The last week of September was an intensive time to explore ciders in Asturias, the northern province of Spain. We went to Salon Internacional de les Sidres de Gala (SISGA) – international cider show. The weekend in Gijón and the surrounding area was jam-packed with tastings, meetings and talking and eating :). Read our post to find out more.
We are very happy that we could take part in this event, as well as meet Polish cider makers. Some of them we met for the first time! Polish producers also took part in an EU project related to fruit processing and making cider. Some of the participants have orchards and they look for new business opportunities.
Our journey began on Tuesday, the 24 of September. We had an evening flight from London to Santander, a city in Cantabria that borders the province of Asturias. Here lives my Spanish friend. It turned out that he knows someone from El Gaitero cider producer so we arranged a visit to the factory in Villaviciosa (on Wednesday).
Gijón – the capital of cider
On Thursday, the 27 of September there was a meeting at Sidra JR in the suburbs of Gijón, where we had the opportunity to try cider and see how to pour cider in Asturian style. Three-time world champion – Loreto Garcia – conducted a short workshop and showed us how to properly hold a bottle and a glass to pour cider into a glass. I also tried. This is not a simple matter and unfortunately, some cider landed on the floor instead of a glass. Many people from the group of visitors did quite well.
Friday, the 28 of September – in the morning I took part in the cider competition as a member of the jury. Together with other producers and people from the industry I evaluated several dozen ciders. It was a real challenge for me because in such a situation you have to be very impartial, even though you don’t like some type of cider. Despite my initial fears, judging went quite smoothly. Finally, there was a short tour of the Llagar Castañon cider mill and the Asturian snack with cider – espicha.
In the evening there was a gala dinner and awards were presented. The party started with a short musical performance, later there were speeches and the first courses were served. What I liked the most was the combination of dishes and ciders that took part in the competition. The chefs have created delicious starters and dishes and have chosen the right ciders for them. The combinations of flavours were amazing. Due to the fact that Gijón is located by the sea, fish and seafood dominated among dishes.
Polish ciders were awarded: we received awards in categories: dry cider – silver for Cydr Szczepanówka, bronze for Cydr Sadownika; sparkling cider – bronze for Cydr Chyliczki; sweet cider – silver for Cydr Podlaski; ice cider – gold for Cydr Chyliczki and Cydr Tradycyjny z Trzebnicy; perry – gold for Cydr Chyliczki; cider with added flavours – gold for Cydr Chyliczki; endogenous carbonic – bronze for Cydr Chyliczki. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
On Saturday, the 28 September was Open Tasting Day for the public. In the heart of Gijón, in the former collegiate church of San Juan Bautista, cider producers from various countries presented their ciders to a wider public. From morning till the evening you could try ciders and talk to their creators. This intense day ended with a joint dinner for all cider makers (we could not go, and our child bored terribly that day, the only attraction for him was the LEGO exhibition).
The Sunday, the 29 of September was the last day of SISGA – Sommelier Day. The cider makers talked about their ciders, there were also short lectures on how to serve cider. Leszek took part in this meeting, and my son and I went for a small walk around the city. I bought a very interesting book about cider in Asturias.
On Monday we returned to rainy England. In Spain was sunny and warm (22 degrees), London welcomed us with rain and cold weather. Tired but happy we arrived home.
You can see more photos on our Facebook page.
PS. More information of Polish cider makers will be in the next posts.