We took a quick weekend trip to the capital of Asturias this past Saturday and Sunday. While there were fewer astonished adjectives spewed on this adventure (meaning Oviedo is pretty neat, worth a 24 hour visit, but not monumental) we still enjoyed the change of scenery. A big moment of the trip included seeing pre-romanic structures that were built in the 800s. Andrew explained their significance to me by saying that they are some of Europe’s first attempt at blending art and architecture after the fall of the Roman empire. He was pleased with his concrete and concise explanation, so I’d thought I’d include it. I think they did alright, considering these two beauties are situated precariously on the side of a hill and that they are still standing, solidly I might add.
I’ll be real honest. The rest of the highlights of the trip for me are, well, superficial.
To elaborate, Saturday night, after we hiked the hill to see the famous pre-romanic sites, of Vicky, Cristina Barcelona fame, by the way, I was hungry. 7pm is not a good time to be hungry in Spain. We bought a baguette and some dried meat and ate a hotel picnic. Which leads me to the first highlight: Our hotel was way nice and quite affordable, coming in around 22 euros per person. Sunday morning was time for real food, which was also tasty and affordable at the hotel bar. Yes, you can eat breakfast at a bar. Get with it.
We partook of lunch in a siderería on the famous calle Gascona, where all the cider bars are located. Cider in Asturias is a big deal, so along with our menú, we tried out the local cider. The manner in which the servers pour the cider is interesting and an art in and of itself. The server comes to your table with the glasses and the bottle of cider. She proceeds to serve your beverage by raising the cider bottle as far above her head as she can reach and by holding the glass the cider will be poured into as low (toward the floor) as her other arm will reach. Without looking up at the cider bottle or down at the glass the cider will land in, she carefully turns the cider bottle up and a long, thin pour of cider leaves the mouth of the bottle and splatters into the rim of the glass. I’m not sure how she managed to get the amber colored liquid into our drinking glass each time, but she was a champ. The cider is poured this way so it is allowed to aerate for as long as possible.
Our food was a bit exaggerated, if only because of the amount of food we unintentionally ordered. We each started with a cheese plate- Andrew with a variety board and some homemade membrillo (quince paste) and me with fried goat cheese and grilled tomatoes. Asturias produces around 60 different types of cheeses, so we thought it’d be a good idea to try it out. I could have stopped eating after course number one, but they kept coming, three more to be exact. Next, Andrew ate a typical winter dish in all of the north of Spain, with an Asturian twist, Fabada asturiana: huge, creamy white beans served with rich, fatty chorizo, morcilla, and a slab of pig fat. You can guess its tastes pretty darn good. I had a mushroom and shrimp concoction that sounds strange at first, but is also palatable. We were then served the “main” course- beef tips for Andrew and sirloin steak with a bechamel sauce for me. I could barely even look at plate number three I was so full, but we bucked up and did our best. Finally, dessert was arroz con leche for Andrew and a crepe with sweet apple syrup inside for me. Finished with a shot of crema de orujo and an espresso, we ate like kings. And all that for only 42 euros. I can highly recommend Tierra Astur if you are ever in Oviedo.
We took the bus this time for our excursion transportation. Although the bus makes the trip at least an hour longer than it would be in car, we have nothing if time. Plus, it was nice not to have to worry about directions, navigating, parking and staying awake while Andrew drives. I avidly read The Hunger Games when not feeling queasy from bus sickness. It was a good weekend.