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Essential Culinary Highlights in Gijón

Some months ago we wrote about five must-visit restaurants in Gijón: Los Pomares, where the fabada is a winner; El Quinto, a wine tavern with globe-trotting tapas; Casa Trabanco, a cider mill with guided visits laid on and dishes based on ingredients from their own market garden; El Candil, which boasts the best fish in town, and La Bolera, a grillroom acclaimed throughout Spain.

Should the list not make the grade – it does, I can assure you – Gijón also hosts several gastro-events which provide an excellent pretext to visit.

Flavours of Arcu Atlánticu

Billed as a culture festival featuring a blend of literature, performing arts, fine arts, music and cuisine from the Atlantic regions of Spain, France, Portugal, Ireland and the United Kingdom, the festival also features star chefs in action. Graced with awards by the city of Gijón, they cook on an enormous stage in the Plaza Mayor before more than 1,000 people, flanked by giant screens, as if a rock concert were being staged. This year, it will be held on 1 August. The event has already hosted such celebrities as Elena Arzak, Eneko Atxa, Andoni Luis Aduriz and Dieter Koschina, the chef at the Vila Joya restaurant, until recently the only Portuguese eatery with two Michelin stars.

Natural Cider Festival

In the week from 22 to 28 August, Gijón tastes only of cider. Around thirty cider mills set up their cider-serving stalls in two urban settings – the Plaza Mayor and the marina (alongside a sculpture known as “The Cider Tree”, made up of bottles from 80 Asturian cider mills). For a token fee, visitors get a commemorative glass they can fill up free-of-charge at any of the stands throughout the day at the so-called Mercadín de la sidra y la manzana (cider and apple market). There are various activities during the week. The bus de la sidra or “cider bus”, which visitors can take to the local cider mills, cursos de escanciado (courses in cider-pouring) and cancios de chigre (cider tavern songs) when hundreds of people gather in the Plaza Mayor to sing the most popular songs of Asturias, while on Poniente Beach there will be an attempt to break the Guinness simultaneous cider-pouring record. Set in 2014, it brought together 8,448 cider pourers.

Gijón de sidra

The Gijón de Sidra festival is held for eleven days each October (this year, from 6 to 16 October), during which cider mills from all over Asturias are twinned with emblematic cider taverns in the city. Each tavern then offers a bottle of cider from the mill they represent, in addition to a homemade portion of food served in a cazuelina, all at a moderate price, accompanied by the singing ofcancios de chigre(cider tavern songs).

Gastronomic Workshops

You can always join some gastronomic workshop around the time of the traditional fiestas. The celebrations of Antroxu (Carnival), with pote (hotpot), picadillo (mince) and frixuelos (flour fritters); those of Holy Week, the Asturian de Pinchos contest (in February), the pinchos (meat on the skewer) contest at the Gijón Sound Festival (last held from 15 to 17 April), and the Pinchos de Gijón championship (in November).

The Cider Route

A good way of learning everything you need to know about cider, the Asturian beverage par excellence, is by indulging in it. Depending on the ticket you purchase, you can learn the secrets of cider making, visit outlets where it is sold, take part in tasting sessions or eat candies made with apple. (There are four types of ticket, which are sold at the Gijón Tourist Offices or online). Available throughout the year.

Gijón Gourmet

Epicureans have the chance to lunch or dine at seven of the best restaurants in Gijón (Casa Gerardo, Agua, Bellavista, El Candil, La Salgar, Casa Víctor, Ciudadela) at an attractive price – 50 euros in the case of Michelin-starred eateries and 45 euros in the others. The menu comprises two starters, two main dishes, dessert and wine. When booking, all you need to point out is that you want a Gijón Gourmet Menu (only tables of up to 8 diners are eligible for the offer).

Gijón Goloso

Gijón Goloso works in a similar way. Considering it is one of Spain’s cities with the most confectionery shops, sixteen of them were selected to make a special sweet which visitors can taste after buying a ticket online or at the Infogijón offices. Five tastings costs 7 euros, while 10 tastings costs 13 euros. The offer lasts all year long, so you have ample time to prepare your trip, as sweet-toothed tourists will never be short of their candies.

Text and photos by Ferran Imedio of Gastronomistas.com