In the new series of Neven's Spanish Food Trails, Neven Maguire lets his travel bug run wild, taking us on a whistlestop tour of some of the most exciting regions in Spain.
This six-part series highlights the local cuisine as Neven enjoys a huge range of produce, from Cabrales blue cheese matured in mountain caves, to Galician veal, octopus pie, grilled sea bass, clams, traditional Spanish Cider, and Albariño Wine.
Neven also creates a new recipe every week and you can find the recipe on RTÉ Food every Thursday.
On tonight's episode...
Neven sets off to the breathtaking regions of Cantabria and Asturias, both celebrated foodie centres and with a strong agricultural culture, earning it the nickname Green Spain.
Neven fittingly starts his journey in the Picos De Europa National Park, divided between the regions of Cantabria, Asturias and León. From there, he heads to Cantabria, taking the Fuente Dé cable car which travels to 1823m above sea level in just four minutes and offering sweeping panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains.
In the mountain village of Sotres, the Cavan man samples the famed local specialty: Cabrales blue cheese. Honed by the unique geographical quirks of the area, this cheese is made with a blend of cow, goat and sheep's milk and then matured in remote mountain caves.
Moving onto El Gaitero, a traditional cider-making factory in Villaviciosa dating back to 1890, Neven quenches his thirst for local tipples with a tasting. Asturias is the only region in Spain where wine is not produced as the climate is similar to Ireland and more suitable for producing cider - we doubt Neven minds this too much!
With over 500 varieties of apples in the Asturias region, El Gaitero blends its cider from 100 varieties, producing Natural, Sparkling and Brut varieties.
From here, our host sets off to learn how the locals make cider, visiting Trabanco, a restaurant that produces its own blend. Under the careful eye of chef Iván Rodriguez, Neven learns how to make veal with a sparkling cider and cheese sauce.
Local chefs are well used to using cider in their cooking, adding it to meat and fish dishes for acidity and flavour, and to desserts for a hit of something sweet. Restaurant manager José Pardo serves Neven delicious mussels in tomato sauce and cider, explaining how versatile the beverage is.
Watch Neven's Spanish Food Trails every Thursday on RTÉ One at 8:30pm.