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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


A Visual Encyclopedia of Spanish Gastronomy: Food, Chefs, Restaurants and Wine (A Work in Progress). Dishes, cheeses, olive oils, wines, restaurants, etc. (Illustrated with photographs; frequent new additions and updates.)

* * * * *
Text & Photographs by Gerry Dawes ©2021
 (Contact: for publication rights.)
[Double click on any photograph to see it enlarged.) 

* * * * Stay tuned, more entries will be added regularly. * * * *

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza from a mural in a restaurant in Tembleque, Castilla-La Mancha.
The La Mancha essentials: bread, cheese, wine, cured ham and, probably pickled aubergines.
Ajos Morados

Purple garlic cloves, famously from Las Pedroneras (Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha), i which is the ajo morado capital of Spain and has a festival to celebrate the bulb every year.  (Think Gilroy, California, which claims to be the garlic capital of the world.)  Las Pedroneras is also home to arguably the best restaurant of la Mancha, Las Rejas, where the great chef of La Mancha, my friend Manuel de la Osa is the chef-owner.  Nabor Jiménez , the chef-owner of El Crucero in Corella (Navarra) brought out a plate of the big purplish cloves to show us.  “Ajo morado is much finer garlic than the kind we have here in Corella,” Jiménez said.  

Ajos morados, purple garlic.

Alcachofas con jamón Ibérico (baby artichoke hearts with cured Ibérico ham) with a rosado from D.O. Madrid, at La Balconada Restaurant, Chinchón, one of my favorite restaurants in one of my favorite towns in Spain.

Alcochofas con jamón Ibérico.

Arroces (or Arroses, in Catalan/Valenciano).

Arroz a banda

Arroz a banda is traditionally made by cooking pieces of fish, squid and/or shellfish to make a stock in which the rice is then cooked, with the fish, squid and shellfish being served  separately, sometimes as a separate course.  In this squid and shrimp paella the ingredients are incorporated into the dish and served with the rice.

María José San Román serving her arroz a banda 'Taberna' (paella with shrimp and fresh squid) from La Taberna del Gourmet at Jaleo's Paella Festival opening party.

Arroz caldoso

Arroz caldoso con blando de cangrejo (soft shell crab "soupy" rice).  Developed by María José San Román, chef-owner of Monastrell (see Monastrell on Facebook) and La Taberna de Gourmet (see my review), for José Andrés annual Paella Festival at the Jaleo restaurants in Crystal City, MD, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C.  Although, you will not find this dish in Spain, where I have never seen soft shell crabs, it is well worth making this sensational dish in softshell crab season (the recipe will be available soon).  Arroz caldoso, which is basically a rich stock with plenty of rice in it, is one of the most delicious of all Spanish rice dishes.

María José San Román's sensational arroz caldoso con blando de cangrejo,
made with soft shell crabs, at Jaleo Crystal City's Paella Festival in June, 2010.

Slide show of rice dishes from Jaleo's paella festival in June 2010.

Arroz con leche is Spanish rice pudding, or rice cooked with milk, cinnamon and sugar.  At Casa Lucio in Madrid its is served with a creme bruleé-style caramelized sugar crust, which is a custom in Alicante, where Lucio Blásquez, the owner of Casa Lucio, has a street named after him. 

Arroz con leche with a creme bruleé caramelized sugar crust at Casa Lucio, Madrid.



Bright green steamed borrajas (borrage)--a stalk vegetable that is believed to have originally come from north Africa, where in Arabic its name is abu rash--shown here at El Crucero restaurant in Corella (Navarra), dressed with Nabor Jiménez’s own Condado de Martinega aceite de oliva virgen, olive oil.

Borrajas, borrage.



Cardos con semillas de granada, cardoons with pomegranate seeds, at El Crucero in Corella (Navarra).

Cardos, cardoons with pomegranate seeds.

Cochinillo asado
Cochinillo asado, roast suckling pig, an emblematic Madrid dish, at Restaurante Botín, Hemingway's old favorite, which he immortalized in The Sun Also Rises.
Cochinillo asado at Restaurante Botín.

Cochinillo asado at Restaurante Botín.

Habitas con jamón

Habitas con jamón, young tender fava beans cooked with cured ham, El Crucero restaurant, Corella (Navarra).

Habitas con jamón



Menestra, a panache of fresh vegetable, ideally young spring vegetables such as vainas (green beans), guisantes (peas), zanahorias (carrots), cardos (cardoons), esparragos (asparagus), puerros (leeks), and alcachofas (artichokes).  Menestra can be served as a vegetarian dish, but often ham and/or hard-cooked eggs are added. San Ignacio Restaurante, Pamplona.



Paella (see Arroces or Arroses [Catalan}

Paella, Spain's best known dish, is technically known as arroz en paella or arròs en paella (Catalan/Valencian), arroz al horno (oven-baked in a casserole), arroz caldoso ("soupy" rices cooked stove-top, etc.  Paella is the pan.

Pimientos de Cristal

Slightly picante pimientos de cristal, red peppers--not to be confused with the famous local piquillo peppers.  These pimientos de cristal were served with a minced black olive-infused olive oil at El Crucero, Corella (Navarra). 

Pimientos de cristal.

Pimientos de piquillo

Pimiento de piquillo relleno de mariscos (piquillo peppers stuffing with a shellfish filling), San Ignacio Restaurante, Pamplona.

Pimiento de piquillo relleno de mariscos.

Pochas (con almejas, guindillas, Las Campanas rosado.)

Pochas are white beans with a cranberry bean like shape, consistency and flavor, in this case, cooked with clams. They are also often cooked with chorizo and morcilla and sometimes with quail.  Served with guindillas (piquant, elongated green peppers similar in flavor to Greek pepperoncini). Las Campanas Garnacha Rosado (rosé), an inexpensive Navarra D.O. wine, is a good companion to this wonderful dish from northern Spain. 

Pochas con almejas, guindillas, Las Campanas rosado.  
From Casa Cámara a wonderful waterside restaurant in the storybook, one-street village 
of Pasaia Donibane (Pasajes de San Juan) near San Sebastián. 

First served to me at El Crucero restaurant, Corella (Navarra), rusos de Álfaro (literally, Russians from Álfaro) is an exquisite dessert that originated at Pastelería Malumbres in the late 19th Century in Álfaro, the main town of the La Rioja Baja winemaking district.  Rusos de Álfaro, made made with meringue, butter and sugar, sometimes flavored with almond or coffee cream, areworld-class, ethereal, melt-in-your-mouth pastries that are delightful way to end a meal in southern Rioja or La Ribera de Navarra.  Marcos Malumbres of the founding family of Pastelería Malumbres showed Martín Orlando, the current owner since 1998, how to make rusos de Álfaro and other desserts.    Rusos de Álfaro was voted the most preferred dessert of la Rioja at La 
Rusos de Álfaro.


 Gastronomy Blogs

About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes is the author of Sunset in a Glass: Adventures of a Food and Wine Road Warrior in Spain Volume I Enhanced Photograph Edition, Foreword by José Andrés (Available on Amazon).

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. 

". . .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.


  1. Cara da Silva, author & culinarian11:08 PM

    Gerry--This is a wonderful idea and I hope it will be a book someday. But when I click in now there are just a few entries and they jump from C to R. Is that how it is supposed to be, for the moment?

  2. Hi, Cara, have another look. Now there are more. I just decided to start this thing today. I have scads of photos and experiences. This is just day one. I will add to it as regularly as I can.

  3. Cara da Silva, author & culinarian11:11 PM

    Look forward to more, Gerry. I know the photo aspect of this would make for a very expensive book, and especially so these days, which could be deal breaker. But it seems such a natural.

  4. I have thought about it and I would love to see it in a softcover edition with the photos. I can always get some hardcover copies bound for the coffee table and for door stops if the thing flies.

  5. I like it! keep it going!


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