Culinary Tourism in Spain’s Asturias Region

The region of Asturias is a magnificent natural sea, mountain and country paradise with a very diverse environment. Its cuisine is well-known in Spain and Latin America.  Protected on one side by the Bay of Biscay and on the other by the Picos de Europa mountain range, it has many deep-routed traditions and rituals. Asturias cooks up an array of delicious food primarily based on cider, fabada (bean stew) and cheese, together with shellfish and fish.  If the cuisine had to be described in few words, it could be defined as slow cooking over low heat. The kitchens use old-style stoves, and chefs do not use many spices or other condiments in their dishes – purposefully done to protect each dish’s natural taste. Whether it is from the sea, the rivers, the market gardens, or the mountains – all recipes from Spain’s Asturia’s region are delectable. Truly a perfect culinary experience for your next VIP group!

One of the most famous recipes that can be savored is fabada.  Fabada is adored throughout Spain, and (because it is so delicious) it should be adored throughout the world!  It is an Asturian preparation of fabas (dried fava beans) of the granja (farm) variety and a whole slew of pork products.  This dish is internationally renowned and there is no set recipe.  It can vary according to the chef’s liking. Both freshwater and seawater fish and shellfish are also used in local recipes. Anglerfish, which is known as “pixín” in Asturias, hake, conger eel, bonito, sea base, and scorpion fish are all the stars of regional cuisine. “Oricio” (sea urchin) has become a real institution, especially in the winter months at Gijón, where they are eaten raw oe cooked in different ways. River fish such as salmon, trout, sea-trout and lamprey complete the range of aquatic species which can be tried while visiting the region as well.  Local meat dishes are also unique and well celebrated. The “vacuno mayor” (meat from large bovine animals, such as ox, bull, etc.) is a delightful dish, and exported to nearly all other Spanish regions.  The partridge, wild boar, roe deer and venison are always prepared with aromatic herbs and “carne gobernada” (beef with bacon, eggs, peppers and olives) and tongue “cachopo” are also much appreciated by the locals.

Cheese is another extremely important component of Asturian cuisine. And why not?! In fact, every valley usually makes its own cheese. And as a result, Asturias offers one of the widest ranges of cheese in Europe. They can be made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk or even a trio of different types of milk.  The most famous of all is the celebrated Cabrales, a type of blue cheese from various origins.  And let’s not forget about Austurian cider. This is the local drink (or “sidra”) which is enjoyed socially and used in the preparation of many dishes.  It can be ordered in the cider bars called “sidrerías”, in local restaurants, and (at times) in the “llagares” themselves (where it is pressed). The cider is poured from a height (a practice known as “escanciar”) into a wide-mouthed glass only just covering the “culín” or bottom and symbolizes friendship and festivity.  Visit the Casa Fermín, located in Oviedo, which was awarded two suns by the CAMPSA Guide. Other restaurants worth visiting are the Restaurante del Arco in Oviedo, the Corral del Indiano and Casa Marcial in Arriondas all of which have been awarded one sun by the CAMPSA Guide as well. Asturias also boasts a wide variety of “sweets” which are found in specialty shops throughout the region.  What a fun way to dine around!  The most traditional Asturian dessert is rice pudding, don’t forget to try the almond tart, “brazo de gitano”(a type of Swiss roll), “milhojas de crema” (custard millefeuille), “pastel carbayón” (almond pastry), or the “tocinillo de cielo” (pudding made with egg yolks and syrup).  Just to name a few!

In conclusion, you can see that the region of Asturias has so much flavor and fun to offer.  Especially if you’d like to wow your corporate clients!  There are various cooking and walking tours in Asturias to experience.  For example, Spanish Steps offers its clients some unique tours that are sure to delight.  For example, spend five days in Fuentes de Lucia, learning hands-on Asturias cuisine. A local chef will share with you his family recipes, tricks of the trade and how to prepare his homeland’s food.  Guests will visit the local market in Oviedo and enjoy a ‘jamon serrano’ tasting.  Each day, your group can also take to the trails throughout the mountain valley – accompanied by friendly and knowledgeable guides.  Days will be filled with hiking, historical insights, traditional experiences and wonderful food. Upon your return, participate in a cooking class followed by a sumptuous dinner served with local wines.

Be sure to contact the Tourist Office of Spain for a full list of culinary tours throughout the Asturias region.  You won’t be disappointed!  Disfrutar de las comidas!

Samantha Meloni


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