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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 Taste of Northern Spain Tour Fall 2017 (October 25 - November 5, 2017) With Gerry Dawes, Premio Nacional de Gastronomía

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A Taste of Northern Spain Tour Fall 2017

With Gerry Dawes, Premio Nacional de Gastronomía

Wednesday, October 25 - Sunday, November 5, 2017  

Galicia - Asturias - Basque Country
Navarra - La Rioja - Madrid   

Gerry Dawes, John Sconzo and George Mendes at Casa Botín during Madrid Fusión 2013.  Photo by L. J. Sconzo.

Click here for Itinerary & more information 


Day 00 Wednesday, October 25 Fly USA – Madrid – Vigo

Flights should be booked via Madrid with Vigo as the final destination.  Iberia Airlines is your best bet.

 Day 01 Thursday, October 26.  Madrid – Vigo – Cambados  

Arrive in Madrid, transfer to the plane to Vigo, pickup at Vigo airport by small bus, drive via the Rias (fjords) to Pontevedra and visit the most important fish market in Spain, then on to nearby Cambados, check into Casa Rosita, give our guests some time to freshen up, then have lunch nearby in a special seafood restaurant and return to the hotel for a siesta.   In the evening, we will have a light seafood dinner in Cambados and turn in early.

Rías de Vigo with shellfish rafts beyond the boats.  Photograph by Gerry Dawes.

After arriving at Vigo, Galicia via New York and Madrid, my first tapas of the trip, deviled eggs and empanada de atun, Estrella de Galicia cerveza.  A Centoleira, Playa de Beluso, Bueu (Pontevedra), Galicia. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /

Day 02 Friday, October 27 Cambados 

Drive to vine-covered Meaño through wine country and visit the artesano Albariño producers and taste wines from six wineries, then drive to O Grove and take a boat (if available) out into the Rias and visit some of bateas (shellfish rafts) and eat steamed mussels fresh from a batea, then back in O Grove to D’ Berto for lunch, where we will accompany the lunch with the artesano wines, some 6-8 of them.
Paco Dovalo, President of the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas, and Gerry Dawes 
at the Encontro de Viño de Autor in Meaño.

After lunch, we will take an hour’s ride back to Cambados and visit the fish market, then the old fisherman’s port and the old quarters of Cambados and have a light dinner in a bar-restaurant in the fishermen’s quarter.

Mussels from the bateas (anchored rafts for farming Galicia’s famous shellfish)
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /

Employee on the boat Pelegrin feeds a mussel taken from one of the bateas, shellfish farm rafts, to a sea gull, O Grove (Pontevedra).  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

Fishermen delivering the daily catch at 8:30 p.m.  to Restaurante D' Berto.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / Michael Chiarello Spain Trip October 2011

Day 03 Saturday, Oct. 28 Cambados – Santiago de Compostela – Ribadavia – Ribeiro – Monforte de Lemos

We will ride 45 minutes in the morning to the great city of Santiago de Compostela, the spiritual capital of Galicia, visit the magnificent Cathedral and Cathedral Square, stroll through old historic Santiago, the destination point for the renowned Camino de Santiago, then visit Santiago’s wonderful municipal market and have a tapas lunch at one of most innovative and best restaurants in town located right in the market.

 Iago Pazos with empanadas at Abastos 2.0 market bar in the market of Santiago de Compostela.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 /

 After lunch, we will drive an hour or so to Ribadavia, which has one of the best preserved old Jewish quarters in northern Spain, then 10 minutes away, we will visit one of the best wineries in the Ribeiro wine region and taste wines with the owner-winemaker.

 Sign denoting that this was the Barrio Judio from the 12th to the 16th century, in the old Jewish quarter of Ribadavia (Ourense), Galicia.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012;

Video of Manuel Formigo winery in Ribeiro.

 Another hour through very picturesque Galicia will take us to the important town of Monforte de Lemos, where we will check in the Parador Nacional de Turismo, which is in a former convent perched a hill. After we check in, we will take a short walking tour of the older sections of Monforte, then relax at the parador until time for dinner, which will be 200 yards down the hill at one of the best regional specialty restaurants in the region. Several winemakers from La Ribera Sacra, one of the greatest red wine regions (with some surprising white wines as well) in Spain, will join us for dinner with their wines. After dinner, we will return to the Parador early.

Chef Michael Chiarello, Bottega, Napa Valley with José Manuel Rodríguez, President of the D.O. Ribeira Sacra and producer of The Spanish Artisan Wine Group wine, Décima, in José Manuel's precipitously steep Ribeira Sacra vineyards on the Sil River. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /

Day 04 Sunday, Oct. 29 Ribeira Sacra – Chantada - Monforte de Lemos

 After a leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning, we will drive half an hour to spectacular Miño River wine region south of the town of Chantada. We will visit several wineries, have lunch with several winemakers and their wines at a special restaurant right on the river, then take a boat ride for an hour on the incredibly picturesque Miño, where the steep hill are covered in vines planted right down to the river’s edge.

Gerry Dawes and winemaker Roberto Regal with several top wines from small artisan producers from the vineyards that line the Miño river around the town of Chantada.  At Belesar in Lugo province.

After lunch, we will drive an hour to the southeast back past Monforte to visit the awesome Sil River canyons that are filled with some of the greatest vineyards in La Ribeira Sacra. We will visit some unique wineries and then have an early dinner in a restaurant-winery in the prime Amandi region of Ribeira Sacra. 

After dinner, we will return to Monforte de Lemos to the Parador, where we can have optional libations in the patio bar and review the events of the past few days.

Day 05 Monday, Oct. 30 Ribeira Sacra – Valdeorras – Villafranca del Bierzo – Oviedo (Asturias).

 Catch the optical illusion at the rim of the glass (look the rim for a few seconds and it will change perspective).  Kay Balun at D. Berna with a glass of D. Berna Godello, Córgomo, Valdeorras, Galicia.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012;

After breakfast at the Parador, we will embark on a 45-minute drive through wine country to Valdeorras, where we will visit two wineries that make wonderful wines from one of the greatest white wine grapes in the world, Godello. The mother of one of our winery principals has a bar-restaurant in the center of the main town, O Barco de Valdeorras, where we will taste wines and sample Galician specialties like steamed octopus with olive oil, sea salt and Spanish paprika and empanadas fulled with tuna, shellfish or meat.
From O Barco, we will drive 45 minutes to El Bierzo, where visit the picturesque Camino de Santiago and major wine town of Cacabelos and taste wines with 2-3 winemakers, then have lunch with some of the wines at a lovely restaurant in Villafranca del Bierzo frequented by local winemakers and located in a small charming hotel that sits right on the Camino de Santiago.

After lunch, all but our bus driver will have a bus siesta as we pass through the Picos de Europa mountains and into Asturias, a drive of about two hours with stops.
We will stay in historic Asturian capital of Oviedo.  Asturias is known as the Parque Nacional de Quesos, one of the greatest cheese and cider regions in Europe. 

We will check into our hotel in Oviedo, then visit a restaurant owned by the godfather of artisanal products in Asturias.  We will taste several cheeses, including Cabrales, and sample Asturian by cider poured splashing into wide-mouthed glasses from bottles held high above their heads by dexterous cider-pouring servers.   We will have dinner in our cheese guru's very very colorful sidreria and sample local specialties such as fabada Asturiana and wonderful steaks.

Before or after dinner, we will stroll through the old quarter of Oviedo.  Our hotel is just steps away from the old quarter and the colorful Bulevar de la Sidra (Cider Boulevard), where the restaurant where we will have dinner is located.

Pouring cider at El Campanu, Cangas de Onís, Asturias.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2012;

Day 06 Tuesday, October 31 Asturias – Santillana del Mar – Bilbao

In the morning, we will relax, visit a market in the old quarter and leave time for shopping in Oviedo.  On our way to Bilbao, we will drive east of Ovieod visit a couple of cheese villages, including the picturesque cheese-producing town of Cangas de Onís, where there will be time for prowling the shops that feature locally made products.

After lunch we will drive to Bilbao, diverting to see some of the dramatic Asturian and Cantabrian coasts and fishing ports, along the way. We will stop for an hour in the picturesque medieval village of Santillana del Mar, then drive on to Bilbao arriving in the evening.

We will check into our centrally located hotel in Bilbao, then have tapas in the colorful Plaza Nueva before settling into a wonderful restaurant in the Bilbao barrio of Deusto, where we will have some superb steaks (or fish for those who choose not to have steak), roasted red peppers, salad, sidra (cider) and red and Rosado wines from nearby Basque Rioja Alavesa.

There is a casino in Bilbao for optional games and local bars where we can have the option of relaxing with adult libations.

Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. 
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2014. Contact

Day 07, Wednesday, Nov. 1 Bilbao – San Sebastián

In the morning, we will have a guided tour of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, which was designed by Frank Gehry.

After the museum tour we will drive to the coast to see some enchanting fishing villages, then drop down into the mountains of the interior of The Basque Country and have lunch at Asador Etxebarri, one of the greatest grill restaurants in the world.

After lunch, we will ride an hour to San Sebastián to our hotel, which overlooks the famous La Concha beach and bay.

After some time to settle into the hotel, we will do a walking tour of the old quarter of San Sebastián, which has the highest concentration of bars (mostly tapas bar-restaurants) in Europe and is a great area for shopping for original gifts. (We can make a stop in the market building to allow those who want to put some laundry in for afternoon or next morning pickup at Cinc a Sec.)

In early evening in two groups, we will sample tapas in a few bars, then gather at one of the best and most colorful of them and have sit-down tapas in their basement restaurant.

Amaia and Jose (owners of Bar-Asador Ganbara), and Chef Michael Chiarello (Bottega, Napa Valley & Coqueta, San Francisco), Ganbara, Casco Viejo (old quarter), San Sebastián.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

Day 08, Thursday, November 2 San Sebastián
This morning, we will walk back over to the old quarter and visit the markets—La Brecha for fish, all kinds of meat, cheeses, vegetables, etc. and the outdoor farmers’ market.

After we visit the market, we will take our bus for a 15-minute ride to the Pasaia de San Pedro port, where we will take a five-minute ferry ride to Pasaia Donibane (Pasajes de San Juan in Spanish), a picturesque one-street town where Victor Hugo lived for a year. We will explore this photogenic waterside village, then have lunch in a wonderful typical restaurant overlooking the inlet, where Basque rowers can usually be seen practicing their sport.

We will return to San Sebastián after lunch and the afternoon will be free to explore this 
glorious city, walk on the beach, shop, etc.

In early evening, wearing jackets and ties for the gentlemen, evening attire for the ladies, we will gather in the hotel lobby and then board our bus for a short ride up to Monte Igueldo, where we will see breathtaking view overlooking San Sebastián and the sea. 

After this breathtaking beginning, we will take a short drive to a Michelin 3 star restaurant to meet the chef and dine on some of his cocina de vanguardia vasca creations that have made this city famous as one of the great gastronomy destinations in the world.

Day 09 Friday, November 3 San Sebastián – Getaria – Olite – Tudela
The morning will be free to explore this glorious city, walk on the beach, shop, etc. Again, around noon, we gather back at the hotel, and with our bags on board the bus, drive 30 minutes west to very picturesque fishing village of Getaria on the Basque Coast, where we will have a seafood lunch at one of the best fish restaurants in the world.

Getaria, near San Sebastián. Photograph by Gerry Dawes ©2014

Wylie Dufresne and Drew Nieporent pose as David Chang contemplates how "f-king" great the dinner at Elkano was. San Sebastián Gastronomika 2010.  
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact
After lunch, we will ride through the dramatic foothills of the Pyrenees into Navarra, stop at the charming castle village of Olite, then half an hour south, we will reach the southern Navarra town of Tudela, a historic Christian-Jewish-and Moorish town with an evocative old quarter. We will visit the magnificent restored church, which has one of the greatest 13th Century Romanesque doorways in Europe, plus vestiges of the former synagogue and a former mosque that once stood on this site.

 Aliaga Lágrima de Garnacha Navarra Rosado 2012 at El Crucero Restaurante, Corella (Navarra).  Photo by Gerry Dawes copyright 2013 / / Facebook / Twitter.
In the early evening, we will drive to nearby Corella and have dinner in one of the best and most unsung vegetable-dish focused restaurants in northern Spain. This region is famous for its vegetables–you will have none better in all of Spain. In addition to dishes such as a salad cardos y semillas de granada (cardoons with pomegranate seeds), pimientos de cristál (red peppers), pochas (supernal beans) and deep-fried alcachofas con foie (artichokes (served with foie gras) and esparragos blancos (white asparagus), there are dishes such as pan-seared bacalao on a bed of vegetables, roast kid with patatas panaderas and turron ice cream with torrijas (you will thank us for introducing you to this dessert—and this restaurant).

Cardoons with a special touch, granada (pomegranate seeds) and the house's own extra virgin olive oil from Navarra, El Crucero Restaurante, Corella (Navarra).  
Photo by Gerry Dawes copyright 2014 / / Facebook / Twitter.

We will return to our hotel, which is parador-esque, ensconced in a renovated historic building.

Day 10 Saturday, November 4 Tudela – Zaragoza – Madrid 

In the morning, we will ride an hour to Zaragoza, take a tour of the old city, then head for Madrid, stopping for a snack along the way.
We will arrive at our central Madrid hotel, check in and go to lunch in Madrid’s old quarter.
The afternoon will be free for touring the Prado Museum, strolling and shopping.

We will gather in our hotel in the early evening, have drinks in a restaurant overlooking the Plaza de Cibeles, then have our farewell dinner in Madrid’s old quarter on typical Castillian specialties.  

Optional Flamenco show. 

 Victoria Duende, one of the stars at Madrid's Café de Chinitas, also danced at Corral de la Morería in Madrid. Victoria Duende was born in el barrio de la Macarena in Sevilla and began to study dance at age 3 under the great Matilde Coral, a splendid dancer who used to perform at Sevilla's legendary La Cuadra with her husband Rafael El Negro and the great dancer El Farruco. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes copyright 2013 / / Facebook / Twitter.

Chef Georges Mendes (Aldea, New York) with a plate of carabineros at  El Pecado Original at the Mercado de San Miguel, with L. J. Sconzo and Mendes's sous chef at Aldea, Mitchell Barr.  
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015 / / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 50D / Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Day 11, Sunday, Nov. 5 Madrid – USA
Taxis in the morning to Madrid airport to catch flights back to the U.S. Option for more days in Madrid, visits to Segovia, Avila, Toledo, etc.

Option to spend more days in Madrid, visit other parts of Spain.

$5795 (double occupancy) without airfare
   $900 single supplement

Tour limited to 14 guests.

 (Terms & Conditions Available on Request)

Email for information:


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About Gerry Dawes

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

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. 

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. 
Pilot for a proposed reality television series on wine, gastronomy, 
culture and travel in Spain with Gerry Dawes.

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