When Mrs Ziggy asked me what we are going to eat in Asturias three months before the trip, I just took a deep breath and smiled. Where do I start? We initially picked Asturias for its sheer beauty and the mesmerizing Picos de Europa. The plan was to hike and explore and hope for some good Asturian food. Food I didnt know much about a year ago. I didnt realize we picked one of the most desirable, and respected cuisines in Spain. José Andrés and many of the most famous Spanish chefs agree. Andrés after all took Anthony Bourdain there on the final episodes of Parts Unknown. And an entire chapter is devoted on Asturias in the excellent Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain’s Food Culture. The pressure was on, to produce some memorable meals.
El Molín de Mingo at the foot of the Picos, became the first booking priority. The seemingly middle of nowhere location, and the drive to it, meant you are not exactly going to a tourist trap. The slightly terrified family, especially the kids in the back know the drill. They’ve been there before. Stay quiet, something good is coming. On the drive back, we wondered if we ever took leftovers back on vacation.
If you think the portions are large in NYC, you should come to Asturias. The notion that the bigger the plate the worst the quality is challenged here big time. As usual our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we ordered too much. Leaving those plates there was criminal. After the meal I spent many moments thinking about that Pitu in the hotel fridge, while driving the Asturias countryside. Calculating and managing. Thats how my mind works
We started with a local specialty I didnt know much about, Tortos de maiz. A variety of fried tortilla-like flatbreads topped with either bacalao, chorizo, blood sausage, egg and ham, and cheese and caramelized onions. All very good. The mixed salad, we couldnt finish even though we ordered half, was especially fresh, and with roughly 17 different ingredients. Since we already indulged in the Fabada a few times, we tried the Pote Asturiano this time. Yet another delectable bean stew with collard greens and a variety of sausages on the side.
We didnt witness it but apparently there are these giant 7 feet chickens roaming around the area answering to the name Pitu. Pitu Caleya Con Arroz, a rice dish made with those chickens is a local specialty and locals swear by El Molin de Mingo’s version. Even local Michelin heavyweights try to replicate it. Its unlike any stew you will ever eat. Nice depth, and simply addictive. You can almost taste the history and love that goes into the dish. With that said, the Jabali Estofado, a slow roasted, super juicy wild boar with fried potato, was just as exceptional. We took both home.
Reservations are a must. English is limited so let your host make the reservations if you dont speak the language. They are only open for 4 days a week. Try to go for lunch since its tricky to get to. This is a major Go!