Chef Carlos Rivero and his daughter Lisa. celebrate the 50th anniversary of marques de caseres and rioja Spains wine egions.

How to create a remarkable dining experience & Gazpacho recipe

Secret Spanish Recipes and Wines

Have you ever wished you knew the secret Spanish recipes of downtown Valparaiso’s top Chef, Carlos Rivero?  How do you make don Quijote’s remarkable paella, Gazpacho, or sangria?  What Spanish wine pairs well with fresh seafood? Well, foodies, this is the blog that reveals how to create a remarkable dining experience.

don quijote shares secrets to a great dining experience

Secret Spanish recipes and wines of Resturante don Quijote.

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that to be considered a great restaurant, an establishment must have more than just the best food, the finest wine selection, or remarkable desserts. It’s not enough to have a great atmosphere. No señor and señorita! To be the best restaurant requires creating a remarkable dining experience and nobody delivers a better experience than don Quijote Restaurant in Valparaiso.

What differentiates Chef Carlos and the Don Quijote experience?  Passion!  Passion for his Spanish culture, passion for his hometown in Valparaiso, passion for pleasing his customers, and passion for cooking!

Today you’ll learn the secret Spanish recipes of Chef Carlos.

Today you’ll learn the secret Spanish recipes of Chef Carlos.


Confessions of a Chef… with Carlos Rivero

So, what makes the don Quijote restaurant experience so remarkable.  Passion!  No other vernacular can better describe the experience of visiting Indiana’s authentic Spanish Restaurant.

Passion…No other word can better capture the essence of Spanish cuisine or the don Quijote experience. In Spain, every meal is an opportunity to get together with friends and family, and food is one of the foundations of Spanish culture. Almost all Spanish food is made for sharing… whether its tapas, a huge paella pan shared between friends, or a fine bottle of Spanish Wine. -Chef Carlos Rivero

Experience the Passion.

The don Quijote experience starts with passion.  Passion for Spanish culture, cuisine and wine. Perhaps the don Quijote’s experience is best exemplified by the passion for their customers.  When I asked Chef Carlos Rivero what he loved most about his job, he didn’t hesitate in saying it is engaging with his customers, whom he considers friends.

Executive Chef Elena Jambrina agreed.  But don’t confuse Elena’s infectious smile as someone that doesn’t expect perfection from her servers.  When it comes to creating a great customer experience, the don Q partner is all business.  Elena expects her staff to share her commitment to creating a memorable experience for every customer…one table at a time!

Chef’s Carlos and Elena discovered their passions while growing up in Spain. Carlos was brought up on a farm in Galicia, Spain.  His father was an honored Chef while his mother ran the family farm.  It was his parents that instilled the values of family and tradition.  His talent for cooking was refined as a chef in Madrid, Spain.

Elena has earned the reputation at one of the best dessert chefs around through her learning from her mother and grandmothers in Spain.  My favorite?  The Tarta de Cuajada. Remarkable!

The Tarta de Cuajada. Remarkable!


… Just check out Carlos’ secret Spanish recipe for Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a signature dish of Spain.  According to Chef Carlos, the secret to his Gazpacho is picking veggies straight from his organic garden- which is a pureed mixture of fresh tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, onions cucumbers, garlic and herbs.  Carlos recommends you use of select Spanish Olive Oil and smoked Spanish Paprika.

 … Just check out Carlos’ secret Spanish recipe for Gazpacho


Directions for homemade Gazpacho

Ingredients:  1 pound ripe skinless tomatoes, roughly chopped (about 4 cups) 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil,  1 medium cucumber skinless and seeded, 1 bell pepper,  ½ small onion, ½ teaspoon fresh parsley, 1/4  teaspoon dry oregano, 1/4 teaspoon of smoked sweet Spanish paprika, 3 to 5 cloves of fresh garlic and salt to taste.

Chef Carlos believes the key to remarkable Spanish cuisine relies on using the freshest ingredients.  Carlos sells Spanish wine, oils, vinegar, and a wonderful selection of Spanish imports at the Don Quijote Import store.

Step 1:Choose your veggies.
Step 2: Chop, pulse or blend (chef Carlos serves his blended )

Hand chop ingredients for an extra chunky soup, pulse in the food processor for less texture, or puree in the blender for something smoother. Using a combination of these methods can also be the key to a perfect bowl of gazpacho.

fresh produce

Step 3: Chill

Chill gazpacho before serving. A couple of hours in the fridge will allow the flavors to blend – don’t be tempted to serve right away….it makes a difference!

Step 4: Serve icy gazpacho with “tropezones” for a different texture, -small diced peppers, onions and homemade croutons on top.

Garden Fresh Gazpacho   Serves: 4

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high until desired consistency, taste for salt  and correct if necessary,

Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours. Serve chilled topped with the “tropezones”.  If you’ve got some day-old bread lying around, you can use it to thicken the soup.

Spanish Wines and pairing.

Carlos River in the famed don Quijote wine cellar.

The Don Quijote Restaurant- where the wine menu is diverse.

If you are looking for a good wine to go with fresh Gazpacho,  Chef Carlos recommends Marqués de Cáceres Rosé, served very cold!

Of course, when you think of Carlos Rivero and Don Quijote, you think of Spanish Wine. Spanish wine has unprecedented quality, diversity, and value.  Carlos recommends serving a rosé Marqués de Cáceres with Gazpacho.  Don Quijote is an importer of these fine wines and has them available at both his restaurant and can be purchased at the don Quijote Import store next to the restaurant.  To learn more about these wines, explore these links.

The Don Quijote Wine Cellar.

Wines of Spain

Marqués de Cáceres  

Marqués de Riscal   


Bodegas Martín Códax

don quijote Imports sells the finest selections of wine-

Just look at the don Quijote menu and you’ll see a remarkable offering of Iberian culture, including Spanish soups, tapas, seafood, paella,  port, sangria, wine, and desserts.  Carlos believes the secret to a remarkable Spanish dining experience is Passion!

Carlos and don quijote at Radius in Valpo

To experience the passion yourself, Carlos welcomes you to stop by his Spanish restaurant in Valparaiso.  You’ll discover why Don Quijote has become a destination for Chicago foodies and the talk of a region.  Bon appetit!


Dessert Chef, Elena Jambrina

Don Quijote Import Store featured favorites.

Best restaurants in Spain through the experiences of Carlos Rivero & Elena Jambrina

Cafés and Delis of Spain








Carlos and Elena welcome you to experience the passion of their extraordinary Spanish cuisine, desserts, and wine selection Don Quijote Restaurant in downtown Valparaiso, IN.  Established 34 years ago, Don Quijote is a destination for foodies throughout Chicago and Indiana.

So there you have it, folks! How to create a remarkable dining experience.

The Don Quijote recipe for homemade Gazpacho.  To learn more Spanish recipes & wine of Resturante don Quijote, look for future recipes at   Experience the Passion!

More reading:

Blog writen and produced by Jim Jano Janesheski

By Jim Jano Janesheski