After over a year of organisation, planning, to-ing and fro-ing from the city with different documents, we are finally here! A travelling food business, seasonal, organic and delicious. Hopefully beginning to make a living doing what we love.
Right now I’m sat in a café in Avilés enjoying some free wifi whilst Susan and Nik set up the stand for the morning. This winter we’re working the Christmas market until the 6th of January, collaborating with our French friend who usually sells crepes at markets with her partner. He’s working in a restaurant over the festive period so we’re doing it together to share the workload and the crazy cost of the hut rental!
Last night we had our first flow of people – the kids go crazy for crepes con nutella. It was a relief to finally get into the rhythm of moving, serving, filling stuff up and actually having real things to do. The first few days were ominously quiet and there were high winds of 60/mph which meant we had to close for half a day on a red alert.
Crepe making is a lot harder than it looks, and Susan makes it look very easy, but I made the most of the quiet mornings and yesterday managed to crack it.
We’re also serving hot wine, sidra, coffee, roast chestnuts and freshly squeezed orange juice.
It’s been a learning curve for us to work with someone who has already been doing this for over a year, Susan has been great in helping us get sorted with everything and is also much more fluent in Spanish, so we’re improving there too. (Hopefully).
Flying solo we’ve just done two markets thus far. Our first was at Cadavedo Ecological Market where just coming to the end of autumn, we sold pumpkin risotto with roast chestnuts and sage, as well as chai, hot chocolate and vegan apple cake.
One of the old paísanos asked if he could just buy some roast chestnuts, and that ended up being the most popular thing. For us, it’s good to have the flexibility of being a seasonal market stand so be able to make last minute changes and adjust to the location, rather than serving the same product all year round.
The week after we went to Pola de Lena agro-ecological market and sold bunuelos, which are a kind of puffy round donut covered in cinnamon sugar and dipped in chocolate sauce. It went better than we’d expected.
We also started the Christmassy-season with some hot sidra, which was definitely a love/hate divide. Sometimes maybe it’s best not to mess with tradition?
It’s called Sazón to reflect flavour and seasonalness, but hopefully I didn’t need to explain that. Our Instagram page is @sazondelatemporada
Despite the ups and downs, we’re really happy to be on the path towards making an income doing what we believe in. There will be times of quietness, not breaking even, and absolute exhaustion. But in those times it’s important to remember the frustration of not being able to sell food at markets because of a lack of permissions.
The situation in Spain seems a bit complicated for that. We both had to register as autonomous within a co-operative who deals especially with market sellers, but to do that we needed to get our resident permits. To get our resident permits we needed to be registered as working. It was a vicious cycle that went on for a few months without success. We also found the online system incredibly difficult to understand and manage. Eventually, we very fortunately received the help of a man who works in the town hall in our village. He navigated the pages and managed to get us ‘Physical Person Certificates’, which enabled us to get into the cooperative.
We then obtained our resident permits (finally!) which is probably a good move before Brexit, if that ever happens anyway. And now I’m waiting for my Spanish driving license to be delivered to the house.
We also found out that for future reference, anyone wishing to register as a resident in Spain can do so by applying for ‘autónomo’, going to get the permit, then cancelling the autónomo. The autónomo is for freelancers, and costs 50 euros per month for about a year, then goes up to 130/month, which is crazy. Also to get the low rate of 50 you have to use it continuously for a year – you can’t cancel then restart on the low rate.
I’m actually quite excited to be working on Christmas this year. It can be such a lovely period but also quite heavy, with a lot of sitting around eating a lot of food and drinking a lot of alcohol. Last year was really lovely because we saw both of our families and lots of friends, but it was also hugely expensive to move around the UK and we were exhausted afterwards. So this year it will be nice to earn some money during a usually pricey period and still be having fun together.
We had Christmas day on the 19th in the cabin, which is coincidentally the same day is we did it last year (not planned, but maybe a new tradition). We made nut roast with chestnuts, cranberries, walnuts, lentils and shiitake mushrooms. Served alongside roast sprouts from our garden, our potatoes, braised red cabbage also grown by us (the only one the chickens didn’t eat), gravy and carrots. The nut roast is an excellent vegan xmas dinner. It’s so flavoursome and meaty!
On Christmas Eve we will be working til’ 8 o’clock, then the 25th we start at 3pm. Nik & I are going to do it alone so Susan can celebrate with Lionel at home. Then they’re giving us the 1st off so we can celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Because Avilés is far from home we’re renting a room here for cheaper than the petrol to and from, which has been a blessing as we’re working 12 hour days and just want to go home, shower and sleep somewhere warm. It’s also great working in a food stand because if we get hungry we’re only two minutes away from a buckwheat crepe with cheese, herbs and a fried egg.
Well, with that, I’d probably better go and actually do some work. Nursing the same coffee for over an hour may be pushing it a little..
The kids are off school now and the wind has calmed so I’m feeling hopeful and positive for the week ahead. Here the 25th is less of a big celebration and it’s more about ‘Los Reyes’ on the 6th of January, when all the presents come.
Wishing you a Feliz Navidad and a Happy New Year!
Peace & Pollen x