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"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 of José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019

"Trust me everyone, I have traveled with this man, if Gerry Dawes tells you to eat somewhere it's like Bourdain, believe it!!" - - Chef Mark Kiffin, The Compound Restaurant, Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Spain wouldn’t be as known to Americans without the stories Gerry tells and writes.” - - Superstar Catalan Chef Ferran Adrià, elBulli

"But, for Gerry, Spain is more than just the Adriàs and (Juan Mari and Elena) Arzaks. He has connected with all manner of people working at every level and in every corner of Spain. I’m always amazed at this reach. You can step into a restaurant in the smallest town in Spain, and it turns out they know Gerry somehow. I remember one rainy night in Madrid during the 2003 Madrid Fusión congress. I wanted to go to my favorite place for patatas bravas, the ultimate tapa. But Gerry had another place in mind, and I didn’t know about it. But Gerry is always right. The potatoes at his place were amazing.” - - 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

"Gerry Dawes loves Spain, and he loves Spanish wines. And the man knows whereof he speaks. The country bestowed upon him its prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomia (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003, and here’s what James A. Michener said about him in Iberia: SpanishTravels and Reflections: “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 … ” I first reached out to Dawes when I was planning a culinary journey to Barcelona, Rioja, and the Basque region of Spain, in 2011. I found his website and began reading, and have been learning from him ever since. Then, when I was preparing to stage at Arzak, in 2012, Dawes offered me some sound advice: learn Basque. He is opinionated – “You must decide whether you love wine or carpentry. If you want wood in your wine, suck on a toothpick as you drink your vino.” – he lives life with passion, and he respects wine and the men and woman who make it. Here’s to Gerry!" - - The Original Drinker: Spanish Wine Master Loves a $15.99 Rosado, Hates Wood and Always Avoids Wine Bars, James Brock, Paper City,

Food Arts Silver Spoon Award to Gerry Dawes

 Premio Nacional de Gastronomía - - James Beard Foundation Nomination (Best Wine Writing)
Premio Periodistíco Cava

Gerry Dawes's Article Medieval Riches of El Cid's City (About Burgos, Spain)
Front Page, The New York Times Sunday Travel Section

 About Blog Author Gerry Dawes, Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award)

Gerry Dawes at Marisquería Rafa in Madrid.
Photo by John Sconzo, Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life 

Custom-designed Wine, Food, Cultural and Photographic Tours of Spain Organized and Led by Gerry Dawes and Spanish Itinerary Planning

7 Days, 7 Nights: Beyond Paella, A Video Culinary, Wine & Travel Adventure in Valencia & Alicante with Gerry Dawes & Special Guests

If you enjoy these blog posts, please consider a contribution to help me continue the work of gathering all this great information and these photographs for Gerry Dawes's Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel. Contributions of $5 and up will be greatly appreciated. Contributions of $100 or more will be acknowledged on the blog.

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The Magic of Málaga: An Ancient Quintessentially Andalucian Port City With An International Outlook Is Rapidly Becoming a Not-to-be Missed Attraction (Part Two of Four)

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The Magic of Málaga: Part Two of Four

Text & Photographs By Gerry Dawes©2017

Drawing of Málaga-born Pablo Picasso, Restaurante El Chinitas, Málaga

At the superb open-air photo exhibition of 44 photographs, albeit mislabeled "alta cocina" instead of cocina de vanguardia (avant-garde cuisine), with creative pictures of some of Spain's top chefs and their dishes on calle Larios in the old quarter of Málaga during the Málaga Gastronomy Festival, May 4-7, 2017.  In the foreground right is Catalan Chef Albert (Tickets, etc., Barcelona) and left Chef Andoni Aduriz (Mugaritz, near San Sebastián).   Photo of the photo exhibition, copyright 2017 by Gerry Dawes.

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When I received an invitation to attend the Málaga Gastronomy Festival in early May, I booked my flight from New York to arrive a day or two earlier than the rest of my media fellows, since group therapy on jet lag has never been my thing. I arrived at Málaga airport at mid-day and, though I was tempted to try the well-regarded airport train into the city, I opted for a taxi that took me directly to the Hotel AC (Marriott) Málaga Palacio, where I. had never stayed, was an excellent choice. The Palacio is strategically located just steps from the old quarter, the Cathedral, the Picasso Museum and a slew of very colorful restaurants, almost all of which have outdoor seating and offer a broad array of traditional Malagan dishes. And straight down the Alameda---or just several colorful blocks winding your way through the old quarter--is Málaga’s wonderful 19th-century wrought-iron structured Mercado de Ataranzas with its 14th-century Moorish entrance portal.

       View of Málaga harbor and the SoHo district from the Hotel AC Málaga Palacios.   

As soon as I had done my arrival routine—check in, stack my indispensable compartmentalized eBags in the closet, shower and take a power siesta—I set out on a personal re-discovery tour of Málaga and its considerable attractions.  I had until late afternoon of the following day to explore before the press contingent arrived and I would be tied to the communal schedule.  Now, I had two main missions:  I was eager to sample some Málaga tapas and to find a good haircutter.

            During the Málaga Gastronomy Festival, we were scheduled for several key restaurants and food excursions, but I wanted to see if there was any of the spirit left of the 19th Century city, about which the popular saying was: Málaga ciudad bravía, que entre antiguas y modernas, tiene cuatro mil tabernas y una sola librería.   (“The wild city of Málaga, which between old and modern has 4,000 taverns and just one bookstore.”)

Mesón Cantarranas (The Singing [i. e., Croaking] Frog), Málaga.

About ten minutes from my hotel, I wandered into Calle Sánchez Pastor, a pedestrian passageway with a cheese shop, three side-by-side restaurant/tapas bars—Mesón Gibralfaro after the fortress on the hill overlooking Málaga), Mesón Cantarranas (The Singing [i. e., Croaking] Frog) and El Mentidero (a typical bar where citizens traditionally gathered to share “oral journalism”--gossip, rumors, tall tales, etc.) and Bingo!, the F & C Barber Shop directly across the passageway! 

In this passageway street, I could get tapas and a trim, not necessarily at once.  I looked into the barber shop to assess whether those being shorn were getting decent haircuts, told one of the haircutters to save me a space, then crossed the street for some tapas, hoping not to get shorn by the waiter out front who seemed intent on hustling any passing tourists into Mesón Cantarranas.  I struck up a conversation in Andalusian-accented Spanish, establishing that I was not just any guiri (a popular term for a foreigner), and learned that I was dealing with Pepe.  

At the Cantarranas bar, from Pepe--now inside doubling as the bartender-and-tapas server--I ordered a glass of a Navarra Rosado (rosé)to go with the house croquetas (half dozen crisply fried alternating round bacalao and slightly elongated ham croquettes) and a big pork albóndiga (meatball) in a well-flavored sauce on a bed of fried potatoes.  I also ordered alcachofa a la montillana, half an artichoke with jamón serrano and onions braised in Montilla (a sherry-like wine from Montilla in the neighboring province of Córdoba). To test my thesis that alcachofas (artichokes) (and esparragos/asparagus) go best with sweet wines—since dry wines clash notoriously with both these veggies--I ordered a glass of Andresito Pedro Ximénez. The Andresito PX, made in the hills behind Málaga (Denominación de Origen Sierras de Málaga), was too cloyingly sweet, but it worked well enough with the artichokes to make me want to try them with a better, less alcoholic version of a Málaga wine, perhaps a Moscatel. 

At the Mesón Cantarranas bar, from Pepe--now inside doubling as the bartender-and-tapas server--I ordered a glass of a Navarra Rosado (rosé) to go with the house croquetas (half dozen crisply fried alternating round bacalao and slightly elongated ham croquettes. 

      I paid the bill, getting only slightly shorn, and crossed the street to see Paco, the barber, who gave me a decent haircut indeed.  I did not try the tapas at El Mentidero next door, since Pepe at the Singing Frog told me that both were owned by the same person, but after my haircut I did duck into the adjacent Mesón Gibralfaro in spite of the interior tiled archway painted with a large inscription “Se prohibe el Cante” (no singing), meaning I was not likely to hear any spontaneous flamenco breakouts.  I ordered another rosado and a favorite dish, salpicón de mariscos, a seafood salad of shrimp, squid pieces, imitation crab, tomatoes, onions, vinegar, which at Gibralfaro was disappointing, so I lamented the prohibition against flamenco singing even more. 
(Note: My tapas sampling at these two restaurants had to do with their proximity to the F & C Barber Shop and do not constitute an  endorsement.  You can do much better elsewhere.  The haircut was fine.)

Getting a haircut from Francisco "Paco," one of the barber's at F & C Barber Shop in Málaga, just across the street from Mesón Cantarranas on Calle Sánchez Pastor.

Calle Sánchez Pastor is just off the Pasaje Chinitas, the location of the mid-19th-to-20th century flamenco café-cantante Chinitas made famous by Féderico García Lorca in his poem-song Café de Chinitas and part of the reason Málaga was known as “a wild city.”   The wildness has gone out of Pasaje Chinitas.  Now, it has several bars and outdoor cafés, none of legend, but the colorful, emblematic flamenco-and-bullfighter Restaurante El Chinitas is in two renovated 19th Century buildings just a short block away from the former location.

En el café de Chinitas, Dijó Paquiro a su hermano, Soy mas torero que tu y mas gitano.  
Sacó Paquirri su reloj y dijo de este manera:
"Este toro ha de morir,
Antes de las cuatro y media."

Paquiro told his brother, I am a better bullfighter and more gypsy (than you).
Paquirro pulled out his watch and spoke thusly: 
This bull must die before 4:30 this afternoon." 
El Café de Chinitas, a famous poem-song by Federico García Lorca
El Chinitas has a long bar with a range of good tapas on display under glass in refrigerated cases right on the bar.  Its dining rooms are decorated with some wonderful oil paintings of Andalusian and flamenco scenes.  And Chinitas still has some frisky flamenco and dance parties, especially during the Feria de Málaga in August.  
         There is a painting in the main dining room of El Chinitas of three generations of legendary toreros:  Cayetano Ordoñez, who was the model for Pedro Romero in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises; Cayetano’s son and great friend of Hemingway, the legendary Antonio Ordoñez, who 35 years after the publication of The Sun Also Rises, was the subject of Hemingway’s Life magazine series The Dangerous Summer (published in three parts in September, 1960, the subsequent book published posthumously in 1985).  The two younger matadors in the painting are Francisco Rivera Ordoñez ‘Paquirri’ and his father Francisco Rivera Ordoñez ‘Paquirri’.  Fran Rivera is the grandson of Antonio Ordoñez and son of Antonio’s daughter Carmen and Francisco Rivera ‘Paquirri,’ a famous matador killed by a bull in the Plaza de Toros at Pozoblanco (Córdoba) in 1984.  

Antonio Ordoñez, from the mystical mountain town of Ronda, west of Málaga,, was one of the greatest bullfighters of all-time and as a native of Málaga province was Málaga’s homerown taurine hero.  The legendary English writer-critic Kenneth Tynan, who was a great admirer of Ordoñez, wrote that Ordoñez, despite being of the same epoch of such contemporaries as Laurence Olivier and Rudolf Nureyev, was “the greatest performing artist in Europe.”   
Ernest Hemingway spent a lot of time with Ordoñez in and around Málaga when he was writing The Dangerous Summer in 1959 and 1960 (and, incredibly, at an estate a few miles from the city shot a cigarette out of the bullfighter’s mouth as a stunt).  A focal point of Hemingway’s The Dangerous Summer was the great mano a mano in 1959 between Ordoñez and his brother-in-law matador Luís Miguel Dominguín in Málaga's La Malagueta bullring, just half-mile east of Restaurante El Chinitas, a pleasant stroll past the Málaga Palacio and along the palm tree lined Paseo del Parque.
            At El Chinitas, the extensive menu offers a broad selection of traditional Málagan and Andalucian specialties.  At the bar I ordered a good Spanish draught beer and a sequence of three well-made media-raciones (half portions) de tapas:  habitas con jamón (baby fava beans sautéed with diced jamón serrano), habas con calamaritos en su tinta (favas with baby squid in squid ink) and hueva aliñada (rounds of cooked merluza-hake roe, cooled, sliced and dressed with chopped tomatoes, bell peppers and onions in extra virgin olive oil and vinegar).  I ate my tapas, wistfully looked at the painting of the Ordoñez bullfighter clan, all of whom, except the elder Cayetano, were friends of mine during my lost youth (and for a brief return to follow Francisco Rivera Ordoñez in my lost middle age) when I followed the bulls around Spain. 

Habas con calamaritos en su tinta (favas with baby squid in squid ink) and hueva aliñada (rounds of cooked merluza-hake roe, cooled, sliced and dressed with chopped tomatoes, bell peppers and onions in extra virgin olive oil and vinegar) at El Chinitas. 

 I wandered around the old quarter for a couple of hours, scouted a few more tapas bars and took a lot of photographs, then feeling the effects of the all-night flight from New York, I went back to the Málaga Palacio Hotel to the 15th-floor terrace restaurant.  I took a table overlooking the palm tree-lined Paseo del Parque and the port of Málaga, ordered another rosado and some olives and contemplated what I was going to see the following morning.  The Mercado de Atararanzas was first on my list, then a copita of hopefully better vino de Málaga from one of the barrels at the colorful Antigua Casa de Guardia (f.  1840).  I had spent just half a day in this compelling city and was excited about filling the gaps in the forty-year bubble in my Málaga learning curve.
* * * Emblematic Characters Unique to Málaga * * *

El Cenachero & El Biznaguero 
(The Traditional Ambulatory Anchovy-and-Sardine Hawker & the Jasmine Seller)
 El Cenachero 

(The Traditional Ambulatory Anchovy-and-Sardine Hawker)

This is a photograph of a painted tiles of el Cenachero on the façade of Restaurante El Chinitas in Málaga.  

Llevo acabados de echar / boquerones vitorianos/ cual duendecillos enanos / que viven dentro del mar./ Son buenos para probar (I have freshly caught, boquerones vitorianos, which are dwarf pixies that live in the sea.   They are great to try."  ("Son buenos para probar." was the cry of the cenachero hawking his anchovies as he moved through the streets."  --  Málaga poet Salvador Rueda

("Victorian anchovies," named for Málaga´s patron, la Virgen de Victoria, whose day is September 8, which supposedly coincides with the peak of the Málaga anchovy season.  "Vitoriano" is typical of Andalucian dialectical pronunciations, dropping a letter, in this case the 'c' in Victoriano."  

       El Cenachero, a human statue street performer and a depiction in tiles at Restaurante Tormes of  the young men who brought boquerones, anchovies, for which Málaga is famous, up from the sea each day in cenachos (baskets), which were hung from cords wrapped around their arms just above their elbows.  Málaga is so famous for its anchovies that people from Málaga are known as "boquerones.  

El Biznaguero
(The Jasmine Seller)
El Biznaguero, one of the unique symbols of Málaga, painted on tiles at Restaurante El Chinitas.   Biznagueros were (and sometimes still appear) sellers of bunches of jasmine flowers picked in the mornings before they open and each flower speared one-by-one by hand onto the spikes of a dried thistle head on a stem.   Then the stems of the jasmine-impaled spikes are imbedded into an agave leaf, as a carrying platform for the biznaguero and sold in the streets of Málaga.  Not only do the jasmine flowers, first introduced by the Moors, smell seductive, they are said to ward off mosquitos.  The image of the Biznaguero and that of El Cenachero, the fish seller are the two great and beloved folkloric symbols of Málaga.

 Clabadas en penca verde van las biznagas fragrantes cuyas escencias flotantes la brisa en sus ondas pierde.  (Embeded in green agave leaves, come the fragrante jasmine bunches, whose wafting essences perish in waves of breezes.) - - 20th Century Málaga poet Salvador Rueda

Self-portrait at Mesón Cantarranas, Málaga, of me on the right in the street in the background in front of F & C Barber Shop, Calle Sánchez Pastor, and the image on the left on the mirror is a from a famous photograph of an old-time biznaguero, seller of bunches of jasmine flowers picked in the mornings before they open and each flower one-by-one is speared by hand onto the spikes of a dried thistle head on a stem.   Then the stems of the jasmine-impaled spikes are imbedded into an agave leaf, as a carrying platform, and sold in the streets of Málaga.  Not only do the jasmine flowers, first introduced by the Moors, smell seductive, they are said to ward off mosquitos.  The image of the Biznaguero and that of El Cenachero, the fish seller carrying two baskets of fish (usually anchovies and/or sardines) suspended from a bar across his shoulders, are the two great symbols of Málaga.

End of Part Two of Four
 Gastronomy Blogs
 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.
Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain  

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

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