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

"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

1/31/2022

Sunset in a Glass: Adventures of a Food and Wine Warrior in Spain Volume 1 Enhanced Photography Edition, Foreword by José Andrés. Death of a Key Character in Chapter Two


* * * * * 


 I am very, very sad to report that Tom Sims, my old Navy buddy and a key figure in Sevilla: Arrival in Spain, Soldiers on a Train, the second chapter of my book Sunset in a Glass: Adventures of a Food and Wine Warrior in Spain Volume 1 Enhanced Photography Edition, Foreword by José Andrés, passed away this morning in a nursing home in Colorado.
His sister Charlotte Olein, a former Miss Minnesota, with whom I have been in contact about Tom for the past year, let me know this morning.
On the Acknowledgements pages I wrote this:
"Without the eccentricity of Tom Sims, my Navy buddy, I would never have had, albeit accidentally, the unique privilege of entering Sevilla for the very first time via el Arco de la Macarena, as was traditional for the kings of Spain on their first visits."
This is from Chapter Two: Sevilla: Arrival in Spain, Soldiers on a Train (Copyright by Gerry Dawes 2021.)
"During my first months in the Navy at Rota, I met Tom Sims, a tall, shy, sardonic, totally ec- centric French linguist, whose father was a prominent geologist and whose sister Charlotte was crowned Miss Minnesota in 1967. One of the quirkiest of many quirky people I have known in my life, Sims became my friend and, eventually, my housemate in an off-base apartment.
Sims arrived in Rota several months before I did and had been to Sevilla once. How Sims managed to get there and back, I still wonder, since his skills as a navigator, or anything else involving the use of logic applied to everyday problems, seemed non-existent. Sims, whose whole life revolved around reading good literature while listening to classical music, is a man to whom I would never loan even a screwdriver without a serious interrogation, nor would I turn him loose in any kitchen unless I wanted it to become a toxic waste site. His idea of cooking in those days consisted of dumping a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese—bought from the Rota Navy Exchange—into a pan of water, turning the fire on under it and reading until he smelled it burning. Sims also seemed to revel in a peculiar habit that made him, say, order steak in some of the best seafood restaurants in Spain such as those in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and then choose fish in landlocked Ecija, a Córdoba province town which gets so hot it is known as la sartén de España, the frying pan of Spain.
In early spring of 1968, Sims and I took the train from El Puerto de Santa María to Sevilla. When we arrived at what even a novice like me knew had to be the main train station in Sevilla, then the Estación de San Bernardo, Sims claimed that there was another station where we were supposed to get off. After a 15-minute stop, the train began to move. I kept questioning Sims about this “other” station, since I was convinced that we were on our way to Madrid. As the train was rambling out of the suburbs of Sevilla, it slowed down for a track-switching maneuver and I insisted that we jump off before it picked up speed again.
We got off the train while it was moving and ended up in San Jerónimo, then a suburban village near Sevilla’s San Fernando cemetery, where later I would learn that Joselito and Belmonte, the two great hero matadors of Sevilla, were interred. It was market day in San Jerónimo, so we strolled along the street listening to the foreign sounds of peddlers hawking the cheap produce of a working-class barrio. When we asked using sign language how we could get to Sevilla, a woman at a vegetable stand pointed to a bus stop across the street. The bus was just arriving and we rode four kilometers to Sevilla, where we got off at a stop across the street from one of the old Moorish gates to the city.








The gate was the Arco de la Macarena, the ancient archway through which one of the most iconic Virgin figures of Andalucía, La Virgen de la Macarena, a jewel-bedecked, richly robed Madonna statue of legendary beauty, is carried out each Holy Thursday to the hosannas of thousands of Sevillanos. The Macarena gate is flanked by the ruins of Sevilla’s old Roman walls and is one of the city’s most revered spots, but it was not a place directly linked to any main roads, so it was next to impossible for a foreigner to enter the city this way. I have long thought, given this auspicious entrance into Sevilla, that my fate was somehow inextricably intertwined with this marvelous Andalucian city from that first moment. My future wife and I eventually lived in Sevilla for nearly four years; the best man at our wedding was a Sevillano, and it was Sevilla that, 25 years later— through a pivotal rekindled friendship and the discovery of a prodigiously talented young bullfighter/media star, Francisco Rivera Ordoñez—would draw me ever more deeply back into Spain.
On that wondrous spring day in 1968, Sims and I wandered through the back streets for hours, emerging from Sevilla’s narrow urban canyons on calle Francos to find the La Giralda tower soaring above us. Once the minaret of the main mosque when the Moors ruled Sevilla seven centuries earlier, La Giralda was later capped with a Renaissance structure and became the bell tower of the Cathedral and Sevilla’s symbol, its Eiffel Tower. The statue of Faith, called El Giraldillo, crowning the top of the structure, has a metal protrusion that allows it to swivel in the wind so that it acts as a weathervane. The shield-like protrusion resembles a mu- leta, the small red cloth that a bullfighter uses during la faena, the main act of a corrida— there is even a pass called the giraldilla.
Sims and I had finally arrived at the center of the city, but our meanderings were worth it. From our impromptu entrance through the Macarena arch that is sacred to Sevillanos and our serendipitous exploration of the labyrinthine streets of the working-class quarters of Sevilla with their strange sights, smells, and sounds, I got a taste of the city’s true alma, its soul, one that I have never lost. In subsequent months, now enchanted with this beautiful and exotic city, I returned again and again."
I had hoped to visit Tom Sims in Colorado, where another old Pamplona buddy, Brooks Read, lived and where two of my daughters lived, Elena in Colorado Springs and Erica in Dolores. Brooks lived in Boulder, Tom Sims in outside of Denver, Brooks died suddenly a couple of weeks ago, the day after calling me and praising Sunset in a Glass profusely. Charlotte Sims Olein told me that Tom had been able to see a copy of the book before he passed. I sincerely hope it brought both of them fond memories of their younger days and they are both resting in peace and reveling in those memories.
QDEP Tom Sims and Mark (Brooks) Read. At least I was able to leave you with some great memories.


 * * * * *



 
Comments are welcome and encouraged.
 
Text and photographs copyright by Gerry Dawes©2021.  Using photographs without crediting Gerry Dawes©2021 on Facebook.  Publication without my written permission is not authorized.

* * * * *
  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 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.
 

1/30/2022

Sunset in a Glass: Adventures of a Food and Wine Road Warrior in Spain Volume I Enhanced Photography Edition. Foreword by José Andrés

 
* * * * * 
 

Chef Norman Van Aken, photograph copyright 2022 by Gerry Dawes.

From Florida star chef Norman Van Aken, chef-owner of Norman's Orlando and author of No Experience Necessary

"If you love Spanish food and wine, (and who couldn’t!) do yourself a favor and learn from a gentleman named Gerry Dawes, the deep dive that can be had when you read his new book, “Sunset in a Glass.”   

I have had the great fortune to have gone on a tour in Spain curated and hosted in part by Gerry. He took us to places we never would have found on our own. And with his often decades long personal friendships with key member of the Spanish food and wine community doors were opened that gave us the true insider’s experience.  

While you might not be doing international travel just yet ‘Sunset in a Glass’ with take you there from the comfort of your favorite reading chair. And drinking a fine Rioja is perfectly appreciated as you do!" 



Comments are welcome and encouraged.
 
Text and photographs copyright by Gerry Dawes©2022.  Using photographs without crediting Gerry Dawes©2021 on Facebook.  Publication without my written permission is not authorized.

* * * * *
  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 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.
 

1/17/2022

Sephardic Spain: The Incredible Remnants of Jewish Culture in the Old Quarters of Spain: Segovia, Toledo, Cordoba, Sevilla, Ribadavia (Galicia), Tudela (Navarra), Girona (Catalunya), Hervás (Cáceres)


* * * * * 
 

 Santa Maria La Blanca, 12th-Century Ibn Shushan Synagogue in Toledo.
Now a Christian church, this is the loveliest synagogue that I have seen in Spain.  It is a superb, unique example of Moorish Mudejar architecture under Jewish patronage. Photo by Gerry Dawes copyright 2019.
 
Click on title to see entire post.

"Always grazing
here in this garden--
I'm dark-eyed just
like you, and lonely.
We both live far
from friends, forsaken --
patiently bearing
our fate's decree."
-- Qasmuna bint Ismail al Yahudi
 

Museo Sefardí in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the old Jewish Quarter of Sevilla. (Now, sadly closed.) Sunset in a Glass: Adventures of a Food and Wine Road Warrior in Spain & The Pre-Post COVID 3500 Kms. Road Warrior Adventure in June 2021.


 

7 Days, 7 Nights: Beyond Paella, A Video Culinary, Wine & Travel Adventure in Valencia & Alicante with Gerry Dawes & Special Guests Including New York Chef Terrance Brennan


* * * * *
 
Las Fallas, Valencia, March 19 Día de San José, fireworks and the burning of the giant fallas statues in the streets. 
 
 
 Las Fallas, Valencia, March 19 Día de San José, fireworks and the burning of the giant fallas statues in the streets.


 
 Arroz con conejo y caracoles (paella with rabbit and snails, cooked over grape vine cuttings), Casa Elias, Xinorlet (Alicante). 
Photograph copyright by Gerry Dawes / gerrydawes@aol.com. 

* * * * *
  
 
Pilot Trailer for a Proposed Television Reality Series
(Click on the arrow to play.)
All Rights Reserved, EO Agency, Copyright

Filmed in Valencia, Alicante, Denia, Monóver, Xinorlet, Parcent, L'Albufera, El Palmar, Alfafar

Special Thanks to:


- Iberia Airlines of Spain

- Turespaña, The National Tourist Office of Spain in New York (Javier Piñanes, Director; Pilar Vico, Public Relations Director) 

- Executive Director Bisila Bokoko of The Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce

- La Comunitat Valenciana and Press Liason Juan Llantada

- Ayuntamiento de Valencia

- Mercat Central de Valencia

- Chef Terrance Brennan (Picholine & Artisanal Restaurants, New York City)

- María José San Román (Monastrell & La Taberna del Gourmet, Alicante);
'Pitu' Perramón & Jorge Perramón (Bar Tribeca, Alicante); Geni Perramón (Taberna del Gourmet, Alicante)

- Felipe and Pilar Gútierrez de la Vega (Bodegas Gútierrez de la Vega, Parcent, Alicante)

- Salvador and Rafael Poveda (Bodegas Salvador Poveda, Monóver, Alicante)

- Quique Dacosta (El Poblet, Denia, Alicante)

- Familia Ferrer, La Posada del Mar (Denia, Alicante)

- Casa Elias (Xinorlet, Alicante)

- 'Sento' El Tio Pastilla Paseos en Barca (El Palmar, L'Albufera, Valencia)

- Raúl & Pilar Aleixandre (Ca Sento, Valencia)

- Emiliano García (Casa Montaña, Valencia)

- La Cuitat des Artes y Ciències, Valencia.

- Submarino Restaurante in L'Oceanografíc (La Cuitat des Artes y Ciències, Valencia).

- Very Special Thanks to guests Geraldine Paz; Eduardo Fontán and to Roberto Alcázar and Àdria Jover, EO Agency, New York.


********

Tapas Hopping with Colman Andrews in Madrid, Jan. 24, 2017


* * * * * 
Because the foreign press contingent was ensconced in an isolated hotel along Route M-40 in northwestern Madrid, some 15 kilometers from downtown Madrid, this year's tapas excursions at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017 were somewhat curtailed compared to other years, but Colman Andrews, Managing Editor of The Daily Meal, and I managed one breakaway and I was able to  get to Marisquería Rafa on the Sunday night before Madrid Fusión 2017 began.


Colman and I managed to hit just two tapas bars, included the highly rated La Catapa and La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, which specializes in casquería (offal) and whose kitchen was closing just as we arrived at 11:00, so we had to settle for just one dish there, callos (tripe).

 
 On a tapas prowl with Colman Andrews, Editorial Director of The Daily Meal and Spanish cuisine expert at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto, 48. Madrid. Tel. 91 451 10 00, Jan 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017
 
 Chef-owner Javi Estévez, La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto, 48. Madrid. Tel. 91 451 10 00, Jan 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017
 
 Specialist in Casquería (Offal) dishes:   Callos with picante sauce (tripe in a picante sauce), served with a Piñeiro Oloroso de Jerez at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto # 48, Madrid. Photo by Gerry Dawes.

 Callos (tripe), some of the best tripe (which I do not particularly like) that I have ever had, at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto, 48. Madrid. Tel. 91 451 10 00, on a tapas prowl during Madrid Fusión 2017 with Colman Andrews, Editorial Director of The Daily Meal and Spanish cuisine expert, Jan 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017.

 
 The menu at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez (in English)

Some of the dishes Colman and I missed out on:

 Beef Cheek, SweetBreads, Liver, Tripe, Shank and Snout; Lamb Sweetbreads, Brains, Neck, Lung & Liver; Pork Baby Pig Tail, Cheek, PigTrotters and Ear; plus Tuna Heart, Cod Tripe, Tongue, Kidneys and Cockscomb. 




Cabeza de cochinillo confitada (roast suckling pig head) with salad at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto, 48. Madrid. Tel. 91 451 10 00.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2016.




Or aceitunas de Málaga (olives), lengua de cerdo Ibérico (Ibérico pig tongue), bread, aceite de oliva variedad Sikitita (peppery full flavored Isbylla extra virgen oiive oil made from the Sikitita olive variety, from Sevilla)  and a glass of Leirana Albariño 2013 from Forjas de Salnés at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto # 48, Madrid. Photo by Gerry Dawes.



Or riñones de conejo Meuniere (rabbit kidneys Meuniere with butter, lemon and hazelnuts) at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto # 48, Madrid. Photo by Gerry Dawes.



La Tasquería de Javi Estévez, Duque de Sesto # 48, Madrid. Photo by Gerry Dawes.

* * * * *
 Bar La Catapa, Calle Menorca, 14, Madrid (Zona Retiro).  Phone: 686 14 38 23.

"Today we have tripe with garbanzos" on the blackboard and "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - - Benjamin Franklin, inscribed on a post at Bar La Catapa, Calle Menorca, 14, Madrid (Zona Retiro).  Phone: 686 14 38 23.  La Catapa is rated as one of the top gastrobars in Madrid.   Luckily, we passed on the tripe at la Catapa, especially since that was the only dish offered to us at La Tasquería de Javi Estévez.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017

 Erizos del mar (sea urchins) on a tapas prowl with Colman Andrews, Editorial Director of The Daily Meal and Spanish cuisine expert at Bar La Catapa, Calle Menorca, 14, Madrid (Zona Retiro).  Phone: 686 14 38 23.  La Catapa is rated as one of the top gastrobars in Madrid, Jan 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017
 
 Exceptional alcachofas (artichokes), which we suspect may have been "poached" in olive oil, on a tapas prowl with Colman Andrews, Editorial Director of The Daily Meal and Spanish cuisine expert at Bar La Catapa, Calle Menorca, 14, Madrid (Zona Retiro).  Phone: 686 14 38 23.  La Catapa is rated as one of the top gastrobars in Madrid, Jan. 24, 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017

 Miguel Ángel Jiménez, owner of Taberna la Catapa, Madrid, Feb. 1, 2018. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2018


_______________________________________________________________________  
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.
 

1/16/2022

Spain's Great Escapes Madrid, Seville and Barcelona are the starting points for three spectacular countryside tours By Gerry Dawes (Food & Wine Article from 2017)

* * * * * 
 
 

 
 
An article published several years ago in Food & Wine (Note:  Some of the restaurants are now closed.)

American chefs often come back from trips to Spain sounding this refrain: "I didn't like most of the Michelin-starred places, but I had the most incredible roast suckling lamb at a tiny restaurant in the middle of nowhere." When they aren't raving about the lamb, they're praising the grilled seafood, the stewed rabbit, the gazpacho, the charcuterie or some other local specialty.

I'm with them. After several years of trying nueva cocina (nouvelle cuisine) in the big cities, I am convinced that Spain's best food is served at traditional regional restaurants in the countryside, where quality is a bigger priority than novelty. With that in mind, here are three short gastronomic excursions: from Madrid, from Seville and from Barcelona. Each includes visits to cultural destinations like the Dalí museum, gorgeous drives, overnight stays in paradors (government-owned hotels) and stops at top wineries.

From Madrid: Castile and Rioja

Suckling Lamb, Red Wine and El Cid's Hometown

Day 1 Travel north from Madrid until you see a billboard that reads Aranda de Duero, Vino y Cordero. Aranda de Duero is the town; vino is wine (such as Vega-Sicilia, Spain's most expensive and renowned red, and Pesquera, the new star, which has been compared to Château Pétrus); and cordero is supernal suckling lamb, roasted whole in brick ovens with nothing but water and coarse salt. Aranda has a dozen asadores, or roast houses, and they have been the object of many a modern pilgrimage.

If you get to this market town by noon, you'll have time to see the Plaza Mayor and the 15th-century Isabeline church of Santa María before heading to Rafael Corrales (2 Carrequemada; 011-34-947-50-02-77) for a lunch of chorizo, morcilla con pimientos (blood sausage with red peppers) and, of course, roast lamb.

Afterward, head north to Burgos, then east along the road that follows the medieval pilgrimage path to Rioja, the great wine district. Your destination is the town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Check into the Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada (3 Plaza del Santo; 011-34-941-34-03-00; fax 011-34-941-34-03-25), a former hospice for pilgrims. Across the plaza is a cathedral, where a caged cock and hen commemorate a legend from the Middle Ages with a surprise twist. The story: a judge sentenced a young man to be hanged, but miraculously, though strung from the gallows, the prisoner did not die. When his family pointed this out, the judge said, "That boy is as dead as these roast chickens I am about to eat," at which point the birds rose from the platter and began running around.

A few miles south, at the gates of the imposing Sierra de la Demanda, is the mountain village of Ezcaray and the remarkable Hostal Echauren (2 Héroes de Alcázar; 011-34-941-35-40-47). I'm especially fond of the perdiz con peras como la hacía mi madre (partridge "like my mother made," cooked in red wine and served with wine-steeped pears). The wine list is full of reasonably priced bottles, from a pale and lovely local rosado to a fine stash of such gran reservas as the 1987 Monte Real from Bodegas Riojanas.

Day 2 Drive northeast to Haro, the wine trade capital of the prime Rioja Alta district, and the Barrio de la Estación, an extraordinary enclave of Rioja's top wineries, called bodegas. In this small area are CVNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España), López de Heredia, La Rioja Alta and Bodegas Bilbaínas, all a century old, as well as Muga, a brilliant 60-year-old newcomer.

After touring the wineries, stop for lunch at Terete (17 Lucrecia Arana; 011-34-941-31-00-23). Everyone in the wine trade who has ever visited Haro has had at least one meal at the scrubbed communal picnic tables here, feasting on such splendid dishes as roast lamb and menudillos de cordero con huevo al horno, a casserole of lamb giblets and egg.

Poke through the villages of San Vicente de la Sonsierra and Laguardia for a few hours, then return to Haro's Los Agustinos (2 San Agustín; 011-34-941-31-13-08; fax 011-34-941-30-31-48), an excellent hotel in a renovated 600-year-old Augustinian convent.

Day 3 Turn southwest to Burgos, the capital of Old Castile and hometown of El Cid, the 11th-century warrior who is Spain's national hero. The town has a superb Gothic cathedral and one of the best preserved and most bustling old quarters in Spain. In addition to the ubiquitous lamb, taverns like El Mesón del Cid (Plaza Santa María; 011-34-947-20-87-15) serve the famous Queso de Burgos (a sheep's milk cheese beloved by Gertrude Stein), roast suckling pig, Arlanza River trout (a Hemingway favorite), cecina (air-cured beef "ham") and excellent little red alubias (beans) from the nearby town of Ibeas.

The great luxury hotel in Burgos is the Landa Palace (Madrid­Irún Road; 011-34-947-20-63-43; fax 011-34-947-26-46-76), but I prefer to go there for lunch or dinner at its marvelous restaurant and to stay at the more modest but centrally located Fernán González (17 Calera; 011-34-947-20-94-41; fax 011-34-947-27-41-21). The drive from Burgos back to Madrid is less than three hours.

From Seville: Andalucia

Fisherman's Stew, Sherry and Matadors

Day 1 Drive south from Seville to Jerez de la Frontera, the capital of the sherry district. Schedule a tour of the historic working museum at the old winery of González Byass (12 Manuel María González; 011-34-956-35-70-00; fax 011-34-956-35-70-46), producers of Tío Pepe.

A 20-minute journey west will bring you to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where lunch on the beach at Bar Bigote (Bajo de Guía beach; 011-34-956-36-26-96) is absolutely essential. Bigote serves only fish caught the previous day and those only through lunchtime. When the weatheris bad and the fleet stays in port, the restaurant closes. Its fisherman's stews are legendary, especially the huevo marinero, a casserole of shrimp, monkfish and Manzanilla brought out bubbling with a just-cracked egg on top.

After a lunch that can stretch out until 6 p.m. (if you can, stick around to see the sunset), head east to the town of Arcos de la Frontera,home of the Parador de Arcos de la Frontera (Plaza del Cabildo; 011-34-956-70-05-00; fax 011-34-956-70-11-16), which perches on the edge of a steep cliff. End the day at El Convento (7 Marqués de Torresoto; 011-34-956-70-32-22) with choco con patatas (squid with potatoes), conejo del campo (wild rabbit) and local cheeses served with nuts and mountain honey.

Day 2 After strolling around Arcos, move on to El Bosque, which is in the foothills of the wild Sierra de Grazalema and is famous for trout. Casa Calvillo (Plaza El Anden; 011-34-956-71-60-10) is a nice place for a lunch of gazpacho, berenjenas fritas (deep-fried eggplant) and the house specialty, fresh trout with a slice of Serrano ham tucked in its belly.

Travel to Ronda, driving over curvy backcountry roads through cork forests and stopping at the ancient white villages of Ubriqueand Grazalema, mountain hideaways that were once refuges for bandits and muleteers.Check into the Parador de Ronda (Plaza de España; 011-34-95-287-75-00; fax 011-34-95-287-81-88), then head for dinner at Pedro Romero (18 Virgen de la Paz; 011-34-95-287-11-10).

The restaurant, across from the ancient Plaza de Toros, is covered with photos and posters chronicling the heroics of such Rondeño bullfighters as Cayetano Ordoñez (whom Hemingway immortalized in The Sun Also Rises), his son, Antonio Ordoñez (considered to be the greatest matador ever) and Francisco Rivera Ordoñez (the current sensation). The kitchen produces excellent ajo blanco (a white gazpacho, made with almonds and garlic) and conejo estofado (rabbit stewed in a saffron-scented sauce). On my last visit, I was pleased that my 1991 Chivite Reserva Tinto from Navarra was served--correctly--at cellar rather than room temperature.

Day 3 Explore Ronda's old quarter, across a bridge straddling a crevice over 300 feet deep. Leave for Seville by late morning, via the unusual town of Setenil, where many of the houses are built into the overhang of a deep gorge. Seville is about a two-hour drive away.

From Barcelona: Catalonia

Clams, Cava and the Costa Brava

Day 1 West of Barcelona you'll find Villafranca del Penedés, famed for its cava (sparkling wine). Stop at the Miguel Torres winery (22 Comercio; 011-34-93-817-74-00; fax 011-34-93-817-74-44; call Louise Compte Kelly to arrange a visit) and the Museo del Vino, or wine museum (Plaza San Jaume I; 011-34-93-890-05-82). Save time for the modernist cava

cellars and museum at Codorníu (Avenida Jaume Codorníu; 011-34-93-818-32-32; fax 011-34-93-891-08-22), outside San Sadurní d'Anoia. El Mirador de las Caves (San Sadurní­ l'Ordal Road; 011-34-93-899-31-78), with stunning vineyard views, is a good spot for lunch.

Head north to Vic, where the Parador de Vic (Paraje el Bac de Sau; 011-34-93-812-23-23; fax 011-34-93-812-23-68) overlooks the awesome Sau Valley, now dammed up and flooded to form a massive lake. Ten minutes down a rough cement road is the humble but wonderful Fussimanya (Tavènoles-Osona; 011-34-93-812-21-88), which produces its own charcuterie on the premises. When I was there most recently, the owner brought me a knife and a cutting board with a half-dozen sausages, including bull (a boiled sausage made with offal), cooked black-and-white botifarra and the irresistible thin, salami-like fuet. I followed these with a fine escalivada (roasted Mediterranean vegetables), a beautiful golden grilled rabbit served with all-i-oli (Spanish aioli) and then a classic crema catalana for dessert. I had a glass of cava before dinner and a bottle of a fresh, quaffable 1995 Maises d'Avinyo Merlot from the local Pla de Bages region. My meal came to about $20 with wine and tip.

Day 2Drive an hour to the town of Begur-Aiguablava on the Costa Brava, Spain's rugged northeastern coast, which reminds me of California's Big Sur. Check into the villa-style Hotel Aiguablava (Playa de Fornells; 011-34-972-62-20-58; fax 011-34-972-62-21-12) or the modern Parador de Aiguablava (Playa de Aiguablava; 011-34-972-62-21-62; fax 011-34-972-62-21-66); the two face each other across a small cove. You can sun on the small beach or swim off the rock platform. Have dinner in the genteel beach town of Llafranc, a well-kept secret just a few miles from Aiguablava. At Llevant (5 Francesc de Blanes; 011-34-972-30-03-66), the upscale cuisine includes albóndigas con sepia (cuttlefish meatballs) and rodaballo (turbot), prepared here with olives, capers and sea salt.

Day 3 Get an early start to beat the lines at the Teatro-Museo Dalí (Plaza Gala-Salvador Dalí) in Figueres, the most visited museum in Spain after the Prado. Tour Dalí's home and studio at Port Lligat, just outside the artists' village of Cadaqués.

A few miles from Cadaqués, near Roses, is El Bulli (Cala Montjoi; 011-34-972-15-04-57), a Michelin three-star restaurant that is the domain of Ferran Adria, the Salvador Dalí of modern Catalan cuisine. His way-out food will either convince you that he is a genius or send you fleeing to the kind of regional cuisine found in L'Escala, a neighboring fishing and resort town.

L'Escala's La Punta (4 Paseo Doctor Isern) and La Cala (3 Paseo Doctor Isern) look like hamburger joints, with their plastic Coca-Cola tables and Sprite and Carte d'Or beach umbrellas; but for the tables scattered willy-nilly at the water's edge, one might pass them by. French families on holiday drink chilled rosat, a Catalan rosé; Dutch tourists in bathing suits dive into the water. The scene is enchanting.

At La Punta, start with a bottle of cherry-red Penedés rosat, the 1996 Raventos i Blanc l'Hereu, then proceed to the anchoas (anchovies cured in oil) and sharp boquerones en vinagre (fresh anchovies marinated seviche-like in vinegar). Also exquisite are grilled sardines, sepietas (sepia squid) and navajas (razor clams). If you're sitting at one of the tables nearest the water, the waves will splash your feet and Barcelona will seem far away. After lunch take in the Greek and Roman ruins at Empúries.

Day 4 On the two-hour drive back to the Barcelona, you can stop in San Celoni for lunch at El Racó de Can Fabes (6 Sant Joan; 011-34-93-867-28-51; fax 011-34-93-867-38-61), a cutting-edge Michelin three-star restaurant. Here you can sample dishes on the order of pigeon cooked in Udine grappa with cardamom. Chef Santi Santamaría's food is so good that it may convince you to break off your love affair with regional cooking. But somehow, I don't think so.

GERRY DAWES has been traveling the food and wine roads of Spain for 25 years. He is currently researching and writing Homage to Iberia, inspired by the late James A. Michener's Iberia.

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Comments are welcome and encouraged.
 
Text and photographs copyright by Gerry Dawes©2021.  Using photographs without crediting Gerry Dawes©2021 on Facebook.  Publication without my written permission is not authorized.

* * * * *
  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 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.
 

A Visual Encyclopedia of Spanish Gastronomy: Food, Chefs, Restaurants and Wine (A Work in Progress). Dishes, cheeses, olive oils, wines, restaurants, etc. (Illustrated with photographs; frequent new additions and updates.)

* * * * *
Text & Photographs by Gerry Dawes ©2021
 (Contact: gerrydawes@aol.com for publication rights.)
[Double click on any photograph to see it enlarged.) 

* * * * Stay tuned, more entries will be added regularly. * * * *


Don Quixote and Sancho Panza from a mural in a restaurant in Tembleque, Castilla-La Mancha.
The La Mancha essentials: bread, cheese, wine, cured ham and, probably pickled aubergines.
 
A
Ajos Morados

Purple garlic cloves, famously from Las Pedroneras (Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha), i which is the ajo morado capital of Spain and has a festival to celebrate the bulb every year.  (Think Gilroy, California, which claims to be the garlic capital of the world.)  Las Pedroneras is also home to arguably the best restaurant of la Mancha, Las Rejas, where the great chef of La Mancha, my friend Manuel de la Osa is the chef-owner.  Nabor Jiménez , the chef-owner of El Crucero in Corella (Navarra) brought out a plate of the big purplish cloves to show us.  “Ajo morado is much finer garlic than the kind we have here in Corella,” Jiménez said.  


Ajos morados, purple garlic.


Alcachofas 
Alcachofas con jamón Ibérico (baby artichoke hearts with cured Ibérico ham) with a rosado from D.O. Madrid, at La Balconada Restaurant, Chinchón, one of my favorite restaurants in one of my favorite towns in Spain.

Alcochofas con jamón Ibérico.

Arroces (or Arroses, in Catalan/Valenciano).


Arroz a banda


Arroz a banda is traditionally made by cooking pieces of fish, squid and/or shellfish to make a stock in which the rice is then cooked, with the fish, squid and shellfish being served  separately, sometimes as a separate course.  In this squid and shrimp paella the ingredients are incorporated into the dish and served with the rice.


María José San Román serving her arroz a banda 'Taberna' (paella with shrimp and fresh squid) from La Taberna del Gourmet at Jaleo's Paella Festival opening party.


Arroz caldoso

Arroz caldoso con blando de cangrejo (soft shell crab "soupy" rice).  Developed by María José San Román, chef-owner of Monastrell (see Monastrell on Facebook) and La Taberna de Gourmet (see my review), for José Andrés annual Paella Festival at the Jaleo restaurants in Crystal City, MD, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C.  Although, you will not find this dish in Spain, where I have never seen soft shell crabs, it is well worth making this sensational dish in softshell crab season (the recipe will be available soon).  Arroz caldoso, which is basically a rich stock with plenty of rice in it, is one of the most delicious of all Spanish rice dishes.



María José San Román's sensational arroz caldoso con blando de cangrejo,
made with soft shell crabs, at Jaleo Crystal City's Paella Festival in June, 2010.



Slide show of rice dishes from Jaleo's paella festival in June 2010.

Arroz con leche is Spanish rice pudding, or rice cooked with milk, cinnamon and sugar.  At Casa Lucio in Madrid its is served with a creme bruleé-style caramelized sugar crust, which is a custom in Alicante, where Lucio Blásquez, the owner of Casa Lucio, has a street named after him. 


Arroz con leche with a creme bruleé caramelized sugar crust at Casa Lucio, Madrid.


B

Borrajas

Bright green steamed borrajas (borrage)--a stalk vegetable that is believed to have originally come from north Africa, where in Arabic its name is abu rash--shown here at El Crucero restaurant in Corella (Navarra), dressed with Nabor Jiménez’s own Condado de Martinega aceite de oliva virgen, olive oil.


Borrajas, borrage.

C

Cardos

Cardos con semillas de granada, cardoons with pomegranate seeds, at El Crucero in Corella (Navarra).

Cardos, cardoons with pomegranate seeds.

Cochinillo asado
Cochinillo asado, roast suckling pig, an emblematic Madrid dish, at Restaurante Botín, Hemingway's old favorite, which he immortalized in The Sun Also Rises.
Cochinillo asado at Restaurante Botín.



Cochinillo asado at Restaurante Botín.

H
Habitas con jamón

Habitas con jamón, young tender fava beans cooked with cured ham, El Crucero restaurant, Corella (Navarra).


Habitas con jamón

 M

Menestra


Menestra, a panache of fresh vegetable, ideally young spring vegetables such as vainas (green beans), guisantes (peas), zanahorias (carrots), cardos (cardoons), esparragos (asparagus), puerros (leeks), and alcachofas (artichokes).  Menestra can be served as a vegetarian dish, but often ham and/or hard-cooked eggs are added. San Ignacio Restaurante, Pamplona.

Menestra.

P 

Paella (see Arroces or Arroses [Catalan}


Paella, Spain's best known dish, is technically known as arroz en paella or arròs en paella (Catalan/Valencian), arroz al horno (oven-baked in a casserole), arroz caldoso ("soupy" rices cooked stove-top, etc.  Paella is the pan.

Pimientos de Cristal

Slightly picante pimientos de cristal, red peppers--not to be confused with the famous local piquillo peppers.  These pimientos de cristal were served with a minced black olive-infused olive oil at El Crucero, Corella (Navarra). 




Pimientos de cristal.

Pimientos de piquillo

Pimiento de piquillo relleno de mariscos (piquillo peppers stuffing with a shellfish filling), San Ignacio Restaurante, Pamplona.


Pimiento de piquillo relleno de mariscos.

Pochas (con almejas, guindillas, Las Campanas rosado.)

Pochas are white beans with a cranberry bean like shape, consistency and flavor, in this case, cooked with clams. They are also often cooked with chorizo and morcilla and sometimes with quail.  Served with guindillas (piquant, elongated green peppers similar in flavor to Greek pepperoncini). Las Campanas Garnacha Rosado (rosé), an inexpensive Navarra D.O. wine, is a good companion to this wonderful dish from northern Spain. 



Pochas con almejas, guindillas, Las Campanas rosado.  
From Casa Cámara a wonderful waterside restaurant in the storybook, one-street village 
of Pasaia Donibane (Pasajes de San Juan) near San Sebastián. 
R

First served to me at El Crucero restaurant, Corella (Navarra), rusos de Álfaro (literally, Russians from Álfaro) is an exquisite dessert that originated at Pastelería Malumbres in the late 19th Century in Álfaro, the main town of the La Rioja Baja winemaking district.  Rusos de Álfaro, made made with meringue, butter and sugar, sometimes flavored with almond or coffee cream, areworld-class, ethereal, melt-in-your-mouth pastries that are delightful way to end a meal in southern Rioja or La Ribera de Navarra.  Marcos Malumbres of the founding family of Pastelería Malumbres showed Martín Orlando, the current owner since 1998, how to make rusos de Álfaro and other desserts.    Rusos de Álfaro was voted the most preferred dessert of la Rioja at La Rioja.com. 
 
Rusos de Álfaro.

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 Gastronomy Blogs


About Gerry Dawes

Gerry Dawes is the author of Sunset in a Glass: Adventures of a Food and Wine Road Warrior in Spain Volume I Enhanced Photograph Edition, Foreword by José Andrés (Available on Amazon).

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. 


". . .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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