Saturday, June 15, 2013

Food, Wine & Cultural Travel in Spain with Gerry Dawes

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"In his nearly thirty years of wandering the back roads of Spain," Gerry Dawes has built up a much stronger bank of experiences than I had to rely on when I started writing Iberia...His adventures far exceeded mine in both width and depth..." -- James A. Michener, author of Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections

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On a private customized tour of Spain with Gerry Dawes.  
Food Network Next Iron Chef contestant Michael Chiarello, 
Chef-owner of Bottega (Napa Valley), Pasterlería Oyarzun, San Sebastián.
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 / 

Slide show of the trip I took Chef Michael Chiarello (Bottega, Napa Valley & Napastyle) 
and his Executive Sous Chef Ryan Mcilwaith (Bottega) on in October 2011.
(Double click on the images for a larger version of the show.)

In addition to Michael Chiarello and Ryan Mcilwaith, the following food personalities have been on customized wine and food tours with me to Spain:

Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon
Ally Barker, St. Joseph, Michigan
Michael Lomonaco, Porter House
Terrance Brennan (twice), Picholine, Artisanal
Mark Miller (four times), Santa Fe
Mark Kiffin, The Compound, Santa Fe
John Gottfried (twice)
Michael Whiteman. Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Restaurants Consultants
Greg Drescher, Culinary Institute of America - Greystone

Chefs and food personalities whom I have accompanied on shorter excursions such as mini tapas hopping tours, luncheons and dinners in Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastián, Valencia, Alicante, etc.: 

Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Antoinette Bruno, David Burke, Andrew Dornenburg
Cara da Silva, Greg Drescher, Michael Ginor, Christopher Gross, Greg Grossman, 
Maria Guarneschelli, Brice Cutrer Jones, Stephen Kalt, Peter Kump, Harold McGee,  
Rick Moonen, Drew Nieporent, Ken Oringer, Karen Page, Cindy Pawlcyn, Jim Poris,  
Ruth Reichl, Jimmy Schmidt, John Sconzo, Jeffrey Steingarten,  Charlie Trotter, 
Tetsuya Wakuda, Michael Weiss, Norman Van Aken, Tim & Nina Zagat, Rachel Zemzer

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Leading a group, including Chef Terrance Brennan (Picholine / Artisanal, New York City)
on a week-long culinary, wine and cultural adventure in Valencia and Alicante.

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"Gerry has an extraordinary knowledge of Spain, not just the cuisine and wine but the geography (little tapas bars on tiny streets in villages up in the mountains), history, culture and people. One of the highlights of the trip for me was not a 3-star Michelin meal, but a lunch at a winery. Gerry, of course, knew the winemaker, and we dined in a large beautiful room with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the vineyard. We ate simply: tomato salad, jamón ibérico, great bread and olive oil, baby lamb chops grilled over grape vines cuttings (exquisite), ewes’ milk cheese and, of course, great wine. What was special about this was the people, who invited us into their home with warmth and genuine hospitality, their alegría de vida (joie de vivre). I don’t speak Spanish but didn’t have too, we communicated through food, wine, banter, laughter and facial expressions." - - Terrance Brennan, Chef, cookbook author, creator-owner of New York’s Picholine and Artisanal restaurants. Brennan rates this trip, which predates the film pilot, as one of the top two gastronomic experiences of his life.

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