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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


Manzanilla, Yann de Rochefort & Michelin-starred Spanish Chef Dani García's Spanish Brasserie Closes After One Year in Business And With a Confusing Message From Dani Dani García on Facebook

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Panel at the entrance to Manzanilla Spanish Brasserie with Chef Dani García, which closed Feb. 27, 2014 after just over a year in business.  The words on this panel, all of which evoke Andalucía, were chosen by Chef García.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 50D / Tokina 11-16mm f2.8.

I got the notice below by e-mail yesterday, the same day of the closing.  With so short a notice, I couldn't manage to attend the closing "fiesta."  I truly hate seeing a beautiful Spanish restaurant like Manzanilla close.  Yann de Rochefort still has his two Boqueria restaurants in Manhattan and another in Washington, D.C., all of which are packed most of the time.  

 Croquetas de calamares en su tinta (squid in its own ink croquettes), Manzanilla Spanish Brasserie, New York City.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest. Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.
Dear Friends,

Tonight, Thursday, February 27th, we will be closing our doors. It's bittersweet — we are proud of the food and service we provided this past year, and we hope you loved your experiences with us as much as we have loved serving you.
All good things must come to an end, but instead of crying, we will be celebrating in true Spanish spirit, with a fiesta that will go until we close. Come eat and drink with us, and say goodbye to our awesome staff!

The best part?  Our entire, critically-acclaimed wine list is 50% off!

Bring your friends, bring your family, order up some paella and that 1956 Rioja you've been dreaming of. Because tonight, the wine is going to be cheap and plentiful.

  Chef Dani García at Madrid Fusión 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon 5D Mark III / Tokina 17-35mm f/4

Dani García, in a Facebook post, wrote this about the closing:

Después de un año en NYC, debemos revisar el modelo de negocio y entendemos que la cocina Española debe tener una representación en la cultura americana sin perder la esencia y el sentido culinario Español.

Manzanilla NY ha recibido una respuesta inmejorable de público y clientes habituales. 
Sin embargo, es necesario una refundación con operadores que traten de enseñar la cocina Española de forma directa, honesta y sin "americanizar"; creemos que tenemos un alto nivel en nuestro país, apreciado internacionalmente y seguro que NY lo tendrá en breve.

Próximamente tendréis nuevas y buenas noticias de la cocina Española en NY, esta vez en "estado Puro".

Dani García. 

Translation:  "After a year in New York City, we need to revise our business model and understand that Spanish cuisine should represent American culture without losing the essence and sense of the Spanish culinary experience.

Manzanilla NY has received an unforgettable reply from the public and habitual customers. 
(GD Note:  In retrospect, Dani might want to re-phrase this "unforgettable reply" line.) 

Nevertheless, (paraphrasing) going forward we need a "rebuilding" (of our approach) with "operators" who try to show Spanish cuisine in a direct, honest way, without "Americanizing" the food; we believe that we have a very high level of cuisine in our country, a cuisine that is internationally appreciated and which New York will surely have shortly.

Soon, you will have new and good news about Spanish cuisine in New York, this time in "estado Puro, it's pure state."  (This a cryptic reference.  Does he mean that Estado Puro, a small group of modernized traditional Spanish tapas bars by Chef Paco Roncero in Madrid, is coming to New York or does he mean that someone will do "pure state" Spanish food that "represents American culture?")

Dani García. 

Interesting takes on Manzanilla Spanish Brasserie:

Dani García and Yann de Rochefort’s Manzanilla Closes Tonight, Grub Street

An Import With a Foot in Spain Restaurant Review: Manzanilla in Manhattan
Pete Wells, New York Times, April 16, 2013

What's a Modern Spanish Brasserie?  Dani Garcia brings a touch of avant garde to Gramercy, 

"Several modern Spanish chefs closed their New York restaurants not too long after they opened them, so it would be understandable if García were reluctant to commit entirely to anything too haute or experimental. As a "modern Spanish brasserie," which is what Manzanilla calls itself, the restaurant seeks a safer sort of middle ground—permission to fool around in experimental fine-dining territory, right next to the promise of reassuring crowd-pleasers like a 12-ounce strip steak and a "snack" of Brussels sprouts. While it's charming that a smart, technique-driven chef has come from Spain to present New York with a dish of eight fried sprouts ($12), it's also a bit peculiar: Served in one long row, slightly raw in the center, they're like the punch line to a joke that's been lost in translation." Tejal Rao, 

April 8, 2013 El País, Critic José Carlos Capel (Also President of Madrid Fusión): 
Dani García, Manzanilla, NuevaYork, spanish brasserie... (in Spanish)


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.

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés.
". . .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. 

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