Archive for the Gijón Category

Gijón – Cimavilla – Eating & Drinking

Posted in Asturias, Cimavilla, Gijón, Spain with tags , on October 14, 2017 by gannet39

There are lots of great places to eat and drink in Cimavilla, these are just a couple I went to. They’re both on the map.

Auga (Advanced B+), Calle de Claudio Alvargonzález, www.restauranteauga.com

This is a high end restaurant, perhaps the best in town, located on a pier in the harbour. It used to be the fish market but the building has been given a modern makeover. It gets solid recommendations from Guida Repsol, Frommer’s and Fodor’s.

I had the tasting menu (73€) with wine matching (25€) . To save time I’ve just given marks in brackets. Some dishes have double marks to show flavour/presentation, or for wines, nose/palate. Some got past me without being marked, apologies.

To start, a glass of Manzanilla (B+).

Then an amuse bouche of anchovy and roe on a celery and turnip mousse (B/A).

After this a glass of champagne from Perrier-Jouet.

‘Manzana Caramelizada , Rey Silo y sardina Marinada’ or caramelized apple, Rey Silo cheese and marinated sardine (B+/A+).

Asparagus (B/B+).

Langoustine (A/A).

With the seafood, an excellent Albarino (A/B+) from Zarate.

‘Viera Gallega, Manzana Verde, Champinon y Placton’ or Galician scallops with green apple, mushroom and plankton (A/A+).

‘Huevo con Pies de Cerdo y Trufa’, or a slow-cooked egg, with pig trotters and truffle (A/A).

A boring Torres Riesling (B).

Can’t remember what this was sorry but I’m sure it tasted as good as it looks.

‘Carre de Cordero Asado en su Jugo con Orejones’, or lamb chops with their juices and a sauce of dried apricots (B+/B).

The ‘Celeste’ Ribera was another disappointment from Torres (B).

Chef Gonzalo Pañeda is famous for his desserts. This is ‘Sopa de Queso de Cabra con Avellanas y Miel’ or goat cheese ‘soup’ with hazelnuts and honey.

The ‘Yogur, Chocolate Blanco y Coco’ looked great but didn’t have the flavours for me (C).

Not sure what these were sorry, something chocolatey obviously.

Naturally a glass of Noe PX went well with the sweets (B+).

So overall a good experience and good value for money as I recall. It made for a nice treat on my last day in town.

On an earlier occasion I came here…

La Planeta (Intermediate B+), 4 Tránsito de las Ballenas, www.el-planeta.net

The teachers told me this down-to-earth Sideria is one of the best places to come for fish. It has a great view of the harbour, especially from the top floor.

The 2015 ‘Terras Gauda’ Albarino was pretty decent (B+). I found it for about £9 on the web.

The Sea Urchin Croquettas were a new one on me but didn’t really float my boat (B-).

The Almejas Plancha were more enjoyable (B+).

The best dish was the Lomos de Merluza garnished with fried garlic (B+), but it was a bit too oily and overcooked for my taste.

The Orujo de Manzana de Asutrias put hairs on my chest (B).

So a good spot for reasonably priced and cooked seafood. The bill came to €53.

And that was Gijón. Off to Oviedo next!

Gijón – Cimavilla – Walking Around

Posted in Asturias, Cimavilla, Gijón, Spain on October 13, 2017 by gannet39

Cimavilla (or Cimadevilla in Castellano) is Gijón’s old town which can trace it’s origin to Roman times. It corresponds to the area north of Calle Melquiades Alvarez; a small peninsula which separates San Lorenzo beach from the marina and port area.

It’s just a short distance from the Hotel Alcomar, so if you like bracing walks by the sea, this is the place to go. Map here.

First stop is the portico lined Plaza Major. There are a few nice bars on the square and on the side streets off it.

You’ll also find the Ayuntamiento de Gijón here.

Heading east you’ll come across the Iglesia de San Pedro.

It was built in 1945 in a pre-Romanesque style.

Behind the church is the yacht club, Real Club Astur de Regatas Gijón, located in a striking pre-war building with fantastic views of the bay. Shame it’s not open to the public.

Continuing along the coast to the headland you arrive at an old gun bastion which is now crowned with this brutalist sculpture by Eduardo Chillada.

Elogio del Horizonte’ (Eulogy to the Horizon) celebrates the wonderful panoramic views you get from this high point.

This lovely mid-1930s Rationalist building near the bastion caught my eye.

Fundacion Honesto Batalon was a charitable foundation set up by a rich philanthropist to provide free primary education for poor girls and this building was part of the school.

Continuing along the west side of the peninsula you soon come to the ‘Puerto Deportivo‘ (leisure harbour). There are some good bars and restaurants here too, some of which I mention in my next post, ‘Eating in Cimavilla’.

There’s an impressive sculpture on the quayside; ‘Árbol de la Sidra‘ (The Cider Tree) made of hundreds of empty cider bottles.

You’ll pass by the neo-Renaissance Casa Paquet on Calle de Claudio Alvargonzález.

In Plazuela del Marques (just to the west of Plaza Mayor where we started) you’ll find Palacio Revillagigedo, built in the Baroque style with medieval features.

The palace has a couple of nice old neighbours.

From here you could explore the narrow streets of the interior of Cimavilla.

This former fisherman’s district suffered a lot of damage in the civil war but there are still some nice old buildings to be seen.

Right, time to eat methinks!

Gijón – Centro – Architecture

Posted in Asturias, Centro, Gijón, Spain with tags on October 12, 2017 by gannet39

Gijón is a paradise for architecture buffs like me. There are heaps of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Modernista masterpieces dotted around.

I’ve indicated them as best I can with the yellow stars on this Google map.

My favourite building is Chalet de Ladislao Menendez in Plaza Europa.

It was designed in Modernista style by Manuel del Busto, a famous local architect.

Built in 1907 it could do with a bit of TLC.

If I had the money I’d love to buy it and do it myself.

 

Another favourite is at 43 Calle Cabrales.

It was designed in 1901 by Mariano Marin in an Art Nouveau style.

The ‘rejeria’, wrought iron work, is one of it’s finest features.

Marin was responsible for many other buildings in the town, all in a variety of styles.

Further down the same street at 43 Calle Cabrales is a nice Modernista number…

… which also houses the Tourist Information.

More beautiful iron work.

Nearby Plaza San Miguel has a few impressive piles.

As does Calle Jovellanos

Although I’m not that keen on Basílica-Santuario del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús at 6D Calle Jovellanos, although I haven’t been inside yet.

There are many other fine buildings dotted around town.

 

Gijón – Centro – Drinking

Posted in Asturias, Centro, Gijón, Spain with tags , on October 11, 2017 by gannet39

I’m a sucker for a cocktail in nice surroundings and these two places definitely float my boat.

Café Dindurra (Advanced B+), 30 Calle Covadonga, dindurra.es/dindurra

This beautiful bar is next to the Teatro Jovellanos www.teatrojovellanos.com. It was built in 1901 but received an Art Deco makeover in 1931. It has survived the bombing of the original theater it was attached to.

I’m in love with its angular fonts …

… and beautiful curves.

I had a couple of good Negronis here. I’m an aficionado but these were made with vermouths I’d never heard of before.

The first was made with a French vermouth called La Quintinye.

A green olive and slices of strawberry were added to the usual slice of fresh orange (B+).

The second used a Catalan vermouth called Yzaguirre and was garnished with semi-dried pineapple and fresh orange (B+).

Varsovia (Advanced A), 18 Calle Cabrales, varsoviagijon.com

This is another excellent cocktail bar on the ground floor of a beautiful Modernista building called Edificio Celestino García.

It’s on the waterfront just a couple of doors down from the Hotel Alcomar.

They know how to make a decent Negroni in here and you can choose from a multitude of gins and vermouths.

The bottle shelves are on two floor levels and my bartender had to shimmy up a ladder to get my choices.

I went for a French vermouth with Plymouth gin, garnished imaginatively with maraschino cherries (B+). Another time I swapped the vermouth for Cynar which makes for a nice change too (B+).

My pictures of the cocktails didn’t come out so you’ll have to make do with a photo of this beautiful cut glass water jug!

There are many other bars of course but these two are really special. In June 2016 the going rate for a Negroni was €7.

Gijón – Centro – Eating Out

Posted in Asturias, Centro, Gijón with tags , , , , on October 10, 2017 by gannet39

Gijón is a fantastic destination for food and drink, especially seafood and the famous Asturian cider. Below are my reviews of a Marisqueria (seafood restaurant), a Sidreria (cider bar), a Quesería y Vinoteca (cheese  & wine shop) and a Parrilla (grill). Between them I managed to try most of the classic gastronomic experiences this region has to offer.

These are all in the Centro, please see my other Gijón posts for more suggestions. There’s a map with everything on here.

La Zamorana (Intermediate A), 38-40 Avenida Hermanos Felgueroso, www.lazamorana.net

I came to this old tavern on my first night and it was my best and most authentic experience during my stay. It’s the only place where I experienced cider being poured in the traditional way, by hand from a great height in order to aerate it, which is a great skill.

Inevitably some ends up on the floor and the waiter will also dash out any dregs in your glass by simply tossing them against the wall. No surprise then that the smell of cider permeates the air.

I had a really nice friendly chap pouring mine, and everyone else’s, and it was basically all he did all night. He’d only pour a quarter glass at a time as you’re supposed to drink it straight away. If you leave it he’ll chuck it.

In terms of food, I was so excited to be here that I had the full works of traditional fare on the menu.

After some complimentary deep-fried prawns I began with a half portion of the famous local belly busting bean stew made with chorizo and morcilla; Fabada Asturiana which was great (A).

Then Rodaballo a la Plancha, or grilled turbot, simple but also very good (B+).

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While I was eating, another couple came in and wanted crab so the waiter brought them one to the table to show them. It was huge and still very much alive!

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Next a hefty slab of the legendary Asturian blue cheese, Cabarales (B+), which goes surprisingly well with a glass of Andalucian PX raisin wine (B+).

It would have been rude not to try the local cake Tarta Gijonesa (B+).

With two bottles of cider, some complimentary choccy biccies and a (southern) Cardenal Mendoza brandy the total came to €67.70. Not cheap but for me, totally worth it for the experience.

Tino (Elementary B), 9 Calle Alfredo Truan, www.restaurantecasatino.com

This is a friendly, family-run pincho bar recommended by Frommer’s guide. There’s a restaurant attached but it looked pretty closed when I was there. I was enticed into the bar by the retro feel and the fact it seems popular with the locals.

I asked the young guy for some traditional local food and somehow ended up with a full portion of Calamares Fritos, a dish I really try to avoid in Spain. They were as uninspiring as ever (C) and not cheap at €15.

The classic dish of Merluza a la Sidra Asturiana was better (B) but also a bit pricey at €23.50. This recipe makes it with clams but otherwise it looks pretty similar.

The cider here is served in the modern way, via a plastic electronic pump in the shape of a little man that slots on to the top of the bottle. Much less labour intensive and still quite fun.

I also got to try a shot of ‘La Praviana’ Licor de Guindas, cherry liqueur, which is a fine use for cherries! (B+). According to their website, they add some fresh sloes and a bit of anise.

So a nice neighbourhood place where I learnt a bit more about local food and drink, but I’d only go again if I lived here.

Coalla Gourmet, 8 Calle San Antonio, www.coallagourmet.com

I came to this modern deli on the recommendation of my gourmet teacher friend and ended up doing an extended cheese tasting. All the cheeses mentioned here are local but not the wines.

The first Tabla de Quesos was okay but not amazing. I had Vare (B), Ahumado de Pria (B), the Cabarles (B), but my favourite was the Geo de Lazana (B+) (third from left).

The second tabla was much better as it included some of the teacher’s local favourites. His list included Afuega‘l Pitu and Queso Casin but these were both sold by the unit so I didn’t get to try them.

The server gave me Maximo Rey Silo (B+) as a replacement for Afuega‘l Pitu as it was similar. My favourite was La Peral, an excellent blue (A), and I also really liked the Gamoneu Sobre Cueva (B+), at the top of the picture.

I had a couple of glasses of red to go with the cheese. The 2013 La Zorrina (B+) was the most expensive…

… but just as good was the La Garnacha Mustig (B+).

I also had a glass of Maritavora Ruby Port for the blue cheeses (B+).

I also got a kilo of Fabas de la Granja (aka Judiones) to take home to make my beloved Fabada Asturiana. They sell Fabada kits here too with the meats and beans vacuum-packed for easy transportation.

So, a good spot for cheese and wine. For the cheese it’s best if you know what to ask for so keep my tips in mind.

This next place is just down the street…

Los Patios (Intermediate B), 10 Calle Instituto, www.restauranteparrillalospatios.com

I came to this grill-bar when my first choice was shut. I’d heard of it through a local blog but I wasn’t that impressed. It’s handy for the hotel but there are lots of other modern bars around these backstreets that look quite nice too.

I’d had a big lunch so sausage and chips was all I could manage. First I tried the Chorizo Rojo (B)…

…then the Matachana (B), a kind of morcilla, originally from nearby Leon, which you split open, scoop the insides out and spread on bread, or in this case chips (patatinas).

I also tried a local red wine called ‘La Fanfarria’ which is from Cangas , the only wine DO in Asturias. It was much better than I’d been led to believe (B) but definitely not on a par with the great Spanish reds.

Everything here was okay but I’d go for different meat selections if I went again.

While we’re talking about meat, I picked up some great steak knives at Jesus Pastor, a kitchen and dining equipment shop at 110 Calle Cabrales. I don’t know of anyone who does a better knife for meat than the Spanish.

So I think I managed to try a fair selection of local products in just these few places in the Centro. Check out my other Gijón posts for some more restaurants in the old town and other areas.

Asturias – Gijón

Posted in Asturias, Gijón, Spain with tags , , on October 9, 2017 by gannet39

Gijón is a port town on the coast of Asturias in the north of Spain. It’s something of a resort as well despite its Atlantic climate. I loved it, both for its gastronomy and its architecture, much of which is Art Nouveau and Art Deco, two of my favourite periods.

A good book to take on your trip would be The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham in which Gijón features occasionally; “During the day the wind dropped. In the afternoon a fog came up, by the evening it was thick, and visibility down to no more than a few yards. Somewhere about ten thirty in the evening the sea-tanks came sliding up from the quietly lapping waters at Gijón, with not a sound to betray them until their metal bellies started to crunch up the stone ramps. The few small boats that were already drawn up there they pushed aside or crushed as they came. It was the cracking of the timbers that brought men out from the waterside posadas to investigate.”

I stayed at the Hotel Alcomar www.hotelalcomar.com, an Art Deco three star facing the seafront.

My room had an excellent view of San Lorenzo beach.

Over to the left I could see Cimavilla, the small peninsula where the old town is located. I’ve given Cimavilla two posts of its own; ‘Walking Around’ and ‘Eating’.

On the other side of Cimavilla is the marina and the port.

The neighbourhood behind the hotel is known as the Centro, the central business district, which I’ve given three posts; ‘Eating’, ‘Drinking Cocktails’ and ‘Architecture’.

You’ll find everything on this map.

Included below are two restaurants which are slightly out of the central areas and so don’t fit into any of the other posts.

La Pondala (Advanced A), 58 Avenida de Dionisio Cifuentes, www.lapondala.com

Located east of the centre, in Somió, this is an excellent restaurant and one of my top recommendations in Gijón. It has been run by the same family for over 125 years and they definitely know what they’re doing. Fodor’s guide also gives it top marks.

Fortuitously it was also very near the school I was working at so I could come for lunch with two of the teachers. I was really looking forward to it after hearing their headmistress raving about the lamb she ate here.

The old interior was a little gloomy for a summer’s day so we sat outside on the lovely terrace at the back. It was very much in demand but fortunately my colleagues had reserved, which is probably a good thing to do generally.

We started with a platter of excellent grilled veg (A)…

..followed by some Crepes de Centollo, or crab pancakes, also very good (B+).

For my main, the roast suckling lamb completely deserved the accolades the headmistress had given it (A).

I didn’t drink as I was working that afternoon but I’m sure they must have a great selection.

So a definite thumbs up from me then. It’s definitely worth the short drive from the centre.

Los Pisones (Intermediate B+), 5 Calle Jesús Revuelta Diego, www.restaurantelospisones.com

This modern place, over the road the football stadium, was also recommended by my teacher pals as a good place for seafood.

At first I wasn’t keen on the kitsch modern decor, think faux Trencadís (Gaudiesque broken ceramic tiling) and lots of big gilt mirrors, but they do have a nice terrace if you want to sit outside. The soundtrack of  breathy jazz was quite relaxing though.

After some negotiation I was allowed to have a media racion of Gambas a la Plancha which were sadly a bit mediocre (B-).

However the dish I’d come for, the Fabes a Los Pisones con Mariscos del Cantabrico, was much better (B+).

It’s a stew of the local white beans from the Villaviciosa DO and seafood from the Cantabrian coast, namely clams, crayfish, prawns…

…and three kinds of crab; centollo, necora and buey de mar, or in English (I think); spider, small and big ones.

The food went really well with an excellent bottle of Albarino called Bagoa do Mino (A+) which was the best on their list at €20.

With a couple of complimentary shots the total cost came to €55. So not my favourite place, but definitely worth a visit for this dish.

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