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Gerry Dawes

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  1. Greg Drescher, Jose Andres and Roser Torras (behind the scenes) did an incredible job. The moment at the final general session when Thomas Keller introduced Ferran will go down as one of the greatest moments in modern Spanish culinary history. ← ...and perhaps American! The electricity in the air rivaled anything that I have ever experienced, at least in person. I never fully realized just how much personal charisma Ferran Adria has. By the way, you didn't do such a bad job yourself! ← Mil gracias, Doc, your comments are very much appreciated. Best, Gerry
  2. Greg Drescher, Jose Andres and Roser Torras (behind the scenes) did an incredible job. The moment at the final general session when Thomas Keller introduced Ferran will go down as one of the greatest moments in modern Spanish culinary history.
  3. In Spain, we often refer to the Adria movement as "Ferranismo."
  4. Robert, You will be a substantial mountain drive from the Valle d'Aran, but Casa Irene in Arties is supposed to excellent. So is Can Boix in Peramola. The Relais & Chateaux Tapies-Hotel restaurant in La Seu d'Urgell is expensive and gets mixed reviews. Andria is apparently a very good traditional restaurant in La Seu. Sorry, I can't be of more help, but that is a part of Spain that I do not know at all.
  5. Go to any halfway decent restaurant (and some not even on the culinary radar) on the Spanish side of the border on Sundays and try to find a non-French car in the parking lots. ;-)
  6. If you are the chef from Bond Street, I have to say I greatly admire your food, though it has been awhile since I was there. "As someone who can't say "no" to fundraisers, the Beard Foundation managed to sell me a several benefit events that I don't even go to. So, if I were to add up the money that they say they raised, the place would have had a trust the reserve size of a small third world country. But, I just chalk it up to the inefficiencies of a non-profit org." I take it you are saying that you bought tickets to several events, but didn't go - - a "no-show?" Yet you have added up the amount of money they raised, deducted all expenses associated with those events and have come up with "a reserve the size of a small third world country." Maybe you should go down there and audit the books.
  7. Talk about culinary hotbeds, the province of Girona, with El Bulli, Can Roca, Mas de Torrent, L'Aliança, El Rebost d'en Pere, Els Fogons de Can Llaudes, Hotel Empordà, Mas Pau, El Roser 2, Els Tinars, Miramar, Mas Les Cols, La Cuina de Can Pipes, SA Punta, Toni Saez, and Torre del Remei, now rivals Guipuzkoa (San Sebastian) as the top province in Spain for restaurants (Barcelona aside). The aforementioned list is just the creative cuisine list and doesn't include a wealth of traditional cuisine places that can be wonderful.
  8. I couldn't agree more with Victor. Gastronomically, Madrid is a very under-rated city. I have had fantastic meals at O'Pazo and Combarro and his comment about steak houses is right on. Plus, why are there not more of these great traditional cuisine restaurants all over Spain being awarded Michelin stars? For instance, for me Kaia in Getaria is a three-star restaurant for food, service, wine, list, ambience and view. And, despite, some people's tendency to denigrate the place lately, Casa Bigote in Sanlucar de Barrameda is a firm two-star in my mind. There are many, many more. The Michelin Guide in Spain has outlived its usefulness. Spain has its own guidebooks that far more accurately reflect current Spanish culinary realities. And I must add that France is locked in a competition with Spain right now with many serious culinarians believing that Spain has edged ahead. The fact that Michelin is a French guide and had a quota of under 120 rosettes for the entire country this year speaks for itself.
  9. "We let decision of what to drink to Luis, and he suggested one of the newcomers wines in the market, Plazuela 01, a wine from La Mancha made from Cencibel (aka Tempranillo) and some Grenache. Very good, with notes of red fruit and perhaps too present the new oak used." Plazuela is an excellent new wine from Los Barrios in La Mancha, made by Margarita Madrigal and Alexandra Schmedes, but the oak does not overwhelm it as in many new wines on the market from the La Mancha. Also the grapes are Tempranillo (few people are using the name Cencibel anymore because of marketing reasons, but the other grape is Garnacha (Grenache is French for this native Spanish grape and it should be referred to by its Spanish name).
  10. I second that. I found Carlos Abellan's Adria-influenced food some of the best I have had. It was fun at lunch as well.
  11. I don't think the following are closed in August: El Amparo, Viridiana, Europa (Hotel Villa Real), Cafe de Oriente, Lago de Sanabria, Asador Fronton (closed Sundays in summer), the new Manduca de Azagra (?), Rafa (a wonderful seafood restaurant beyond the Retiro and not far from Atocha), Casa Botin, Cuenllas, the small, charming Riojan La Algarabia, Julian de Tolosa, Asador Casa Matias (family of Julian de Tolosa), Castellana 179 (wine list). The following highly-rated restaurants are closed for two weeks in August: El Chaflan, Pedro Larumbe and Chantarella. Plus, I would be surprised if you didn't find a tapas bar or two open.
  12. Although, I have stayed there with groups I have taken to Spain, visited bullfighters there, stopped for a drink or a coffee there and even eaten there on a few occasions, I would certainly not stop at the Landa Palace for my one meal of the way up through Burgos. Burgos itself is a wonderful town, if not necessarily the grand bastion of Castilian gastronomy it claims to be. Aranda de Duero, for a first-time traveler, is marvelous, with about a dozen asadores serving quarters of roast suckling lamb, chorizos, simple salads and Ribera del Duero wines. It is a legendary place for tipico restaurants. El Pastor is a classic. If you want more variety, try Casa Florencio and, yes, there is the highly regarded Meson de la Villa. In the monumental (a real bastard built it) town of Lerma there is also a very good asador up by the new parador.
  13. In October and November of 2003 and in January, 2004, I ate in a slew of Spain's most highly-rated restaurants. I found Ca Sento in Valencia to be the most pleasant surprise and probably the most memorable of all the meals I had. Casa Pepico northwest of Valencia (about 10 miles away, I believe) was good for typical food (escalivada, anchoas, croquetas, calamar a la plancha and tomates de Valencia con bacalao y ajo) and local ambience. As far as Alicante goes, I felt Nou Manolon, except for the almejas de carril and gambas rosas de Santa Pola at the bar, was a major disappointment. And, after taking a look at how thousands upon thousands of Euros worth of rare old bottles of wine were stored (in a warm dining room reeking of eons of cigar smoke) at Nou Manolin, I would not order any other than a very young wine there, let alone an older vintage of Vega Sicilia or a great classic Rioja. (Friends have apparently tried to tell the owner about this, to no appreciable effect). Quique Dacosta does great work at El Poblet in Denia (especially if you can get him to prepare some of the more typical dishes of the region). The revelation on this trip, aside from Raul Aleixandre's great food at Ca Senta, was Restaurante Elias en Xinorlet near Pinoso, which was recommended to me over Casa Paco (Gandia). We began lunch at 4 p.m. with wonderful, pan-fried, salted almonds and a plate of embutidos, that include four delicious varieties of small sausages (longaniza, chorizo, morcilla and a fuet-like sausage) sliced into rounds. Then we had a plate of beautiful and beautifully grilled niscalos (boletus) with alioli de ley (the real stuff). Pan con tomate came next, then gachamiga (?) a kind of a pan- or grill-fried, flat, tortilla-like cake made with garlic, flour, water and olive oil) and served with tomate confit. Next was a plate of fat grilled snails sprinkled with grains of sea salt and redolent of the fresh rosemary branches that came with them. At 5:10 p.m., a casserole of gachas, a great campesino dish similar to the Manchegan gazpachos (a thick soup-consistency game dish that is more akin to the stuffing we use for Thanksgiving birds than to Andalucian tomato gazpacho). These gachas were flavored with nutmeg and cloves and made with rabbit and dumpling-like pieces of dough. The dish came in a casserole with triangles of pita-like bread stuck around the edges of the thick gachas mixture. It is typically eaten with mountain honey drizzled on top. The main event was the arroz con conejo y caracoles, the famous thin-layered inland Alicante rice dish made with short-grain rice, natural saffron, rabbit and snails cooked over grape vine cuttings. It was delicious. We drank Alhambra Reserva 1925 dark amber beer, the excellent Salvador Poveda Añejo Seco palo cortado-like vino generoso made from monastrell vidueño (old clone of Monastrell)and a young Poveda monastrell-based vino tinto with lunch. With the desserts - - good leche frita, flan, a café ice cream cake, chocolate cake and a wonderful turrón ice cream--we had one of Poveda's superb old Fondillons. Needless to say, Elias is highly recommended and apparently the owner is a lot easier to get along with than the dueño of Casa Paco. Like Victor de la Serna, I am a big fan of the Casta Diva moscatels of Felipe Gutierrez de la Vega, the opera-loving Renaissance man who is delight to be with. He also makes some excellent red wines including the monastrell-based Imagine (dedicated to John Lennon), Viña Ulises (dedicated to James Joyce and Homer [!])), and Roja y Negro (a blend of tempranillo, garnacha and Monastrell). His 100% monastrell Casta Diva Fondillón (dedicated to William Blake) is one of the best made. If you ever visit Felipe's charming bodega in Parcent, buy the wine that comes with a CD of Antonio Cortes, the great Valencian tenor who was a contemporary of Caruso and rivalled him in talent (though he was the lead tenor at the Chicago Opera in his day, Cortis could never take full advantage of an offer by Caruso to become his protege because of the illness of one of his children. I do not share Victor's enthusiasm for the wines of Enrique Mendoza. A great admirer of New World winemaking, Pepe Mendoza mostly eschews native varietals for chardonnay, CS, merlot, shiraz and pinot noir. His Shiraz 2000, CS Reserva 1997, Peñon de Ifach (a cab, merlot & pinot noir blend), Santa Rosa 1998 and, especially, his pinot noir show promise, but after tasting Mendoza's wines at the winery and at Madrid's Salon de Gourmets, plus drinking different bottles with meals, I find the wines to be too New World formulaic, quite alcoholic and, IMHO, loaded with far too much new French oak.
  14. I doubt seriously if Thomas Keller will be at Alimentaria. He turned down Madrid Fusion because he is opening a new restaurant in NY. As to Madrid Fusion, I have a block of tickets for Americanos (or I suppose egullet.com members), but I would need a confirmation by early next week. For more information, please e-mail me at gerrydawesªaol.com In reference to the comment about no women, keep in mind that the board of directors of Madrid Fusion includes two women (out of four people, I believe).
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