We've been told that the North coast of Spain is a sliding scale of gastronomy. To the left; quality produce. To the right; preparation excellence. Somewhere in the middle and the perfect balance, they say, is Asturias. The coast itself doesn't feature on the folklore and this is seemingly for one good reason. The Picos de Europa.
In my home town of Doncaster, we live on the east side of the Pennines. Whenever the weather is bad we blame the mountains. When the wind blows west, the clouds get penned in and downpour. Meanwhile, on the other side in bloody Lancashire there’s uninterrupted blue skies.
So it is in Spain. You enter the south side of the Cantabrico tunnel sweltering, lathered in sun tan cream. Five minutes later you surface a few hundred yards from the sea wrapped in fog and scrabbling to turn down the air conditioning. Thank god for Playa Catedrales.
This stretch of the Galicia coast needs no sunshine. People don’t come here to bathe but gaze at what history made. Emerging from the coastline is a cannon of rock cliffs and formations where sandbanks jut up against layers of prehistory. Melodramatic maybe, too long in the car definitely, though here is a bewildering place where land and sea have battled for a couple million years.
Rising out of the waves (along with a couple of brave souls) is a complex of naturally formed caves, arches and rocky columns. Crashing waves echo around the cavern walls as the tide comes in. Connected pools fill and drain to form new paths through the cloisters. It’s holy. The Cathedrals.
Far less holy, back to earth and down the road is Cudillero, a tiny fishing village perched in a tiny bay on the side of a hill. Cudillero is painfully picturesque, worthy of one photo that must be taken a thousand times daily by the tourist influx. Reminiscent of Tuscany’s Cinqueterra.
Which is fine – but is this the finest balance of cuisine and preparation? Honestly no. The pork lomo was tough, chorizo normal and prawns average. Everything came with fries and was instantly forgettable. The search goes on.