The northern regions of Asturias and Basque Country are lush and verdant. Their position between the Bay of Biscay to the north and the Cantabrian Mountains to the south creates a rainy, temperate climate that the locals call España Verde.
The tradition of fermenting apples runs deep here, dating back possibly thousands of years, and the regional style of cider, or sidra natural, has evolved alongside the region’s salty, fatty tapas cuisine, locally known as pintxos or pinchos. Focusing more on sharp and bittersharp apple varieties that are high in acid, these ciders are tangy, dry and refreshing—the perfect counterpart to common dishes like chorizo and salt cod.
To experience Spanish cider like a local in a sidrería, or cider bar, a dramatic pouring technique should be employed. A bottle of cider is held above your head and poured in a steady stream into a thin-rimmed glass just below your waist. The practice lightly carbonates the cider, helping to cut the biting acidity and delivering a creamy mousse—try pouring over a sink to capture any errant splashes.
Courtesy Justin Severino, chef/owner, Cure and Morcilla, Pittsburgh
- 1 cup Manzanilla olives, pitted and minced
- 6 jarred piquillo peppers, minced
- 3 cups olive oil
- 8 fingerling potatoes
- 1 white onion, thin-sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, thin-sliced
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 4 ounces Serrano ham, thin-sliced
Mix olives and piquillo peppers with 1 cup olive oil. Chill for 2 hours.
In small pot, cover potatoes in 2 cups olive oil, and cook over medium heat until tender. Remove potatoes and reserve oil for later use.
In small skillet over medium heat, using just enough of reserved olive oil to cover, fry garlic until golden brown. Add onions, and sauté until translucent. Combine onions and garlic with potatoes.
Combine eggs, potato mixture and 1 cup of reserved olive oil.
Pour thin layer of reserved olive oil in 8-inch nonstick skillet. Add egg mixture and cook over low heat, gently pulling egg away from sides with spatula, until egg begins to set, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Let rest for 3 minutes, then flip onto plate and slide back into the pan to cook on reverse side for 1 minute.
Slide tortilla out of pan and let cool in refrigerator, about 1 hour. Wrap tortilla with Serrano ham and cut into 8 pieces. Serve chilled, with piquillo pepper and olive relish. Serves 4.
These high-acid ciders shine brightest alongside deliciously salty, savory dishes like quintessentially Spanish egg tortilla. At his Pittsburgh restaurants, Cure and Morcilla, Chef Justin Severino specializes in classic Iberian dishes like these. For a traditional Basque option, try the Isastegi Sagardo Naturala, but be sure to pour from above to create a gentle carbonation. For a naturally sparkling version from Asturias, seek out Trabanco Sidra Natural Poma Áurea Brut Nature.
Published on September 15, 2020