CUENCA – Third time lucky, they say. That well-known proverb also applies to Cuenca. This city in Castile-La Mancha has already applied twice before – in 2017 and 2018, unsuccessfully for the title of Gastronomic Capital of Spain, but it has finally become one.
The election was announced last Wednesday 16 November in Madrid. That happened in the office of the Spanish Federation of Tourism Journalists and Writers. With a unanimous decision by the jury, Cuenca managed to leave the other two finalists, Oviedo and Pontevedra, behind. Dario Dolz, the mayor of Cuenca, first announced the news on his Twitter account.
— Dario Dolz (@DarioDolz) November 16, 2022
The bid that Cuenca has prepared for the participation was entitled ‘Cuenca deliciosa’ (delicious Cuenca). The main focus was on the special character of the city, the great variety of the offer and the culinary innovation that has taken place in the restaurants of Cuenca in recent years. In the two previous attempts in 2017 and 2018, the city had to leave Huelva and León respectively. The special mix of tradition and innovation that Cuenca offers was decisive this year.
According to the jury report, “this city in Castile-La Mancha managed to win the trust of the jury on its own.” The judges praised “Cuenca’s determination to take the title. At the third attempt, they finally managed to convince the jury.” According to the jury, it was one of the most difficult choices in the past ten years that this election was held. “For the other two other finalists, Oviedo and Pontevedra, we see great opportunities in the future. Both cities are characterized by a strong gastronomic offer. They are both standard-bearers of Spanish haute cuisine.”
In recent months, Cuenca has organized everything to win the title, including open-air dinners at landmarks such as the San Pablo Bridge and the Zavala Museum, hot-air balloon rides in the region and all sorts of activities in the science museum and gardens of the Provincial House.
In addition, the well-known restaurant Casas Colgadas has reopened its doors this year. It is located in one of the city’s ‘hanging houses’. These beautiful old buildings, built slightly obliquely above the gorge of the river Huécar, are the most iconic buildings of Cuenca. The top chef Jesús Segura from Cuenca now holds sway there. He is known for restaurant Trivio, also in Cuenca, which has a Michelin star.
Sober and simple
The general director of the organization of the Spanish Gastronomic Capital, Pedro Palacios, was full of praise for Cuenca. “The gastronomic offer is based on traditional, sober and simple regional cuisine that forms a natural unity with the natural environment and the monumental value of the city. The city and province of Cuenca put themselves on the map with special and delicious food.” The bid had no less than 170 pages, in which not only the culinary and touristic highlights of Cuenca were listed, but also countless well-known Spaniards put in a good word for the city.
Sanlucar de Barrameda
Cuenca takes over from Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the first village to call itself the gastronomic capital of Spain. Due to the corona pandemic, this village could carry the title for two years. Other winners over the past 10 years have been Logroño, Burgos, Vitoria, Cáceres, Almería, Toledo and Murcia.
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Culinary and cultural attraction
The prize should put Cuenca on the map as a culinary and cultural attraction. According to the jury, anyone who wants to visit the city next year, especially for this prize should not forget that Cuenca has more to offer than just good food. In the words of the jury report: “Cuenca is a city like a beehive. The tightly packed mansions, palaces, alleys, churches and monasteries evoke countless medieval legends. This city breathes magic.” Cuenca also has plenty to offer culture lovers, such as the Museum of Abstract Art, the cathedral and the Semana Santa celebrations.