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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).
  15. I had lunch again at Martin Berasategui just a week after Bux did and found it to be one of the greatest (perhaps the very best) meals of a trip that included lunches or dinners at Mas de Torrent***, Can Roca****, El Bulli, Sant Pau (Carme Ruscalleda ****), Hotel Empordá*, Carles Abellán****, Ca Sento**** in Valencia, Tragabuches** in Ronda, Mugaritz****, Arzak****, and Fagollaga* (the four stars mean particularly memorable meals; El Bulli is El Bulli is El Bulli). Along the way, there were wonderful traditional meals at Alba in Barcelona; at Casa Pepico outside Valencia; at the bar at Nou Manolín (bar only recommended) in Alicante, at Elias (for arroz cooked over grape vine cuttings) in Xinolet (Alicante); at Casa Bigote and in the manzanilla bodega at Vinicola Hidalgo in Sanlúcar de Barrameda; at Barbiana in Sevilla; at the stupendous Mesón-Taberna Juan Peña in Córdoba; great regional food (vino. too) at Bodegas Muga in La Rioja; good food and superb wines at Rekondo (one of the world's great wine list); superb seafood and the greatest turbot at Kaia (Getaria); and in Riaza (Segovia), an hour north of Madrid, at Marcelo, I had incredible mushrooms, judiones and chuletillas de cordero to finish up. An incredible trip like no other and the food at Martin Berasategui was at the very top (well Juan Peña's wife Mari Carmen's salmorejo was the dish of the trip). In addition, my experiences at Manuel de la Osa earlier in the year and the commentaries from other Spanish foodies bear out Bux's experiences as well. San Celoni, Santi Santamaria's new place in Madrid, was superb as well. There is some phenomenal cooking going on in Spain, traditional as well as modern. Some chefs don't live up to the hype, but the best, like Martin can cook with anyone in the world.
  16. "My impression is that the transition is being made very smoothly. It's a completely second hand impression however. Still I feel he's easing out in a way that Michelin themselves will have a hard time knowing when he's gone and I suspect he will have a titular presence for a long time. My impression, and maybe it's just an optimistic hope, is that this is one restaurant that can make the generation gap jump in style precisely because their are two Arzaks of different generations in the kitchen. This may just be a romantic illusion I choose to cherish." It is no illusion, so cherish to your heart's content.
  17. I have been out in Illinois for the State BBQ Championships in Murphysboro, home of the great Apple City team that produced "The Legend" Mike Mills, the guru behind a lot of the barbecue at Blue Smoke, and the great Pat Burke, his partner on the Apple City team and now the leader of Tower Rock, who won the Illinois State Championship hands down against some tough competition. I printed out and took Robert's report on San Sebastián with me, read it a couple of times and enjoyed it thoroughly. I was glad to see that he reinforced my perceptions of both Akelarre and Zuberoa, though, while I don't doubt that he had a less than glorious time at Martin's, I still believe that Martin is a fabulous chef. I assume that Robert was headed to Kaia, when the fire intervened and I was very sorry to hear that, because it is probably my favorite restaurant in SS. One thing that is lamentable about these "Let's hit all the Michelin-starred modern cuisine stars" is that you miss some of the best food in Spain in the tipico, traditional cuisine restaurants of the area. Rekondo has great food, great steaks, excellent game dishes and one of the best wine lists in Europe. Kaia and Elkano are worth a pilgrimage for whole, grilled wild rodaballo (turbot), the best in the world, IMHO. Juan Jose Castillo and his Nicolasa may be a bit stodgy, but the food is excellent and he knows every traditional recipe in the Basque Country and has written several books documenting them. Even modest places such as charming Casa Cámara in the lovely one-street town of Pasajes de San Juan, Asador Bedua near Zumaya and the local favorite Casa Urbano in San Sebastian's old quarter have excellent food. Then there are the tapas bars in Gros, some of which have tapas on Villeroy & Boch china. About Alkalde. You didn't miss much. Although the atmosphere is great, the tapas are not so hot and it's most famous dish, txangurro (the great Basque crab dish that is one of my favorites) was a very poor version the last time I tried it quite a few years ago. One correction: Manolete died on August 28, 1947, not July 4 and that fight in Linares in which, in Barnaby Conrad's great opening line -- "A multi-millionaire and a bull killed one another and plunged an entire nation into deep mourning." -- was not a mano a mano. Manolete and Dominguin shared the cartel that day with Gitanillo de Triana. Islero, a Miura bull, gored Manolete as he went in for the kill. Also, many Basque asadores (with one 's') are some of the best places to eat in Spain.
  18. I like Sammy's approach. As I was reading through these posts, a couple of things occurred to me: 1) During the same meal in Spain, I would gladly eat fresh white asparagus and down a couple of the canned asparagus as well; 2) the best canned white asparagus and piquillos from Spain are not mushy, not too soft. I have had "mushy" white asparagus in Spain and I agree they are disappointing, same with piquillos, but both the asparagus and the peppers from the best producers are excellent and so is a lot of the tinned seafood.
  19. Gerry Dawes

    Turn up the Amps!

    a Dr. Pepper glass At last something worth buying Reidel for.
  20. "glass jars, which I personally don't like that much because the sunlight doesn't help the delicate white asparagus, and for some reason they are not using dark glass" I suspect they use clear glass because the sight of those big fat asparagus is irresistible.
  21. In the US, you can get pimientos de piquillo from www.tienda.com, www.despanabrands.com, www.oleolefoods.com and www.thespanishtable.com to name a few. And, in New York, you can try pimientos de piquillo rellenos de bacalao at Marichu restaurant, 342 E. 46th St. (2cd & 1st), 212-370-1866.
  22. vserna and wolfert are right on the money about piquillos. Daniel Boulud and many other famous chefs use them. And Victor is right about esparagos blancos and tinned fish and shellfish (I am sure everyone remembers why Cannery Row in Monterey is called Cannery Row). The canned and jarred ventresca de bonito from the Basque Coast is fabulous. I was once in Bilbao with the son of the man who owns the Gourmetour Guides. He was thrilled to find a store in La Parte Vieja that had scores of different brands of tinned fish and shellfish. And if you ever go to Quimet y Quimet in Barcelona, a diminutive tapas bar with all kinds of DO products, including some frightfully expensive canned clams, etc., you won't believe it. What I don't understand is why these things are dismissed, often like the cuisine of Ferran Adrià and other Spanish chefs has been, by people who have never really experienced same. Go, try it, and then tell us how ridiculous or awful it is. Believe me, neither Victor nor myself are champions of nasty food and nasty wines (well, of the latter, at least I am not ).
  23. Gerry Dawes

    Spain VS Italy

    "In Spain, the industry is wakening from a very long, stuporous sleep adn the influx of talent from Bordeaux and elsewhere is going to erupt in the next five to ten years - and the prices will still be far below the super-Tuscans or super-Umbrians." As a winemaking nation, Spain has been "awake" for well over a decade. What influx of talent from Bordeaux and elsewhere? A lot of top Spanish winemakers (and many Californians) have done their stages in Bordeaux, that's for sure, and Miguel Torres worked in Burgundy in the 1970s, but it is not now uncommon to see Europeans working under Spanish winemakers to learn from them. As far as prices go, some L'Ermita vintages tip the scales at about $300 and Pingus has gone for as much as $495. There are a number of others in the $90 to $150 range.
  24. Sounds like an Arnold Schwarzenegger sound bite. Surely, the very talented M. Gagnaire could give us a little more substance. ;-)
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