Heard of Asturias? The forgotten Spanish region of Asturias is an absolute stunner and a culinary paradise. We came primarily to get a glimpse of the magnificent Picos de Europa, but turns out it’s so much more than that.
10. Check the Covadonga Webcam. Before going up to the lakes of Covadonga, check the webcam. It may be clear down below, but heavy fog on top. Ideally stay in or near Cangas de Onis for at least 3 days and go up on a sunny day. Webcam: http://webcamsdeasturias.com/webcam.php?id=159
9. Sunday is Fungus Day at Cangas de Onís. Its not a big market, but a very important one, in front of the main church in Cangas de Onís. This is where you can taste the funky local Cabrales cheese among many other products. And if you speak Spanish, maybe make a friend and get invited to see a cave where Cabrales is aged.
8. Read up and look for “Indianos”. Back in the day Spaniards who lived close to the sea in the north, sailed to South America to seek better fortune. At the turn of the 20th century, feeling homesick, many of those who accumulated wealth came back. And to show their legacy, they built these lavish colorful homes (“Indianos”). They would even typically have palm trees as a symbol of their previous tropical homes. You can visit the chief Indiano at Colombres (Indiano Archive Foundation) and see them in Ribadesella and pretty much all over.
7. Visit a Sidreria or 5. This is perhaps obvious to some, but its importance needs to be stressed. We travel for “Different”. And your visit will be incomplete if you dont spend the proper time practically bathing in cider in a cider house. Read about the proper way to drink it, its not just about the pouring. Visit Plaza De Requejo in Mieres. Check out Sidrería Carroceu in Ribadesella (try shrimp in garlic, and mussels topped with tomato sauce, a local specialty)
6. Try a Cachopo. This item can be criminally overlooked when researching this region. The Asturias answer to, ok, there’s nothing quite like this out there. Two mammoth fried veal fillets sandwiching ham, cheese, and anything else they opt to stuff in there. And one the best places to try it is Chigre El Antoju Sidrería in Llanes
5. Take your time at Sanctuary of Covadonga. Dont confuse this for just a church hence a quick attraction. You may need to walk a little from your parking spot. You’ll want to take pictures of it every time you look from every angle. You must visit the Holy Cave across where you may get the best shot of the church. And most importantly, dont even think about missing this.
4. Follow the Oviedo Escultura trail. Oviedo and its unique statues is a free open air museum. Well at least on a Sunday when you can park for free. You’ll see a statue with a story in every park, square, or in front of important monuments including one of Woody Allen (Much of Vicky Cristina Barcelona was filmed in Oviedo). But the most famous of the bunch is a little girl wearing a red dress sitting on a bench in the park. Read about Mafalda to see why she’s larger than life
3. Have a leisurely lunch at El Molín de Mingo. In Asturias, you have these 7 feet chickens roaming around answering to the name Pitu. Pitu de Caleya is one of the many delicious local specialties and this is where you try it. Packed places this hidden are packed for a reason. Always busy therefore reservations are essential, and sometimes only open on weekends. A little easier to get to via Arriondas as opposed to Cangas de Onis
2. Mix it up at Casa Marcial and Guernica. The location and setting of Marcial is worth the schlep alone to this two Michelin in the mountains. The fixed menu options will allow you to mix crafty ingredient driven starters (like the best mussel you’ll ever have) with elevated local specialties like Fabada and Pitu de Caleya. For seafood head to Luanco for the great rice dishes of Guernica
1. Read Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding. A full chapter on Asturias, Basque and other regions you may come across.