Las Xanas or Good Times in Pedroveya

The Friend F, The Sis-in-law, The DH in Pedroveya

Last weekend DH, our friend F, and my sis-in-law hiked up a mountain for the sole purpose of eating. Let me explain. A few blogs ago, I mentioned the “Xanas,” Asturias’ version of sirens. One of Asturias’ very well developed walking trails is called “El Desfiladero de Las Xanas,” or “The Xanas’ Trail or Canyon.” It is typically described as being short, easy, and with a really great restaurant at the top. In fact, if you mention that you recently walked the Xanas, or you are thinking about doing the Xanas, the only sort of reaction you will get is: “Did you eat at the top?” or “Are you going to eat at the top?” This place is legendary.

The route starts in the village of Villanueva, which I already mentioned to you in a previous blog. There it is, from the beginning of the trail.

The terrain starts off with an ascent up a paved road, and then veers off into the beginning of the canyon. Now, I must qualify the use of the word canyon. For any of my relatives reading from Utah, what I really mean to say is something more along the lines of “ditch.”
 
But to most people, this canyon will seem quite impressive. The trail follows the left-hand side and is, for the most part, carved out of the walls. There are few harrowing moments to be had crossing over rock slides, where you are certain that one misstep will send you barreling down to the “river” (again, for you Utah readers, creek). But all-in-all it is fairly easy and safe, as evidenced by all the 7 and 8 year-olds jogging along the trail.

About half way to 2/3rds up, the trail enters a forest. (Bosque in Spanish – I love this word! Bos-kay) Sounds enchanting. I was all ready to be charmed by the Spanish Bosque, full of sprites and elves and xanas! But no, although extremely scenic and very beautiful, it was mostly just full of mud! (It rained the day before so it was slippy-slidey.) BTW, they call it Barro in Spanish which I much prefer to mud. Actually, barro might just refer to clay-like mud, but you know, sometimes details get lost in translation.

Perhaps this is the hiding place of the so-called Xanas? They love mountain streams.

You’ve arrived “at the top” once you emerge into a glorious green meadow, full of grazing cattle and picturesque wildflowers, you know, straight out of “The Sound of Music.” Ordinarily, that would have happened, but we sort of got lost, and followed a fork in the trail that turned out to be perfectly fine, just longer. So we didn’t get that “The Hills Are Alive…” moment, but we also didn’t have to ascend said meadow, which must be at an angle of about 80 degrees.

So this is the prize, the gold medal, the big reward for the hour and a half  hike: PEDROVEYA. Truth be told, it is a charming village. And it would be even better if it weren’t for all the cars parked in any little cranny they can find. (I suspect all the cars belong to the anti-exercise people who, gasp, actually DRIVE to the village to eat, instead of hiking up.)

The restaurant is called Casa Generosa, and generous it is. The food is typical Asturian, and there is not a lot of choice. Not that you need it. The choice has already been made for you – the good choice. In Spain, a meal is generally made up of courses. Europeans do not fill their plate up with a main dish and sides, like we do in America and Canada. For our first course, we had a choice of either Fabada or Pote Asturiano. Fabada is the regional dish made up of big, buttery, bursting-with-flavor white beans, (called Fabes here, and no, they have nothing to do with Fava beans.). They also throw in a piece of chorizo sausage, a piece of morcilla sausage (blood sausage – so barbaric but so good), and a piece of – how should I put this so a North American palate can appreciate it – fat, or bacon fat if you will. Pote Asturiano is also a major regional dish, also a stew. It might have a few fabes in it, but mostly it is vegetables, like potatoes and greens, with some chorizo and morcilla. This was my first time eating Pote, and I’m hooked. Actually, I had a bit of a food block against Pote, because I had mistakenly thought of the Spanish word Pota everytime I saw Pote. (Pota means vomit.) Believe you me, that was no Asturian vomit that I ate!

L – Myself and our friend F. along with a bowl of Fabada. R – The restaurant, flanked by horreos.

For our second course, we had cabrito and tenera – that is goat and veal – that had been stewed. Yes, I recognize that stewed goat is probably only going to sound good if you are from the Caribbean or Albania, but again, another awesome choice.

Then came dessert, and I am no joker when it comes to dessert. Generally, I am not a sweets person. I like salt. But I know a good home-style, grandma-made dessert when I see one, and Casa Generosa makes, hands down, the best arroz con leche IN THE WORLD. (For the unordained, arroz con leche is rice with milk, but it is so much creamier and delish than rice with milk could ever transmit.)

L – DH & I deliriously happy post-meal. R – Close up on the horreo, with dried onions & corn.

You know the drill after eating lunch in Spain – Siesta. Sleep. Nap. Anything but an hour and a half descent down a windy, narrow mountain path. Did I regret the goat and beans? No, don’t worry, common sense won out, and a modified rest/siesta in the mountain meadow, among the cows, allowed us to digest just enough.

This reminded me of the time, 5 years ago, when the DH and I went hiking in Western Asturias, in a fabulous place called Taramundi. We had spent the whole morning hiking when we stumbled upon a restaurant. They pretty much only served Fabada, which was fine with us, because we love it. Well, after a long lunch eating a thick, heavy stew of beans and meat, the last thing you want to do is continue hiking. We did, however, set off on the trail, only to pass group after group of Spaniards who had just sort of crashed out along the sides of the trail.

We did manage to make it down the trail to the comfort of the car – the ubiquitous Ford Fiesta. (How can you not enjoy a car named “Ford Party.”)

The place: Asturias, Spain, Top of the Xanas’ Trail. The town: Pedroveya. The restaurant: Casa Generosa. The phone number: 985 783 046 (From within Spain.)

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