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Ibérica Restaurants Regional Spanish Cuisine – Asturias
It’s difficult to overstate the influence of Spanish cuisine on British food culture; Ferran Adria’s El Bulli restaurant completely reinvented our conception of what fine dining could be, and at a less esoteric level the small sharing plate ‘tapas’ revolution that swept through Soho a few years is now common practice through the whole country. An important part of the picture has been The Ibérica group of Restaurants who have been offering an authentic and high-quality Spanish experience for 10 years now that put the existing high street offers to shame. With London restaurants in Marylebone, Victoria, Canary Wharf and Farringdon, and outposts in Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester with more on the way the group is celebrating its 10 year anniversary. As part of these festivities, March sees the launch of Asturian Month, which sees the authentic Spanish restaurant group showcase Asturian dishes, wines and ciders across all its locations. Asturias is a region of northwest Spain known for its rugged coast, mountains, religious sites and medieval architecture. And, of course, for its food.
At Ibérica diners can choose from two celebratory menus: the tailored Bar Menu includes a selection of Asturian Cheeses and Meats, Fritos de Pixin, and Bollu Prenau (Chorizo-filled Bread) while the Restaurant Menu comprises specialities such as Hake in Asturian cider sauce, Cachopo, and Boletus Topped with a Free-Range Egg. This residency precedes the restaurant group’s regional tour of Spain, which will take place throughout 2019 at all Ibérica restaurants, showcasing the culinary delights, authentic wines and ciders of the charming and unique regions of Spain. Diners throughout the month of March can also enjoy Sidra flights, accompanied by an assortment of Asturian small bites, as well as the opportunity to attend Sidra pouring masterclasses, meet the maker evenings and a range of other exciting events. The good news is that I’ve been invited to a special event launching Asturian month at Ibérica Victoria, a great opportunity to learn about traditional Asturian cuisine. The ground floor has been turned into a traditional Asturian Sideria (open to the public throughout the Asturian month), adorned with Asturian flags, barrels of apples, hanging bottles, dried wheatgrass and traditional Sidra tools including escanciadores for pouring and chigres to open bottles. The evening was hosted by José Pardo, the Trabanco cider producer, which meant we were able to sample a selection of the region’s finest Sidra, unique to Asturias, and traditionally poured from a great height by an expert bartender. I was really excited to try Asturian food which was new to me. But before the food, we sampled the eponymous Trabanco cider which is 100% natural with a long finish and a delicate acidity – served from the machine creating an oxygenated and light mouthfeel and a slight bitterness. And then the food started! First up was a delicious platter of cured meat, some tender, delicately spiced chorizo and salty jamon with a light umami flavour. We then moved on to our second cider – Poma Aurea Brut Nature made with a 2nd fermentation, a very dry and sparkling Sidra which was a perfect match with our cheese. My favourite was the classic Asturian blue known as Cabrales with its fierce acidic burn! Torta with cabrales was a gentler prospect! A delicate deep-fried corn puff was topped with scrambled egg flavoured with a hint of the Asturian cheesy favourite. Delicate white mushrooms were served at a tepid temperature with a rich creamy mushroom sauce and topped by a perfect fried egg. I loved this dish – it felt luxurious and luxury is my middle name…Fritos de pixín is a beautifully moist, classic yet simple Asturian dish of deep-fried monkfish. We accompanied it with a glass of Avalon, a medium sparkling and fruity cider served on draught. Fabada Asturiana is a bean stew from the region topped with black pudding (morcilla) and chorizo in a rich and smokey sauce. Cachopo is a tasty dish of fried veal fillets with ham and cheese – imagine a cheese and ham schnitzel sandwich! We finished off with a seductive hazelnut mousse and a lovely citric and herbal glass of Alma Vermouth with natural cider also by Trabanco a perfect way to end a great evening. The ciders were full of flavour but not hugely alcoholic – so there is no return to teenage cider hangovers! – and the food was completely new to me with some terrific flavours and textures. If you are a fan of Spanish food and want to try something different try to visit the Ibérica restaurants for Asturian month (March).
But, if you miss out, don’t worry. Iberica runs a regular programme of events in London, just check their website.
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