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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


More Travels in Spain with Gerry Dawes - A Magificent Series of Articles by Docsconz on A Week in The Heart of Spanish Iberian Pig Country

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The Art of The Iberian Pig – A Week in The Heart of Spanish Pork Country – Part 1 – Segovia and Avila

Gerry Dawes at Mesón de Candido doing what he does best

 Gerry Dawes at Mesón de Candido doing what he does best


My son, L.J. and I recently had the opportunity to experience this wonderland of pork up close and in a number of different ways. We flew to Madrid, where we met up with my good friend, “Mr. Spain,” also known as Gerry Dawes. I have been in awe of Gerry’s knowledge of Spain, its foodways, its wines, its culture and its people for some time and both my son and I have experienced first hand in Madrid, his exceptional range of contacts and knowledge. L.J. had also had the good fortune to have accompanied Gerry this past spring on a trip that encompassed parts of Catalunya and across northern Spain into Galicia on a wine-tasting expedition. Arriving early in the morning on an overnight flight from JFK, we took an inexpensive hotel room for a quick nap, shower and breakfast before meeting Gerry and picking up our rental car to head out to the nearby and beautiful city of Segovia, where several treats were awaiting us.


Click here to read the rest of Part 1 


The Art of The Iberian Pig – A Week in The Heart of Spanish Pork Country – Part 2 – Guijuelo


We had an appointment to visit one of the very best, Arturo Sanchez, at their production facility. We saw the production of lomo and jamones Ibericos de Bellota from the earliest post-mortem stages through consumption with the father-son team of Arturo and Ricardo Sanchez leading our personal tour and tasting. The products were sublime with the jamon, in particular, somehow becoming more and more delicious with each bite. It was a truly unique and special experience, from which much more will come to this blog.


Click here to read the rest of Part 2


Pursuing Porcine Perfection – Ibérico de Bellota- Part 3 – The Cure


Most connoisseurs know it to be one of the finest food products of any kind in the world, let alone the greatest of hams. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, as it is known, comes from southwestern Spain, primarily from the regions of Extremadura and Andalucia, but with  a number of great jamónes made in Castilla y León, using Ibérico pigs raised in Andalucia. This winter, my son, L.J. Sconzo and I joined our good friend and Spanish culinary expert, Gerry Dawes, on a tour of these regions to see, sample and fully experience as much as we could about  this fantastic product. In previous posts, I highlighted the special diet of these special pigs in the oaken dehesas of southwestern Spain and then the process by which they are slaughtered and butchered. Here, I will relay the process of how these extraordinary hams and embutidos are made.




Click here to read the rest of Part 3


Pursuing Porcine Perfection – Ibérico de Bellota- Part 4: Jamónes, Embutidos y Carnes


 Finishing the Iberico steaks on an open fire

 Finishing the Iberico steaks on an open fire


After our tour, we were directed to an even smaller nearby town to find a restaurant that served their product. The restaurant, called El Camino, served us both cured and fresh products from that facility. It was a welcoming place in the middle of the country and their dishes were quite delicious.


Sherry at Casa Bigote

 Manzanilla Sherry at Casa Bigote in Sanlúcar de Barrameda

From there, we entered a long drive down to Sanlúcar de Barrameda along the Quadalquivir River and the Atlantic Ocean in southern Andalucia, where we would have a brief respite from porcine products. This respite came in the name of Casa Bigote, a renowned seafood restaurant that serves nothing but locally fished seafood. Atmospheric to the extreme, we engaged in a fine tasting of the local specialties, which in addition to a variety creatures from the ocean, included a number of excellent local Manzanilla sherries that left us all in a happy and laughing mood.


The Art of The Iberian Pig – A Week in The Heart of Spanish Pork Country – Part 5 – Los Pedroches


We had one more day of pig ahead of us, but we had to get up and out early to do it. We left Sanlucar after breakfast driving east into a bright sun. We made our way up past Sevilla, then through Córdoba and into the hills and dehesa of Los Pedroches, a D.O. in northern Andalucia. It is a small D.O., but there is a lot of land devoted to the dehesa and a high concentration of pure Iberian pigs.


Iberian pigs on the move

Iberian pigs on the move


 Click here to read the rest of Part 5

Gerry Dawes can be reached at; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected):


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

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