I can’t tell you how excited I was to learn that an Organic health food restaurant had opened in Fuengirola using only the freshest vegan and vegetarian organic ingredients.
The owners, 2 friendly chaps from Hungary have a policy of no microwave, no meat and no alcohol so we knew were in for something fresh, tasty and a little different to the norm.
In addition to the wide selection on the menu, the owners at Chirimoya also run daily specials allowing customers to ‘create their own’ choosing their own ingredients in pizza, sandwiches and salads; a nice touch.
We tried the ‘Chunky wrap with guacamole, chips and side salad' and also ‘pumpkin stuffed with mushrooms, kale & goats cheese with a side salad' all washed down by the healthiest home-made juices you can imagine.
The food was really well presented and portion sizes excellent as well as being super tasty too.
The Fat Flush Juice (beet, carrots, radish, garlic, parsley) is like liquid health in a glass and the raw garlic in there does not over power the rest of the ingredients!
The restaurant is clean and modern and decorated with anecdotes about food including little comic strips which adorn the tables making for interesting reading like ‘health food face off broccoli vs cauliflower.
What I particularly love about Chirimoya is the use of ingredients that you don’t see readily available in supermarkets or other restaurants in this part of Spain for example kale, hemp seeds and organic brown bread.
Hats off to the boys for opening something completely different and doing it so well, just what the area needs.
Now for a Q & A with the owners themselves.
Where are you guys from?
We are two Hungarian guys from Pécs, Hungary. We have known each other like 25 years. Totally coincidently we went to the same sport primary school & football academy, then same high school too. We’ve been close friends, since we were age 16-17.
P. – Since ’99 I have worked on Cruise Ships, lived in Limerick, Ireland for nearly 5 years and I am here in Fuengirola, Spain since 2009
D. – Since 2000 I lived in Germany (twice for one-one year), then I have worked on Cruise Ships also, lived in Dublin, Ireland for 6 years, I arrived to Fuengirola in February ’14.
Growing up, were you always interested in food and cooking?
Both: Yes! We always loved to eat! We went to Hospitality High School, we are both certified waiter, chef & baker. Our Moms did the cooking we just enjoyed whatever they would put on the table.
(Back in the 80’s in Hungary our cooking ingredients were limited – as anything else, but we always had fresh, local vegetables, fruits from local farmers and markets and state owned shops. Meat mostly for weekends, maybe twice a week. Imagine that, junk food restaurants didn’t exist.
But we never had any bananas or oranges, except at Xmas, but we had apples, pears and so on, locally produced goods. Since the ’iron curtai’ has fallen, those markets and farmers dissapeared or went broke which caused the exporting of the bad, but cheap products through the western food-chain stores.
So the people in Hungary are now fed with imported trash, but they have no choice, because the priority is the price – they can hardly afford to buy the cheapest ones either, we are the last generation who had real organic food.)
What would you say kick started your dream to open up an organic health food restaurant?
Both: We spent a few days together at my place in Dublin and then two weeks here in Fuengirola at Peter’s place, and just talked and talked until we found ourselves suddenly as business owners.
It's quite well known that Spain grow a lot of organic produce but are one of the biggest exporters of it, are your products locally sourced?
P. – Fruit and Veg definitely. Their is an organic market every Saturday and Sunday, they are travelling through the county, every weekend in a different place. On Sunday morning we travel as well to get fresh, local, organic fruits and veg, oil, etc.
D. – No comments on export, because our opinion would be too inappropriate to publish.
Although personally i'm not vegan or vegetarian, I love healthy wholesome food so your menu really appeals to me, how did you come up with the dishes?
D. -We both worked in Hospitality for nearly 20 years, with all the experience that we collected on very high level also helped a lot, but basically this is what we eat. We just offer the same dishes that we like.
P. – You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to eat dishes without meat or poultry or fish. People should open their eyes and see how much trash they eat every day.
What's your most popular dish?
Both: There is no such a thing.
We sampled the Fat Flush Juice (beet, carrots, radish, garlic, parsley) and although not too everyones taste buds, you could actually feel the goodness with every sip, what's been the feedback from your customers on trying new ingredients together like this?
P. -We try everything ourselves first and discuss it and making changes if needed. Some people love this flavour, some don’t, it depends only on the person’s individual taste. We are always open to change our drinks and dishes if there is any problem.
D. – One day I put to much garlic into the mentioned juice – the lady was afraid to say anything, probably bad experience at other places, but I saw that she wasn’t drinking, so I asked her and she told me that it is way too spicy from the garlic. I made an another with out garlic and she loved it. She was right, the first tasted horrible after putting too much garlic in it. I don’t have any similar situation in my mind.
What's the best compliment you have received about your food?
Both – A gentleman from Scotland, who has been in the fair trade and organic food business for 40 years, he wrote to us in his mail best food at Costa Del Sol, by far…” that is fair enough.
What do you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your career in the food business so far?
P. – We had fancy positions in fancy places in the past. We don’t care about career, we don’t care about money.
D. – Our best accomplishment is, we are offering healthy dishes to the public – please ask yourself, is there an another place like this?!
You don't serve alcohol at Chirimoya, was that a conscious decision in keeping with the ‘healthy theme' of the place and are you T-total yourselves?
P. – We are not against alcohol. But we believe at the same time, it is not neccesary to drink alcohol, if you have a meal. Some people therefore are not visiting us, ridiculous, isn’t it?
D. – Same thing with the meat! You don’t have to be „anti-alcohol” to leave the booze out at lunchtime or at dinner.
On a rare day off what do you like to do and where do you like to eat?
Our day-off is Sunday, when we travel to get the fruit & veg from the market, let’s say we have a half day-off, from 2pm…
P: getting outdoors, reaching nature
D: reading, cleaning my flat, relaxing
We eat the very same as what we are selling. No difference.
What's next for Chirimoya?
D. – We are keeping things the same, we have to keep the business alive. We don’t want to talk about economical circumstances, but it’s not easy – but who’s life is easy nowadays?
P. – But we are happy to have this place, and our strenght is in our guests, who give us so much support – mentally and spiritually also.
Chirimoya is open from 10am til 6pm Monday to Saturday and for dinner Fridays and Saturdays, they also cater for private parties and will open any evening for customers wishing to make a reservation.
You can find them at Calle Iglesia 3, Los Boliches, Fuengirola.