11 years in the Algarve, Tales of the unexpected
...when you enter a home and realised immediately that cooking is taken seriously!
Photo and quote: Luciana Bianchi
thank you both casa rosada
You just would not believe the lessons and things we have learnt over the last eleven years.The first thing you learn as the hosts of a bespoke establishment, is that everyone wants to meet the owner.You soon realise that nobody goes into the bed and breakfast business to make money; its a lifestyle choice.The most important thing is that you have to like people- a lot.And to be kind and patient with those more needy guests.It all becomes worth it when exciting surprises and unexpected happenings occur simply because we’re open to following a whim. Not that this is an example of a life changing “happening”, but isn’t it the small moments in life that really count?
Its like that feeling when you take the plunge and step into a restaurant you have never tried before and you leave having experienced one of the best meals you´ve ever tasted ,and you vow never to return in case it will not match up to the previous visit.
The old saying - never go back to spoil a memory -
"this is comprehensively kicked into touch on a return visit to Casa Rosada". TRIPADVISOR
Helping deliver an extra special holiday-by giving lots of inside track suggestions will guarantee they return.Its a truism of the business that the more you put in the more you get out.Give guests a key to come and go as they please.
"They also directed us to some wonderfully located local beach restaurants, though sadly the food never matched the quality of dinner at Casa Rosada".Make sure you are always around after breakfast and when they return in the afternoon to answer questions,book restaurants and iron out any small admin problems.
First and foremost Casa Rosada is not a boutique B and B; Bespoke yes, exclusive perhaps, but In my book a boutique is a French shop selling fashionable clothes or accessories.It is a misappropriation of the word;perhaps a boutique within a hotel but never a hotel being a boutique.Many boutique hotels are furnished in a themed, stylish and/or aspirational manner.They are businesses serving a sophisticated or specialized clientele.The quality and the service we have offered from day one is no less than the standards we expect when we ourselves travel.Right down to the 400 thread count of the linen we put on the beds.
“As charming and chic as George Clooney!” TRIPADVISOR
"You didn´t just pop into Debenhams and
pick up those sheets "
"The dining room - that chandelier!"Over the years we have met and hosted some both charming amusing and interesting individuals, many who have returned and others who have become friends.I asked a guest only the other day if everything was alright
"Beyond......."she said "You really do live in a magical place.Your garden is a special place. Its only in fairy tales that trees are grafted and bear two types of fruit."The garden is indeed a special place lovingly tended over the years by Andrew.It is his pride and joy where guests can enjoy their own little pocket of private space in one of the many secret areas.
Many of our conversations and resulting reviews centre around the food and my cooking.Discussing menus with guests can sometimes be difficult and sometimes a great source of amusement.Suggesting a starter of gazpacho caused a look of bewilderment "its a tomato soup isn´t it, she said.As a main I offered them a traditional Frango à cacciatore, Hunters chicken I further explained.I went away and allowed them some time to deliberate and cogitate and returned with some possible alternatives.We will go with the "Gestapo soup" she said and maybe have the Hungarian chicken next time.As a B&B host you must always remember you are a service industry and must have the utmost patience at all times.On jams for breakfast,having just talked the breakfast table through what all the home made jams were, thereon ensued what reminded me of an early Victoria Wood sketch of the Trivial Pursuit obsessed flatmates "What is the brown one again" (they all had a brownish tinge to them).Who were the Beeeattles? Am I wrong in thinking there are only three major tea producing nations,India,China and Ceylon? So when it came to the next question I was thrown
"Just when you thought the day couldn´t get any better......."
"we´d like tea please but only if its English we dont like "continental"
What is termed English Breakfast tea is usually Indian,or there is Lapsang Souchong. Perhaps they had been watching too much television and wanted Yorkshire tea.Hey ho, keep smiling I told myself.I realised in hindsight that some teas packed under licence abroad dont always come up to taste expectation.
"Rupert's cooking was excellent and his personalised approach to the menu, sourced fresh every day from the local market, made our dinners there very special - an approach that one would be hard pushed to find elsewhere."
"....regional and international cuisine, produced with flair, local ingredients and a huge dollop of panache (you can't get that in your local supermarket!)".
I am not a chef I had to explain to one guest.A chef has had training and acquired a professional qualification.A cook is self taught like myself and there the difference lies.I have no qualification but have acquired the confidence and the skills to cook instinctively and intuitively rather than blindly following what I am told to in a recipe,or stick by the hard and fast rules of what is drummed into one at chef school or catering college.
"There are a couple of good restaurants a short drive away, and I've reviewed them on trip advisor, but if you can, have a meal in Casa Rosada, cooked by Rupert. We ate in on 3 occasions and were never disappointed, I have attached a few pictures of the sort of food we ate... superb! Just a selection of dishes we had were seared tuna loin (cooked on a salt stone), wind-dried tuna (texture like Iberico ham, in a tuna), red mullet with saffron potato and baby leeks and a tapa with tomato, almond and anchovy, served with a cold manzanilla and a sublime lemon geranium flavoured pannacota served with homemade limoncello (made with home grown lemons from the garden). On one night we had planned to go out but were too chilled, so we joined Rupert and Andrew for a simple bowl of pasta (did I say simple?), pasta beautifully flavoured with rosemary, garlic, tomato and anchovy... let me rephrase.. a great bowl of pasta". TRIPADVISOR
"The last night we sampled the Tasting Menu, 7 courses, all of which which just oozed tastiness. Details on request but we've done TM in some nice places (Gleneagles/Mount Juliett/Munich/Stockholm) which were not a patch on what we were served here. Very Big Hat Tip to Rupert (Recommend his blog for cookery tips/menus) whose genuine love of food just comes through".
Never forget you are a service industry and the customer must be given what they ask for or have paid for.One of my favourite memories, but for one moment a tad anxious, happened last summer.Staying in the house was an Italian couple.She had the style and exuberance of a young Sophia Loren and her husband equally charming was built like a brick sh......."she came down to breakfast the first morning and said they had a problem.I prepared myself for the worst but then had to subtly sustain my amusement.
"Ugo no fit in bed"
I addressed the problem by saying that if she could wait another day when it would become free I would move them to the room with the largest bed in the house.They were very happy and Ugo slept well.
Sometimes there have been amusing anecdotes stemming from language.My favourite here was an email thread concerning payment of a deposit and when requesting bank transfer details the guests email read...
"Give me you NIB"