Oviedo in Four Restaurants Aside From Fabada
Food is always good in Asturias, but you need to know which restaurants to choose. It’s best to avoid expensive ones and go for those with hearty fare. Better still, those offering something different, entertaining, mouth-watering, with more gastronomic intent… In short, venues resembling the ones we visited in Oviedo. Oh, and don’t look for fabada here, because you can find it everywhere. Here, we’re after something else.
Located on Calle Jovellanos, at one end of Calle Gascona, known as the “cider boulevard” for the numerous cider halls lining the street. 180° C is a no-frills gastrobar headed by chef Edgar de Miguel,who learned the trade from Martín Berasategui, Carme Ruscalleda and Pedro Subijana, among others. The restaurant has a bar counter with dishes of shared tapas for an average of 12 euros, and a dining room serving traditional, local cuisine based on modern techniques and humble produce, for around 30 euros. There is also the odd international dish, like the amusing, in no way sour red pomfret ceviche(lemon-and-garlic marinade) with passion fruit and corn cream, round bites like the brioche de bocartes with avocado pear and tomato, and such noble dishes as tender codfish candied over a low fire with a salad of broad beans, dried tomato and homemade kefir. They offer three working-day lunch menus for 12.50, 16.50 and 19 euros.
Two hurdles need to be overcome in order to enjoy your meal to the full here. One is physical, as the restaurant lies 3.5 kilometres from the centre of Oviedo, which translates to a half-an-hour’s walk or a taxi ride. The other is psychological, as the restaurant is wont to arrange banquets and, for some unknown reason, for many this generates misgivings. Well, no – De Labra is well worth the visit because their cuisine is sensational and their prices amazing compared to any big city. The best example is their in-season menu, featuring three aperitifs and four dishes – this costs 25 euros without drinks, and 33 with pairings. They are equally adept at crafting traditional dishes with modern methods and presentations as producing Japanese cuisine, as they have a teppanyaki griddle. It was the first restaurant in north-east Spain to serve Japanese cuisine and have been doing so for 12 years now. Average price – 35 euros. They have four menus – an executive lunch menu on working days for 17.95 euros, an in-season menu (three aperitifs and four dishes for 25 euros, or 33 euros if you include four wines), a tasting menu (six dishes for 42 euros; 55 euros including six wines), and Japanese (7 dishes for 45 euros, excluding drinks).
Naguar means “to make your mouth water” in Bable (Asturian). The name couldn’t be more appropriate for a restaurant serving modern Asturian cuisine. “Flavour and roots”, proclaims their chef, Pedro Martino, by way of a motto describing his work over the fire. If his dishes stand out for anything it is their intensity, potency, strength, simple elegance and complete lack of aggressiveness. Try the spicy tripe and bone marrow gravy, the creamy clam and jig-caught squid rice and/or the llámpares (limpets) in their juice and your mouth will water until you say – enough! Martino won the 2013 Spanish Pinchoscompetition with a chickpea stew coulant which is eaten in one go. He was also awarded a Michelin star from 2003 to 2009 for L’Alezna, in Oviedo, so he’s guaranteed to make you “naguar”. Average price – 40 euros (there is a tasting menu for 35 euros and another for 55, both excluding drinks).
There is always a moment for indulging in some gastronomic tribute on any trip. The Restaurante Mestura, housed in the Gran Hotel España, is ideal for this (and it’s not very pricey either). Noteworthy for its setting, their stately service and the chef, Javier Loya’s elegant culinary offerings (he earned a Michelin star for the Real Balneario de Salinas). This is Asturian cooking with a refined flourish, with just the right (masterly) technique in the service of upscale products. Peerless dishes like the charcoaled monkfish with lemon thyme and Jerusalem artichoke, and squid tartare with rhubarb salad, snow peas and tarragon broth. Average price – 35 to 45 euros. There is an executive lunchtime menu from Tuesday to Friday for 21.80 euros, the Foment Asturian cuisine menu (aperitif, two starters, main course and dessert, without drinks) for 39, and a tasting menu for 60 euros sans drinks.
Book your Vueling to Oviedo – you will delight in these culinary gems.
Text and photos: Ferran Imedio of Gastronomistas.com
A Thousand and One Asturias
The allure of Asturias ranges from high mountains to beaches on the best preserved coastline in all Spain, and cutting-edge artwork alongside traditional craft and Palaeolithic art listed as World Heritage. All crammed into a territory accounting for just 2% of Spain’s land area. But, we have to give you some specific pointers, so here goes…
For those planning for family holidays, make sure you head for the Dinosaur Coast, especially now that they are in limelight on the silver screen. In Asturias you can see and touch actual footprints of fossilised dinosaurs in the rock at La Griega beach, under the Tereñes cliffs, on a really incredible stretch of Asturian coastline by any account. To crown your dinosaur tour, you should visit the Jurassic Museum of Asturias, a building sited in a privileged spot featuring exhibits as meticulously presented as they are playful. The museum offers a host of activities and children’s workshops.
For couples looking to get away from it all, Asturias boasts places where time stands still, including Taramundi and Oscos-Eo, where traditional craftworkers are still highly active and you can even try your hand at some trade. Care to be a ferreiro (blacksmith) for a day? Here you will find villages that take you back to bygone eras, such as Os Teixois and Mazonovo, which boast hydraulic devices that convert water power into energy using a system of mills, forges and fulling mills. Moreover, you can’t fail to switch off in any of our six UNESCO-listed Biosphere Reserves, or on the tranquil beaches, with small, secluded coves far removed from overcrowding.
For die-hard urbanites seeking to articulate a city of 800,000 inhabitants through various towns, each with its own culture and outlook on life, situated less than a 20-minute drive from one another, you have cosmopolitan Gijón, monumental Oviedo, dynamic Avilés, mining Langreo and Mieres. This is the centre of Asturias which features a string of varied urban proposals set in a nature paradise, within minutes of listed biosphere reserves.
For the more adventurous, whether in groups, couples or families, Asturias offers a thousand and one options for active tourism, from canyoning down its rivers to paragliding, mountain biking, trekking, surfing, sailing, caving and gold-panning. All accompanied by the top professional guides to guarantee you get the most out of your experience.
For those hankering after authenticity, in summer Asturias bursts into hundreds of fiestas in praise of nature, local heritage and the joy of living of a people who on these occasions open up and become more gregarious than ever, inviting one to participate in ebullient festivities. Some festivals are devoted to local produce, such as the Natural Cider Festival in Navas; other events, to sport and nature, such as the International Descent of the River Sella, or the patron saint celebrations in the towns – San Agustín, in Avilés, Begoña in Gijón and San Mateo in Oviedo.
For treasure-hunters, Asturias boasts a peerless heritage, including Europe’s most homogeneous early-medieval architectural complex, embodied in its pre-Romanesque art, and cave paintings from the Upper Palaeolithic, both UNESCO-listed as World Heritage. But, treasure-hunters in the strict sense of the word should head to Navelgas (Tineo), where they can pan for (and find) gold nuggets in the river. In early August, the World Gold Panning Championship is due to be held here, attracting gold panners from all over the world.
For those looking for good food, Asturias is a veritable banquet, both in terms of quality and quantity. What’s more, you can delve into the secrets behind our local produce, such as the cheese maturation caves in the Picos de Europa, while admiring the incredibly sheer slopes dotted with vineyards that yield Cangas wine, and follow our cider-making process in traditional cider presses. In Asturias, you can enjoy our gastronomy with all five senses.
In addition, accommodation is in plentiful supply here, from hotels to rural tourism homes, campsites and apartments, while summer is not overbearing, with mild temperatures to ensure a salutary rest in the company of the inherently hospitable Asturian people. What more could you ask for?
How to go about discovering this all? Visit the turismoasturias website where all the resources Asturias has to offer are one click away. And, to get there, what better than a direct flight? Check out our flights here.
Asturias – Your Ski Destination This Season
Two ski stations – Fuentes de Invierno and Valgrande-Pajares – promise exciting days of skiing, as well as good food in a cosy, family environment. They are ideal for families, and for those who want to get away from it all, eager to seek out tranquil, more relaxing destinations.
Fuentes de Invierno – The Last Glacier in the Cordillera
Located in the municipality of Aller, Fuentes de Invierno boasts the most up-to-date ski lifts of all stations in the Cordillera Cantábrica. It is the ideal resort for enjoying the white sport in tip-top conditions. The rugged mountain terrain, combined with small clusters of forest and cabins dotted across the lower reaches of the resort, make this diminutive skiable tract (8.7 km) one of the most picturesque spots in the Principality of Asturias.
The beginner slopes, halfway up the resort (1,650 m), and the areas of La Llomba and Entresierras for the more seasoned enthusiasts, will appeal to all skiers, whatever their level. At the end of the day, make sure you stop off at one of the villages near the resort, such as Felechosa or El Pino, where a large number of restaurants offer the finest Asturian cuisine (pote, fabada, picadillo, carnes roxas), as well as succulent dishes typical of Aller. You are certain to find game on the menu – plentiful in this part of the Montaña Central – in addition to such confectionery delicacies as cuayá or panchón.
Valgrande-Pajares, the Oldest of the Cantabrian Resorts
Inaugurated in 1954, the Lena resort of Valgrande-Pajares has had skiers on its pistes for over 60 years. It is considered one of the benchmark ski stations in the Cordillera Cantábrica. With a skiable tract of 21.5 km, it is strategically located at just over half an hour from several major cities (Oviedo, Gijón and León), and is equipped with snowmaking systems to guarantee hassle-free skiing throughout the season. The ski lifts that connect the whole resort start out from the base station (1,350 m), where all the main facilities are located.
At its highest point (1,870 m), towered over by the Cuitu Nigru,Cellón and Tres Marías peaks, you can see out across the landscape of the Cordillera Cantábrica range, and even catch a glimpse of the sea on clear days. Depending on your level of expertise, from this point you can access the beginner’s area, traverse the main axis of the resort – the Valle del Sol – or get to the crown jewel – El Tubo – the only officially sanctioned competition piste in Asturias.
Whether you’re reluctant to try out skiing, or have skied your heart out and need to regain your strength, make sure you head for the Cuitu Negro café and indulge in a veritable culinary tribute. Their tripe and the meat stew are some of the hallmarks of the house.
The ski resort’s ease of access and its accommodation capacity of 150 at the foot of the ski slopes make Pajares the perfect destination for those eager to do sport as well as spend time visiting the main cities and towns in the vicinity to enjoy other activities – cultural tours, shopping, cinema, concerts, theatre…
In short, both Valgrande-Pajares and Fuentes de Invierno are ski resorts with charm. Their friendly service and family atmosphere are paramount, and you can enjoy skiing starting at €24 – peerless prices for a winter getaway.
Here, then, is our advice, if you are undecided about where to head this winter. Check out our flights here.
Text and images by Turismo Asturias