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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


Elkano in Getaria, West of San Sebastián: The Best Fish Restaurant in the World? The Culinary World Mourns the Passing of the Great Fish Maestro Pedro Arregui, Who Over a Half Century Run Made Elkano a Legendary Restaurant

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Persistence of Memory* (Salvador Dalí) Five-Watch Rating

Mourning the passing on Feb. 14, 2014 of Elkano owner Pedro Arregui, El Maestro del Pescado.  Pedro is shown in this 2010 photograph with two of the whole grilled rodaballo (turbot).  On Jan. 15, Pedro celebrated his 50th anniversary at the helm of Elkano.  His son Aitor has long been a moving force behind the restaurant, so Elkano will live on with the inedible stamp of Pedro remaining in the lessons he taught his son. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact

Slide show by Gerry Dawes on Restaurante Elkano, not a part of the Departures article.
Double click on the photos to see the slide show enlarged.

Getaria (Basque Country)

(From my article Spain's Best Undiscovered Restaurants, Departures, May 2011; also see my report on a dinner at Elkano during San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010.)

Located 15 miles west of San Sebastián, Getaria is the picture-postcard Basque Country fishing village that produced designer Cristóbal Balenciaga and Plácido Domingo’s mother. It was also home to the first mariner to circumnavigate the globe, Juan Sebastián Elcano, who is the namesake of what may be the best fish restaurant in the world (just ask chef Daniel Boulud or Nobu owner Drew Nieporent). Aided by longtime grill master Luís Manterola, Elkano chef Pedro Arregui and his son Aitor regularly turn out superb grilled clams, fat, sea-tasting percebes (goose barnacles), wood charcoal–grilled langostas (spiny, clawless lobsters) and whole wild turbot, fileted at the table. They do an excellent version of the Getaria speciality tartar de chipirón, a tartare of small, line-caught squid with sea urchin and ink sauce, and their two ways of preparing of kokotxas (hake glands), grilled or deep fried, are equally ethereal, especially when accompanied by light, refreshing Txakoli whites from the region’s small producers. Dinner, $115. 2 Herrerieta, Getaria, Guipúzcoa, Basque Country; 34-943/140-024.

Where to Stay: If driving back to San Sebastián’s fin-de-siècle Hotel María Cristina (rooms, from $435; 4 Paseo República Argentina; 34-943/437-600) isn’t an option, reserve a room with a spectacular ocean view at the Hotel Saiaz Getaria (rooms, from $160; 25 H. Roke Deuna; 34-943/140-143), which is ensconced in a 15th-century building in old-town Getaria.




About Gerry Dawes

Writing, Photography, & Specialized Tours of Spain & Tour Advice
For custom-designed tours of Spain, organized and lead by Gerry Dawes, and custom-planned Spanish wine, food, cultural and photographic itineraries, send inquiries to  

I have planned and led tours for such culinary stars as Chefs Thomas Keller, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Michael Lomonaco and Michael Chiarello and such personalities as baseball great Keith Hernandez and led on shorter excursions and have given detailed travel advice to many other well-known chefs and personalities such as Drew Nieporent, Norman Van Aken, Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg, Christopher Gross, Rick Moonen, James Campbell Caruso and many others.

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“The American writer and town crier for all good Spanish things Gerry Dawes . . . the American connoisseur of all things Spanish . . .” Michael Paterniti, The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and The World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese

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"Gerry Dawes, I can't thank you enough for opening up Spain to me." -- Michael Chiarello on Twitter. 

"Chiarello embarked on a crash course by traveling to Spain for 10 days in 2011 with Food Arts
contributing authority Gerry Dawes, a noted expert on Spanish food and wine.  Coqueta's (Chiarello's new restaurant at Pier Five, San Francisco) chef de cuisine, Ryan McIlwraith, later joined Dawes for his own two week excursion, as well. Sampling both old and new, they visited wineries and marketplaces, as well as some of Spain's most revered dining establishments, including the Michelin three-star Arzak, Etxebarri, the temple to live fire-grilling; Tickets, the playful Barcelona tapas bar run by Ferran Adrià and his brother, Albert; and ABaC, where Catalan cooking goes avant-garde." - - Carolyn Jung, Food Arts, May 2013.

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"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..." -- James A. Michener, author of Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections

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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 with Gerry Dawes  
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain

Gerry Dawes can be reached at

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