Award winning success
We always knew we would be offering evening meals to our guests as an added service but never dreamt it would result in winning an award.
When we first opened, Javier and I had a short meeting about job roles. I said to Javier, 'it is clear there are two jobs in this business, cleaning and cooking, and I hate cleaning'. It was a short meeting. Nevertheless, an important one and one that created the business we are so proud of today. Javier does an amazing job preparing the rooms and the rest of the hotel for our guests and I love preparing the meals.
Bread was the first obstacle I had to overcome. El gran sueño is in a hamlet, 7 km from Infiesto, the nearest town to buy bread. From day one, we knew it was impractical to drive into town every morning to pick up bread. Delivery was an option, but we knew too that our requirement would be different every day. Baking bread seemed not only to be a practical solution, but a favorable added value.
I had not baked bread since helping my mum when I was so small I needed to stand on the kitchen bin to reach the counter. Luckily, the Thermomix came to the rescue and proved an invaluable asset in the first couple of years. In 2017 I started learning about natural leaven and sourdough bread. Since then, the Thermomix has taken a back seat and the natural leaven has literally become part of our family. The leaven requires almost as much attention as Carson. Unlike Carson, the leaven will explode if you fail to give it the attention it needs. The results from working with natural leaven are extremely rewarding. Anyone who has tried organic sourdough bread will know just how good it is.
At first, we had no real plan for evening meals. We had never discussed what we would offer and never planned any menus. It came as quite a shock when our first guests ordered dinner. I can remember saying to Javier that although we had cooked many times for friends and family, this was the first meal we will charge money for. The nerves made me feel physically sick. We sat in silence waiting to hear what they thought. When they finished they said to Javier, 'If dinner will be so good every night we shall eat here every night'. This critique was to pave the way forward for us. We set our standards high from that moment on. They were here for seven nights and ate every night. We still had no menus planned and sailed through that first week on a wing and a prayer.
In 2016 we had our first guests to book one-week half board. This was our opportunity to put together some proper menus. We needed seven 3-course meals. Luckily, we had a few months to prepare. We introduced our vegetarian days at this point, and they have become a really popular addition. At Christmas 2017 we did our first all-vegetarian Christmas menu. There was nothing traditional on that menu. We knew that replicating turkey and all the trimmings would not work. Instead, we put together a menu that was by no means local, however, all the ingredients came from local organic farmers and the final result was a great success.
Whether it is cakes, bread, biscuits, jam or a 3-course meal, cooking for our guests never ceases to be a pleasure. The reward of happy customers has never manifested itself so vividly as when we were nominated and won this i-escape award. We never dreamt that those first seven days of intensive kitchen practice would lead to us winning an award. We thank each and every person who cast a vote for us and look forward to many more years of offering feel-good food to all our guests.