Exploring Bermiego, Quiros, San Martin de Teverga & the Cave La Huerta
Tito introduced me to the restaurant’s owner, Señora Maria Valina Rey, who kindly agreed to show me around her kitchen. One interesting feature of this restaurant is that the kitchen is located between the front guestroom and the back guestroom, so any patrons who wish to sit in the larger back guestroom actually have to walk through the kitchen and can see the huge pots boiling on the stove.
Our appetizer: salad with tuna and “fabas con almejas” (bean stew with mussels)
Señora Maria gave me an introduction, in Spanish, to her hearty cooking: a big pot of “fabada”, the savoury Asturian bean stew with ham, blood sausage and Spanish chorizo sausage, was simmering away on the large stove. Next to it was another pot holding “fabas con almejas”, another bean stew with mussels. The third bean stew was called “pote Asturiano”, another bean stew with sausages, cabbage and potatoes.
Fabada – the typical Asturian bean stew
Stuffed peppers with wild boar meat and roast beef were also waiting for hungry customers. Home-made desserts included “arroz con leche” – rice pudding, and a “flan de queso” – cheese flan. Given the agricultural and mining history of Asturias, these types of hearty dishes were perfect for nourishing local farmers and miners to take on their backbreaking work.
Pote, another typical Asturian dish
Given that it was almost 3 pm now, Tito, Estefania and I were pretty famished and we were definitely looking forward to a solid lunch. To give me a truly representative taste of Asturian cuisine, Tito ordered fabada, favas con almejas, and pote as well as salad with tuna. The chorizo sausage was actually made with wild boar meat. Minutes later Señora Maria arrived to serve our food in huge, piping hot bowls. We could all help ourselves with the serving spoons and there was no way we would be able to eat the huge quantity of food that was served.
A huge bowl of Asturian rice pudding
This was my first chance to try fabada, the famous Asturian bean stew, and it was extremely tasty and quite salty, given it is flavoured with ham and sausages. It was definitely the perfect meal after a long day of bicycling and sightseeing. For dessert we received another huge bowl, this one filled with rice pudding, one of my favourite desserts. We only made a small dent in our big bowls of food, but we thoroughly enjoyed this filling Asturian smorgasboard.
Estefania and Tito get ready to go caving with me
It was now late afternoon and we had one more place to discover: Cueva Huerta, an extensive cave in the Asturian limestone mountains near Fresnedo. This karst formation has a length of 14.5 km which makes it the second largest cave system in Asturias. Once we were equipped with helmets and headlights, Tito took us into the cave’s main gallery and explained that we were going down a 30 metre drop. Three species of bats live in this cave system, one of which is on the endangered list. Our headlights were limited to 1 Watt, a low enough light level that would not disturb the colonies of bats.
We are going to explore the Cueva Huerta
Asturias, with its limestone mountain chains, is a favourite destination for cavers and speleologists. Tito’s company, www.deporventura.es, offers guided tours into the Huerta cave system. In addition to the Gateway Tour that explores the first 300 meters of the cave on a wooden walkway, he also offers more advanced caving outings that include rappelling into the deeper zones of the cave.
Walking down to the entrance of the Cueva Huerta
I realized I am definitely an above-ground sunlight-loving land animal and was glad to come back up from the cave. We started our drive back to Oviedo through some of the mountain gorges and caught some glimpses again of the Bear Trail, the Senda del Oso where we had gone bicycling this morning. On the way back to my hotel, the Barcelo Oviedo Cervantes, Tito stopped at a supermarket and I picked up a few snacks and fruits for a nice evening in my cozy hotel room. I was really looking forward to a restful evening after a long day of activities on a rather cool and drizzly day. Thanks to Tito and Estefania I had received a great introduction to the mountain adventures of Asturias. And tomorrow I would get a chance to explore the Picos de Europa National Park.
Tito enters the cave