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Ilbra Yacoob Luxury Travel Agent Encino, California
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Protravel International Encino
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Ilbra Yacoob

Encino, California Travel Agent
Gastronomic journey through Asturias, Spain
Cabrales Blue Cheese
Cabrales Blue Cheese


As our plane descended from the hour-long flight from Madrid, our aerial view became greener by every drop in elevation. We arrived in what is known as Green Spain, Asturias.  Given the small size of Gijón Oviedo Airport (OVD), claiming our luggage, and renting a car was quick and easy.Just a 35-minute drive from the airport stood our charming, boutique hotel where we checked-in, La Ermita de Deva. Tucked in among the rolling green hills of Gijón, this quaint establishment retains its historical façade that dates to 1701. Once a chapel built by 2 monks for Saint Antonio, now a family owned heirloom. Every room opened its windows to astoundingly beautiful views of green mountains and the well-maintained landscape of the property.

Our host Mara and her team are known to spoil their guests with superb hospitality and home-cooked culinary delights of Asturian cuisine. Adjacent to her dining room, we enjoyed refreshments and spirits in the beautiful, covered patio lined with terracotta tiles. It goes without saying that there was lots of love and effort put into running this little paradise. We took a stroll through the tiny, curved streets and beautiful countryside for a taste of rural life before turning in for the night.


A family tradition dating to 1925, “Casa Trabanco” is known to produce the finest Asturian Cider, better known in these parts as “Sidra”. On these grounds, aromas of fermented apples and spectacular views of green apple orchards made their presence known at every turn. The climate here is the perfect setting to grow apples. It’s no wonder we found traditional Sidreria’s dotting the streets of Asturias.  Today we discovered the art of traditional Sidra production. Navigating our way through cider tunnels we passed enormous silos housing thousands of liters of fresh, tart Sidra. Not to mention, the gigantic wooden apple press. Our tour ended with a lesson in the “High pour” where we tasted Sidra directly out of wooden barrels along with Asturian Cheeses. For lunch, we dined at Restaurante Casa Trabanco where the buzz of locals' conversation ignited a sense of excitement. 


A pleasant 2-hour drive from La Ermita de Deva, the road lead us towards mountain canyons winding in and out of lush green pastures. A place one can easily mistake for the Swiss Alps. Except we reached a hidden gem situated within the Cabrales municipality of Asturias, Tielve.

With vast green hills and rocky granite peaks all around, we were quickly reminded of how little space we occupy on this planet. I could not help but be in awe of the greatness that surrounded me. At the foothills, I caught a glimpse of die-hard hikers with trekking poles in hand preparing for their climb ahead.Our scenic drive up to the Cheese Caves was interrupted by a herd of goats that went off their daily grazing path. Cabrales, is known as Spain’s King of blue cheeses and aged within caves tucked into the same mountains edging these serpentine roads. With the abundance of pastures here, it makes sense why animal husbandry has become the common agricultural activity.At our destination, a family of traditional shepherds and cheese makers, was awaiting our arrival. The mother and wife, proudly holds the champion title of the 2018 “Best Cabrales in the World” award. We then hopped into a 4X4 for a short and bumpy drive up the narrow dirt road towards the area that marked the beginning of our hike.  Our trek up towards the cheese cave was led by 2 shepherds, father and son, all the while herding their 70 cows, 170 goats, and 98 sheep. 

Every step of the way, our senses were heightened! Our ears filled with the sound of cowbells, our nose picking up scents of the fresh green grass and rich soil beneath our feet. Our eyes captured the vastness that towered over us. The sighting of wild horses trotting the stunning opulent green hills was one of the most magical moments for me. Inside the natural cheese caves was moist with a temperatures of 48° Fahrenheit. Our headlamps came in handy, it was very dark inside the cave. As we arrived at the entrance of the cave, we were led inside where we discovered wooden shelves stacked with wheels of blue cheese. The older cheeses were rustic and dotted with blue mold, and younger ones silky white. On a weekly basis, father and son transport wheels of Cabrales. Often by foot, and in the depths of winter, by horseback. The cave's limestone walls were lined with natural blue mold, which aide in the maturation of Cabrales. Inoculation of wheels is not necessary, the persistent mold penetrates the wheels from the outside to their very core. After the cave, we made our way back down to purchase Cabrales from the cheese maker herself. Our journey came to an end with a toast to a glass of wine as we ripped pieces of bread to slather with a hefty chunks of Cabrales cheese