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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


Gerry Dawes's Spain: A Taste of Northern Spain Tour April 24 - May 5, 2019 / Join an Insider's Convivial Rolling Road Show of Spain's Gastronomy, Wine, Culture and People

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Galicia, Santiago de Compostela, Ribadavia, Monforte de Lemos, Cacabelos, León, Oviedo, 
Cangas de Onís, Santillana del Mar, Bilbao, Getaria, San Sebastián

11 Days, 10 Nights
Wednesday, April 24 – Sunday, May 5, 2018

Organized and led by Gerry Dawes & Kay Balun

Contact for more information, 
including a full prospectus and tour conditions.

 Gerry Dawes and Kay Balun at la Feria de Abril in Sevilla 2015.

Gerry Dawes, Premio Nacional de Gastronomia 2003
(Spanish National Gastronomy Prize)
 Has been crisscrossing Spain since the 1970s.

Kay Balun in Chipiona (Cádiz), graduate of Smith College 
who has made more than a dozen trips to Spain in the past decade. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes.

José Andrés with a gintonic.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

"As a young chef arriving in America from Spain in the early 1990s, I came to see Gerry as an ally. At the time, I found myself struggling to explain Spanish cooking because people either had no idea or they had the wrong idea.  It was a battle.  But Gerry's writing meant I was not alone in telling Americans about piquillos and escudella and jamón.  At a time when most food journalists were writing about France and Italy, Gerry went off in his own direction to become the first to really tell the story of Spain."– José Andrés, James Beard Award Winning Star Chef, Jaleo, Zaytinya, Café Átlantico Minibar (Washington, D.C.); Bazaar (Los Angeles), Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, NYC.

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"In his nearly thirty years (now fifty) 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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Mark Kiffin, The Compound, Santa Fe, NM.

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

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"I have said this before and I’ll say it again, nobody knows Spain like Gerry Dawes. I sincerely doubt that there is another American, and very few, if any, Spaniards can approach, let alone surpass his knowledge of the people, food, wine and culture of Spain. He has been frequenting the depths, breadths and heights of the country as a second home for nearly fifty years, leaving no stone, and especially no wine, unturned during that time. I have come to know him as a good friend over the ten years or so and have now had the pleasure to travel around Spain with him on a number of occasions . . ." -- John Sconzo, Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life

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Gerry Dawes leading a tapas tour with Tetsuya Wakuda, Rochelle Smith, Lidia (wife of Michelin starred Chef Don Alfonso Iacarrino, Janet Van Aken, Charlie Trotter and Norman Van Aken, Marisquería Rafa in Madrid. 

Gerry Dawes has planned and led tours for such culinary stars as Chefs Thomas Keller, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Ryan McIlwraith, Terrance Brennan, Michael Lomonaco and Michael Chiarello and such personalities as baseball great Keith Hernandez, Michael Whiteman (Joseph Baum Michael Whiteman Restaurant Consultants), Food Writer John Mariani, and Senator James Abourezk.  He has led on shorter excursions and given detailed travel advice to many other well-known chefs and personalities such as NY Restaurateur Drew Nieporent, Tim Zagat, Michael and Ariane Batterberry, Jeffrey Steingarten, Tim Zagat, cookbook author Rozanne Gold, Ruth Reichl, Restaurateur Danny Meyer, Chef Norman Van Aken, Chef Cindy Pawlcyn, authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg, Chefs Christopher Gross, Rick Moonen, James Campbell Caruso, Don Pintabona and many others.  He has also led such groups as Docsconz: Musings on Food & Life Taste of Northern Spain Tour, The Commonwealth Club of California (twice), Mythical 61st Fighter Squadron (twice), Club Managers of America Wine Tour, Altamira Tours and many others.
 Gerry Dawes and baseball great Keith Hernandez at the Alhambra in Granada.

$4,295* per person double room; $4,995* single room 
(Airfare not included; each traveler makes their own flight arrangements)

With all designated meals, ground transportation, guides and tips.
*Subject to Euro Exchange.  Minimum of 12 Travelers**

Includes all designated meals** with wine*** in restaurants selected by Gerry Dawes, who is an expert on Spanish gastronomony and has many personal chef connections throughout Spain.

**Gerry and the restaurants where we eat are used to dealing with dietary restrictions, which you need to specify on the Tour Conditions form.

***If you do not drink wine, we offer our condolences, since Gerry
is one of the top experts on Spanish wines in the world. 

(**For fewer people a supplement may be required due to fixed costs.)


Included meals noted as follows: B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, T=Tapas, D=Dinner

Day 00 Wednesday, April 24 USA to Madrid – Vigo (Galicia)

Fly from the US gateway cities to Madrid.

Day 01 Thursday, April 25 Madrid – Vigo (Galicia) – Cambados (L, D)

Arrive Madrid, transfer to plane to Vigo. 

Bus picks up the group at Vigo airport, transfer to Cambados. (52 kms., 45 min.)

Several hours in the hotel to freshen up, then a late seafood lunch near Cambados.

After lunch, relaxation, walking in picturesque areas of Cambados.

Evening, Dinner with Albariño winemakers, great white wine and seafood in casual surroundings.

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

Paco Dovalo, President of the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas, and Gerry Dawes at the Encontro de Viño de Autor in Meaño.

Day 02 Friday, April 26 Cambados (B, L, T)

Morning boat ride on the fabulous, beautiful rías (fjords), where we will see shellfish farming and sample mussels and shellfish pulled directly from these Atlantic waters.   We will visit the summer resort island of La Toja, with it’s church covered entirely in scallop shells, then have lunch in nearby O Grove at one of the best seafood restaurants in the world.

After lunch, we will visit the exceptionally picturesque and unique fishing village of Combarro, then return to Cambados with the rest of the afternoon free for exploring Cambados, including the old fishermen´s quarter, with Gerry Dawes.

For those still game, there will be the option of sampling some tapas, going to several easily walkable spots in Cambados.

Lodging:  Cambados

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, April 27 Cambados – Santiago de Compostela – Ribadavia -Monforte de Lemos (70kms, 45 min., each way) (B, L)

In the morning, we will travel 45 minutes by bus to the great city of Santiago de Compostela, a monumental city that is destination for travelers on the famous Camino de Santiago.  We tour the city and the magnificent cathedral and cathedral square, visit the colorful food market, 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 travel to Ribadavia (1 hr.+), a colorful Galician town with a superb Medieval and Jewish quarter.  In Ribadavia, we will tour the old quarter, then drive to a nearby village to visit one of the best white wine wineries in the Ribeiro wine district.

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©2017;

Adegas Manuel Formigo makes primarily white wines of character and quality,  reflecting the greatness of his family’s  vineyards and the arduous and meticulous work that the Formigo family performs the whole year in their small winery and in their five vineyards scattered around Beade.   Formigo means ant in Gallego and some of their wines display an the silhouette of an ant on the labels, symbolic of the family name and their propensity for hard work.  Formigo shown presenting a vertical tasting of his white wines from seven vintages to John Gilman, Publisher of View From The Cellar.
After Ribadavia, we will travel less than an hour via the picturesque confluence of the Sil and Miño rivers to Monforte de Lemos, where we will check into the Parador of Monforte, which is in an old, renovated convent overlooking the city. 
We will relax at the Parador Nacional de Turismo with an optional stroll through the old quarter, then visit the Ribeira Sacra wine center and have tapas and Ribeira Sacra wines at the adjoining bar.  We will take a short stroll to visit the nearby Roman bridge over the river, then return to the Parador for an early evening.  (There will also be the option of having dinner in the parador’s fine restaurant.)  

Roman bridge, Monforte de Lemos.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

Lodging: Monforte de Lemos

Day 04 Sunday, April 28 Monforte de Lemos – Lugo – Chantada - Miño River – Monforte de Lemos (B, L, D)

We leave Monforte de Lemos in the morning and ride 45 minutes north to visit the provincial capital of Lugo, whose old quarter is completely surrounded by walls that were built by the Roman occupiers 2000 years ago.  For those so inclined we will stroll the 2 kms. on the pathway on top the wall around the city.  There are plenty of stairs to get down early and spend time with a coffee, tea, vino or beer for those who do not want to make the whole walk.  

After visiting Lugo, we will ride for less than an hour through scenic Galician countryside to the spectacular Ribeira Sacra wine growing area of Chantada on the stunningly beautiful banks of the Miño River.  We will have lunch with several local winemakers in the picturesque hamlet of Belesar in a restaurant on the river, then take a boat ride on this beautiful river. 

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 the boat ride, we will travel for half an hour back to  Monforte de Lemos, then travel another 25 south, where  we will visit the spectacular Ribeira Sacra wine growing area of the Sil River canyons (for any who might have vertigo, we will leave you to have a glass of wine at a winery without such awesome view opportunities), then we will return in early evening to Monforte to relax at the Parador until time for our dinner of local specialties with wines from Sil River regions of La Ribeira Sacra, with the winemakers, at an excellent Galician restaurant just down the hill from the Parador.
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 05 Monday, April 29 Monforte de Lemos – O Barco de Valdeorras - Villafranca de Bierzo – Cacabelos (B, L, D)

In the morning, after breakfast at the sumptious buffet at the Parador de Monforte, we will move on to O Barco de Valdeorras, where we will visit two
wineries and have some tapas.  (50 kms. 45 minutes of meandering on picturesque roads).   These wineries make wonderful white wines from one of the greatest white wine grapes in the world, Godello, and superb red wines from the native Galician grape, Mencía.

Near O Barco de Valdeorras a superb winery and sample their wines, then move on ten minutes away to a bar-restaurant run by two brothers, who have some of the best wines in the region.  Their mother Ana cooks Galician specialites such as steamed octopus with olive oil, sea salt and Spanish paprika and empanadas filled with tuna, shellfish or meat, which we will sample along with the brothers' exceptional Godello and Mencía wines.

 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 Adegas D'Berna with a glass of D'Berna Godello, Córgomo, Valdeorras, Galicia.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017;

After O Barco, we will drive 40 kms. (half an hour) to Villafranca del Bierzo and have lunch with wines from Bierzo in a picturesque hotel-restaurant situated on the Camino de Santiago.  

We will stay in a quaint hotel complex in nearby Cacabelos (10 kms., 10 min.), another major wine town on the Camino de Santiago. 

The afternoon will be free to explore this charming village with Gerry Dawes.
Dinner will be at the hotel’s fine country restaurant.

Lodging: Cacabelos 

Day 06 Tuesday, April 30 Cacabelos – León - Cangas de Onís - Oviedo (Asturias) (B, L, D)

In the morning, we will leave Cacabelos and travel 125 kms., 1hr., 15 min. to the city of León, where we will visit the old quarter and one of Spain’s most magnificent cathedrals, famous for its incredible surfeit of stained glass windows that makes it the true jewel in the crown of Spanish churches.

We will stop for refreshments, coffee and tapas, then head on north 180 kms., 2hrs. into the majestic Pico de Europa mountains of the Asturias, stopping for lunch at a wonderful restaurant in Cangas de Onís with great riffs on classic Austurian dishes such as fabada Asturiana and sample local excellent cider and exceptional farmhouse cheeses (Asturias is known as the Parque Nacional de Quesos, the National Park of Cheeses). 

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

This picturesque cheese capital of Cangas de Onís is full of charming shops, bars and restaurants.  After lunch, we will spend some time strolling Cangas, then travel 70 kms., 1 hour, with awesome mountain views on the southern side, to the major Asturian city of Oviedo.  

We will check into a lovely hotel in the center of Oviedo, relax a bit, then in early evening, talk a short walking tour of the charming old quarter around Oviedo’s Cathedral, then have dinner at a cider house restaurant on Oviedo’s Bulevar de Sidra, Cider Boulevard.

Lodging: Oviedo
Day 07 Wednesday, May 1 Oviedo – Santillana del Mar - Bilbao  (B, L, D)

In the morning, we will take a daylight stroll through the markets of the old quarter of Oviedo, then head east with stunning views of the Picos de Europa mountains on our way to the medieval village of Santillana del Mar (115 kms., 1 hr., 15 minutes), which we will visit for about an hour, then head 100 kms., 1 hr. east on a superhighway along the Cantabrian-Basque coasts to Bilbao, where we will check into our centrally located hotel and have lunch at a nearby restaurant with Basque specialties.

After lunch, we will visit the Frank Gehry’s architectural gem, the Guggenheim Museum.

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

The rest of the afternoon and evening will be free to explore Bilbao, shop, etc.
Dinner will be in a wonderful atmospheric steak house across the river in Deusto, a barrio of Bilbao.

Lodging: Bilbao

Day 08 Thursday, May 2 Bilbao – San Sebastián (B, T, D)

In the morning, we will ride through the beautiful green mountains of the Basque Country from Bilbao to stunning seaside jewel of a city, San Sebastián (100 kms., 1 hr. on the autovia), where we will check into our hotel in the old quarter of the city. 

After check-in, we will gather for a walking tour of the old quarter of San Sebastián and have an ambulatory lunch in some of this city’s famous tapas bars.
The afternoon will be free to relax, shop, stroll the beach and old quarter, etc. 

San Sebastián at night, on the Paseo de la Concha. 

Gerry Dawes and Kay Balun at Ganbara, Casco Viejo (old quarter), San Sebastián.

There is also a Cinc a Sec laundry and dry cleaners in the basement of the market, where anyone who so desires can have their clothes done within a few hours.

In the evening, we will take a short bus ride and take in inspiring views from above the city, then have dinner at a nearby restaurant, which has one of the greatest wine cellars in Europe. 

San Sebastián at night, from a spot on Monte Igeldo above the city.

Lodging:  San Sebastián

Day 09 Friday, May 3 San Sebastián (B, L)

The morning will be free to explore, visit the nearby food market, shop, relax, etc.
About 1 p.m., we will take a half an hour ride to the charming, historic fishing village of Getaria, where, just outside town we will visit a great Txakoli wine producer in the charming green countryside overlooking the vineyards, fields of grazing sheep and the sea.

Then we will take a walking tour of Getaria, birthplace of Juan Sebastian Elkano, the first man to circumnavigate the globe (his boss Magellan died in the Phillipines along the way), home of the dress designer Balenciaga and home of Placido Domingo’s mother.  Then have lunch overlooking the port in one of the greatest fish restaurants on the planet. 

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

After lunch, we will return to San Sebastián, where the rest of the afternoon and evening will be free, with optional gin-tonics at the bar that gave birth to the gin-tonics craze and optional casino gambling right at the entrance to the old quarter.   

Barman Juanjo making one of Dicken´s Bar´s legendary gin-tonics in San Sebastián.

Lodging:  San Sebastián

 Day 10 Saturday, May 4 San Sebastián (B, L, D)

The morning will be free to relax in San Sebastián, stroll the beach, shop, etc.
At 1 p.m., we will gather at our hotel, then take a bus ride to the fishing port of Pasajes de San Pedro, then catch a ferry (which crosses the inlet every ten minutes) to Pasajes de San Juan, an incredibly picturesque one-street town, where the writer Victor Hugo (Les Miserables) lived for a year.  We will have lunch in a charming, unique restaurant overlooking the water. 

We will return to San Sebastián and have a free afternoon.  

In the evening, we will gather for dinner and take a short walk to a special place in the old quarter for dinner.

Lodging:  San Sebastián

Day 11 Sunday, May 5 San Sebastián – Bilbao – Madrid – USA

Early morning bus to Bilbao airport for flights to Madrid and USA.  Option of more days in Madrid and elsewhere, to be arranged individually.

(Option: additional days in Madrid and environs and, three days after the end of the first trip, Gerry Dawes's Spain:  A Taste of Southern Spain Tour May 8 - 19, 2019 begins.)

Contact for more information, 
including a full prospectus and tour conditions.

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(Also three days after this tour, our Taste of Southern Spain Tour begins in Madrid.  For those who want to do both tours, you can have free time in Madrid with guidance from your  tour leaders. ) 

Gerry Dawes's Spain: A Taste of Madrid, Toledo, La Mancha & Southern Spain Tour May 8 - May 19, 2019 / Join an Insider's Convivial Rolling Road Show of Spain's Gastronomy, Wine, Culture and People

About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on WPWL 103.7 FM Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York.

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. 
  Reality television series pilot on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain with Gerry Dawes.

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