaside restaurant that Ernest Hemingway knew when he visited Málaga to see  bullfights and stayed with his friend Bill Davies at Finca La Consula in nearby Churriana.  

Hotel Málaga Palacio.

Day 02 Sunday, July 19 Málaga - Ronda


In the morning, we will see some more of the old quarter, the Picasso Museum and the home where Picasso was born, the bullfight museum in the Málaga bullring, visit some other notable sites in the city, then have lunch in one of Málaga’s great seaside chiringuitos, like the ones that Hemingway would have frequented in Málaga for Mediterranean fish dishes such as the famous sardinas de espeto, fresh sardines skewered on cane or metal spits and roasted over live coals. 

 Sardinas de espeto, fresh sardines skewered on cane or metal spits and roasted over live coals. 
 
After lunch, we will stop outside Málaga to visit Finca La Consula, the magnificent country home of Hemingway’s great friend Bill Davies, where Hemingway stayed during the bullfights in Málaga and shot cigarettes from Matador Antonio Ordoñez’s mouth.  La Consula has now been renovated and turned into the Escuela de Hostelería de Málaga, a hotel and restaurant school.

La Consula, Hemingway's friend Bill Davis's home a few kilometers outside Málaga. (Photo courtesy of laconsula.com)

After visiting la Consula, we will drive through rugged mountains to Ronda, a former bandolero (bandit-and-smuggler) mountain town much frequented by Hemingway and the hometown of Antonio Ordoñez.  Ronda has statues of Antonio Ordoñez and his father Cayetano, who fought bulls under the name Niño de la Palma and was the prototype for Pedro Romero in The Sun Also Rises and a central character in Death of Afternoon.  There is also a monument to Ernest Hemingway and to Orson Welles, who was a great friend of Antonio Ordoñez and had his ashes scattered on Antonio’s ranch near Ronda.   Antonio Ordoñez was also a friend of tour leader Gerry Dawes, who has great remembrances of the maestro.
 
Gerry Dawes in front of the Ronda bullring at the statue of his friend the late Matador Antonio Ordoñez, Ernest Hemingway's great friend and subject of The Dangerous Summer.

We will visit this exceptionally picturesque city, then relax in our wonderful hotel, which overlooks the mountains surrounding Ronda.  In the evening, we will have dinner in a restaurant that is a virtual bullfight photo-and-poster museum that also has photos of Hemingway in Ronda. 

 Ronda.

Flamenco dancer, Andalucía.

After dinner, we will offer the option of attending a Flamenco performance.

Hotel Reina Victoria (or comparable), Ronda.

Day 03 Monday, July 20 Ronda – Córdoba AVE – Madrid

This morning we will visit a bit more of Ronda, then ride two hours north to Córdoba, where we will visit the famous Mezquita mosque, Median Azahara and the  Monasterio de San Jerónimo de Valparaíso, where Hemingway stayed as guest of the Marqués del Mérito, when he went to a corrida in Córdoba during The Dangerous Summer of 1959, then have lunch at an emblematic Córdoban restaurant in the old quarter.

We will send our bus ahead to Madrid with our luggage and our driver will handle delivering it to our hotel.

 
The Mezquita mosque in Córdoba.

In the afternoon, we will take the AVE high-speed train to Madrid, less than 2 hours arriving in late afternoon, and check into the Hotel Suecia, where Hemingway often stayed and we will visit the Palace Hotel, which was one of the settings in the final pages of The Sun Also Rises.

AVE high-speed train. 

We will have dinner at Casa Botín, an EH favorite which also figured prominently in the final pages of The Sun Also Rises, then have the option of drinks at Chicote, one of EH’s favorite watering holes in Madrid.   Gerry Dawes has long been a friend of the owners of Casa Botín, so we will get special treatment and Gerry will read the passages in The Sun Also Rises that are set in this famous restaurant, which is claimed in the Guiness Book of Records to be the oldest continually operating restaurant in the world.

Hotel Suecia (or comparable), Madrid.

Gerry reading scenes set in Casa Botín from Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.


 
Cochinillo asado, roast suckling pig, one of Don Ernesto's favorites, at Casa Botín.


Day 04 Tuesday, July 21 Madrid – Burgos – La Rioja

In the morning, we will have breakfast tapas at the Cervecería Alemana, a favorite Hemingway and taurine aficionado hangout that it still much as it was during EH’s lifetime.

 Cervecería Alemana, Madrid. 

Photo of Ernest Hemingway and Matador Antonio Ordoñez, Ernest Hemingway's great friend and subject of The Dangerous Summer.

We will briefly visit the Plaza de Callao, where the Hotel Florida, where EH stayed during the Spanish Civil War, was located. 
 
In late morning, we will be picked up by our bus and driven through the Guadarrama mountains, the setting for For Whom The Bell Tolls, to Burgos, a town that EH visited several times and wrote about bringing the queso de Burgos back to Paris on the train and giving to Gertrude Stein. 
We will have lunch on roast suckling lamb and other Burgos specialties, then ride about an hour through picturesque Camino de Santiago scenery to La Rioja, where we will check into the Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago, then visit a Rioja family winery, where some really wonderful artisan wines are made in manmade underground caves.  We will have dinner at the winery, lamb chops and chorizo cooked in a fireplace over grapevine cuttings, salad, Spanish tortilla de patatas and plenty of the bodega’s vino.  

Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Santo Domingo, La Rioja)
 

Rioja family winery where we will have dinner.

Day 05 Wednesday, July 22 La Rioja – Pamplona – Burguete

In the morning, we will leave Rioja and in about an hour arrive in Pamplona,   see the memorial bust of EH in front of the bullring and walk along the route of the annual running of the bulls and visit the sites that EH wrote about in The Sun Also Rises.  We will visit the Hotel La Perla, where Hemingway stayed in the later years; see the site on the Plaza del Castillo where Hotel Quintana (Hotel Montoya in The Sun Also Rises), owned by his great friend Juanito Quintana (also a friend of Gerry Dawes), was located; and the Hotel Yoldi, where the matadors stay and dress and where EH visited them before and after bullfights. 

A Morning's Pleasure: Running the Bulls at Pamplona (An Excerpt from Homage to Iberia: More Spanish Travels & Reflections by Gerry Dawes)
 
 
Restaurante Aralar, Pamplona, one of the places EH frequented for lunch or dinner.
Photograph by Jim Hollander.

Many of the establishments where EH ate and drank no longer exist, but others are still operating and we will have a drink at the bar of Cafe Iruña, which has a life-size statue of EH hanging out at the end of the bar.  And we will have lunch in an EH favorite down on Calle San Nicolas serving the great typical Navarra food that EH would have eaten such as menestra (a panache of local vegetables) and trucha a la Navarra (whole local trout cooked with a slice of serrano ham in the belly) and we will drink the great Navarra rosados that EH always drank here.
 

Hostal Burguete, where EH stayed when he went trout fishing in the 1920s, featured prominently in The Sun Also Rises.

After lunch, we will ride an hour into the Navarran Pyrenees to the mountain town of Burguete, where we will check into Hostal Burguete, where EH stayed when he went trout fishing on the Irati River and immortalized in The Sun Also Rises and where tour leader Gerry Dawes has stayed half a dozen times.  We will visit the nearby Monastery of Roncesvalles, then relax in this small village, stroll and have dinner on similar fare, including trout, that EH would have known.  For those interested, we will offer a trout fishing expedition 10 minutes from Burguete on the Irati River, where EH fished.  

Hostal Burguete, Burguete (Navarra). 
 
Trout fishing in the Navarra Pyrenees.

Day 06 Thursday, July 23 Burguete – Roncal – Olite - Tudela 

In the morning,  we will drive through awesome spectacular Pyrenees Mountains scenery (Gerry wrote an article on this route that appeared in The New York Times Travel section) to the great cheese producing town of Roncal, where we will have lunch, sample Roncal cheese and drink the wonderful Navarra rosados that EH loved so much that he carried them with him on his travels around Spain following the bullfights.  

 Roncal.

Castle, Olite.

After lunch, we will continue south to Tudela, stopping for a brief visit to the charming castle village of Olite.  
 
Tudela will be having their annual fiesta, which will be as close as any fiesta in Spain to resembling the Fiestas de San Fermín in Pamplona during EH’s time.   Except for the mobs of foreign tourists, Tudela has everything that Pamplona has—running of the bulls, bullfights, processions, fireworks and great jotas, the wonderful typical folk singing of Navarra and neighboring Aragón, which is scant kilometers from Tudela.   In fact, many of the jota singers heard during the Fiestas de San Fermín in Pamplona come from Tudela.  We will check into our hotel and have a drink in the Plaza Mayor, which should be in full fiesta. 

Tudela monument to the Jota & Jota singer Raimundo Lanas (photo Bernardo Estornés Lasa).

 
Jota singer José Antonio Pérez Caro, Navarra, homage to the great jota singer Raimundo Lanas, a legend in the first half of the 20th Century.

For dinner, we will ride 15 minutes to the small town of Corella and have dinner with a Navarra winemaker at El Crucero, a  great un-sung restaurant that specializes in the vegetable-based dishes, including alcachofas con foie (artichokes with with a seared piece of foie gras on top), the great pochas (beans with chorizo), cardos con granada (cardoon stalks with pomegranate seeds dressed with local arbequina extra virgen olive oil) and cabrito asado (roasted youing goat) for which this region is famous, with plenty of the great Navarra garnacha rosados, made from free-run juice, that Don Ernesto loved to drink.  After dinner, we will return to Tudela and, for those still game, immerse ourselves in the sprit of a great Navarra fiesta. 

Hotel Cuidad de Tudela, Tudela (Navarra).

 
 Don Ernesto loved to drink great Navarra garnacha rosado, made from free-run juice.

Day 07 Friday, July 24 Tudela 

Today, we will live the Fiestas de Santa Ana de Tudela with the encierro (running of the bulls a la Pamplona) in the morning and in the afternoon there will be a novillada (for apprentice toreros), for those so inclined to attend.  The whole town will be in fiesta a la Pamplona in EH’s time.  

 Hotel Cuidad de Tudela, Tudela (Navarra).
 
 Plaza Mayor in Tudela during Fiesta.

Day 08 Saturday, July 25 Tudela – Valencia

We will leave Tudela in morning and take the long drive to Valencia, a la EH following the fiestas around Spain, to arrive in Valencia during their July Fiestas.  

We will check into our hotel and have a paella lunch at La Pepica, overlooking the Playa de la Malvarrosa where EH ate when he was in Valencia. 

In the afternoon, we will have the option of attending the bullfight and in the evening, dinner at the exceptional tapas restaurant Casa Montaña (established in 1839), then fiesta and fireworks.

Hotel Valencia Palace (or similar), Valencia.

 Paellas at La Pepica,Valencia.

Photos at La Pepcia of EH,Antonio Ordoñez and friends having dinner there during The Dangerous Summer.


 Owner Emiliano García and Gerry Dawes at Casa Montaña, Valencia.

 Casa Montaña, founded in 1836 in the working class/fishermens barrio of
El Cabanyal-El Canyamelar in Valencia.
 
Day 09 Sunday, July 26 Valencia – Chinchón 

In the morning, we will visit the Mercat Central de Valencia, then just outside Valencia, visit the rice paddies of the Albufuera lagoon and have an early lunch on local specialties, including paella.
After lunch, we will ride across La Mancha, stopping to see some of the windmills made famous in Don Quixote and arrive in the magical town of Chinchón by late afternoon.

Quixotesque windmills in La Mancha.

It is probable that there may be one of the famous bullfights in Chinchón's Plaza Mayor, which our tour participants will have the option to attend. 

We will spend the evening exploring this lovely town with its iconic Plaza Mayor and have dinner in a great Castilian restaurant overlooking the Plaza.

Hotel Condesa de Chinchón.

 Chinchón's Plaza Mayor.
 
La Balconada Restaurante, which overlooks Chinchón's iconic Plaza Mayor.
 
Day 10 Monday, July 27  Chinchón – Aranjuez – Chinchón

We will spend a leisurely Sunday morning in Chinchón, then ride just over half an hour to nearby Aranjuez, where EH attended bullfights and wrote ten pages in The Dangerous Summer about his experiences there.  We will have lunch, as EH did, overlooking the river in a restaurant he ate and the dish are such local specialties as Aranjuez esparragos (asparagus), ancas de rana (frogs’ legs) and fresas (strawberries).
 
After lunch, we will return to Chinchón and relax on our final evening and then have our farewell dinner at another very special restaurant on the Plaza Mayor that has a dining room that is a taurine photo museum dedicated to the former owner’s friend, Matador Nicanor Villalta, for whom John Hemingway’s uncle John Hadley Nicanor Hemingway was named.  

Hotel Condesa de Chinchón.


 Chinchón's Plaza Mayor.

 Patio of the Condesa de Chinchón.

Day 11 Tuesday, July 27 Chinchón – Madrid - USA

Our bus will take our group to Madrid airport, just under an hour from Chinchón,  to catch our flights back to the U. S.  Anyone who books a very early flight will need ask us to help line up a taxi to the airport. 

'
 Madrid Airport, Terminal IV.



* * * * *
 

Shall deeds of Caesar or Napoleon ring   
More true than Don Quixote's vapouring?
Hath winged Pegasus more nobly trod
Than Rocinante stumbling up to God?
 
Poem by Archer M. Huntington inscribed under the Don Quixote on his horse Rocinante bas-relief sculpture by his wife, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, in the courtyard of the Hispanic Society of America’s incredible museum at 613 W. 155th
Street, New York City.
 ____________________________________________________________________________________


 Gastronomy Blogs


In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019) 

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information."  

36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

 
About Gerry Dawes



"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life." -- Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019





Gerry Dawes was the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York (streaming live and archived at www.pawlingpublicradio.org and at www.beatofthevalley.com.)



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. 

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

2/06/2020

Pamplona: Memories of Alicia Hall in Sanfermines (An Excerpt from Homage to Iberia: More Spanish Travels & Reflections by Gerry Dawes), Hostal Burguete, Roncesvalles and the Enchanted Glade With Insights by Pamplona author Ray Mouton & 50-year+ San Fermín veteran Rolf von Essen


* * * * *
 (All photographs copyright 2017 by Gerry Dawes.)

Alicia Hall, Sanfermines, early 1970s.
Photo by Gerry Dawes.


My late ex-wife Diana Valenti Dawes and I  spent many wonderful sanfermines with Alicia Hall from 1970 through 1975 and in 1977 and 1978. Some years we began in Burguete before fiesta, staying at Hostal Burguete, which was Ernest Hemingway's inspiration for Jake Barnes' hotel during his trout fishing expeditions in The Sun Also Rises.  We would drive Alicia up there and spend a quiet relaxing time - - reading, walking out on the road to Roncesvalles to pick tiny wild strawberries to put on our ice cream after dinner at the Hostal Burguete and having long discussions about Spain over dinner with plenty of vino tinto


2/02/2020

Navarra Revisited: A Pyreneen Odyssey



* * * * *

Lacha sheep grazing in the Navarran Pyrenees.
* * * * *
Text & Photographs copyright 2010 by Gerry Dawes
(Contact gerrydawes@aol.com for publishing rights.)

http://www.turismo.navarra.es/fotos/mapa_rutas.gif

(Author's version of an article (without the map) that originally appeared in
The Sunday New York Times - Travel Section, June 12, 1994.)

Navarra, the northern Spanish province that shares a wild stretch of the western Pyrenees with France, has long been one of my favorite places. This fascinating region has some of Spain's most beautiful scenery, important historical sights, excellent cuisine, good wine, and a recently developed network of private lodgings that makes travel there downright cheap.

Navarra's spectacular terrain runs the gamut from snowy Pyrenean peaks soaring above wild canyons and pristine green valleys to terraced vineyards and shimmering heat-baked southern hills that overlook farms growing superb white asparagus, red peppers, and artichokes. Picturesque villages, medieval castles, and major shrines on the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrim's road to Santiago de Compostela, grace this former kingdom (from 1234-1512, Navarra included part of southern France).


Castillo de Olite (Navarra).

On my fifty-odd visits to Navarra since 1970, I often attended Pamplona's Fiestas de San Fermín, made famous by Ernest Hemingway; stayed in storybook Olite; made pilgrimages to Camino de Santiago sights--Romanesque Sangüesa, monumental Estella, and Puente la Reina's lovely 12th-century bridge; malingered in Jewish-Moorish Tudela; and photographed the harvest that produces Navarra's lovely dry rosados (roses) and sturdy reds.

Because of what must be an atavistic attraction to Spain's mountain villages, it was inevitable that I would re-explore those of Navarra, so when I read about a local network of family homes offering bed and breakfast for under $15 a night (mid-1990s prices!!; now they cost from $40-$60), I made plans to return. Many of these lodgings, called casas rurales after the stone village houses and huge stone farmhouses typical of this region, are in the heart of the Pyrenees, where cold trout rivers rush through mystical stands of beech trees into deep-green valleys sheltering some of Spain's least-spoiled villages - - Burguete in the Irati river valley, Ochagavia in the Salazar valley, and Roncal and Isaba in Roncal Valley.

To stimulate this isolated region's economy, which once depended on timber sales, sheep, and handicrafts, the Navarrese government made low interest loans to villagers willing to renovate their homes to accommodate tourists, mostly Spaniards who come here for skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, cave exploring, cycling, fishing, and hunting (wild boar, deer, partridge). Now that Spain's famous paradores have become expensive, casas rurales are Spain's lodging bargains of the 1990s.

Some casas rurales offer home-cooked meals. The Navarrese are noteworthy cooks and many families grow their own vegetables and make ewe's milk cheeses and cuajada (a delicious yogurt-like dessert). Even if meals aren't offered, most Pyrenean towns have simple restaurants serving such typical dishes as espárragos blancos (white asparagus), alubias (bean stew),  pochas (delectable, fat, cranberry bean-like white beans cooked with chorizo and, sometimes quail), pimientos rellenos (stuffed peppers), huevos revueltos (eggs scrambled with mushrooms, green garlic shoots, shrimp, etc.), fresh trucha (trout) from Pyreneen rivers, costillas de cordero (lamb chops), and cuajada (northern Spain's wonderful, yogurt-like ewe's milk dessert, complete only when you add wild mountain honey)In spring and autumn, there are dishes with exceptional native hongos (mushrooms). This good country cuisine is usually accompanied by one of Navarra's first-rate rosados (rosés) or sturdy reds. And usually, for an after-dinner drink, homemade Navarrese Patxaran, a potent anís liqueur in which sloe berries are macerated for several months, sometimes with a few coffee beans. 

Navarra rosado.

I decided to begin my trip in the spring of 1994 with a nostalgic drive up to Burguete and on to Ochagavia for the night, explore the Salazar Valley the next day, and end up in Roncal the following night. I first stopped at the Tourist Office of Navarra in Pamplona (see box), where the multi-lingual staff found rooms at casas rurales in Ochagavia and Roncal.

On the road to Burguete, I saw emerald-green pastures and tawny, fresh cut wheat fields whose straw bales would provide comfort this winter to the stocky cattle the Basque farmers raise here. I passed pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago, cyclists on mountain bikes, and fishermen heading for trout streams. I was reminded of scenes in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises when Jake Barnes rode atop a bus up these mountain roads drinking from wine skins offered by friendly Basques. Re-reading Don Ernesto’s passages, I found his descriptions still good. In some places, little has changed.

In the 1970s my late former wife Diana and I used to go to Burguete in early July with Alice Hall, the late irrepressible doyen of Spain aficionados. We would spend a quiet time in the pastoral farming villages of these verdant mountains before surrendering to the cacophonous joys of Pamplona's wild fiesta. We would read, stroll along the road to Roncesvalles picking wild strawberries, and have long talks about Spain over dinners irrigated with plenty of vino tinto

 Hostal Burguete, Burguete.

We stayed at Hostal Burguete, which was still much in style and comfort, or the lack of, as when Hemingway stayed there in the 1920s and made it the setting for several scenes in The Sun Also Rises– Jake Barnes and Bill Gorton came here to trout fish on the Irati, a good hike east. The hostal's owners claim the upright piano is the one mentioned in the novel. Under the lid is Don Ernesto's picture and "E. Heminway" (sic) scratched in the wood.

Trout fishing in a Pyreneen river.

The Camino de Santiago crosses the French border 15 miles north of Burguete and winds through the hills above Roncesvalles where Charlemagne's nephew Roland was immortalized in the epic French poem, Chanson de Roland. The Roncesvalles woods are a mystical place haunted by the spirit of Roland and by the millions of Santiago-bound pilgrims who have tread this ground. Seeking a respite from the fiesta in Pamplona, every year Diana and I used to bring a group of San Fermín celebrants up here. In the deep-green mossy forest's icy rivulets, we cooled our wine, melons, and other picnic items for glorious camaraderie-filled al fresco luncheons.

The much restored 12th-century monastery of Roncesvalles, was a proud hospital and hospice for pilgrims, renowned for its hospitality - - good food, real beds, and a cobbler. Of interest here is the 13th-century Virgin of Roncesvalles, a Gothic cloister, King Sancho VII of Navarra's pantheon, and a treasury with several venerated objects of colorful heritage.

Roncevalles.

On this trip I could spend only a few moments in Burguete - - stopping for coffee at a bar, gazing wistfully at our old Hostal Burguete haunt and paying homage to Alice Hall, who had died in February at age 90. I had to press on to Ochagavia before night-fall. Driving along curvy, well-paved roads through rocky green forests, I passed pretty, bucolic Garralda; Arrive with its fine medieval bridge over the Irati; and Garayoa with its 13th-century Gothic church.

Abaure de Abajo in the Spanish Navarran Pyrenees.

High escarpments towered over the twisting roads to Puerto de Abaurrea pass (3320 feet), where I got my first glimpse of the dramatic, snow-capped Pyrenean peaks, now suffused with a lovely peach glow in the late afternoon sun. Several miles of hairpin turns led me down a dramatic valley past Ezcároz, an attractive village on the swift Salazar river just below Ochagavia, the Salazar valley's main town.

Quintessentially Pyrenean, Ochagavia is charming mountain-bound village of just under 800 inhabitants that is laid out along two sizeable streams, the Zatoya and the Anduña, which form the Salazar just south of town. A passerby showed me to Casa Osaba, a big stone house on a cobblestoned street. Gabriela Moso, the owner, led me up two flights to a plank-floored bedroom with an armoire, a big bed with warm coverlets, and a night stand with the obligatory Spanish dim-bulbed lamp. Down the hall, Señora Moso showed me a new, spotless bathroom with plenty of hot water. The family's second floor dining room/living room had a big table, a fireplace also used for cooking, a pair of armchairs, a television, and a few decorations including a herrada, a gleaming brass-and-steel inverted-cone shaped utensil - - once used to carry water - - that has now become an object of folk art. Gabriela invited me to return for dinner at 10 p.m.

I took advantage of the remaining light to explore the picturesque village and look for some tapas (hors d'oeuvres). Most of the houses are two- and three-story stone homes with white facades, tiled roofs, shuttered windows, and geranium-filled wrought iron balconies. The dates (1768, 1908, 1926) on arched stone portals above the wooden doors, speak for the durability of these homes. The rough streets are hand-paved with river stones.


I crossed a quaint stone bridge over the swift Anduña and found the Pension Auñamendi, whose upstairs restaurant offers an inexpensive menu, but alas, there were no tapas at the ground floor bar, where some men were playing cards. As I returned to Casa Osaba, wood smoke curling from the village's chimneys laced the fresh mountain air with a homey smell that sharpened my hunger. I hoped Gabriela was a cook worthy of Navarra's culinary reputation.


In the dining room, I met Gabriela's family: Her husband, daughter, grandson, and her son-in-law, who spends his days near Tudela tending a large herd of sheep. In front of the crackling fire, Gabriela and her daughter served us a fine salad of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and white asparagus; garlicky green beans and potatoes; merluza rebozada (hake in batter); pork chops grilled in the fireplace; and fresh cherries. The wine was a decent rosado, purchased in bulk at Puente la Reina.  After dinner, there was coffee and homemade patxaran, Navarra's sloe berry-anise liqueur. After the pacharán and an amiable chat about life in America, I went to bed, quickly gave up reading in the dim light, burrowed under the covers, and slept soundly until morning light. I came down to toasted pan, butter, and homemade plum jam; galletas, the snap cookies ubiquitous to Spain's breakfast tables; and good coffee. Bed and breakfast was about $12).

Pacharan Navarro, homemade in most of the rural lodgings of the Navarran Pyrenees.

From Ochagavia I followed the Salazar down the valley through fresh forests punctuated by awesome cliffs, striking rock formations, and green hills with grazing sheep. The ancient stone houses, block-tower churches, cobbled streets, and rustic bridges give this valley's fifteen villages a medieval air. Below Ezparza, a pretty, photogenic village with a three-arched Romanesque bridge, an impressive 16th-century church, and a large pisifactoria (trout farm), the scenery gets very dramatic as the road goes through spectacular gorges with falcons soaring above them. Beyond the gorges, fields of flaming-red poppies lined the road to Navascués, where I stopped to admire the 12th-century Romanesque church of Santa María del Campo, which stands in ancient solitude alongside the village cemetery southwest of town.

North of Navascués, the road to Roncal becomes much rougher, curving up steep, craggy, pine-covered hills to the pass of Las Coronas (3120 feet), where a spectacular vista overlooks the vast Valle del Roncal and its awesome backdrop of snow-covered peaks.

After nine more miles of beautiful, but twisting, steep roads, I reached Burgui, where the excellent Roncal cheese, Larra, is made from the ewe's milk of the very photogenic Lacha breed of sheep.


Burgui.

Lacha breed of sheep, whose ewe's milk is used to make Roncal cheese.

Burgui is a dramatically picturesque river town with a Romanesque bridge and a breathtaking canyon to its south.


Along the river banks here, I saw log rafts used by modern-day daredevil almadieros (rafts are called almadías), who reenact the dangerous feat when, before trucking and a downriver dam was built, each spring daring loggers used to ride such log rafts down the swollen river to the sawmills.


At Burgui the Navacués road joins the smooth main road from Pamplona that runs up the Roncal valley, following the Esca river through picturesque gorges, where dramatic bluffs rise above the road, waterfalls gush from the rocks, and suspension bridges over the river link hiking trails.
Roncal.

The Roncal valley is famous for its cheeses, bucolic villages, splendid scenery, and colorful folklore. Every year on the first Sunday in July, the Roncalese dress in colorful regional costumes for a romería (pilgrimage cum picnic) at the mountain hermitage of Idoya near Isaba. On July 13, the mayors of Roncal valley's seven villages turn out in typical costumes to receive the Tribute of the Three Cows offered by their French neighbors from the Baretous (Bearn) valley. The event, dating to the Middle Ages, annually draws thousands to a site near the French border.

Roncalese houses, like those of Ochagavia, are of the same stout stone and timber construction, but richer Roncal has more distinctive architecture. Like most towns here, Roncal's interior streets are paved with river stones, which are like walking on a washboard and require sturdy footwear. At Roncal's northern edge, the Esca runs by a trout farm just across a small bridge from a park with picnic tables and fine views of Roncal's massive church.

Tenor Julián Gayarre (1844-1890), the greatest Spanish opera singer of his epoch, was from Roncal. Gayarre's funeral monument in the village cemetery is by Mariano Benlliure (1862-1947), the Valencian sculptor who did the equestrian statue of Alfonso XII in Madrid's Retiro Park and torero Joselito's funeral monument in Sevilla. Gayarre's home is now a museum displaying momentos from his illustrious career.

Roncal's excellent sheep's cheese, queso Roncal, somewhat reminiscent of Italian Parmesan, but milder and softer, was the first Spanish cheese to earn an official denominación de origen (like wine). Once an artisan cheese, much of today's queso Roncal is produced in a local factory and can be purchased in markets or shops all over Navarra. If you want a homemade cheese, look for signs that say "Queso Roncal del Pastor" (shepherd's cheese).

Queso Roncal, a ewe's milk cheese that is the pride of the Navarran Pyrenees.

At Roncal's southern edge, on a hill overlooking the town, I found Casa Indiano, the charming two-story fieldstone home of Ana Maria Donazar, a grandmother who dotes, with equal amounts of cariño, or tender loving care, on her young grandson and her casa's rustic pine-timbered interior. The living quarters, including a kitchen with spectacular valley views, were on the second floor. Señora Donazar put me in a small room with a double bed, a dresser, and an armoire, just across from a clean, modern bathroom.


For lunch, on the main road just below Casa Indiano, I found Restaurante Begoña, a small cafe on Hostal Zaltua's second floor overlooking the river, where fishermen cast for trout. On the wall was a "celebrity" photograph of a man wearing a huge Basque boina (beret) and displaying several trophies - - Roncal's 1991 trout fishing champ. When I asked for trout, Begoña, who answers the jangling telephone, waits tables, and cooks, informed me, "If you had told me ahead of time, I would have had trout." I settled for a salad; red beans and chorizo with guindillas (hot peppers); superb revueltos con ajos y gambas (eggs scrambled with garlic shoots and shrimp); and queso Roncal. When I ordered a bottle of rosado, Begoña handed me the corkscrew and returned to the kitchen. The bill was about $10.

Pochas con guindilla.

North of Roncal is beautiful Isaba, a village in a lush green valley below the rugged peaks culminating in the Mesa de los Tres Reyes (Three Kings' Table), Navarra's highest mountain (7984 feet). Saving a more thorough inspection of Isaba for evening, I headed north toward the high gray-stone peaks that poke up through the surrounding forests like giant teeth. On the way I saw fishermen working the picturesque Belagua, a trout stream criss-crossed by rustic stone bridges. On the high plain below the peaks were verdant pastures where herds of sheep grazed with bleating newborn lambs and mares nursed wobbly-legged foals. Signs on farmhouses offered homemade Roncal cheeses.

Beyond the plain the road climbs steeply for several miles to the heights of Belagua with its stunning views down the valley towards Isaba. Incredibly, I encountered cyclists pedaling all the way to the summit; Miguel Unduráin, the Navarrese cyclist who won the Tour de France, trains here. On the way up the mountain is the rustic Venta de Juan Pito. In the rock-and-timber dining room, one can sit in front a big fireplace and lunch on migas ("shepherd's crouton's") and grilled lamb chops.

At Belagua is a ski refuge with spectacular cross country and downhill trails, but no lifts. With the temperature in the 70s in Roncal, I was in shirt sleeves, but it was cold at these heights, where there was still snow in the high crevasses. The road climbs through increasingly rugged terrain, where lovely little clumps of intensely blue wild flowers were a strikingly juxtaposed against the rocks and snow. Finally, the road ran level through a pass where I got breath-taking airplane views of France before heading back down to Isaba.

That evening, I explored the picturesque streets of Isaba, admiring the streets and houses that seem to be made of the same rectanagular-shaped stones; the flower-festooned balconies; and quaint doorways. After inquiring, I was directed to the gift and ski rental shop at Hotel Isaba where I purchased a herrada, like the one I had seen at Casa Osaba in Ochagavia, for $130.

Since Roncal has few places to eat, I decided to stay in Isaba for dinner. Isaba has several choices including upscale Hotel Isaba's reasonably priced, Restaurante Leyre, which offers good regional fare. I chose Isaba's popular Hostal Lola restaurant, where pimientos rellenos (piquant peppers stuffed with salt cod puree), trout cooked with cured ham, superb cuajada, a bottle of rosado, and coffee came to about $20.

Back in Roncal I found a lively bar that served homemade pacharán. The place was packed with young people eating, drinking, and listening to music. A sign on the wall, translated, said "If bullfighting is art, cannibalism is gastronomy."

Tired, but exhilarated from my day in the mountains, I returned to Casa Indiano and spent a restful night. The next morning, Señora Donazar and her husband, with "help" from their grandson, gave me a breakfast of cafe con leche, pan tostado with homemade mermelada (jam), and galletas (thin Spanish cookies). I paid my bill, which was about $14 with breakfast. As I was loading my car, I saw the little boy and his grandmother waving from an upstairs window. I waved back and reluctantly began the day-long drive out of these splendid mountains to Madrid and the plane ride back to New York.

- - End - -

* * * * *
  Shall deeds of Caesar or Napoleon ring
More true than Don Quixote's vapouring?
Hath winged Pegasus more nobly trod
Than Rocinante stumbling up to God?
 
Poem by Archer M. Huntington inscribed under the Don Quixote on his horse Rocinante bas-relief sculpture by his wife, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington,
in the courtyard of the Hispanic Society of America’s incredible museum at 613 W. 155th Street, New York City.
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In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019) 

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information."  

36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel


 
About Gerry Dawes

My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life." -- Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019


Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York (streaming live and archived at www.pawlingpublicradio.org and at www.beatofthevalley.com.)

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