Travel Spain with Gerry Dawes – January 12th-19th, 2014

The legendary Lucio Blasquez of Madrid's Casa Lucio with Gerry Dawes at Casa Lucio.

The legendary Lucio Blasquez of Madrid’s Casa Lucio with Gerry Dawes at Casa Lucio.

Are you a chef, cook or serious food enthusiast? Have you ever been to Spain? Have you ever eaten in Spain with an insider’s perspective? Would you like to? This may be your chance. There are just a few openings left on the upcoming tour, “Chef’s Taste of Spain” led by the inimitable Gerry Dawes from January 12-19, 2014.

Few (if any) Americans know Spain or the people who matter in the world of Spanish food and wine better than Gerry Dawes. Here are the particulars:

Chefs Educational Taste of Spain Tour


January 12th- 19th, 2014

7 Days, 6 Nights

Organized & Led by Spanish Gastronomy & Wine Expert Gerry Dawes

Barcelona – Valencia – Alicante – La Mancha – Madrid

Learn cooking techniques and secrets from Spanish & Catalan master chefs, star pastry chefs, Restaurant market stand owners, ham cutters, winemakers, etc.

Learn about Catalan cuisine, the incredible variety of rice dishes (way beyond paella) from Valencia and Alicante, the chocolates & pastries of one of the world’s greatest chocolateros, chefs, Restaurant market stand owners, ham cutters, winemakers, etc.

Visit some of the greatest tapas restaurants and market bars in Spain

Experience the cooking and wines of a maestro from the ancient city of Toledo & the tapas bars and wonderful restaurants of Madrid.

Along the way, with many of the meals, Gerry Dawes, one of the world’s top experts on the wines of Spain, will serve some special exceptional wines with commentary.

About tour leader, Gerry Dawes, our organizer, guide and Spanish food and wine educator:

Gerry Dawes is widely recognized as one of the very top American experts on the gastronomy, wines and culture of Spain. Recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Spanish National Gastronomy Prize (2003) and Food Arts magazine’s Silver Spoon Award (2009), Gerry Dawes has long been educating American Chefs about the gastronomy, wines and culture of Spain.

In 1990, Dawes took Chef Thomas Keller on his first ever trip to Spain, a ten-day exploration of Spanish gastronomy. In addition, he has led such star chefs as Michael Lomonaco, Mark Miller (six times), Norman Van Aken and Terrance Brennan around different parts of Spain on culinary excursions. In 2011, Chef Michael Chiarello called upon Gerry to design, plan and lead him and his executive chef, Ryan Mcilwraith on a two-week food and wine research trip around Spain in preparation for opening their Coqueta restaurant on Pier Five in San Francisco, a venture that has been a runaway success—it is packed every night—and has achieved the highest critical acclaim. Both chefs credit Gerry’s influence on their restaurant.

Dawes is a widely published writer-photographer and highly experienced food and wine conference presenter. He has given some 15 general session presentations and seminars at the CIA-Greystone’s Worlds of Flavor Conference, has spoken and received an award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference and in addition to speaking on Spanish food and wine in many other venues in the U.S., he has also been a presenter at the prestigious annual Madrid Fusión conference, where he has introduced (in Spanish) chefs such as Dan Barber and David Chang.

A trip to Spain with Gerry Dawes is an educational crash course on Spanish gastronomy and wines and a running seminar on how things learned on these trips can be profitably applied to the culinary programs of the tour participants back in the States.

On this trip, participants will meet authentic Spanish maestros—chefs, restaurateurs, winemakers, culinary figures, Ibérico ham cutters, etc.—and tour spectacular markets and food

The cost of the trip is $3500 (double occupancy; $500 single occupancy supplement), without airfare, and includes hotels, all designated meals, encounters and demos with Spanish chefs, Prado Museum admission and guide, ground transportation and the services of tour leader Gerry Dawes.

Planned Itinerary

January 12th- 19th, 2014

Custom Designed & Personally Guided by Spanish Gastronomy & Wine Expert Gerry Dawes

Barcelona – Priorat – Valencia – Alicante – La Mancha – Madrid

Day 00 Sunday 12 USA – Barcelona

Evening flight to Barcelona from NYC-JFK or Newark-EWR

Day 01 Monday, January 13 Barcelona (L)

Morning arrival, check into our hotel, shower and relax, and meet around noon for a short orientation session, following by a trip in the Barcelona Metro system to La Barceloneta, where we will see a cooking demo followed by lunch at a restaurant in Port Vell, old port area, whose chef is a traditional and modernist maestro. In the evening the group will be free to explore other culinary facets of Barcelona and Gerry will steer you to whichever restaurant, tapas bar, etc. you may want to visit and he will help make reservations. We will stay in a four-star hotel either in the Eixample or overlooking the Port Vell. Either hotel is a great location, equidistant from about everything we will want to see.

Day 02 Tuesday, January 14 Barcelona (B, T, L, D)

In the morning, we will meet with one of the top pastry chefs in Spain who stages incredibly inventive culinary productions as a part of his repertoire, then we will go to the world famous La Boqueria market for a merienda, a second “breakfast.” Since all the cooking is done right in front of us, the market bar restaurants of La Boquería are a cooking lesson in themselves. We will also tour the market with the market President or Vice President and visit some of the top purveyors of shellfish, game, mushrooms, bacalao, etc. We will also meet a top purveyor of supernal jamones Ibéricos and sausages and sample some his incredible products. This man is the owner of seven ham counters in La Boquería, several more shops around Barcelona and in the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid. The purveyor in question co-authored a book on the Boqueria, for which our tour leader, Gerry Dawes, was asked to write the foreword for the English version. We will explore the lively pedestrian street, Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous street and go to lunch at a top Barceloneta seafood restaurant. After lunch, there will be an optional tour of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, Parque Guell and other Gaudi monuments, the Picasso Museum and the old quarter and the rest of the afternoon will be free for relaxing, shopping and touring in Barcelona. In the evening, we will go to a Catalan modern cuisine restaurant and visit this highly regarded chef in his kitchens before dinner.

Day 03 Wednesday, January 15 Barcelona – Tarragona – Valencia (B, L, D)

8:30 a.m. Leave early for Tarragona, visit a winery in back-country Montsant or in Priorat, then head for the outskirts of Valencia, where we will have a professional cooking class and make authentic paella valenciana from a recipe that has been declared as the official one for authentic Valencian style paella. We will have the dish with the chef-owner- teacher of El Levante restaurant, a man who has cooked paellas at the Culinary Institute of America’s Worlds of Flavor Conference. By 5-6 p.m., we will arrive in Valencia and check into a four-star hotel near the City of Arts and Sciences and the old quarter, then have time to relax, shop or stroll in Valencia. In the evening, we will have a superb tapas dinner at the ambience-filled Casa Montaña (founded 1836). The food here is traditional Spanish fare with a difference. All the products are personally sourced by the owner, whose is a close personal friend of Gerry Dawes. The chef will tell us what goes into each dish and we will relax in laid-back style with wonderful food and plenty of wine, with optional choices from Casa Montaña’s

Day 04, Thursday, January 16 Valencia – Alicante (B, L, D)

By 9:00 a.m. we will tour Valencia’s exceptional Mercat Central, the main market in the center of the city, visit a spice stand, an horchata (a typical cool drink made with chufa nuts) stand and a colorful place that sells paellas pans, pottery caceroles, etc. In late morning, we will drive to the southern shore of the Albufera lagoon and visit a village that has some 20 paella restaurants. Depending on the weather, we will take a small shallow-draft boat, whose owner with pole us for a short ride out on the Albufera, where the eels and other fish for some of the local restaurants dishes come from. After our boat ride, we will also sample a typical dish made with eels fished from the lagoon, along with other regional specialties, including different styles of paella than the one we made the day before at a restaurant set in the rice fields of the Albufera. After lunch, we will drive south to visit an unusual winemaker, Felipe Gutierrez de la Vega, who plays opera in the background as he works in his award-winning winery, where he produces the luscious sweet wine, Casta Diva. Felipe and his wife, Pilar, have a cooking facility, where they do classes and demos, so we will learn something about the cooking of After Casta Diva, we will continue on the motorway to Alicante, pass by astounding Benidorm, whose skyscrapers make you think you are looking out on Manhattan, We will arrive in Alicante in early in the evening and have some time to relax, before meeting Chef María José San Román, one of Spain’s top chefs. We will sample olive oils with here and have dinner in her spectacular Taberna del Gourmet, which was named the best tapas bar in Spain two years ago. Our hotel will centrally located near the beach and yacht basin, along with specialty restaurants and bars in downtown Alicante, a beautiful seaside Mediterranean city with palm-lined streets.

Day 05, Friday, January 17 Alicante (B, L)

In the morning, we will visit the factory of Paco Torreblanca, one of Europe’s top chocolates and desserts maestros (See Food Arts for Gerry’s article on Torreblanca). After our visit to Torreblanca, we will visit an emblematic winery that makes a very unusual, but compelling classic wine, along with some fine table wine, then take some of those wines to lunch at a unique restaurant in Xinorlet, an out-of-the-way village, where the main rice dish (rice is a great specialty of Alicante) is made with wild snails and rabbit and cooked over grape vine cuttings. This is a marvelous family restaurant and we will get a chance to see just how they turn out a limited menu of top-notch regional dishes. After lunch, in nearby Novelda, we will visit a saffron producer and sample some of their products, accompanied by Chef María José San Román, for whom this company produces an excellent saffron product under her name. By early evening, we will return in downtown Alicante and check into our hotel alongside the yacht basin and beach, relax a bit, then explore the Puerto and stroll along the palm- tree lined, pedestrian street, La Explanada, facing the port. The evening will be free to explore Alicante and have the option of trying your choice of local restaurant from a list provided by our tour leader.

Day 06 Saturday, January 18 Alicante – Madrid (B, L, T)

In the morning, we will head for Madrid, stopping a couple of times to visit towns with windmills that figure prominently in Don Quixote, then arrive in Spain’s capital city and check into our centrally located hotel. We will have lunch in a wonderful ambience-filled restaurant, where we can see the brick-oven roasting of suckling pigs and try cochinillo and several other Castilian specialties. After lunch, we will visit the world famous Prado Museum with a licensed guide, then have time to relax, shop and explore Madrid. In the evening, we will head out on a tapas restaurant-hopping tour of both traditional and modern cuisine tapas restaurants, including a do-it-yourself tapas tour of the unique Mercado de San Miguel, alongside the Plaza Mayor. We will finish up in a famous restaurant in old Madrid for our farewell dinner, sampling vinos and wonderful classic Castilian dishes. After dinner, there will be the option of taking in a flamenco performance or exploring Madrid’s movida nightlife.

Day 07, Sunday, January 19 Madrid – New York

Late morning or midday flight to JFK New York

Option of staying extra nights in Madrid visiting Toledo, Segovia, etc.

For more information or to book, contact Gerry Dawes via the contact form below.

Full Disclosure and disclaimer – Gerry Dawes is a personal friend of mine, but unfortunately, I am neither attending this trip nor profiting from it. All details come from Gerry Dawes and neither I nor this website have had anything to do with the planning or assurances of those plans and details. The posting of this trip is strictly for the purpose of information about its existence in the event readers may be interested in such a trip.

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