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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


Customized Insiders' Gastronomic, Wine and Cultural Trips to Spain With Long-Time Spain Expert Gerry Dawes & Former New York Times Restaurant Reviewer-Author Bryan Miller

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Bryan Miller and Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes and Bryan Miller have teamed up to offer unique, custom-designed trips to Spain.  Imagine being deep inside the real Spain with two maestros, writer-photographer-lecturer Gerry Dawes, recipient of the Spanish National Gastronomy Prize and an acclaimed expert with an insider’s perspective on Spanish food, wine, culture and history, and the legendary former (and longest tenured) restaurant critic of The New York Times, Bryan Miller, who offers a top food writer’s perspective on Spanish cuisine and has traveled in Spain with Gerry Dawes on several occasions.  

José Andrés, Gerry Dawes and Bryan Miller at Mercado Little Spain, New York

"But, for Gerry Dawes, 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.” - - 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 with Eugenio Merino in winter in the Merino family vineyards in Corcos del Valle (Valladolid) in the Cigales D.O.  Eugenio and his family produce Viña Catajarros, one of the great rosados from Spain in old vine vineyards that resemble those of France´s Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Bryan Miller in upstate New York at work on a manuscript.

Bryan Miller reigned as the longest tenured New York Times Restaurant Reviewer for a decade and has also written hundreds of food, wine and travel articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer and other top publications and is the author of numerous books.  Among many awards, Miller has received The Associated Press and The James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards Best Feature Article Award and the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.  Bryan Miller lived in Spain and studied at the University of Salamanca. 
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We can custom design and lead trips ranging from couples and small groups of friends to larger groups such as those Gerry Dawes has designed, organized and led for the Commonwealth Club of California (twice, 25 people), graduates of the U. S. Air Force Academy (twice, 16 people each trip), The Club Managers of America Wine Society and Club Chefs of New York & Connecticut.  Dawes has also planned and led more than twenty gastronomy-wine-and-culture focused trips to Spain for star chefs Thomas Keller, Mark Miller, Mark Kiffin, Michael Lomonaco and Michael Chiarello; former U. S. Senator James Abourezk; baseball great Keith Hernandez; and Bob Simon with a Sixty Minutes television crew.  He has also led shorter excursions and/or given detailed Spain advice to such culinary personalities as Drew Nieporent, Norman Van Aken, Charlie Trotter, Danny Meyer and Ruth Reichl.  

Gerry Dawes (l) leading a tapas night out at Marisquería Rafa in Madrid that included (l to r), Australia chef Tetsuya Wakuda, Charlie Trotter's partner Rochelle Smith, Lidia Iaccarino (Don Alfonso), Janet Van Aken, the late Chef Charlie Trotter and Chef Norman Van Aken.  Photo by Don Alfonso Iaccarino, Chef-owner of Don Alfonso, Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, Italy.

Depending upon each itinerary, the following are examples of some of the rich, culturally and gastronomically unique experiences our fellow travelers will share with us in Spain:

Join us, as we dine informally in a 19th-Century Galician bodega with half a dozen artisan winemakers and experience the magic of a quiemada, a Galician spirits filled flaming pumpkin that is supposed to ward off evil spirits;

Quiemada at Bodega Rozas, one of the top artisan Albariño producers in Galicia.
Go deep into the caves of a southern Rioja hillside and taste terrific artisan wines from underground tanks, then have tortilla española, ensalada and splendid lamb chops and chorizo grilled over grape vine cuttings, all accompanied by the bottled wines;

Luís Alberto Lecea draws wine from a cement tank down in the caves at Bodegas Lecea, a family winery in southern Rioja Alta.  Upstairs in a rustic dining room with a long trestle table, we will eat lamb chops and chorizo cooked over a fire of grapevine cuttings.

Follow us to legendary backstreet tapas bars in Madrid, San Sebastián, Logroño and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, sampling different small plate regional specialties at each spot;

Langostinos and Manzanilla Sherry on the beach outside Bar Bigote in Sanlúcar de Barrameda at sunset.

Learn how to make paella with a maestro in his restaurant at the edge of the rice fields on the Albufera lagoon; 

Chef-owner Rafael Gálvez of La Matandeta, a restaurant at the edge of the rice field around the Albufera lagoon south of Valencia, shows visiting club chefs from New York and Connecticut how to make authentic paella.

Dine with some of the top women chefs in Spain, eat phenomenal rice dishes and visit one of the great chocolatiers/pastry chefs in Europe, all in Alicante province;

Chef María José San Román at her Michelin-starred Monastrell restaurante in Alicante. She and her family also own La Taberna del Gourmet, one of Spain's greatest tapas restaurants.

Gerry Dawes with his great friend, Paco Torreblanca, one of the top pastry chefs and chocolatiers in Europe, at his cooking school outside Alicante.

Visit some of the greatest artisan wineries, cheese producers and Ibérico ham producers and sample their exceptional products;

Long-time friend Marino González, the godfather of artisan farmhouse cheeses in Asturias, at one of his Terra Astur Sidrería (cider house), cheese shop and grill house restaurant in Oviedo.

And have an al fresco lunch with a chef Gerry calls the Emperor of Toledo on a terrace with stunning views overlooking the chef’s family vineyards, olive groves and the city itself.  

Chef Adolfo Muñoz, the Emperor of Toledo, at Adolfo´s home-estate-vineyard-olive grove-event space overlooking the city of Toledo.

The aforementioned are just some of the kinds of experiences we offer. Many of Gerry’s contacts in Spain with chefs, restaurateurs, artisan and star winemakers, cheese makers, food producers and personalities are very intensely personal relationships, which opens doors into unique privileged experiences.  

Chefs Quim Marqués, then chef-owner of El Suquet de L'Almirall restaurant in la Barceloneta and José Andrés's classmate at this Barcelona cooking school, where José was receiving his long-delayed diploma, with Gerry Dawes and José Andrés in Barcelona.

Baseball great Keith Hernandez with a paella made for us at an olive oil producers plant in Jaén, Andalucía.

Two old friends, Manolo Esquivias and his wife Mari Carmen dancing Sevillanas in their caseta at la Feria de Sevilla.

And, yes, we will visit some art museums, great cathedrals, old Jewish quarters, some of the great Moorish monuments of Spain, castles, Roman ruins, fishing villages, stunning white villages, awesome mountain and coastal scenery and more (depending on each itinerary).

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and la Alhambra in Granada.

Roman theater at Mérida in Extremadura.

Gerry Dawes has been crisscrossing Spain for decades on extensive food, wine, fiestas and cultural fact-finding trips and knows more about the country than all but a handful of Spaniards.

In addition to our gastronomy, wine and cultural expertise, the chance to spend time with award-winning New York Times writer Bryan Miller, whose knowledge of food, treasure trove of anecdotes and insights on Spanish food, is a priceless opportunity.

Bryan Miller in 1992 at Els Quatre Gats, the legendary café in Barcelona where Picasso had his first exhibition.  Bryan and Gerry Dawes toured Barcelona as Bryan was researching and writing a New York Times article on dining out in Barcelona prior to the 1992 Olympics.  Photo by Gerry Dawes.

Bryan Miller with the famous restaurateur-priest Padre Luis de Lezama at La Taberna de Alabardero in Madrid.

Put together a group of friends, family and/or business colleagues and associates and we will custom design really special tours of Spain for you. We need a minimum of 12 - 16 travellers (will consider less people, but the trip will be priced accordingly) and will consider groups up to 26 people, like those from the Commonwealth Club of California. We offer several itineraries (see below) and the trips usually run 11 days, 10 nights*, but we can also consider slightly longer or slightly shorter duration trips. If you have a particular itinerary that you don't see here, e-mail Gerry Dawes and he will work with you to make it happen. (*Allows our guests two flight travel days and two weekends in Spain.) Contact or

Sample Itineraries
#1 Taste of Atlantic Spain Tour:  Galicia, Asturias, The Basque Country, San Sebastián, Navarra, La Rioja & Madrid

San Sebastián at night from Monte Igeldo.

#2 Taste of Atlantic & Mediterranean Spain Tour: Bilbao, San Sebastián, Navarra, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante & Madrid

 Quim Marquez, Chef-owner Quim de la Boquería, Mercat de la Boquería, Barcelona.

#3 Taste of Madrid, Western Spain Ibérico Ham, Cheese, Roman Ruins; Andalucía Southern Spain & Don Quixote La Mancha Tour: Madrid, Segovia, Ávila, Salamanca, Cáceres, Mérida, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz, El Puerto de Santa María, Jerez de la Frontera, Sevilla, Córdoba, Toledo, and Chinchón 

Gerry Dawes in an Ibérico ham-curing facility in Guijuelo (Salamanca).

#4 Taste of Andalucía & La Mancha Tour:  Madrid, Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha, Córdoba, Sevilla, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz, Atlantic Tuna Coast & Roman Fish Factories, El Puerto de Santa María, Pueblos Blancos, Ronda, Mijas, Málaga
A glass of Manzanilla sherry at sunset overlooking the Guadalquivir River as it meets the Atlantic Ocean.
#5 Sephardic Spain (Gerry Dawes* only):  Visiting the Jewish Quarters and Villages of Spain, Former Synagogues and Other Sites Important to the Rich Jewish Historical Presence in Spain.  Depending upon which of several itineraries we chose, we may visit Ribadavia (Galicia) León (Castilla y León), Oviedo (Asturias),  Hervás (Extremadura), Burgos, Estella & Tudela (Navarra), Zaragoza, Barcelona, Girona, Besalú (all in Catalunya), Lorca (Murcia), Córdoba, Lucena, Sevilla and Toledo.  (*Gerry Dawes has been studying, visiting and photographing Sephardic Spain for more than two decades.)

Santa María la Blanca, a stunning 12th-Century Mudejar architecture synagogue that was converted into a Catholic church and is now a museum and one of most important Jewish monuments and perhaps the oldest surviving synagogue in Europe.

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  Shall deeds of Caesar or Napoleon ring
More true than Don Quixote's vapouring?
Hath winged Pegasus more nobly trod
Than Rocinante stumbling up to God?
Poem by Archer M. Huntington inscribed under the Don Quixote on his horse Rocinante bas-relief sculpture by his wife, Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington, in the courtyard of the Hispanic Society of America’s incredible museum at 613 W. 155th Street, New York City.
 Gastronomy Blogs

About Gerry Dawes

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

Gerry Dawes is the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York (streaming live and archived at and at

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. 

". . .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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