Fast food has been with us for years, and "all inclusive" is now a growing trend. Yet wouldn't it be so much better if the emphasis was placed on slow food and sustainability? That is the view of chef Adrian Broins who told us something about agriculture and gastronomy on Tenerife.
Tenerife is an island that produces more than a little of the exotic: pineapples, kiwi fruit, mangoes and papaya all grow there. It also has culinary traditions that are, on the face of it, more prosaic: fish, bananas, goats and potatoes. Some potato varieties are unique to the Canary Islands, and all the better for it. Adrian is a firm believer in the gastronomic, cultural and economic benefits of serving lovingly-prepared local food, and that is why his restaurant at El Patio de Tita is the first "slow-food restaurant" on Tenerife.
Although Adrian is not a Canarian by birth, he is a committed defender of the culture, the traditions and the way of life of his adopted home. The food in big hotels is mass-produced: it brings no benefit to the local farmers and it gives no hint to the customers of the wonderful food that is available on Tenerife. Much of the food comes to the island ready-prepared. "French fries, pasta, scrambled eggs and lemonade are not from here. So why eat them here, when there is so much that is better and more distinctive."
Tenerife is a land almost literally "flowing with (goat's) milk and honey". There are no cattle on Tenerife, so why visit the island to then eat steak or burgers? Chef Adrian again: "Thanks to our rich flora here, bees gather more than 250 varieties of honey ranging from almost transparent to thick and black. Honey is so important to Tenerife that we have a special Honey Museum. But if a hotel serves it's honey in tiny little plastic pots, you know it is not from here. It's a pity to come to a country and not to sample the tastes of the country."
Adrian's enthusiasm for sustainable local food simultaneously looks in both directions. On the one hand, he and his restaurant are committed to small local farmers and suppliers, and the distinctive produce that they can offer him. On the other, that same distinctive produce and the long culinary tradition that comes with it enable him to give his customers something that the mass market totally lacks: dishes which are truly a product of Tenerife in their conception, their production and their character.
Adrian acknowledges that he is a little bit of a reactionary, and his menus reflect his determination to give something different, yet something altogether better and more worthwhile. Regional specialities are his speciality. He grows some ingredients himself, others come from the Patio de Tita estate, and the remainder from the suppliers and producers of Tenerife. The El Patio Restaurant is unashamedly a slow food restaurant, and with the support of people like Adrian the small farmers of Tenerife will continue slowly earning a living, slowly growing their traditional, sustainable produce.
Of course you don't have to stay at El Patio de Tita to enjoy a meal at El Patio Restaurant, but it's not such a bad idea.
Indeed, El Patio Restaurant is not the only restaurant with such ideals of sustainability. Many of the restaurants attached to the hotels we recommend espouse similar goals, as do we.