If you’ve never heard of the lush region of Asturias in northern Spain, then I’ll let you in on a little secret…
Some claim Asturias is the ‘real’ Spain. Unspoilt and blessed with a multitude of differing landscapes, you’ll find gorgeous mountain ranges and deep valleys, over 200 beaches, as well as pretty, colourful fishing ports and rustic villages.
A third of the region has protected natural spaces and UNESCO has designated four biosphere reserves including the Somiedo Natural Park, which combines thick woodlands, rocky mountains and high pastures. You may also catch a bear or two…
If you want more of a buzz, then Asturias’ handsome and historic capital, Oviedo, offers up contemporary charm in what is routinely voted one of the cleanest cities in Europe.
Then there’s the food. Local delicacies include fabada Asturiana – a rich stew made with the Asturian large white beans, alongside smoked meats and sausages. Meanwhile, the seafood is fresh, and landed along the many ports in the region from Gijón, Lastres and Avilés and caught from rivers such as Sella.
Cheese is also a big deal in Asturias, such as the intense and punchy Cabrales, which is served up all over Spain.
If this hasn’t whet your appetite, then perhaps the cider will. Asturias has over 250 different varieties of apples, and cider is the usual choice of beverage to accompany a meal. Unlike English cider, Asturian cider is very dry, but there are also dessert varieties, sparkling ciders and cider brandies.
There’s so much to discover in Asturias that it would be impossible to get a taste of the entire region in a short trip, however, perhaps a ‘slow’ holiday is more your thing. Making use of the railways, you can enjoy all the spectacular landscapes and scenery at a gentler pace, and do it at your own leisure. I quite like the idea of slow train holiday through Asturias where, over seven nights, you can go on a self-guided journey through coastal villages, beaches and sample the best of Asturian food and cider.
Which leads me to Inntravel’s #AsturiasCiderChallenge which I, in a moment of madness, agreed to do. Now, while Asturias cider is pretty special to drink, it also has to be poured in a specific way. Cider in Asturias is always served by an escanciador, which means the cider is poured into the glass from a great height, allowing the drink to be oxygenated on the way down and giving the cider a kick of freshness and releasing its fragrant aromas. Only a little is poured at a time, because it must be drunk immediately. Any cider left in the glass is thrown onto the floor!
So here’s my attempt at being an escanciador. What do you think?
If you would like to try the cider challenge yourself, or even better, just drink it, because, well, it’s pretty delicious, then the folks at Inntravel have offered MTM readers the chance to win a cider pack containing two x 70cl bottles of cider and an Asturian glass.
All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter below, and I will announce the winner in two weeks. Best of luck.
And, while my escanciador days are pretty numbered, at least when I finally get to visit Asturias and explore this breathtaking region of Spain, I won’t be shocked when I walk into a bar and ask for a glass of cider!
Terms & conditions
The prize is one cider pack containing two x 70cl bottles of cider and an Asturian glass provided by Inntravel. Closing date midnight Wednesday 8 February 2018. The winner will be notified and given three days to accept the prize. If a winner does not come forward, a new winner will be chosen at random. The prize has no cash alternative.
* This post was written in collaboration with Inntravel