Sidra (Cider) – Oviedo & Asturias, Spain Travel Guide
Sidra: A waiter at a sidrería on Calle Gascona demonstrates how to pour the perfect glass.
“Apples and women should be Asturian” (“La mujer y la manzana han de ser Asturiana”).
Relaxing in a cider house and gulping “culines” of the regional cider is a typical Asturian pastime that a visitor simply can’t pass up. Although the cider tradition also exists in the Basque country, Asturians claim to be the pioneers of the drink and take particular pride in its pouring and production. Cider houses, or sidrerìas, are scattered all throughout Oviedo, but perhaps the easiest way to get acquainted with the drink is to go to Calle Gascona, a pedestrian road right outside of old town that is lined with always-lively sidrerìas.
One of the most fascinating things about the drink is the pour. Cider pouring is an art and the waiters take special pride in it. Waiters hold the bottle high over their head with their arm at full extension and pour straight over their shoulder into glasses that they hold in their other fully extended arm below. All of this is done while looking straight ahead, right through the stream of liquid. A glance at the glass during the pour is a sure sign of novice. It’s not hard to imagine the amount of cider that splashes all over the busy sidrerìa. Now imagine that the common form to clean out the shared glasses is to pour out a small remaining sip on the floor, and you will have grasped the cider house atmosphere.
Despite the fact that cider contains little alcohol, it can prove to be pretty affecting. A fair amount of cider really shouldn’t be mixed with other alcoholic beverages. Let this serve as a warning to cider newcomers. (Apparently, this is widely known throughout Spain, as you often see partygoers in non-Asturian cities singing the Asturian anthem on their way home from a night out as a sort of tribute to the typical drink.)
The sidrerìas located on Calle Gascona (El Pigea, El Rincon de Gascona, La Pumarada, Tierra Astur and Sidrerna Villaviciosa) are probably some of the most frequented but are by no means the only ones in the city. However, I suggest starting here because it is usually the most lively, especially on mild weather days when the terrazas are open. Others in the area include:
La Gran Taberna (Plaza Porlier, 1)
Los Lagos (Plaza del Carbayan, 4)
L’arcadia (Plaza del Paraguas)
Cervantes (Jovellanos, 4)
Among these L’arcadia is another great atmosphere for cider drinking because of its location in an old town plaza known for its giant-sized umbrella.
If the cider-making process is of particular interest to you and simply drinking the stuff isn’t enough, there’s a Cider Museum just east of Oviedo in Nava. The museum describes the production process and even gives you the opportunity to practice the art of pouring with cider bottles full of water. The museum is closed on Mondays and is free on Tuesdays. (Plaza Principe de Asturias, Tel. 985 71 74 22, www.museodelasidra.com).
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