Whoever is the founder of Tierra Astur is a marketing genius: there's a restaurant, bar, and shop for all of your Asturian needs. The location is Gijon is supposedly the same way. But wow, this place was buzzing - there was not an empty seat inside of the restaurant, nor on the not one, but two, terraces of the restaurant. Compared to the capacity of the other restaurants on this street that is famous for all of the establishments that specialize in cider from Asturias, Tierra Astur is the place to be.
What makes the experience even more ridiculous is that the restaurant is like the Cheesecake Factory of Asturias. All of the portions are humongous. I wasn't given a piece of bread, I was given half a loaf. A "small tapas" that was brought with my sidra was what would be a whole "tabla" of embutidos (cured meats) in a New York restaurant (and probably command at least $15). I am not sure whether the ternera that the table next to me ordered actually came from a cow or a brontosaurus. But if the food is good, I am never one to complain!
Although the restaurant was extremely crowded, this is the type of establishment where the service is still really friendly, bordering comical. One waiter was teaching a toddler how to pour sidra . My waiter probably could have been a comedian, too.
I ordered the cachopo de merluza (a fish-based cachopo versus the traditional meat-based version). What is cachopo, do you ask? The word itself is Asturian and translates to the hollow trunk of a tree. The original cachopo (with meat) is two pieces (although slabs may be a more accurate term) of meat, with jamon and cheese between them. It's usually accompanied by a side of potatoes, mushrooms, and piquillo peppers. My fish version was instead stuffed with mussels and octopus, and served with a giant prawn, piquillo peppers, and potatoes, but you get the idea: enough food to feed the entire family sitting across from me.
Because cachopo takes 15 minutes to prepare, I drank plenty of sidra and was feeling very full from just a few bites of the bread and the embutidos. The cachopo was well worth the wait - the fish sauce, how it was stuffed, everything about it was prepared very well.
I finished (or what I thought was me finishing) my meal with a very robust cafe solo. As I was taking the final sip of my coffee, my waiter said, "You look like you need a shot." I was hesitant; I needed a moment to think whether I REALLY needed a shot. He started rattling off the plethora of liquors available in the well-stocked bar area. I caved and asked for a hazelnut liquor. My waiter came back a few minutes later to tell me that I looked much better with the shot. The joke may not translate well to English, but like I said, this guy was a comedian.
When I asked for the cheque, my waiter told me that the coffee and the shot were his treats and there was no need for me to pay for them. I definitely appreciated his warmth and hospitality - plus, after a short walk, I hadn't felt so relaxed in a while.
 A great educational video on the whole technique to pouring sidra: youtube.com/watch?v=FNPs…
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