Limit yourself to talking about a single cook when we talk about Martial Housethe long-standing two Michelin stars that from Arriondas / Les Arriondes, a small parish in the interior of Eastern Asturias, is not just a mistake, but a sin.
Although it was under baton of chef Nacho Manzanoin chorus with his sister Esther in the kitchen, when the restaurant has reached the heights that have crowned it at the top of Asturian gastronomy according to Michelin parameters, the reality is that history comes from afar.
Thus Martial House has evolved from an eating house in which stews such as the pitu de caleya with rice, the fabada or the croquettes carried the singing voice until today, where they coexist on the menu with the local tasting menu that Nacho Manzano devised.
He doesn’t do it alone, because in this ‘house’ —it’s not a way of speaking, because the restaurant is four steps of the family home— they all row together, just as the history of this more than a hundred-year-old gastronomic home began to forge.
Almost lost in the mists of time, the ‘prehistory’ of Casa Marcial is rooted in great-grandmother Herminiawhich began in this little corner of La Salgar —that is the name of the council where Casa Marcial is located— more than 90 years ago, as a small food house.
It would be with the penultimate generation, the one headed by Marcial Manzano —the patriarch and father of Nacho, Esther, Olga and Sandra, the generation today at the helm— and Olga (mother) who, halfway between winery and restaurant, formed the original germ of Casa Marcial.
About to celebrate three decades (in 2018 they celebrated the 25th anniversary of the restaurant), Casa Marcial looks —although it is a restaurant and we personalize it— backwards and forwards and it does so with the same family rattan that have been taking flight through the rest of Asturias.
Local economic engine and Asturian flag Outside the Principality, the Manzanos know how to cook and how to work, but above all they know how to be hosts. Something that comes from the cradle and that, curiously, has not been forged in cooking schools.
The cook who never studied cooking
Whenever a chef is mentioned, influences, teachers or schools are mentioned, but in the case of Nacho Manzano (almost recently turning 51), despite his three decades between stoves, never set foot in a school or any master class.
“My mother gave me the classes”, he explains to us when we walk with michelin Y landscape kitchenthe gastronomic brand of Tourism of Asturias, part of the Asturian East with Manzano as a guide and Pedro SanchezMichelin star in Bagá (Jaén) as a guest.
“I have never been to cooking school.everything I learned came from here and then you evolve,” he warns from the table. Ironically, now with mature maturity, Manzano acknowledges “not knowing if what he is doing is right or wrong.”
A period of doubt that, with its culinary intuition, speaks of Asturias more than ever. Casa Marcial’s kitchen smells of rulas (fish markets) and fields, exudes local orchards and lives off the countrymanthe one that, to the sound of cheeses, cows and pitus de caleya, falls in love with the Manzanos and, by extension, with their guests.
How to manage a Michelin star in a town of seventy inhabitants
Compared to La Salgar, the little corner perched between meadows where Casa Marcial comes to life, Arriondas looks like a metropolis with its 3,300 inhabitants. However, the Manzanos have managed to turn their cozy home into a gastronomic destination, some 75 kilometers from Oviedo and 60 from Gijón and 100 from Asturias airport.
If cooking is heroic, the Manzanos would be Don Pelayos stationed in Covadonga in the year 711. Under this canopy, Nacho Manzano and his sisters plot a small culinary Reconquest that has always talked about product, terroir and being faithful to the territory that welcomes them.
And they always have without boasting or uploaded to fashionsbut as a way of life that, as Nacho explains, “we have sucked at home because here we have what we have, we can’t do magic”.
It may not be necessary, even less so when you see the level of culinary maturity they have reached, where the three stars always caress each otherbeing a perpetual yes in the Michelin pool, but it never sets.
Without losing their rings and with things clear, the Manzanos warn: “we are still a house of mealsThat is why the people who make a pilgrimage here in search of their croquettes, classic and already legendary, or for the rice with pitu de caleya are never disappointed.
“We try to be honestbut because it is what we have and it is our roots”, indicates Nacho Manzano, always oblivious to flattery. From a certain introversion, the Asturian chef lets the kitchen do the talking.
And he does it high, in a pair of tasting menus that in 2022 they drink from the ‘Northeast’, an Asturian wind, which they relate to the mountains and the beach, the forges of the geographical profile of the Asturian East.
Under those wickers, the local is expressed and does it with marine profiles and salt products of extreme finesse such as limpets, celery curd and algae, the Cantabrian Sea steak or a sensational starter based on algae, mussels and horseradish.
Sharing the poster, the croquette —which always falls within the tasting—, the stewed red goat, which is part of a gastronomic recovery task in which the Manzanos are stubborn or the devotion to the catch of the day, grilled.
For foodiesfor restless stomachs, for gourmands and for anyone with a palate, Casa Marcial is a perpetual communion of the gastronomic with the social, at the same time making room for those customers who seek the classic as well as for those who pursue innovation. All unpretentious and with the real feeling that one is at home.
What to ask for: As a recommendation, we believe that the most logical thing is to order any of the two tasting menus that Casa Marcial offers, although the short menu is also very worthwhile.
Where: Calle La Salgar, s/n, 33549 Arriondas, Parres, Asturias.
Half price: 120 euros without wine.
Bookings: 985 84 09 91 and on their website.
Schedules: from Wednesday to Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday also from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
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