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"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 of José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019

"Trust me everyone, I have traveled with this man, if Gerry Dawes tells you to eat somewhere it's like 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

"But, 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. I remember one rainy night in Madrid during the 2003 Madrid Fusión congress. I wanted to go to my favorite place for patatas bravas, the ultimate tapa. But Gerry had another place in mind, and I didn’t know about it. But Gerry is always right. The potatoes at his place were amazing.” - - 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

"Gerry Dawes loves Spain, and he loves Spanish wines. And the man knows whereof he speaks. The country bestowed upon him its prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomia (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003, and here’s what James A. Michener said about him in Iberia: SpanishTravels and Reflections: “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 … ” I first reached out to Dawes when I was planning a culinary journey to Barcelona, Rioja, and the Basque region of Spain, in 2011. I found his website and began reading, and have been learning from him ever since. Then, when I was preparing to stage at Arzak, in 2012, Dawes offered me some sound advice: learn Basque. He is opinionated – “You must decide whether you love wine or carpentry. If you want wood in your wine, suck on a toothpick as you drink your vino.” – he lives life with passion, and he respects wine and the men and woman who make it. Here’s to Gerry!" - - The Original Drinker: Spanish Wine Master Loves a $15.99 Rosado, Hates Wood and Always Avoids Wine Bars, James Brock, Paper City, papercitymag.com


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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10/01/2006

New Spanish Cookbooks

Fall, 2006

With the publication in the U. S. of four more major Spanish cookbooks in the past several months, the good news for Spanish gastronomy and food products just keeps coming. For years, the only serious Spanish cookbooks that one encountered in the major bookstores were those of pioneer author Penelope Casas, whose body of work grew to more than half a dozen high-quality interpretations of Spanish cuisine over a period of some twenty years, including last year’s La Cocina de Mama. During the same period Janet Mendel, who lives in the village of Mijas on the Costa del Sol, was also publishing several Spanish cookbooks, but their circulation was confined mostly to Europe until recently.

Then came Teresa Barrenechea’s The Basque Table, which joined Colman Andrew’s classic Catalan Cuisine, in highlighting Spanish cuisines regional distinctions. And with the publication in English and importation of new wave cuisine books in Spanish–such as those by super star chef Ferran Adrià on his world-famous restaurant El Bullí–the library of culinary writing on Spain (coupled with its international acceptance as the new culinary mecca), has grow exponentially to lay the foundation for this year’s explosion of new literature. Now, four excellent new books are on the market: Teresa Barrenechea’s The Cuisines of Spain>: Exploring Regional Home Cooking (Ten Speed Press), Janet Mendel’s Cooking From the Heart of Spain, José Andrés’s Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America, and Anya Von Bremzen’s The New Spanish Table, all of which call for Spanish products and list American purveyors where readers can find them.

Barrenechea’s The Cuisines of Spain has the endorsements of four of Spain’s three-star chefs: Ferran Adrià, Juan Mari Arzak, Martín Berasategui and Santi Santamaría. Adrià wrote “Barrenechea captures the essence of our country’s authentic regional cooking in a way never before accomplished.” And Arzak says she has “transmitted the true essence of our regional cuisines through this book.” Barrenechea, in Chapter Two, The Spanish Kitchen has valuable essays on such Spanish ingredients as extra virgen olive oil, sherry vinegar, Spanish cured jamones (both Serrano and Ibérico), piquillo peppers, pimentón de La Vera (paprika), esparragos de Navarra and azafrán (saffron).

Janet Mendel, in her Cooking From the Heart of Spain, emphasizes that “La Mancha’s culinary roots are rural, but beneath their sturdy simplicity, a rich Moorish and Sephardic heritage imbues Manchegan cooking with an aroma of refinement, of delicate complexity. Some of Spain’s most outstanding products come from this region,” Mendel says, “Manchego cheese, saffron, fine wines, serrano ham, and extra virgin olive oil. To give the foods a sense of place, I tell stories about an artisanal cheese maker, a revolutionary wine maker, harvesting saffron, trout fishing, a partridge shoot and making Marzipan in Toledo.”

José Andrés, star of his own wildly popular Spanish television cooking series, Vamos a Cocinar, and executive chef of Washington, D. C. ’s Jaleo, Café Atlantico and its renowned avant-garde tapas Minibar and several other restaurants in the nation’s capital, was recently named Chef of the Year by both Bon Appétit magazine and the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (Rammy awards). His Tapas: A Taste of Spain, Andrés concentrates on modern small-plate tapas such dishes as lobster with clementines and grapefruit in saffron oil, slow-roasted beef tenderloin with Cabrales cheese and octopus with Spanish extra virgin olive oil and pimentón).

To promote her book on Powells bookseller’s website (Powells.com), Anya Von Bremzen, in a wonderful essay about her experiences in writing The New Spanish Table, wrote “Experimental chefs swoon over the luminous quality of native (Spanish) ingredients and the rigorous simplicity of classic preparations — hanging out at old tabernas, tascas, and tapas bars along with the rest of Spanish gourmands. Meanwhile, owners of old-school restaurants send their children and business heirs to apprentice with new-wave maestros for progressive kitchen tricks. I don't know any other place on the globe where the union of old and new is so strong. In the end it's this marriage of tradition and innovation that makes eating in Spain such a thrilling adventure.”

Von Bremzen’s essay sums it up very well. These days, eating in Spain and the quality of Spanish ingredients is indeed is indeed “a thrilling adventure.”

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