Five winding small roads lead to Casa Marcial, the restaurant that chef Nacho Manzano runs with his sisters in La Salgar, a small village about an hour from Oviedo.

On the edge of the narrow meanders of asphalt, cows, sheep and some horses graze on the green Asturian pru. The northeast wind comes down from Pico Pienzu and crosses, firmly, the small village where Nacho has turned the house in which he was born into the only two Michelin star restaurant in the province and which also has three Repsol Suns.

The key to this recognition, as well as the choice by users of The Fork as the favorite restaurant of the Spaniards, is in the look that Nacho and his family put in the kitchen. One look inwards, towards its essence, and another outwards, towards the pastures, the orchard and the sea.

A look that Nacho and his team, which includes his two sisters and nephew, develop in two menus: Pienzu, where he pays homage to the peak that climbs to clear the mind; and Vega, where he remembers his beloved beach of Ribadesella, a few kilometers from La Salgar.

To delve into the Pienzu menu, the longest minute of the restaurant, is to look at the present, 15 kilometers around, from the restaurant; to the past that Manzano reinterprets from his memory and his palate; and the future of a region and a gastronomy that does not stop evolving.

The well-known croquettes of Casa Marcial.L. B.

The appetizers on the menu already give an idea of how Nacho Manzano conceives the experience of eating at Casa Marcial. "The menu is like a story," he explains to EL MUNDO in a space of the restaurant that serves as a library, kitchen for tests and living room.

Open that drawer of memories a bite of mussel and Raifort seaweed, pure Asturian sea and mountain. It is followed by its famous croquette, crispy on the outside and milky on the inside, prepared according to the family recipe. It is closed by a curd of celery, seaweed and cucumber and an apple kombucha, an acidic drink with a spicy touch to take in a different way a fruit adored by the Asturians.

The central part of the menu delves into the way this chef has to reinterpret the Asturian tradition and present it in a "personal and intimate way". A Norway lobster, so fresh that it slowly dies on a plate with ice in front of the diner, is the first of the steps of this route between the coast and the interior with intermediate stops in the childhood of Nacho and his sisters and in the i+D led by his nephew Jesus, only 23 years old.

The sea is also present in a delicate dish of llampas and cauliflower accompanied by a juice of parsley and codium; in a verdine with hake collagen; in a grilled grouper with beurre blanc; and in a squid with mole poblano and celeriac that pays homage to the "Indian heritage" of Asturias. In this last dish, in addition, one of Jesus' creations has a special presence: a mussel broth tablet that takes two weeks to prepare and that on contact with salt 'dyes' the dish a characteristic color.

Cow slices, one of the dishes on the menu.L. B.

But the sea can also be present in Casa Martial's meat dishes. The cows that graze on the cliffs that break the Cantabrian Sea are protagonists of the cow slices with buttermilk. The salty grass and the northeast wind, which Nacho uses "as another ingredient", leave their mark on that dish.

Manzano's cuisine appeals to the memory and flavors that marked childhood, both his own and that of the diners. There is significance, for example, the cold version of the chicken broth that mothers and grandmothers prepared at home. "A taste of autumn and Asturias", a dish that evokes the landscape and countrymen of the Principality.

Although most of the products they use at Casa Marcial are local, Manzano does not hesitate to use another product if the season asks for it. "We are not Taliban, we can bring products from outside," he explains.

If you have to improvise a seasonal dish, such as a salad of fermented asparagus, raw and cooked with ice cream, it is done. Even if it's from one day to the next. Fear in the kitchen has no place in this small village, and Manzano proves it "cooking without a harness or mat".

The central part closes with a plate that moves the traces that wild boars leave in the forests near the dining room where the Manzano family transformed their house into a gastronomic temple. The name is a sample of how the territory is internalized and becomes haute cuisine: wild boar and its destruction.

Nacho Manzano giving the final touch to a dish.E. M.

Before desserts, and "halfway between sweet and salty", another ingredient takes center stage, also present in other Manzano restaurants, such as Gloria. This is the hedgehog, presented with apples, algae and milk. Again, territory, territory and territory.

The sweet part, combined with the fruits, follows the path through the Asturian orchard. A corn cake, with flour from a mill that the family has recovered in its newly opened Palace of Rubianes, competes in delicacy with a small macaron of native kiwi. To top it off, an orange cream with basil ice cream and seasonal fruit.

Two small sweet bites - 'El carajillo del profesor' and a chocolate doughnut' - are the final point of this trip through Asturias whose map is drawn practically day by day with the ingredients that 'surround' Casa Marcial. For Nacho, the driver of this ship, "just open the window" to see what he will pilot the menu with.

Address: Casa Marcial (Calle La Salgar, s/n, 33549 Arriondas, Parres, Asturias)

Cider from all over Europe

Throughout the trip, there is a passenger who accompanies the diner. It is presented by Juan Luis GarcĂ­a, sommelier of the house. Although the usual thing would be to pair the menu with wine, in Casa Marcial they bet on doing it with cider, a drink par excellence of the area and that has a wide range of combinations.

"People think it's second-rate, but here it is given the value it has," he explains as he pours an ice cider to match dessert.

Ten ciders, who depart from Asturias, pass through northern and central Europe and return to Asturias, are responsible for pairing the trip proposed by Manzano to diners. A journey with different nuances, typical of the apple varieties used in the preparation, but which has the unmistakable "tasty" of Asturian gastronomy.

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