|Fabada: CNN reports this is a special-occasion bean stew that hinges on hyperlocal ingredients, exacting technique, and the patience of a Tibetan monk.|
GUEST BLOG / By CNNs Ben Kemper-- By now, you probably know your tapas from your pintxos and your Rioja from your cava. Manchego may grace your cheese boards and smoky pimentón might spice up your soups.
But unless you're a booksy food geek or diehard Hispanophile, chances are you haven't discovered the unsung cuisine of Spain's comfort-food capital, Asturias.
That's because most people who go to Spain stick to its sunnier vacation spots such as Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla -- a misstep since Asturias boasts such standout scenery, music, religious sites and cuisine.
Ask any Spaniard -- Asturias' shamrock-green pastures, teeming seas and fertile farmland bear some of the most prized delicacies on the Iberian Peninsula, from aged Asturian Valley beef to dayboat sea urchins to pungent mountain cheeses.
The best part is, Asturias remains so far off the tourist track that -- at least for now -- you're more likely to run into herds of cows than hordes of selfie-snapping foreigners.
Obeying copyright limits PillartoPost.org publishes less than 1000 words as part of journalism’s fair comment and criticism canons. Go to the web for this article’s nine other Asturias dishes while we savor just one from CNNs Ben Kemper: For complete CNN article click here.
Fabada is to Spain what feijoada is to Brazil and cassoulet is to France: a special-occasion bean stew that hinges on hyperlocal ingredients, exacting technique and the patience of a Tibetan monk.
Every other neighborhood tavern lays claim to la mejor fabada, so your best bet is to ask a local for a recommendation. Great fabadas start with real-deal fabas de la granja, slender, finger-like white beans of outstanding quality that have been cultivated in Asturias for centuries.
After being plumped to ultra-creamy perfection in a serrano ham broth for six to eight hours, the beans get a final hit of smoke and fat from compango, a medley of Asturian porcine delights including garlicky chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), and pancetta. If a fabada is in your future, be sure to pencil in a postprandial siesta -- the body-warming broth and heavy meats induce a fairly immediate food coma.
WHERE IS ASTURIAS?
The Principality of Asturias, a region of northwest Spain, is known for its rugged coast, mountains, religious sites and medieval architecture. Regional capital Oviedo’s San Salvador Cathedral houses religious relic the Shroud of Oviedo. Nearby on Mt. Naranco stands the 9th-century churches of San Miguel de Lillo and Santa María del Naranco, the latter originally built as a palace for King Ramiro I of Asturias.
Serving Fab Fabada Auturiana stew:
--Restaurante As de Picas (Central Gijon) is in a cool shopping area and it specializes in Asturian cuisine in a modern setting.
Travel Advisor and other travel tip blogs claim this restaurant is one of the very best for traditional Fabada Asturiana stew.
--The Parador Gijon Restaurant (and hotel) is in a century-year-old mill, which is located in the Isabel La Católica Park, one of the most beautiful spots in the town of Gijón. A short walk from the Parador will take you to the waterfront. Fabada, a rich stew of beans and pork, is the dining room’s star dish, and the famous local beans (‘fabes’) are included in several other preparations. The ‘caldereta de marisco’ (seafood stew), ‘chopa a la sidra’ (fish in cider), ‘pote asturiano’ (vegetable and pork broth) and ‘merluza con cocochas’ (hake) also stand out. The dessert menu includes rice pudding, ‘frixuelos’ (cream-filled crepes) and ‘casadielles’ (fried sweet with dried fruit).
--La Posada Del Mar (waterfront, Gijon, Spain) is casual and comfortable. Located near the water and it is another restaurant specializing in Fabada stew.