Spain is famous for its Summers when thousands of tourists come to visit us for our extraordinary climate and our equally wonderful gastronomy. Spain is the country of light. The beaches are the Queens and the salads, vinaigrette salads, escalivadas (smoky, grilled vegetables) and chilled soups the princesses of the gastronomy.
But why not become equally famous for the Autumn season? It seems to me that it is an ideal time to travel and eat. This season is an explosion of sensations. A luxury you can afford because everything is cheaper, there are not so many people crammed into the places you visit and the weather allows you to eat a wider variety of products, heartier and more traditional in our country. The range of seasonal products on offer is undoubtedly of the most extensive.
Autumn is an ideal moment for cooking given the huge quantity of new foodstuffs granted to us by nature: mushrooms, truffles, bushmeat, creamy soups, stews, or fish, it’s a time that allows us to enjoy the last sardines of the season that will give way to sea bream, cuttlefish, sea bass and gilt-head bream. Without forgetting the cuisine of the slaughter season which generates hundreds of gastronomic events every year.
The low temperatures mean we need to consume dishes that are more calorific than in the Summer, but there are also many vegetables that appear in the month of October such as endives, artichokes, cauliflower, spinach, red cabbage or red peppers.
There are few periods as good for photographing nature in Spain as the Autumn. Seeing the woods change their colours to reds and yellows or signing up for a mushroom picking excursion would lift anybody’s spirits.
Autumn is perfect for participating in activities such as hiking or riding. Another high point of Autumn in Spain is the grape harvest. If there’s a good moment to roam the vineyards on foot or by bicycle or to fly above the wine growing landscapes in a hot air balloon, that moment is Autumn, when the harvest is taking place.
At this time there will be many opportunities to get to know mushrooms, both at the table and away from it. Mycological days are held in many areas and towns, which include courses to learn how to distinguish them, tastings and guided field trips. You will even find hotels with thematic packages that include accommodation, specialized menus, introductory courses and field trips. This is the case, for example, of the mycological weekends that are often held in different Tourist Paradors.
Mushrooms are found all over Spain, although wooded and mountain areas such as Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, The Basque Country, Castilla and León, Navarre, Aragon, and Catalonia are where they are most abundant. In these areas it is common to find places with a diverse mycological offer, including bars, restaurants and rural houses. The best thing to do is to go to the Tourist Offices or to the mycology societies in the place you are visiting to get information regarding the different possibilities.
Let us not forget the townies. The Autumn season 2017 is one of the periods of the year which sees more openings in the capital in the culinary market. Inaugurations, long awaited moves (such as Coque restaurant) the arrival in Madrid of de hoteliers and restauranteurs from other regions (like Rías de Galicia, Skina and Ángel León in the Glass Bar), places reopening with a new image (like Casa Alicia and the Sofía Hotel), ambitious group projects (such as Larrumba and La Máquina) and the return of international chefs with new ideas (like Gastón Acurio, with Yakumanka) are a snapshot of the calendar that starts in September.
Foods to eat in the Autumn
Courgettes and pumpkin. These vegetables are characterized by their high-water content and low calorie and low carbohydrate counts. These characteristics make them perfect to accompany all types of dishes.
Spinach and Chards. Spinach is the perfect plant to include in diets that fight obesity, since it has very few calories and, is moreover highly satiating. Also, because of their properties and composition they help relieve constipation whilst providing iron.
Mushrooms including wild mushrooms. Mushrooms stand out for their high biological value proteins, and are also rich in iron, phosphorous and potassium, all of them minerals essential for the proper functioning of the body.
Wild asparagus. Wild asparagus is the most diuretic food in the Mediterranean diet. It is highly recommended for people who suffer from fluid retention. In addition, it can be combined in many ways, in scrambled eggs, as an accompaniment to fish and meat etc.
Lettuces, escaroles y endives. Salads are the perfect option when you don’t feel like cooking or when you just want to take care of yourself. Lettuce, endives or escarole are usually the basis of most salads; In addition, lettuce is rich in antioxidants and the best food to use when you want to lose weight.
Oily fish. Oily fish are very rich in Omega 3, so they are good for the heart and also for the concentration of the mind. They are recommended for maintaining strong bones and contain many antioxidants, while the vitamins B and C they contain are very good for the nervous system.
Nuts. They are foods that should not be abused, since they contain a large number of calories, but at the same time they provide phosphorus, iron, nutrients and vitamins that, when consumed in moderation, are very good for the body.
Pulses. Pulses are the base of Mediterranean cuisine and are rich in iron, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous. We generally eat them in hot dishes and stews but using them in salads may also be a very good option.
Autumn fruits. As for fruits, you must take advantage of the last plums (ripe and very good), and the quinces, pomegranates and delicious custard apples which appear at this time, not forgetting the citrus fruits that are at their best now, the mandarins, oranges, grapefruit or limes and do not overlook the pomegranates nor the start of the grape season.
Places to visit in Autumn
But where are the best places to enjoy this wonderful season? We suggest several, such as the Ambroz Valley, the Montejo Beech.
Forest, theTejera Negra National Park, the Irati Forest, the Ordesa National Park, Monte Perdido and the Somiedo National Park
Autumn is full of Tastes, Smells and Colours!