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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


Having a Drink with Gerry Dawes by Jordi Melendo,

* * * * *

Tomando una copa con… Gerry Dawes
(Click here to read the interview in Spanish)

Drinking Godello at Estado Puro in Madrid.
Photo by Harold Heckle, Associated Press, Madrid.

Gerry Dawes vive en Nueva York y es escritor, fotógrafo y conferenciante especialista en la gastronomía, los vinos y la cultura de España. Vivió en Andalucía durante ocho años, lleva casi 40 viajando por el país y tiene un promedio de siete viajes gastronómicos anuales a España. Fue galardonado con el Premio Nacional de Gastronomía “Marqués de Busianos” 2003 por la Academia Española de Gastronomía y La Cofradía de la Buena Mesa y es el único extranjero honrado con el Premio Cena de los Once Vinos. Es Contributing Editor de Food Arts, Wine News, Santé y varias revistas del ICEX y ha publicado centenares de artículos sobre los vinos, la gastronomía y viajes de España. 

Ha presentado ponencias y presentaciones en Culinary Institute of America - Napa Valley, Christie's New York, Encuentro Verema (Valencia), Philadelphia Museum of Art (seis cenas durante la exposición de Dalí), International Association of Culinary Professionals (Congreso Anual), IberWine, Madrid Fusión, Fenavin, Vino a Toda Vela y presentador de los Spain's Ten (10 mejores chefs españoles en New York). Fue Chairman de la Cena-Subasta James Beard Fundation en 2004 que fue dedicado a España, honró a Ferran Adrià y Juan Mari Arzak y batió todos los records de la fundación. Fue seleccionado para dar una charla, sobre la gastronomía, vinos y cultura de Valencia en una cena de en honor de Francisco Camps, presidente de la Generalitat Valenciana en New York (Abril, 2005).

Having a drink with … Gerry Dawes

One of your virtues:

I am loyal to my friends, especially my real friends, most of whom are in Spain.

One of your faults:

I am addicted to Spain and I am always trying to do more than is humanly possible, which causes me problems.

A virtue you value in others:

Loyalty, honesty and patience, qualities which many of my Spanish friends have.

A fault you detest in others:

Dishonesty. And the love of new oak taste of over the taste of wine. I truly detest Parkerista-style wines.

Recommend a white wine:

Palacio de Fefiñanes Albariño (unoaked, with a few years in bottle.)
A Coroa Godello
Casal Novo Godello (my house white wine)
Pena Das Donas Godello
D. Ventura Mencia red wines from Ribeira Sacra

A rosé wine:

Señorío de Sarría Garnacha Rosado Viñedo #5 (one of the greatest rosé wines in the world.)

A red wine:

A great older vintage of CUNE Viña Real Oro such a 1954, 1962, 1981; Viña Bosconia 1947; Marqués de Riscal 1945 and Riscal wines from the 1920s; young, fresh, terroir-driven Mencia from Ribeira Sacra.

A Cava:

Raventos i Blanc , also Gramona or Agusti Torelló; also love good dry Pinot Noir Rosado cavas

And a Champagne:

Pol Roger, which I have had every Christmas and New Year’s Eve since 1976; I also love Bollinger, André Clouet and Champagnes that use Pinot Noir; and especially the great Rosé Champagnes.

If you had to choose just one wine which would it be:

A great dry Garnacha Rosado with good acidity, which goes with all kinds of food. They are fresh, festive, fun, satisfying and normally have no oak. And sometimes, a fine manzanilla fina de Sanlúcar

And who would you drink it with:

The most important thing about any bottle of wine is the people surrounding the bottle:

My girlfriend, Kay. And over lunch with any (or all) of these great friends, Mariano García, Basilio Izquierdo, Javier Hidalgo, Emiliano García, Juan Gil (Galicia), Emilo Cores, Manolo & Mari Carmen Esquivias, Ambrosia Molinos & family in Roa, Isaacín Muga, Juan Suarez, Esmeralda Capel, Gabriela Llamas, Lucio, Mari & Javier Blásquez, Quím Marqués, Fuensanta Bartolomeu, José Manuel Rodríguez (Ribeira Sacra), María José San Román (y Pitu, Jorge y Geni), Adolfo Muñoz & family in Toledo, Juli Soler, George Semler, el banda de gente in Sanfermínes, Raúl Aleixandre, Juan Peña, Paco Dovalo, Javier Luca de Tena, José Andrés, Carlos Falcó, Ricardo Pérez, Raúl Pérez, Pepe Limeño, the Pérez Pascuas family, Alejandro Fernández, Los Tios de Verema (José, Juan, Paco) y Las Gamberras de Chipiona. . . I have mentioned just a few and I have left out many—with profound apologies--but I am sure you only have so much space.

Your favourite meal:

I have several:  Rodaballo at either Kaia or Elkano in Getaria; Mariscos in Galicia, especially with Gerardo Mendez of Do Ferreiro; any meal at Bigote in Sanlúcar de Barrameda; chuletillas al sarmiento at Bodegas Pérez Pascuas; breakfast at Quím de la Boquería or Pinotxo in La Boquería; pochas con codornices in Navarra; alcachofas con jamón in La Balconada in Chinchón; arrós negre in Can Majo in Barcelona; any meal in Ca Sento in Valencia; Sunday nights at Casa Lucio in Madrid; salmorejo con berenjenas fritas at Juan Peña in Córdoba; arrós con caracoles y conejo at Casa Elias in Xinorlet; any lunch at Bodegas Muga, el menu de Gerry Dawes in La Taberna del Gourmet in Alicante; and a box of chocolates from Paco Torreblanca. There are many, many more.

Your favourite restaurant:

As you can see, I have many favourites. And I have been known to make pilgrimages to many restaurants scattered all over Spain. I love Bigote looking out on Bajo Guía in Sanlúcar, Kaia looking out on the fishing port and Basque Coast in Getaria; I love to take the ferry to Casa Cámara in Pasai Donibane (Pasajes de San Juan); and I love to eat La Balconada or Café Iberia in Chinchón overlooking La Plaza Mayor. Tengo muchos.

Your favourite city:

Madrid, many days; Barcelona, many days; Sanlúcar always and forever; mi Sevilla; San Sebastián; Valencia; Haro; Cambados; Chinchón; Getaria; too many to pick, but you get the idea.

Your favourite country:

Spain is the greatest country in the world. Nothing else comes close. The reason: See “And who would you drink it with.”

Which do you prefer, the seaside or the mountains:

So many choices, so little time. I love to be in Sanlúcar anytime and I love the Rías of Galicia, but I also love the mountains of Galicia, Andalucía, Navarra, La Rioja and the Picos de Europa.

Which mode of transport do you prefer:

Automobile outside of cities. It’s a freedom thing. Walking, metro or water ferry in some places.

Recommend a book:

Don Quixote; Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert; The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway; Iberia by James Michener; and my Homage to Iberia (if I ever find a publisher with cojones).

A song:

As Time Goes By” from Casablanca;  and “Yo Soy del Sur

A film: Casablanca

What is your favourite sport:

Baseball (I am addicted to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who haven’t been winners for 17 years--sort of like being “Zoy del Beti”--and American football (New York Giants). I also follow Spanish football when I am in Spain. I was in the riot on the Ramblas when Barça confirmed a few years ago and the last game I saw was on the tele. I saw Atletico de Madrid beat Barça in La Bodegueta in San Celoni with Santi Santamaría and George Semler, which left both of them de luto (in mourning).

What is your favourite colour:

Wine red (unoaked tint) and the brilliant wedding ring gold color of great Godello.

Which is your favourite man’s name:


Which is your favourite woman’s name:


Which historical personality would you have liked to have met in person:

Ernest Hemingway (maybe),
Miguel de Cervantes (when he wasn’t in jail),
Salvador Dalí (I know, I know),
King Juan Carlos I (I only briefly shook his hand);
Elroy Face (A Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher from the 1950s & 1960s)
and Antonio Ordoñez, whom I did meet and became friends with before he died).

Which three things would you take with you to a desert island:

My girlfriend, Kay; enough Patrón tequila, Torres Licor de Naranja, grapefruit juice (the island had better have limes & lemons) to make margaritas; Hendrick’s gin & Fever Tree tonica for variety; and vinos de Godello, Garnacha Rosado and Viña Real Oro to keep me going until I get off the island (I am not enamored of islands, too constricting ultimately); and my laptop with a power supply.

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.

Trailer filmed in Valencia & Alicante for a reality television

series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

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