The baking business featuring the almond in Gran Canaria reveals a whole host of tales from its ovens.
This story is laced with honey, almonds, sugar and cinnamon. The tale comes to us from the sweet, chirpy tones of Rosa María Medina, something quite normal in someone who spends day after day making sweet delights at the Dulcería Nublo de Tejeda, an establilshment she runs with her husband, José Antonio Quintana. Any culinary route linked to the almond in Gran Canaria should include a visit to this historical business premises.
The first pages of this particular happy ending tale were written back in the 1940s, when sisters Dolores and María Jesús Navarro and their father, Pepe, began to make marzipans in the district of Casas del Lomo que that they sold on to churchgoers as they were leaving Holy Mass, as if they were giving out pieces of Heaven. Any pieces left over were then sold at the Marrerito coffee shop.
Since then, thousands of little stories have been told, all of them sealed with an almond flavour. One such tale occurred in the 1960s, involving a very young boy who came to stay at the newly opened Parador de Tejeda hotel with his family.
Something remained stuck in the little boy’s head: the flavour of a “soft sweet cake” wrapped in a delicate red and blue paper. Many years later, as an adult, he returned to Gran Canaria and to Tejeda, where he solved the mystery: they were local polvorones. “He took forty kilos back to the mainland with him”, Rosa María recalls.
Dolores’ son, the afore-mentioned José Antonio Quintana, joined the business over three decades ago, when he turned 18 years of age, playing his part in this extraordinary assembly line of sweet moments. “Today we have 14 employees, we sell our products in various islands and in a shop in Berlin”, Rosa María points out.
The almond is the bread and butter of their production. “We buy 90% of the almonds in Gran Canaria and use more almond than sugar. We have brought out new recipes, but have never veered from the almond. People sometimes come to us with new recipes and we adapt them”, she says. From these, recipes such as delicious brownies have emerged, where almonds replace walnuts, completing a huge range of sweet melodies for the palate, which include marzipans, bienmesabe cakes, biscuits, pine nuts and Belgian almond chocolates.
The Dulcería Nublo has gone from manufacturing 600 kilos of bienmesabe to over 20,000 kilos a year. The ovens, in fact, are heated up with almond shells and local fireword, a demonstration of the how modern day techniques and demands sit side by side with a tradition that recalls the time when products were sold outside the church door in Tejeda.