Don’t you just hate it when you arrive somewhere really chic looking like something the cat dragged in?
Arriving for lunch at the Rural Hotel El Mondalón straight from a hot, three hour hike in the Bandama Crater, the last thing I had eaten was a chocolate biscuit courtesy of Binter airlines en route from Tenerife to Gran Canaria and before that, a 7am piece of toast. It’s now 1.30pm and the only thing of which I’m more aware than my scruffy appearance, is the gnawing in the pit of my stomach.
Set within the Bandama Crater Nature Reserve alongside the neat vineyards of its bodega, just 15 minutes drive from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Hotel Rural El Mondalón is a restored farmhouse from the 1800s which has been producing its own wine since the 1920s. Immaculately renovated, the country hotel now comprises two restaurants, a winery and ten, individually styled, luxurious and very sexy rooms set around a central courtyard.
All smiles and welcomes, Andrés dismisses my apologies with “Many of our guests are hikers, it’s really not important”, and leads us through the cavernous barn conversion of Restaurant El Bodegón with its tea wood rafters, stone walls and chunky wooden tables and chairs, to the shaded outside terrace overlooking the vineyard.
At first glance the menu appears to be typically Canarian with favourites such as papas con mojo (potatoes with hot sauces), albóndigas (meatballs) and solomillo (fillet steak) but closer study reveals an intriguing creative slant from Chef Pepe Gonzalez with foie plancha con mermelada de violetas (liver with violet preserve) and tartelatas de manzana con foie (apple tarts with liver).
Having placed our starter choices in the hands of the restaurant, a slate of local cheeses and a dish of tiny potatoes filled with lightly grilled almogrote arrives. The cheeses range from fresca (fresh) to curado (cured) and slide along a taste scale from subtle to smoky. The papas con almogrote are like bite-sized baked potatoes topped in tangy cheese sauce and are addictively good.
Small bowls of stewed lentils in a rich gravy with bacon and vegetables bring a savoury reminder of the restaurant’s rustic roots before the main courses arrive. My dados de solomillo a la casera (fingers of fillet steak house-style) are melt-in-the-mouth tender and infused with slithers of garlic and fresh herbs from the organic garden.
A glass of blackcurrant-rich, red Mondalón wine from the adjoining bodega makes a perfect companion for the steak and has me sitting back in my chair with a grin on my face, blissfully enjoying the fruits of this rural idyll.
Rounding off a lunch of such leisurely pleasure that it threatens to morph into supper, I opt for the blackcurrant cheesecake topped with nuts which is so tangy and dreamily soft with its crunchy, biscuit base that I have to finish every last morsel and chase the strawberries around the plate, sopping up the miel de palma as they go.
Hotel Rural El Mondalón, Carretera de Los Hoyos; 928 35 57 58; El Bodegon open Thurs, Fri & Sat 12.00-23.00, Sun 12.00-17.00; average menu prices are starters €9, main courses €13 and desserts €5.
Buzz Trips dined at El Mondalón as guests of Gran Canaria Natural but my taste buds are my own.
Andrea (Andy) Montgomery is a freelance travel writer and co-owner of Buzz Trips and The Real Tenerife series of travel websites. Published in The Telegraph, The Independent, Wexas Traveller, Thomas Cook Travel Magazine, EasyJet Traveller Magazine, you can read her latest content on Google+