Archive for December 27th, 2020

December 27, 2020

The ciders of Asturias, Spain!!!

So something new in my blog but very old in my life. Looking at other of my “friends contacts” in wordpress I read about wines of Asturias, and thought of something. I know the people from there since birth as having families from Oviedo who lived in my native town , and my grandparents gave us a taste. Of what? where it was not wines first but ciders! Let me tell you a bit on this story. Hope you enjoy it as I

The Cider in Spain is primarily from the Asturias and Basque regions of northern Spain and is produced primarily from wild apple, with sweeter varieties of apple used to balance the end result. At the time of the pilgrimage, in the 12C or so, cider was more popular than wine.

One of the most characteristic fruits of Asturias is the apple, where there are more than 500 types, and it constitutes the essence of cider. This production process begins in spring with the flowering of the apple tree, a spectacle to be seen in the orchards ,a group of apple trees , and continues in the winery or ‘llagar’ in Asturian, where it is transformed into cider. In Asturias, more than 45 million liters of cider are produced, distributed among the 80 wineries in the region, located mainly in Gijón, Villaviciosa, Nava and Siero.

The Asturian cider has the uniqueness that it is the only one that is poured in the world It is the act of serving the cider by pouring it with the upright arm, taking the bottle with the right hand and the glass with the left, with the thumb and forefinger. surrounding the glass and the heart in the background. After adopting this position, the cider falls from a considerable height abruptly and back , that is, it breaks into a foam when it hits the edge of the glass. Adequate oxygenation   is ensured and the cider ready to drink in one gulp or ‘culin’, as it is said in slang. In addition, the entire content of the glass is not drunk, but a little is left to clean where it has been drunk, since in natural cider the glass is shared. A show of technique and tradition.

The types of ciders are: The Traditinal natural cider, the New Expression natural cider that does not need pouring and is stabilised. The sparkling cider, the sweet or duernu cider, the ecological or bio cider, the ice cider, and the cider brut.

The ciders of Asturias webpage: https://sidradeasturias.es/en/

It will be in 1888 when the brothers Alberto and Eladio del Valle, financed by Bernardo de la Ballina and Ángel Fernández, acquire the necessary machinery to start the “champagne making” of cider in the Villaviciosa County area of Asturias.  A year later, on May 24, 1890, the Valle, Ballina and Fernández company started up. This is the beginning of a long and fruitful history: that of El Gaitero cider, which began with resounding success both in the Peninsula and in America.  And this is the brand we drink at home since birth, my grandparents started giving us this one and we continue the tradition with my parents and then I and my sons. Sidra El Gaitero is it; simply the best! See their story in English on the official webpage: https://www.sidraelgaitero.com/en/home/

asturias sidra el gaitero villaviciosa sep17

For info, if you cannot go to Asturias, and do stop by Madrid, then the best there to recommend is the Casa Mingo. If you read my post this house was founded by railroad workers from Asturias who came to work in Madrid and could not be without their cider and local food. This is Casa Mingo and they have a production on site under Sidras Mingo C.b. already 33 years strong located at the restaurant in the Paseo Florida, 34, Madrid. Their webpage: https://www.casamingo.es/la-sidreria/

How to drink the Cider!   You must drink the entire bottle at once. Cider rusts quickly and becomes flat. The ideal temperature is between 10-14 degrees centigrade, cold but not cold. A “shot” or a small amount of cider should be poured into a narrow glass from a height of about 30 cm or three feet. This aerates the cider, enhances the bouquet and the natural carbonation, and is called “throwing” the Cider, which produces the gas that the Spanish call   the estrella or star. This must be consumed at once. If there is seeds or pieces , you can consume them or throw them on the ground   ( this why some steel mills have special drains for this; that is why a steel mill is separate from the bar in most establishments that offer both). At the bodega ,winery or Sidrería , you order a cider, which usually comes in a 750 ml bottle like a bottle of wine. The bartender will open the bottle, then probably go to a special “pouring station” where he will pour a glass and bring it to you. You will repeat this, and sometimes you will have to nod your head to the glass when you want another until you have had enough or the bottle has been reduced to seeds or pieces of apple. Some places will simply place a bucket next to the table without offering any further assistance beyond uncorking the cider. You are alone with the dumping if this happens.

The Asturias cider has been produced regularly since pre-Roman times. Asturias cider is internationally recognized and has received the Denominacion de Origen Protegido (DOP) seal from the European Union. It is considered an essential part of Asturian culture and gastronomy, constituting a tourist attraction that is exploited throughout the region.

The oldest reference dates from 781. with the founding act of the city of Oviedo and the monastery of San Vicente where several orchards are named. The word cider appears explicitly in the founding document of the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Obona where it is noted that the drink was supplied to the workers of the construction of the monastery.

After meat and dairy production, cider production is the most important agro-industrial activity in Asturias with 948 hectares of planted apple orchards and 45 million liters of cider produced each year. Currently, about 45,000 tons of more than 2,000 varieties of cider apples are harvested each year in Asturias. Traditionally, 22 varieties were used for the production of Sidra de Asturias DOP, to which in 2017 another 54 were added. Currently 76 varieties are recognized for the production of DOP cider.

The varieties of apples for the Asturian cider at Cerespain: http://www.cerespain.com/variedades-de-manzanas-de-sidra.html

The Asturias Cider Museum was inaugurated in 1996 and shows the process of cider from the apple tree, passed through the typical wound to the winch. Webpage: https://www.museodelasidra.com/

Another museum that has a typical llagar and a popular sample of cider in the region is the Museum of the People of Asturias in Gijón. Webpage: https://www.gijon.es/es/directorio/museu-del-pueblu-dasturies

And there you go folks another wonderful tradition of m beloved kingdom of Spain and the Principality of Asturias! Do try the ciders from Asturias they are delicious! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

December 27, 2020

Catedral Santa Maria, Primada de España!

Wow this was and is a big task. I am updating revising this old post from 2017. However, the redoing is complete as really this place needs a lot more than one post, it is sublime. Hope I cover the main points on the Catedral Santa Maria, Primada de España or Saint Mary’s Cathedral , primate of Spain! The province of Toledo, in the autonomous comunity of Castilla La Mancha, Kingdom of Spain!

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I had spent days here over the last few years of my life,and coming back is always wonderful; the city is wonderful, the Cathedral is heavens. Let me give it credit and do a single post on it. The Cathedral Saint Mary , primate of Toledo and Toledo. Catedral Santa Maria de Toledo, Primada de España! The construction began in 1226 with white stone  in Gothic style;finished in 1493.

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The city of Toledo was conquered Christian by king Alfonso VI in 1085. One of the point of the capitulation of the city was that the cults will be respected to all as well as the buildings of muslim or mozarabe ,Christian origins which included the main mosque in the city. A bit later he was absent from the city and left his wife Constanza and the abbot of the monastery Bernard de Sedirac (or Cluny) recently name bishop of Toledo in charge.  These last two conspired in 1087 to send armed personnel to take over the mosque; later they installed a bell on it as a Christian symbol. The king was very upset as this almost cause an uprising, and ordered all involved to be executed.  The legend tells us that it was the Muslim residents of the city who implore with the king to save their lives with main negotiator the iman, and accepted the bell in the Mosque. As the Cathedral grew in same spot, there is a Chapel dedicated to him; officially creating a Christian Church in a mosque without changes to the structure. I think is a nice story of tolerance.

The Cathedral of Toledo is 120 meters long by 59 meters wide and has five nave in addition to a cruiser aisle and dome as well as a cloister, 88 columns, and 72 vaults. The main façade has three gates such as Puerta del Perdon (Forgiveness), Puerta del Juicio Final (final judgement), to the right, and Puerta del Infierno (hell) to the left. There is , also the Puerta del Reloj (Clock) oldest from early 14C; the Puerta de los Leones (Lions) is 15C . Other gates are Puerta Llana (flat) , Portada de Santa Catalina( St Catherine), and Puerta de la Presentacion (Presentation).  The Bell tower is 92 meters high and finalized in 1422 in Gothic style.

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Many Chapels were replaced,altered, or eliminated over time.  Of the Minor Chapels there are only two remaining such as of Santa Ana ,and San Gil. From the Mayor Chapels the ones that have original elements are of San Juan Bautista ,and Santa Leocadis. Altered Chapels but ornamentation is the original are Reyes Viejos , and Santa Lucía.

Toledo

 

You have the Capilla Mayor , inside of it you see the Capilla del Sepulcro (burial) , the beforementioned Capilla MozarabeCapilla de los Reyes Nuevos, Capilla de la Epifania, Capilla de la Concepcion, Capilla de San Martin, Capilla de San Eugenio, and  Capilla de San Juan Bautista.

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The Sala Capitular, you find more Chapels such as Capilla de San Ildefonso, Capilla de Santiago, and Capilla del Cristo de la Columna. On the north side you have the Capilla de San Pedro, Capilla de la Piedad, Capilla de la Pila Bautismal, Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Antigua, and Capilla de Doña Teresa de Haro.

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Then, you have the Sacristia or sacristy. Capilla de la Virgen del Sagrario, Capilla del Ochavo, and the choir or Coro, the Trasparente by the Capilla Mayor representing the eucharist of the holy sacrament (1729-1732) . The treasury or Tesoro.The lower and high cloister from 1389, where you find the Capilla de San Blas chapel.

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The stained glass in the Cathedral  is one where the medieval glass has been best preserved. They were done in the 14C to 17C with renovations in the 18C. The wrought iron is from the 16C in renaissance style. Many kings of Castile are buried in the Cathedral, amongst them are Juan I and son Enrique III of Castille.

This is a must to visit here, if only one thing to see in Toledo this must be it.  Again do not missed it. I have come to Toledo sometimes just walk around it ,and others go inside, always a great satisfaction of seeing it. Catedral Primada de España, Catedral Santa Maria of Toledo.

Hope you enjoy the brief introduction as like i said need a book or several posts to cover it. And of course, this is Toledo!!!

The official Catedral de Toledo webpage: https://www.catedralprimada.es/en/info/catedral/historia/

The Tourist office of Toledo on the Cathedral: https://turismo.toledo.es/museo-monumento-expo/catedral-primada/

The Tourist office of the region Castilla La Mancha on the Cathedral: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/catedral-primada-23364/descripcion/

And there you go folks, plenty to go around and see this jewel of our time and forever. Hope you enjoy the introduction. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 27, 2020

Toledo, the magical blend of Spain!

And I got to go over these ones, wonderful visits of an old city both in age and on our visits with recently before passing away last year family near. This is Toledo, the magical blend of Spain! Let me give it some refresher look and redone! Toledo is worth it. Hope you enjoy as I do.

On our meadering road warrior routes of Castilla La Mancha and al. , we have reach Toledo. I first came here while living in Madrid in the early 1970’s, the city has hardly change ,really!! Well it is old indeed.  What can I say about Toledo, simply superb ,the blending of cultures of Spain, a city kept in older times with the rhythem of today’s beat. All around you is history, the streets , pavements bricks and stones all history for the whole World. This is my Toledo , and glad to be back in it as was here last year with the family too.  We arrive by car of course, along the A40 into the N400 and right into the Alcazar fortress ,the parking behind it of San Miguel de Corralillos underground and nice. We step out into our world walking the wonderful Toledo.

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Toledo is known as the Imperial City for been the principal seat of  Carlos I and also, known as the City of the three Cultures for having being inhabited for centuries by Christians, Jewish, and Muslims. The city goes back in time, during the Romans (193) it was known as Toletum, then Arabic Tulaytulah (711), and Jewish known as Toldoth.  Christian since 1085. It is only 71 km from Madrid, and the city is laid along the river Tajo. It is composed of 16 neighborhoods but only two are really of tourist attraction, old town or zona interior and Antequeruela–Covachuela.

In the city of Toledo page you can see the tourist districts or neighborhoods with a map of them here: https://www.toledo.es/servicios-municipales/oficinas-de-atencion-al-ciudadano/casco-historico/

In the Spanish Civil War stayed in Republican control except the Alcazar where a strong garrison fought for the city, and cause the destruction of the Alcazar almost completely.

There is a beautiful train Station RENFE (see post) built in 1919 in mudéjar style outside the old walled town along the entrance on the N400.  The city has a huge arsenal of buildings ,places to see, too numerous to mention but all worth a detour. One of them is the Alcazar rebuilt in the 20C with traces going back to the 16C, and now housing since 2010 the Museo del Ejercito or Army Museum, another must to see in town.

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The Escaleras Mécanicas de Recaredo are a quaint thing to do , we just went up and down on them. It helps move without climbing the steep cobblestone streets of Toledo old Town. We saw a little train or Zocotren or little train ride all over town.

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Some of the many things to see here are the Castillo de San Servando just over the river Tajo overlooking the city from outside passing the Puente de Alcantara bridge. The wonderful museum or museo de el GrecoSinagoga del Transito (Jewish synagogue) , Hospital de Tavera, Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal (mudéjar style), Iglesia de Santo Tomé (14C and housing the portrait El Encierro del  Conde de Orgaz by El Greco), Puerta Nueva de Bisagra gate, see the colorful Plaza de Zocodover.

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We continue our journey into the Museo de los Concilios, Museo Tolmo, Iglesia Del Salvador, Iglesia San Roman, Iglesia San Pedro, Circulo de Artes , Iglesia Virgin de la Estrella or St Helen, Hospital Militar across the Tajo river, Palacio de Fuensalida, Parque de la Vega before arriving at Plaza de Toros, Posada de la Santa Hermandad, Puerta del Sol, Puerta Alarcones, The synagogue Santa Maria la Blanca, and the University Cardenal Lorezana at Toledo. Teatro de Rojas, and Ayuntamiento (city hall)  are nice architecture too.

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In all we did some shopping at Simon Vivienne next to the Synagogue El Trànsito; Calle de los Reyes Catolicos. This is a nice story of an English lady who came to visit and stayed already 52 years there!!! Great prices, good souvenirs ,and a splendid chat indeed !!!

We had our lunch as last year coming back to Restaurant Hostal Palacios (see post) at Calle Navarro Ledesma. This was epic with menus at 7,50€ entrée, main dish, dessert, bread, Amstel beer; of course we had a second round and coffee expresso so came out to 11,55€ per person but still a bargain in the middle of Toledo! The service very friendly and the manager remember us or at least he claims lol!!! webpage: http://www.hostalpalacios.net/Restaurante.21.0.html

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The Tourist office of Toledo in Spanish: https://turismo.toledo.es/

The Tourist offices in the Diputacion and Province of Toledo in Spanish: https://www.diputoledo.es/global/11/1325/4900/turismo_videos

The region tourism of Castilla La Mancha on Toledohttp://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/toledo/

There is so much to see as I said in Toledo, and many popular places are easily found . These are just a few, last year came to some different ones and some repeat this year, with new ones. I am sure next time there will be others to see. For me two full days are needed to see this wonderful city, see it; because I can stay a lifetime. 

The pictures are mostly shown in individual posts on the sites in my blog, here will leave those not elsewhere me think…Enjoy them, and maybe inspire you to come to visit the city of cultures. Dream on like Don Quijote and visit magical Toledo in Castilla La Mancha!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 27, 2020

San Clemente, Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha!!

And getting to the memorable year of 2017 updating revising my old posts. This year is special as the last vacation with my dear late wife Martine. We came to San Clemente by chance driving our road warrior routine in the Province of Cuenca, Autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha. We really enjoy the town and is one of our greatest memories of family vacation.

And here I am again with the continuing story of the province of Cuenca and Castilla La Mancha, Don Quijote and all; this is a road warrior’s delight into the heart of Spain. We went on by car on the edges of the N310 road to San Clemente.  This was the highlight of the trip, not only because of the ride into a more built-up city or the fine buildings, but we had a great lunch at a wonderful place we marked down to come back! Indeed the highlight of the visit.

The town is very old going back into pre history. Here the Romans and Moors and once conquered back Christian, they found a wooden Virgin near a old castle ruin and call it Virgen de Rus, (for the old castle) now the town Patron’s Saint. As the town sided with queen Isabel I the Catholic, it was given special privileges and town status independent of others since 1479. Key city in the war of independence from Napoleon’s France at the end in 1814 was given judicial power city one of 12 in the area for been loyal to the Spanish Crown.  During the Spanish Civil War, there were aerodrome built here mostly of Russian make for the Republican losing side.

It has a huge inventory of historical buildings and has been declared a city of national interest in Spain. One of these buildings is the Casa Consistorial ,renaissance from the 16C . The bottom floor is the local archive and the other floors there is a Graphics arts museum. It is in the Plaza Mayor.

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There is a tower in the plaza Mayor  or Torre Vieja, (old tower) built in the 15C before 1445. It is now the Tourist Office and the Museum of Etnography of Labranza.

We walked by the Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, the Convent of San José y Santa Ana (Founded by Carmelites in  1617), Monasterio de los Angeles (Founded in 1588 by Trinitarians), Old Prison building ( done in 1588 united by the arches), and the Plaza de Toros! (built in 1908), and needed more time.

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San Clemente

The wonderful city hall ,Mercado del Abasto market, el Posito (old bakeries and butcheries housing grains in second level and meats in first level) , the nice looking gate arches coming out from the Plaza Mayor just nice; the City/town hall of plateresque style architecture ; and of course the Cerveceria El Carmen (see post) where we had our lunch for the day !  Plenty of tapas chorizos fritos, omelettes of potatoes tortillas de patata, ham croquettes, etc and the nice cold beers just what the summer calls for it,and all under 9€ per person! Nice ::) And we love it, still memories flashing back of our family lunch there!!! Restaurant Guru webpage on the El Carmen and more photos enjoy it as we did:https://es.restaurantguru.com/Cerveceria-Taperia-Carmen-San-Clemente-Castile-La-Mancha

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The city of San Clemente on things to see in Spanish: http://www.sanclemente.es/que-ver-en-san-clemente/

The tourist office of San Clemente on things to do, tourist map etc in Spanish: http://www.turismosanclemente.com/es/plano-turistico.zhtm

The tourist office of Cuenca province on La Mancha region of San Clemente in English: https://www.descubrecuenca.com/en/rutas/la-mancha

The tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on San Clemente in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/san-clemente-24731/descripcion/

There is plenty to see in San Clemente for more than a day, maybe two.  Once again, this is wonderful, this is life. I ended our tour for the day and headed back to our house in the Serrania de Cuenca at Las Majadas. Very nice ride, good fun for the family and a lot passed on for future generations on my beloved Spain. Spain; everything under the sun. 

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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