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Traditional sausages in the local market.
A stroll through the most appetising city in Spain this year

A stroll through the most appetising city in Spain this year

Oviedo holds the title of Spanish Capital of Gastronomy 2024, making this the perfect time for a visit to the capital of Asturias. This route takes in some of the city's best cuisine

Kino Verdú

Thursday, 28 March 2024, 09:58

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We have to start somewhere, so we will head towards El Fontán market, the centre of Oviedo's fresh produce: fruit, fish, vegetables, meat, pickles, bread, cold meats, cheeses, and pulses, among others. The market, with up to 30 stalls, is set up on Plaza 19 de Octubre. Its structure was designed by architect Javier Aguirre in 1882 and construction was completed three years later. It acts as the heart of Oviedo's gastronomy scene, especially on a Saturday morning, when, after filling your shopping bags to the brim, you crave an appetiser in one of the busy bars or terraces nearby; try a few velvet crabs marinated in cider (nécoras regadas en sidra), for example. Of course, if you wish to try more of this fermented apple drink made that is so typical of Asturias, your destination is Calle Gascona, commonly known as El Bulevar de la Sidra (Cider Boulevard).

Pouring cider the traditional way in Asturias.
Pouring cider the traditional way in Asturias. SUR

Around 12 cider bars (La Pumarada, Tierra Astur, El Ferroviario, La Cabana, Villaviciosa and El Pigüeña, among others) fill this bustling street, one of the region's busiest, a benchmark and pilgrimage site for lovers of the most international drink of Asturias. Cider's big day comes with the traditional 'Preba de la Sidra' ('Cider Tasting') in June, when a public vote elects the best-presented ciders by the 'llagareros' (cider makers).'

Small bites

But there is no need to wait for a special occasion; Oviedo is a place you must go and explore regardless.

The city has a huge tapas scene; it is a bustling area where the region's best products come together, which explains the infinite taverns, bars and 'chigres' - Asturian bars that primarily serve cider. However, there does exist an 'official' route along which you can delight in these appetising activities: La Ruta de los Vinos (Wine Route).

Characterised by a series of narrow streets which surround Calle Campoamor and Calle Manuel Pedregal (parallel to each other), the route finishes on Calle Uría, bubbling with wine bars, cider bars, restaurants, cocktail bars and pubs, where the partying continues into the night.

A tour through the 2024 Spanish Capital of Gastronomy cannot leave out its historical centre, a must-see that combines the cultural with the culinary. You can take a stroll and grab a bite to eat to the sound of the San Salvador cathedral bells at Plaza de Alfonso II el Casto, and then wander along Calle San Francisco, Plaza de Porlier, the University of Oviedo, Calle del Peso, Plaza de la Constitución (where the city hall is located) and the impressive Calle Cimadevilla, which used to be the commercial heart of the city and has now been converted into a stream of bars and restaurants.

Top: fabada Asturiana (bean stew), Middle: Desarme (chickpeas with cod and spinach, tripe and rice pudding); Bottom: Moscovitas (Asturian cookies, made with chocolate and almond).
Imagen principal - Top: fabada Asturiana (bean stew), Middle: Desarme (chickpeas with cod and spinach, tripe and rice pudding); Bottom: Moscovitas (Asturian cookies, made with chocolate and almond).
Imagen secundaria 1 - Top: fabada Asturiana (bean stew), Middle: Desarme (chickpeas with cod and spinach, tripe and rice pudding); Bottom: Moscovitas (Asturian cookies, made with chocolate and almond).
Imagen secundaria 2 - Top: fabada Asturiana (bean stew), Middle: Desarme (chickpeas with cod and spinach, tripe and rice pudding); Bottom: Moscovitas (Asturian cookies, made with chocolate and almond).

In recent years, Oviedo's gourmet district has grown in popularity, near Plaza América, Avenida de Galicia and Calle Valentín Masip; it is known as the cradle of the city's high class delicatessens and restaurants, where innovative and creative designs are combined with classic eateries that never go out of fashion and which offer the most traditional Asturian recipes.

The penultimate stop on this gastro-tour is Bulevar El Vasco, a complex measuring around 120,000 square metres which opened up in 2022, with the aim of becoming the driving force behind Oviedo's leisure scene. Gastronomy is one of its focal points. There are around seven hotels in this mini city, towering above the 2,000-square-metre cider bar Tierra Astur (you will come across several bars of this group throughout Oviedo, an example of the region's most traditional cuisine), or N'Astura, of a similar size, a project that was led by chef Nacho Manzano, who received a Michelin star for his restaurant NM; this indeed gives us an opportunity to sample some fine dining.

Big bites

Nacho Manzano is one of the most renowned chefs of Asturian cuisine and has revolutionised the region's gastronomy, first with his restaurant Casa Marcial in Arriondas, which has received two Michelin stars, as well as NM and Gloria, which are situated in Oviedo. The latter is his most casual offer: a wine bar which he runs with his sister Esther, who he is very close to.

As Manzano himself says, "Oviedo, as well as being the city I live in, was one of the first places where we decided that we wanted to have a catering business outside of Casa Marcial. And we were sure at the time that it would be a restaurant, because Oviedo is known for its stews and soups. And today we continue supporting the city's new gastronomic spaces... Oviedo has evolved a lot and has attracted many tourists in recent years. And the arrival of the AVE [high speed train] will reinforce this even more. For this reason and many others, it deserves to be the 2024 gastronomic capital."

Since last November, passengers have been able to travel from Madrid to Oviedo in just three hours, thanks to this new train service, which makes it easier (and faster) to enjoy the culinary treats of this Asturian city.

As well as NM, Gloria, and Casa Fermín, other restaurants include Ca'Suso, Cocina Cabal, Mestura, La Vieira and Casa Conrado & Suárez. The essence of Oviedo's gastronomy runs through these restaurants, from the most daring formulas to the most traditional dishes.

So, what do I eat?

To truly make the most of the 2024 Capital of Gastronomy involves an intensive tasting of the region's most iconic foods. Fabada (Asturian bean stew) is extremely popular; the main ingredient is the white bean, the region's most prized pulse, which is also essential in 'pote asturiano' (regional stew with beans, potatoes, greens and meat). You also have chorizo, blood sausage and bacon mixed in.

As for the cheeses (which no foodie should miss out on), four of them have a Protected Designation of Origin: Cabrales, Gamoneu, Afuega'l Pitu and Casín.

We recommend that you do not only try these, but also have a look at (and a bite of) the other 40 types of cheese that are made in the region's valleys and mountains.

Bite into some Chosco de Tineo (cured and smoked sausage) and some Ternera Asturiana (regional beef steak), which forms the base of 'cachopo', a dish very characteristic of the region, and which has the seal of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).

As for cider, the product of the total or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh apples or apple juice, it has been designated an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) since 2014, and is currently fighting to be included on Unesco's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Between glasses of cider, switch to wine with some DO Vino de Cangas. More things to taste include: Pitu Caleya (regional free-range chicken cooked with potatoes or rice); 'tortos' (a combination of corn flour, ground pork seasoned with paprika, and eggs); 'pastel de cabracho' (scorpion fish cake); 'pixín a la sidra' (anglerfish marinated in cider); stuffed onions; or, 'bollu preñau' (bread roll stuffed with chorizo).

And we cannot possibly finish this succulent tour without a delicious sweet treat. Oviedo is a confectionery capital. As well as the supremely popular Spanish rice pudding, you must try 'carbayones', a dessert made from puff pastry, almond cream and a yolk topping, created in 1924 by José de Blas in his patisserie Camilo de Blas, among the oldest in the region (Calle Jovellanos); 'moscovitas' from Confitería Rialto (Calle San Francisco); and, chocolates from Peñalba (Calle Milicias ).

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