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In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019)

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information.

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

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 customized gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. Frequency about 2 posts per week."






"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. . . 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.” - - 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

"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. "-- John Sconzo, Dosconz: Musings on Food & Life

"Trust me everyone, I have traveled with this man in Spain, if Gerry Dawes tells you to eat somewhere it's like Anthony 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

"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

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)




2/21/2020

Walks in Madrid with My Fiancée Kay Killian Balun, The Best Girl in the World, Febuary 2019


* * * * *


 
Kay Balun in the lobby bar at The Palace Hotel, Madrid


Kay at España Cañí tapas bar, Plaza del Ángel, 14, in the Literary Quarter (Barrio de Letras), España cañí (meaning "Gypsy Spain" in Spanish) is a one of the most often heard and stirring of pasodobles you might hear at a bullfight. It is an instrumental piece written around 1923 by by Pascual Marquina Narro (1873-1948). The song was first recorded in 1926. The images on the tiles are taken from paintings by the great Córdoban artist, Julio Romero de Torres.


At Villa Rosa, now a flamenco show venue, but once a house of excellent repute. Madrid is famous for its tabernas, bars and restaurantes with hand-painted tiles. Villa Rosa has famous depictions of Sevilla, Granada, Málaga, Córdoba, Granada and Madrid on its exterior walls and more superb tile scenes in the interior. 

 
At the Oso y Madroño monument in la Puerta del Sol. A bear eating the fruit of a strawberry tree, arbutus unedo, is the symbol-mascot of Madrid. 

 
At Kilometer Zero, the symbolic center of Spain in La Puerta del Sol. This kilometer marker is the point from which the national roads (N-1 to N-6) radiating from Madrid are measured. When you see K-323, etc. on one of the national roads, it is the distance in kilometers from this point. 

The plaque is situated in front of what used to be the Post Office, the Real Casa de Correos, whose clock, according to urban legend, was the official time clock of Spain. This building now houses the offices of the President of la Comunidad de Madrid (Madrid is also a province). In any case, la Puerta del Sol is the Times Square of Spain and this clock tolls the hour at midnight to the throngs packing the plaza (and to the rest of the country) on New Year´s Eve.
The plaque was originally installed here in 1950 and, during some renovation work in 2002, it was re-installed 180 degrees, basically turned around so the map of Spain was upside down geographichally. During more work on la Puerta del Sol in 2009, the plaque was replaced again, this time installed in its original intended position.

 
Kay comes from St. Louis and Steak n Shake, founded in my home state in Normal, Illinois, used to be big in the Midwest (there is now one in New York), so she wanted a picture in front of the Steak & Shake, the only one I have seen in Spain, in the Plaza de Cañalejas, near la Puerta del Sol.
* * * * *
 

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

In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019) 

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information."  

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

 
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 was the Producer and Program Host of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio progam on Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, NY.


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 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.

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain  

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): gerrydawes@gmail.com

* * * * *
IIf you enjoy these blog posts, please consider a contribution to help me continue the work of gathering all this information and 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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To make your contribution, please click on this secure link to Paypal.

* * * * *

2/20/2020

Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll: How Food Lovers, Free Spirits, Misfits and Wanderers Created a New American Profession by Andrew Friedman


* * * * * 

“Much would change in the (American) chefs’ social landscape in the early 1990s, connecting them with each other and with their growing fan base in unprecedented ways. . .An early agent of change was Gerry Dawes, who hailed from southern Illinois, fell in love with wine, especially Spanish wines and culture. . .led Dawes to create a more intimate, periodic gathering of chefs who met once a month at each other restaurants, where the host chef would prepare a five-course lunch for the others. . . The name of the group: Chefs From Hell (Acrobatic Unicyclists and Winetasters Club). . .The original group included future culinary deity Thomas Keller, . . . Le Côte Basque alum Rick Moonen (chef a The Water Club). . .Tom Valenti (Alison on Dominick). . .Brendan Walsh (Arizona 206). . .original Union Square Café chef Ali Barker. . . Hudson River Club’s Waldy Malouf. . . and Rusty Staub (baseball great and owner of two Manhattan restaurants) . . . (Other members joined shortly after the inaugural gathering: Steve Lyle (The Odeon), George Faison (D’Artagnan), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Don Pintabona (Tribeca Grill), Michael Lomonaco (‘21' Club), Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Anne Rosenzweig, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Pamela Morgan, Martha Stewart and honorary member Julia Child.) Such a gathering is commonplace today, but at the time was uncharted territory. . .”

“Thomas Keller. . . says he believed in the cause: “It’s camaraderie. It’s the one thing that we did not do enough at any time throughout our careers. . .So the idea of bringing chefs together is an extraordinary thing. . . .Prior to Chefs From Hell, says Keller, New York chefs were too busy to connect. “Gerry brought it together just for the benefit of us, to have fun.” And Tom Colicchio is quoted as saying, “We would literally sit around and drink and laugh our asses off. A lot of these guys have their ‘chef personality.’ When you get together in a room with them they’re funny as hell. . .We had a good time. . .It was also in the light of day, which was just something that never happened. . .” - - Part of a ten-page treatment of me and the upcoming book, Chefs From Hell in Chefs, Drugs and Rock and Rock & Roll by Andrew Friedman (available at Amazon.com)



Gerry Dawes, Founder of The Chefs From Hell, with Chef From Hell Brendan Chef Brendan Walsh, Dean—School of Culinary Arts (behind Malouf, next to Nieporent), with the great Drew Nieporent, Founder-Director of the Myriad Restaurant Corporation and one of America's most respected and celebrated restaurateurs, former New York Times Restaurant Critic Bryan Miller, Culinary Institute of America President Tim Ryan, Author Andrew Friedman, (back row), Chefs Fron Hell member  Waldy Malouf, CIA Senior Director of Food and Beverage operations,  Chef Diane Forley, Meringue Shop (Scarsdale, NY) and Mike Colameco, chef, author, host of Real Food on PBS and Food Talk on Heritage Radio Network, at The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York, April 11, 2018 prior to the panel discussion on Andrew Friedman's new book, Chefs, Drugs and Rock & Roll.  (Walsh and Malouf are original members of The Chefs From Hell Acrobatic Unicyclists & Winetasters Club, a group I founded in 1989.)   Photograph by Myriad Corp's Tony Torres©201.

* * * * *
  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

In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019) 

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information."  

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


 
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 www.pawlingpublicradio.org and at www.beatofthevalley.com.)

Dawes writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. In addition to being awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía(National Gastronomy Award), 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, Basque Country, Spain) 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.
 

2/19/2020

Mythical Feasts in the Historical Mists of the Pass of Roncesvalles in Navarra: Scenes from Homage to Iberia by Gerry Dawes



* * * * *
   Text & Photographs by by Gerry Dawes©2020

 
 Hostal Burguete, Burguete-Auritz (Navarra).

  
Roncesvalles.

My late former wife Diana Valenti Dawes and I spent many wonderful sanfermines, the annual fiestas at Pamplona with Alicia Hall, a spinster school teacher from Milledgeville, Georgia, who was a woman of great charm and character.  Some years we started before the Fiestas de San Fermín by driving up to Burguete in the Pyrenees mountains northeast of Pamplona for a few days. 


Alice "Alicia" Hall.

We stayed at the rustic Hostal Burguete, where Hemingway got the inspiration for the hotel  in The Sun Also Rises, where Jake Barnes and Bill Gorton stayed during their trout fishing expedition on the Irati River, which rushes down these green Navarrese-Basque mountains and offered great trout fishing. 


 Trout fishing in the Pyrenees of Navarra.

The hotel, with its heavy, dark wooden beams, big beds with warm covers, and plumbing from a by-gone era had changed little since Hemingway stayed there.  Diana, Alicia, and I loved to spend a couple of quiet relaxing days there - - reading, walking out on the road to Roncesvalles to pick wild strawberries to put on our ice cream, and having long discussions about Spain over dinner and plenty of Navarra’s country vino tinto.  

Florián, the prematurely middle-aged, but handsome daughter of the innkeeper, her mother, who often sat in the kitchen while Florián, on a big wood-fired, cast-iron cook stove prepared reasonably good Navarrese food (at these prices, a bargain): Stews of alubias (white beans) with chorizo, magras con tomate (pork slices in tomato sauce), pollo asado con patatas fritas (chicken with fried potatoes), trucha a la navarra (fried trout with a slice of ham tucked in its belly), and vainas (fresh green beans with boiled potatoes).   


 Pochas-alubias and Las Campanas Navarra Rosado.

After finishing a bottle or two of Navarra clarete (light young red wine) or rosado and, perhaps, a coffee, a Spanish brandy or Patxarán (sloe berry-infused anís) as we talked, we turned in early.  Diana and I would snuggle into the big wooden poster bed in a room that overlooked a green meadow behind the house, read a bit from The Sun Also Rises and other books on Spain and sleep next to one another soundly until morning.  Sometimes a rainstorm would come through at night, freshening the air and making it far cooler than the July calendar seemed to call for. 


 Piano photos from the internet.

In a side room, Florián showed us the upright piano that was supposedly the one that the Bill Gorton character played in The Sun Also Rises.  The piano was believable, but "E. Hemingway 25-7-1923" crudely scratched on the underside of the top of the piano was not so believable.  

 In the early 1970s, Diana Valenti Dawes during San Fermín dancing the riau-riau on the shoulders of Big Steve Lee, the "Gentle Giant," a very large friend of ours, in front of the Ayuntamiento, Pamplona.

On the morning of July 6, Alicia, Diana and I would pack up and head down the mountain roads to Pamplona, where, as Ernest Hemingway wrote about the beginning of the fiesta:  At noon of Sunday, the 6 of July, the fiesta exploded. There is no other way to describe it.”  Our tranquil days and nights in Burguete led to our surrendering to the wild, raucous days and nights of the nine-day, non-stop Fiestas de San Fermín that were to come. 

Always, during those years, about halfway through the fiesta, about the time everyone needed a break from the noise and jaleo of San Fermín, we formed a caravan of cars and headed back up into these same hills to the pass of Roncesvalles, just north of Burguete, where we had picnics that became legendary.  A couple of kilometers above the monastery of Ronscesvalles, along the road to France, I knew a splendid Brigadoon-like glade with an icy little stream that only the initiated can find. My friend John Fulton, the American Matador-and-artist, who had gone there with James Michener, who described it his Iberia:  Spanish Travels and Reflections,  and had introduced me to it during my first time at the Fiestas de San Fermín in 1970.  

 Matador John Fulton and Gerry Dawes in the plaza de toros de Pamplona 1970s.
Photo by the great Jim Hollander. 

   James Michener, Gerry Dawes and Diana Valenti Dawes at Michener's home in Austin, Texas.

In Iberia, Michener wrote about this very glade:  "I had spotted it on my pilgrimage to Santiago.  We were eight as we left Pamplona after the morning running of the bulls:  Patter (Ashcraft) and her husband; Bob Daley, long-time European sportswriter for The New York Times and his French wife, both with a sense of what makes a good picnic; Vavra ((Robert Vavra, photographer of Iberia) and Fulton; the Hemingway double (Kenneth Vanderford) and I.   We were headed north, toward the pass of Roncesvalles, that historic and mystery-laden route through the Pyrenees which Charlemagne had used in 778 for his retreat throught the mists and where he had failed to hear the battle horn of his dying Roland. . .and there in a glade so quiet, so softly green that it seemed as if defeated knights might have slept in it the evening before, we spread our blankets and prepared the meal."
    
With an odd collection of companions, each year we made the pilgrimage to this historic little valley in the pass that is haunted by the ghost of brave Roland and by the spirits of generations of pilgrims who passed this way over the centuries walking the Chemin de Saint Jacques, the great Camino de Santiago, a trek across northern Spain that from this point at Roncesvalles to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where Saint James’s bones are said to reside, is over 600 miles. 


Gerry Dawes at San Fermín 1971.


Sometime around July 10, Diana and I would round up a crazy band of picnickers that included the thin, but sassy, seventy-something Alicia Hall, the doyenne of foreign bullfight aficionados; Kenneth Vanderford, Ernest Hemingway's "double," a curmudgeonly university professor with long-billed ball cap, a white beard, and portly girth; and Lindsay Daen, an internationally known New Zealand sculptor.  The goateed Daen lived in Puerto Rico and Madrid, wore bush jackets and a strange looking glass device around his neck, drove a red Kharmann Ghia and showed up each year at the Bar Txoko in Pamplona with a new lady (or ladies), usually a young, impressionable art student.  

Invariably Lindsay met these young women on his scouting forays into the Prado Museum in Madrid and just as invariably, when he showed up with one of them, we would slyly ask him, "Where did you meet Sally or Bev or Ronnie?"  I referred to these women as Lindsay's "recent acquisitions from the Prado."  One year, he arrived with a pretty young lady and claimed that he had met her when he saved her from a piece of cornice stone falling from a building in Madrid.
    
“Shocking that they have allowed the Prado to fall in such dis-repair!” was my comeback. 

In supsequent years, word of our band of Roncesvalles merry merienda makers got around and we were joined by an eclectic crew of adventurers and of the women of several nationalities who came to San Fermín with them each year.  Some of these regulars had been coming without fail for decades to the fiestas.  Many of them could best be described as the spiritual descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s Jake Barnes and other members of the Lost Generation.
    
Arriving at the hard to find spot on the eastern side of the steep road that climbed up to a pilgrim's sanctuary at the top of the pass, we unloaded the luncheon bounty from our cars.  The men helped Alicia down the steep, grassy slope to the green, mossy banks of the stream, where Diana, who had recruited some of the women to collect the food at the Pamplona mercado municipal that morning, laid out our splendid repast: Anchoas, salty anchovies cured in oil; roasted red pimientos; streaky pink slices of jamón;  garlicky red-orange chorizo; white Parmesan-like Roncal from the Pyrenees east of Roncesvalles and smoky Idiazábal ewes’ milk cheeses from a town south of San Sebastián; aceitunas, olives cured with rosemary, thyme and garlic; crusty, country bread; and fruits—blushing ripe peaches, big black picota cherries, and honeydew melons.  I put a dozen bottles of Las Campanas Navarra rosados (the same wines Hemingway carried in his car around Spain with him) and claretes (rosés and lighter red wines) and melons in the cold rushing little rivulet to cool, then dispatched a detail of volunteers for dry firewood to build a little fire.
    
The country food of Navarra is delicious, even more so in the mountain air, the wine flowed freelyand laughter came easily. Every now and then someone would step away from the group and stare out across the splendid green woods and watch the rivulet run down the valley.  They knew that back in the  frantic hustle of modern city life, these hours spent in the Garden  of Eden would ripen with age and retelling.
    
Until some newcomers not present during the early years of these outings, decided one year by popular decree that the should move the show down out of the historical mists to an easier-to-get-to spot, thus destroying the magic, our picnic had a formula that didn't vary from the first year until the year we stopped having our picnics,   : Drink some wine, eat wonderful Navarrese food, drink some more wine, get mellow, lay down on the mossy slopes and tell jokes to a well-primed audience until the mystical fog drifts in, as it often does by mid-afternoon. The joke session began that first year, when Hemingway’s double Kenneth Vanderford, a man then in his sixties, who was sitting in a folding chair he carried in his car, began to hold court with the group sitting on the ground around him.  While stroking the arm of a attractive, flaxen-haired young model, who had worked for a Senator from California (and, with whom, I had had a mercifully short liason), Vanderford had drifted quite naturally onto the subject of sex and how, in our society, it was not easily accessible to men of his age.
    
“The only thing available to men like me,” he said, “is loneliness and masturbation.  In this society, sex seems to be forbidden to the very old and very young. ”
    
“That's not the case in all societies” the sculptor Lindsay Daen, himself obviously no stranger to the randy arts, said.  Then he told a tale of how he had once watched a five-year old girl openly masturbate on the veranda of a house in Polynesia, while he and her parents were carrying on a conversation.
    
“Her parents didn’t seem to find anything wrong with what she was doing,” Lindsay said, “and when I thought about it, I didn’t either.”
    
“Well,” I chimed in, “there’s plenty I find wrong with it.”
    
“Like what?” Daen asked.
    
“The kid could go blind, get pimples, and, if she continues masturbating, she will undoubtedly go crazy.  Look what it’s done to you and Vanderford.”
    
Any serious drift the conversation may have had disintegrated with the peals of laughter, then the jokes started.  After a few risque jokes in English got the group warmed up, a Swede had us rolling on the ground in fits by telling a particularly dirty joke in Swedish, which only the three other Swedes at the picnic, including my friend Birney Adam's wife Lotta understood.  No interpretation was necessary.  It didn’t matter, the food, the wine, the camaraderie, and the reverie of the country afternoon made these picnics the stuff of vintage nostalgia. 
The most incredible thing that ever happened during the five years we gathered for these picnics, was the near conversion of the Hemingway look-a-like, Kenneth Vanderford, a died-in-the-wool atheist and a friend of Madeleine Murray O’Hair, America’s most vociferous non-believer.


Kenneth Vanderford, "Hemingway's Double," at a picnic in Roncesvalles.
    
One year, early in the proceedings, a mist of metaphysical caliber had drifted into the upper tier of our little valley.  Things were getting spooky and we were worried about Lindsay Daen, who had still not arrived.  We had already had some food and wine, when I coaxed Vanderford, a history professor, into telling us about the legend of Roland blowing his horn to summon his uncle Charlemagne's army as he fought for his life in this pass.  Vanderford ended his tale of the famous Chanson de Roland and remarked that, like lots of other religion-based legends, the popular accounts of the retreat of Roland and his death were mostly nonsense.  At that precise moment, several notes that sounded like a bugle call from Roland himself came from high in the woods.  Vanderford looked heavenward and seemed momentarily shaken by what he must have thought was a call to reckoning.  It was Lindsay blowing his bugle as he tried to locate us.  We never let Kenneth Vanderford live that day down. 

 Lindsay Daen blowing his bugle in Roncesvalles.
    
If it were not for the bullfights, for which most of us had tickets, we would have passed the whole afternoon here, immersed in the camaraderie we shared and in the reverie of this magical place.  Reluctantly, for the fight was to begin at six and Pamplona was at least an hour away, we packed up and wound our way back down the curvy mountain roads to the fiesta with another tale to add to the legends of the pass of Roncesvalles. 

- - The End - -


 

* * * * *
 

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


In 2019, again ranked in the Top 50 Gastronomy Blogs and Websites for Gastronomists & Gastronomes in 2019 by Feedspot. (Last Updated Oct 23, 2019) 

"The Best Gastronomy blogs selected from thousands of Food blogs, Culture blogs and Food Science blogs in our index using search and social metrics. We’ve carefully selected these websites because they are actively working to educate, inspire, and empower their readers with frequent updates and high-quality information."  

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

 
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 was 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 www.pawlingpublicradio.org and at www.beatofthevalley.com.)



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.
 

Experience Spain With Gerry Dawes: Customized Culinary, Wine & Cultural Trips to Spain & Travel Consulting on Spain  

Gerry Dawes can be reached at gerrydawes@aol.com; Alternate e-mail (use only if your e-mail to AOL is rejected): gerrydawes@gmail.com


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