Oviedo, Asturias: Woody Allen’s fairytale

Getting to the province of Asturias is very much scenic; passing by the mountains of the Pico de Europa, you already feel like you are escaping from where you came from. The province of Asturias itself is rather small but scenic and hosts 4 main cities, Oviedo, Aviles and Gijón. You pass by little towns in the mountains like Villaviciosa and Cabezon de la Sal.

The city of Oviedo lies westward from Aviles, and is the capital of Asturias. It is the principal east-west narrow gauge line crossingthe main broad-gauge line from Madrid, it has a better claim than most. Furthermore, it is a most rewarding city for the visitor – mo stdemonstrably because of its historic heritage. In the 11th century, Asturias was one of those isolated patches of Spain, free of Moorish control. As the (arguably) oldest Christian place in the whole of Europe, the city boasts a number of churches.

Woody Allen describes Oviedo as: “A delicious, exotic, beautiful, clean, pleasant, tranquil and pedestrianised city.”  Allen first visited the capital of Asturias in 2002 to receive a prestigious Prince of Asturias Foundation Award (Spain’s ‘Nobel’ prize). Allen earned his special place in Oviedo’s heart when he called it “a fairy-tale city”. He was so enamoured that he returned to use locations in it for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

It’s true there is something fairy-tale-like about Oviedo. Not least the turquoise peacocks that roam free, their shrieking cries echoing through the streets. They live in the Campo de San Francisco, the city’s green heart; a leafy park with exotic trees, bandstands and bubbling fountains: try one of the outdoor cafés here for a spot of people-watching.

At a local bakery…for breakfast

Stuffed chorizo bread

Whoops…I ate it before I got to take the picture…

Asturian Ham sandwich

Cuisine and nightlife in Oviedo in Asturias tend to reflect the character of the city – hearty, lively and generous…very, very generous portions. Surprisingly there aren’t so many tourist traps, for such a visited city, but more down to earth eateries and sidrerías (cider bars) in which to kick back and let the hospitality of Oviedo embrace you.

The talent

One of the main streets to experience nightlife is Gascona, which is also known as El Bulevar de la Sidra.

The street is packed with cider bars and buzzes from early evening until late. It’s surprisingly boisterous in a friendly sort of way, presumably due to the whole ‘necking the glass of cider in one gulp’ tradition, and is great fun, especially if you literally get into the flow.

One of the places I most enjoyed, began at the top of Calle Gascona. Tierra Astur (Asturian country; +34 985 79 12 128, http://www.tierra-astur.com) looks like nothing from the outside but you will enjoy a great variety of Asturian cooking. From hams and chorizos hanging from the ceiling, to gauging on cider bottles, the chefs at this restaurant aren’t here for show as you notice them roasting huge fillets of meat from the grill. 

The selection of Asturian cheeses;well they do provide the national milk Asturiana

Quesos Asturianas (mostly blue cheese) with nuts and membrillo (quince paste)

Snack to munch on, on the house. Oviedo is equally on the Atlantic coast and hosts a great number of quality seafood.

Platter of fresh sea urchin? oh Why not!

Charcuterie platter (wild boar, ham and chorizo)

Simple but utterly fresh bonito (shipjack tuna) salad

Squid and shrimp on a pan

The real ‘buzz’ factor are the tables inside gigantic barrels. A popular combo here is to have a fabada starter followed by a mixed grill.  

Fabada Asturiana (bean stew with meat)

Mixed grill…mind you, this is just the ‘half’ portion…

In a nearby 180c degree restaurant, we got to taste modern ‘high’ Asturian cuisine. An interest take on traditional food nevertheless.

Tuna Tart 

Goat cheese and chestnut

Squid and Black ink risotto

Foie gras and Apple marmelade

Oh, no…I didn’t like it at all

Rice pudding

Oviedo is one big open-air sculpture display. City mayor Gabino de Lorenzo, who took over in 1991, has overhauled this former industrial city by bringing “art onto the streets”; you would miss out on this beautiful town if you made a trip to northern Spain. 

Beautiful architecture

One Response to “Oviedo, Asturias: Woody Allen’s fairytale”
  1. Cissana says:

    I am writing this from Oviedo now – what a city, what a marvel! Thanks for your blog – more fans of that wonderful Asturian place!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: