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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


Divine Torrijas, the Spanish Equivalent of French Toast

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Jose Colinas at his Xokoreto Confiteria in Castronuño (Valladolid) demonstrating how he makes torrijas.
Gerry´s Dishes: Torrijas, inspired by a  trip in 2019 to Xokoreto, owner-baker José Colinas's confiteria in Castronuño (Valladolid) in the Rueda wine district (and by experiences in several other places on previous trips such as la Balconada in Chinchón, at Casa Elias in Xinorlet (Alicante) and El Crucero in Corella (Navarra).   
Jose Colinas at his Xokoreto Confiteria in Castronuño (Valladolid) demonstrating how he makes torrijas.  The milk bath to soak the bread followed by an egg wash before frying.
Torrijas, the Spanish equivalent of French toast, is a traditional Semana Santa (Holy Week) dish, but can be found on many traditional cuisine restaurants' dessert menus.  Torrijas can insanely good when done by maestros and especially maestras such as Manoli Nieto at la Balconada in Chinchón (Madrid), Antonia Abad at Casa Elias in Xinorlet (Alicante) and Nabor Jiménez at El Crucero in Corella (Navarra).

Now retired Antonia Abad, wife of Elias Rodríguez and co-owner of Casa Elias in Xinorlet (Alicante) still comes in once in awhile, especially during Semana Santa, when she makes her traditional torrijas for the family and on this marvelous day for me and Kay as well.
 Antonia Abad's torrijas with almond turron ice cream,
Casa Elias 4-19-2019. 
Chef Manuela Nieto and her husband Isidro Olivar, owners of La Balconada, one of the best restaraurants in Madrid province, Chinchón (Madrid). 

La Balconada Chef Manuela Nieto's torrijas.

José Colinas demonstrated how to make torrijas and then let each of make our own.  At Xokoreto, I used local honey on my torrijas
The torrijas I made at Xokoreto. 
I came home and repeated it, using Trader Joe's day-old sourdough bread, soaked in a mixture of milk, cinnamon and Sugar-in-the-Raw, then dipped in a beaten egg wash and fried in canola oil (José used sunflower oil, saying that olive oil gives too strong a flavor). I topped mine with a bit of butter and Taconic Distillery´s Maple Syrup.

Milk with cinnamon for soaking the bread.
 Egg wash for coating the milk-soaked bread.

Torrijas cooking in canola oil.

My torrijas draining on paper towels.

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 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.

  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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