In November 2019, Murcia was named as Spain’s “Capital of Gastronomy” for 2020, prompting government and tourism authorities to plan a year-long fiesta of festivals and events. Unfortunately, their plans came unstuck in March, with numerous events being subsequently cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions. Now, happily, the title has been extended into 2021.
Welcoming the news for those who want to sample the region’s superb cuisine and take part in the delayed celebrations, a spokesperson for the Instituto de Turismo de la Región de Murcia, said, “It was fantastic for Murcia to be named as the Spanish Capital of Gastronomy for 2020 and we are delighted at the decision to extend this honour into 2021. We look forward to sharing the whole experience with our guests.”
The coveted honour was awarded by the Spanish Hospitality Federation (FEHR) and Spanish Federation of Tourism Journalists and Writers (FEPET), enabling the Murcia region – also popularly known as the Costa Cálida – to showcase its culinary delicacies following Almería (2019), León (2018) and Huelva (2017).
Murcia city and the surrounding coastal and inland areas are renowned for the extensive diversity and exceptional quality of their wines, cheeses, fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood. The region also has two Michelin-starred restaurants: Restaurant Magoga in the historic city of Cartagena and La Cabaña in Murcia (two stars).
Classic Mediterranean-style gastronomy is available throughout the region, including fresh fruit and vegetables that are also successfully exported around Europe and further afield and which can be savoured in Murcia in their places of origin.
Favourite local tapas include marinera, zarangollo, michirones, octopus and salazones, while another popular dish is the region’s Calasparra rice, which was granted Designation of Origin status in 1982. For wine lovers, the region is home to three major routes: Bullas, Jumilla and Yecla.
With a mild year-round climate (average temperature 19.4°C and 315 days of sunshine a year), visitors have every opportunity to make the most of the Costa Cálida’s exceptional dining experience – al fresco in the country or on outdoor terraces overlooking the sea.
The region is just two hours from the UK by air – with passengers flying into the modern Corvera Airport Murcia (opened in January 2019) – and it extends over 252 kilometres of coastline (“Costa Cálida” or “Warm Coast”).