Monday, December 31, 2012

Gerry Dawes's Visual Encyclopedia of Spanish Gastronomy & Wine

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Gerry Dawes's Visual Encyclopedia of Spanish Gastronomy & Wine 
(A work in progress with frequent new additions and updates.)  

(IMPORTANT NOTE:  Because the only way I have found on Blogger to alphabetize these entries is to skewer the dates, the best way to find something is by going to the alphabetized "Labels" sidebar.)

The above blog photograph is of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza coming upon a typical Manchegan repast of bread, vino, Manchego cheese, jamón (ham) and, probably berenjenas en escabeche (pickled aubergines) is of a restaurant mural in Tembleque (Toledo province), Castilla-La Mancha.
Blog entries feature descriptions and photographs of Spanish dishes, products (cheeses, olive oil, etc.) drawn from personal experiences acquired during 40 years of intensive travel in Spain. All entries and photographs* (except when noted otherwise) are mine and ©2010 by Gerry Dawes.  Contact for publication rights.   

*Photographs taken with Canon cameras and an assortment of specialized lenses (see banner advertisements for more information).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel: Spanish Mushroooms, Setas, Hongos, etc. and Mushroom Dishes (With More to Come)

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Setas, sauteed mushrooms in cazuela (clay dish), served with 
Valdespino Tio Dego Amontillado Sherry, Jerez de la Frontera. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2006 /

Side show on mushrooms from around Spain.
(Double click on lower right corner to go to Picasa web album, 
then at upper left click on slide show for an enlarged version.)
Any comments or corrections will be very much appreciated.

Monday, July 26, 2010


 (Click on links below to see each entry.)

Alcachofas (Artichokes)

Ajos Morados (purple garlic)

Arroces (or Arroses, in Catalan/Valenciano):  Rice dishes, including paellas

     Arroz a bandaArroz caldoso; Arroz con leche

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.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Alcachofas (Artichokes)

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

Alcachofas con jamón Ibérico.

Ajos Morados (purple garlic)

Ajos Morados

Purple garlic, 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.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Arroces (or Arroses in Catalan/Valenciano): Rice dishes, including paellas

Click Here for my article Rice to Riches, Food Arts 
(The Surprising Cuisines of Valencia & Alicante)

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 bando 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.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Borrajas (borrage)

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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.

Capparón, a two-colored bean that is a specialty of La Rioja

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Alubias caparrones, a two-colored bean that is a specialty of La Rioja.  These were purchased in El Colmado de Ezcaray in southern Rioja.  This dish of beans, prepared in New York, was soaked overnight, then cooked with a ham bone and chunks of chorizo, sauteed onion and garlic and Spanish paprika de La Vera. 

This photograph is from an outdoor weekly market in Roa de Duero (Burgos).
Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2011. Contact:

Capparones (and other bean dishes such as pochas) are traditionally served with guindillas, elongated piquant green peppers similar in taste to Greek pepperoncini. 


(Slide show on alubias caparrones. Double click for an enlarged view.)

Carajillos, a naughty name for café espresso with a shot of rum or Spanish brandy, and txutxos (chuchos), custard-filled pastry.

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Carajillos, a naughty name (lit., a little prick) for café espresso with a shot of rum or Spanish brandy.  
With txutxos (chuchos), custard-filled pastry, Bar Pinotxo, La Boquería, Barcelona.
Photograph by GerryDawes©2011.

Cardos (Cardoons)

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

Cardos, cardoons with pomegranate seeds.

Churros, Chocolate con churros (Spanish fried dough)

Chocolate con churros at the Chocolatería San Ginés, a Madrid institution. This sinfully delicious combination is said to be a hangover cure, probably because so many people at Spanish fiestas often have this before going home after a night of revelry.

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.

Esparragos Blancos de Navarra (white asaparagus from Navarra)

Fresh esparragos blancos de Navarra (white asaparagus from Navarra). 

The tinned or glassed white asparagus are Denominación de Origen 

protected  Esparagos Blancos de Navarra, just like wines.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Menestra (a panache of fresh vegetables)

Menestra, a panache of fresh vegetables, 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.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Paella (see Arroces or Arroses [Catalan/Valenciano])

Paella (see Arroces or Arroses [Catalan/Valenciano])

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.

A paella de mariscos (shellfish paella) at L'Establiment 
at El Palmar on the Albufera lagoon near Valencía.

Pan (Bread), Pa en Catalan, Pa de Figueres (Girona) - Salvador Dalì

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Salvador Dalì claimed, "Bread has been one of the oldest subjects of fetishism and obsessions in my work, the number one, the one to which I have been most faithful." 

The distinctive shape of the local pa de crostons
or triangular-shaped bread of Figueres, Salvador Dalì's hometown.

Once ubiquitous in the Empordà region of Catalunya, pa de crostons was Dalì's inspiration for the decorative biege concrete "breads" that decorate the façade of the museum the Salvador Dalì Museum in Figueres (Girona), Catalunya. 

Short Slide Show of pa de crostons and the façade of the Salvador Dalì Museum in Figueres.
(Double click on image for enlargement).

Pa de crostons in a shop near the Salvador Dalì Museum in Figueres. As a child, Dalì would hollow out the bottom of one of these pas de crostons and wear it as a hat, which some have likened to a bullfighter's montera (which has only two lobe-like projections). As an adult, Dalì sometimes appeared with a large flat, sombrero-like circular bread (not pa de crostons) on his head and the pan-on-the-head theme appears in numerous Dalì paintings.

One of his famous paintings, the Zurbaràn-like Basket of Bread, is of the rather ordinary pan (bread) of the post-Spanish Civil War period, not pa de crostons, but his museum (and his final resting place--his tomb is in the museum) is studded with hundreds of representations of these three-cornered breads that meant so much to Dalì in his youth (Dalì's equivalent of Orson Welles-Citizen Kane's "Rosebud"?)

Also see Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

Pastelería (pastries from Spain)

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Flores fritas (fried "flowers), also called flor de azúcar (sugared flowers) and hojuelas

Flores fritas (fried "flowers), also called flor de azúcar (sugared flower) and hojuelas, they are made with flour, egg, sugar, cinnamon and sometimes anís. A special iron or metal tool with this what his been called "baroque design" attached to a long handle is dipped into the egg-flour batter then fried in hot oil. This is a typical pastry of Castilla-La Mancha, at a panaderia-pasteleria (bread and pastry bakery) in Chinchón.  I have a feeling that the design predates the Baroque period.  Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact

Flores fritas Photograph by Gerry Dawes©2010. Contact

Many thanks to Janet Mendel and Clara Llamas for information provided on this pastry.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Patatas Bravas (Fried potatoes with a picante sauce, now often served with alioli or, when made with egg, garlic mayonnaise.)

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Patatas bravas with bravas sauce (red) and all-i-oli in Barcelona at the wildly successful Inopia tapas bar, which was owned by Albert Adrià, Ferran Adrià's brother, until earlier this year.

This dish did not originate on Catalunya's Costa Brava, as has been reported in recent years.  Patatas bravas is purported to have orginated in Madrid at the original of what is now a chain of Patatas Bravas tapas bars, which claim a patent on the relatively tame red picante sauce.  Salsa brava (or "wild" sauce), is one of a very few hot sauces embraced by Spaniards. For those used to the picante sauces from Mexico, bravas sauce is usually quite tame.

The other most notable picante sauce is mojo picón,  a Canary Islands dipping sauce, which is also served with potatoes (papas arrugadas, potatoes cooked in sea or salt water until they are "wrinkled.")

Papas arrugadas ("wrinkled potatoes") with mojo verde dipping sauce, 

a Canary Islands classic, as served a The Bazaar by José Andrés.

Aioli (In Catalan, all-i-oli, or oil and garlic), is traditionally made without egg and can often be what I called "industrial strength," no for the faint of heart. I usually prefer to add an egg, some lemon juice, a dash of tabasco and a little Dijon mustard to my alioli, which makes it much more user-friendly.

In Catalan cuisine, it is traditionally served with grilled lamb or rabbit (one of my favorites), escalivda (grilled vegetables), arròs negre (rice blackened with squid ink), fideua negra (black pasta) or paella.

Creative chefs now often flavor aiolis with saffron, Spanish pimentón (paprika), orange, mustard and other ingredients.

on the Iberian Peninsula, all-i-oli originated in Catalunya, I usually use an arbequina-based oil from Catalunya for as authentic a taste as possible, like I try to use an Andalucian oil for gazpacho and other dishes from the south.   Mayonnaise was brought to France by a French officer's chef from the island of Mahón (in Spanish, the sauce is known as mayonesa or mahonesa).  Mayonesa was possibly an offshoot of all-i-oli.

Pimientos de piquillo (red triangular shaped piquillo peppers); piquillos rellenos de mariscos (stuffed with shellfish)

Pimientos de piquillo, small "pico," or beak-shaped [literally like a bird pecker beak], red triangular shaped piquillo peppers. 

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

Pimientos de piquillo stuffed with bonito tuna.

Slide show of pimientos de piquillo rellenos 
at Conservas Camporel in Cintruenigo, Navarra. 
(Double click on image to see enlarged version.)

Click Here to Learn More About Gerry Dawes

Pimientos de cristal, red peppers

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). 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quesos (Cheeses): Spanish Artisan Cheeses & Complementing Spanish Wines

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Text & Photographs by Gerry Dawes ©2008

It’s a curious fact that few great artisanal cheeses are made in the fine wine regions of Spain and, conversely, few great cheese areas also produce great wines. 

With that in mind, I have experimented over the years with other wine factors--such as age, acidity, alcohol levels, dryness, sweetness—to recommend wines to go with various Spanish cheeses. 

The prevailing idea in the past was that the best red wines should be paired with great cheeses; that turns out to be the last thing one should do with great red wines, since the complexity for which they are usually appreciated loses out to the often forceful and equally complex flavors of many great cheeses. 

Many white wines, in fact, are better choices: the acidity, fruit and freshness, all palate-refreshing qualities, of white wines let them pair perfectly with more assertively flavored Spanish cheeses. 

Goats’ and sheeps’ milk cheeses, especially, benefit from the lively qualities of white wines. 

But rosados, of which Spain has some particularly good examples (especially from Navarra, La Rioja and Cigales) and young, fresh, red wines without predominant oak will also refresh the palate between bites of cheese.  

Pochas (white beans)

Pochas are white beans with a cranberry bean like shape, consistency and flavor. The beans are best fresh-picked in autumn, but they are also canned in glass jars or dried and served in the other seasons.  Pochas come in two types, arriñonada (kidney bean-shaped) or boio, which has the shape of a cranberry bean and is the superior variety. 

In this example below, from Casa Cámara a wonderful waterside restaurant in the storybook, one-street village of Pasaia Donibane (Pasajes de San Juan) near San Sebastián--in this case, cooked with clams. They are also often cooked with chorizo and morcilla and sometimes with códorniz (quail), especially in Navarra, with quail.

Pochas are usually served accompanied by 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 is a legendary dish among the habitués of the Fiestas de San Fermín (held each year from July 6-14). The irony is that the beans are seldom served fresh during los sanfermines (fresh pochas usually have a few green-tinged beans in each batch early in the season).

Pochas con almejas, guindillas, beans of the size and texture of cranberry beans, with clams and served with thin green Basque peppers on the side and Las Campanas rosado, at Casa Cámara, a wonderful waterside restaurant in the storybook, one-street village of Pasaia Donibane (Pasajes de San Juan) near San Sebastián. Photo by Gerry Dawes©2009.

Pulpo a la Gallega (Gal: Polbo a la Galega), Octopus Galician Style is Close to Being the National Dish of Galicia, is Enjoyed All Over Spain and is a Great Match for Ribeiro Wines

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Polbo (pulpo, or octopus) is so highly estemed in Galicia that monuments such as this public water source 
in the village at Vilanova de Arosa (Pontevedra) is dedicated to Galician women cooking octopus. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /

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Perhaps with the exception of lacón con grelos (a dish made with grelos, turnip or parsnip greens, pork shoulder, chorizo, potatoes and Spanish pimentón) and caldo gallego (a stew of pork, beef and or chicken with chorizo and/or bacon; turnip greens, collard greens or green cabbage; white beans and potatoes), pulpo a la gallega (polbo a la galega in Galcian) is the most ubiquitous dish in Galicia.  Although it is a dish now served in many parts of Spain, the Gallegos never seem to get enough of it.

Pulpo that has been steamed, at a restaurant in Ribadavia in the Ribeiro wine district. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /

Octopus is usually frozen to tenderize it--sometimes it is pounded--then boiled until tender in a stock pot or, in Galician fiestas, in large metal kettles. The steamed octopus is then cut with kitchen shears with bit-sized pieces, placed on a plate (best on the now forbidden [in restaurants, at least] round wooden plates, as served at fiestas; the wooden plates absorb some of the water, instead of allowing it to pool up below the octopus as on a normal plate. After the octopus is plated, it is dressed with Spanish extra virgin olive oil, Spanish pimentón (paprika) and sea salt, speared with toothpicks and served with good Galician bread. Sometimes steamed potatoes, another adored Galician staple are served with the pulpo.

Steamed polbo a la galega (pulpo a la gallega; octopus Gallician style) dressed with olive oil, Spanish pimentón (paprika) and sea salt, though no prohibited by the health authorities, best served on a wooden plate, which absorbs excess water.  At Bar Pintos, Cambados (Pontevedra), Galicia. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /

It is claimed that the best octopus cooks are women from the inland towns of Carballiño and Ribadavia in the province of Ourense.  Since the best polbo a la galega supposedly comes from frozen octopus, this is not as unreasonable as it sounds, even though these towns are at least an hour from the nearest seacoast.  One Sunday morning in the center of Ribadavia, which has an exceptional old Jewish quarter (14th-16th centuries), I encountered a woman in front of a bar preparing polbo a la galega (see photos in slide show).

Galician woman outside a restaurant in Ribadavia (Ourense), Galicia, preparing steamed polbo a la galega (pulpo a la gallega; octopus Galician style) dressed with olive oil, Spanish pimentón (paprika) and sea salt. 
Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /

Another day, I was invited by my friend Manuel Formigo de la Fuente, who makes an exceptional Ribeiro wine in nearby Beade, to a special polbo a la galega day at a restaurant in Ribadavia.  The was a wait to get into the restaurant even though this dish can be found in almost any tapas bar or traditional restaurant in Galicia on any given day. 

Photo by Gerry Dawes©2011 /

Slide show, Octopus.  
(Double click on images to enlarge.)

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. 

Trailer for a proposed reality television series  
on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

Rusos de Álfaro (unique, ethereal pastry from Álfaro, southeastern Rioja)

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 of Confitería Marcos 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 
Rusos de Álfaro.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Salmorejo: A Modern Version of Cordoban Classic Tomato-based Salmorejo at the Legendary Taberna Juan Peña

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At the legendary Taberna Juan Peña in Córdoba, the classic tomato-based salmorejo with Cordoban extra virgen olive oil, topped with hard-cooked egg and small bits of Spanish jamón Ibérico de bellota (from the D.O. Pedroches, Córdoba province), ham from free-range pata negra (black hoof breed) pigs fattened on acorns.  Juan's wife, Mari Carmen, makes theses salmorejos.  It was served with a sherry-like fino from Montilla-Moriles, a D.O. also from Córdoba province.  Berenjenas fritas, olive oil fried eggplant strips are often served with salmorejo as a sauce into which the eggplant strips are dipped.  Like the most exquisite French fries with the most exquisite ketchup you have ever eaten.  

At Taberna Juan Peña in Córdoba, two exceptionally good salmorejos, one tomato-based, the other white-and-green asparagus-based, both topped with hard-cooked egg and small strips of Spanish jamón Ibérico de bellota (from the D.O. Pedroches, Córdoba province), ham from free-range pata negra (black hoof breed) pigs fattened on acorns. 
Photos by Gerry Dawes©2009. Contact:
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