León - 2018 Spanish Culinary Capital

From a media release:


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Whether you're a serious foodie or a more casual lover of good food, León, Spain’s new Culinary Capital, should make it to your to-do list.

Capital of the Province of León, the city lies on the Bernesga River in the northwest of Spain. It's noted for its imposing historic architecture, including the splendid 13th century Gothic Catedral de León, and Romanesque 10th century Basilica de San Isidoro, among many others.
Street at night, León, Spain (CC Public Domain)
The city and the surrounding area are famous for tapas, busy areas of bars and restaurants, and cured meat products such as cecina and botillo.

Take the opportunity in 2018 to sample the cuisine and the culture of León. The city is easy to reach by AVE high-speed train from Madrid in just over two hours.

Tapas in the Barrio Húmedo

The Barrio Húmedo neighbourhood is very central, in the streets around Plaza de San Martín. It is the quintessential place for tapas, offering the dishes of León in small plates. Cecina, chorizo, morcilla, and other pork sausages are very frequent in tapas. To drink, from the regional wines of Castilla y León (those from Ribera de Duero, Rueda, and El Bierzo are particularly renowned) to beer, which people order here in “cortos” (small glasses).
The Barrio Húmedo in León (Arturo Castro from León, España)

The essential dishes and tapas

León’s star product may be cecina, which means "meat that has been salted and dried by means of air, sun or smoke" - air-dried beef or horsemeat, similar to serrano ham. Another fine product is botillo del Bierzo (a pork sausage, similar to haggis in shape), typically eaten boiled with cachelos (the local potatoes), for example. The cheeses are good, especially the Valdeón blue cheese.

Other popular dishes include cocido maragato (casserole), picadillo de cerdo (minced pork), sopa de trucha (trout soup), sopa de ajo (garlic soup), and caldereta de cordero (lamb stew).

When it comes to wines, you'll find some rich reds in this region, including Bierzo, which thrives in the many small valleys in the mountainous part (Alto Bierzo) and of a wide, flat plain (Bajo Bierzo).
Tapas in Spain

Spanish Culinary Capital events

León expects to organise over 150 culinary events in 2018, some of which will run all year, such as the Gaudí – Casa Botines Museum Nights, with tastings, tours, and concerts; and monthly lecture-workshops taught by prestigious chefs and concluding with a charity dinner.

- April: month of Montañas del Teleno milk-fed lamb, and the monthly vermouth route.
- May: cecina month, and an attempt to break a Guinness record of the largest dish made with cecina, plus a blind tasting.
- June: month of sweets, desserts, and pastries, and international León trout week.
- All summer: dinners with concerts in the cloister of San Isidoro de León.
Pantheon, Basilica San Isidoro de León
- July: month of cheese and honey, and a garlic soup festival in the Plaza Mayor.
- August: beer month
- September: month of the vegetable garden, and bread festival to honour León’s traditional bakers
- October: month of wine from Bierzo and morcilla from León, and the “Cook with A” initiative, to underline the active role of women in Leonese cooking.
- November: month of León wine and of goat cecina. Tapas festival in León.
- December: month of beans, chick peas, and lentils, and the creation of “magic menus” in restaurants for the City of León International Magic Festival and Christmas market.