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

"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; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


New Spain Posts January-September 2007

Some of my faithful readers, among the dozen of you, have expressed concern about the lack of posts and rightfully so. I have been traveling to Spain too much and can't keep up with it all!!! I am now averaging eight trips per year. To cut down on that average, I consolidated what would have been three-four trips in April-May to a one-month stay, so I have done three trips so far this year, a total of nearly eight weeks, and I am overloaded with information and backlogged with photographs. Some times you wish upon star and the star answers.

Posted (click on links below) and upcoming reports include:

In January, Madrid Fusión and Valencia's Encuentro Verema

In March, more Madrid, a wild, exhilarating swing through all the D.O.s of Galicia (Valdeorras, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro and Monterrei) in early March and a return to Arévalo for supernal roast suckling pig at Las Cubas.

And in April-May, Madrid again (after all, I am an official "Amigo de Madrid") for Grupo Gourmet's annual Salón Internaciónal de Gourmets

Valencia (Vino Elite & Vino a Toda Vela) with reports on paellas (arroces & fideua), the surprising gastonomic scene in Valencia and Alicante and encounters of another kind with Jonathan Nossiter of Mondovino fame and his wife, Paula Pradini, who showed her MondoEspaña film at Vino Elite.

Another visit to wonderful, under-rated Chinchón

Trujillo's exceptional Feria de Quesos in Extremadura

A visit to an old friend at Restaurante Cala Fornells in Salamanca

Castilla y León's prestigious Premios Zarcillo at which prizes are awarded to the best wines submitted (from around the world), the vast majority of which are from the Castilla y León region, which includes Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Toro, Cigales & Bierzo and Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla y León)

Valladolid, getting re-acquainted with Castilla y León's historic, but modern capital city

Cuídad Real for the Fenavin (Feria Naciónal del Vino; Spain's biggest wine fair) and a re-visit to Mesón del Corregidor in Almagro

And, remarkable Toledo, where chef-restaurateur-bodeguero Adolfo Muñoz and his family (Julita, his wife, and Adolfo and Javier, his sons) took me and my traveling companion captive for nearly 24 hours and charged a handsome ransom. We had to visit their Viñedos Cigarral de Santa María property, which has drop-dead views overlooking Toledo (a stone's throw away) and has a 300+ seat restaurant for weddings and banquets. The cigarral is surrounded by their Pago del Ama vineyards, olive groves and gardens with aromatic plants and flowers that play an important role in Adolfo (and his chef son Adolfo's cooking. We were sequestered for the night in the five-star Hotel Palacio de Eugenia de Montijo hotel where Adolfo operates Belvis restaurant, had dinner at Aldofo restaurant (considered the best in Toledo) and, with Adolfo and restaurant director-summiller son, Javier, we got a private tour of their extensive wine collection, which is housed in the cellars of a 9th-century Jewish home in the old quarter. The next morning we had a tapas-"breakfast" at Adolfo Colección restaurant-delicatessen, then, after re-acquainting myself with monumental Toledo and re-visiting the Santa María La Blanca and Tránsito syngogues (a first for my friend), plus a damascene ware shop, it was back for a farewell lunch at Restaurante Adolfo in Toledo's old Jewish quarter.

After lunch at Adolfo, we headed for Madrid for another remarkable seafood dinner at Casa Mundi, one of a series of remarkable meals with my new-found friend, José Luís Cuerda, the great Spanish film director, producer and screen writer (Bosque Animado, La Lengua de Las Mariposas, Amanecer, The Others and more). Cuerda also owns vineyards and a winery, Sanclodio, in Galicia's Ribeiro, where he produces a delicious treixadura-based white wine, which will soon be available on the East Coast and is the subject of a New York Times article due to be published in late June (for more info on Sanclodio, e-mail alex@marblehillcellars ).

I am going back to Spain in June for two weeks and I will have reports on trout fishing in La Rioja and a much anticipated dinner at Bodegas Riojanas in Cenicero, the wedding of my friend, chef-cookbook author (The Cuisines of Spain, The Basque Table) Teresa Barrenechea's daughter, Maria, in Madrid; the Grupo Gourmet Gourmet Plus Gastronomic Feria in Bilbao at the Palacio Eskalduna from June 15-17; the superb rosados, moscatels and red wines from Navarra; plans for Expo 2008 in Zaragoza; the lastest developments in Cava, Conca de Barberá, & Priorat; another dinner at unbeatable Ca Sento in Valencia; another adventure in Alicante with my friend, María José San Román and her husband, "El Portero Pitu," owners of Monastrell, la Taberna del Gourmet and other excellent restaurants;" and a dash via Jumilla back to Madrid for yet another dinner with Sr. Cuerda, with whom I am planning a Spanish television series based on many of the adventures, people, places, wines and food you are reading about here.

After Spain, it is off to speak at several wine and Spanish artisanal cheese seminars at the Telluride Wine Festival (June 28-July 1), stopping off in Dolores, Colorado, 60 miles south of Telluride, to see my daughter Erica, her husband Ivan and my adorable Gerber Baby grandson, Graham Robert. I keep telling this now eight-month old wonder that I am his Tio Geraldo!

In July, I will be in Portugal's cork country with the Amorim cork producers to report on the state of wine corks. Despite the problems with so-called "cork taint"--many instances of which are not the fault of a cork at all--is an issue that is being successfully addressed by cork producers, for me and many other long-time wine world observers (and participants!!) abandoning the cork for plastic "corks," synthetic closures and the God Awful screw cap is not the answer (scientifically, aesthetically, romantically, image-wise and otherwise).

From Portugal, I will migrate via Oporto back into Spain and spend more time in Galicia, where within a few years fascinating, terroir-driven, indigenous varietal wines will put Spanish white wines on a par with those of the Loire Valley in France (the godello grape has the potential to rival some chardonnays from Burgundy!).

Projecting to September, I will be traveling in Murcia for an in-depth re-visit to the land of the Monastrell grape, Jumilla, Yecla and Bullas.

And, for November, see A Taste of Spain Tour of La Mancha and Andalucía for my cultural, gastronomic and wine tour.

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