If you are providing meals to guests coming to stay in your holiday home/ homestay, the best way to do away with all ambiguity is by preparing a menu card for them to choose from. While it may seem a difficult task, in actuality a holiday home menu card can be easily prepared based on how equipped your kitchen is, the cook’s expertise and climatic conditions of your locality.
Here are some tips to prepare the perfect holiday home menu:
1. PLAN AHEAD: The key to a successful holiday home menu card really boils down to the planning that is done well in advance – be it stocking your pantry or having all the necessary equipment like cooking utensils, pots and pans, tools and serving pieces. This will save you time and ward off any last-minute headaches. For instance, if your idea of a good dish is a hearty casserole, you should have good bakeware which can enable you to bake in it and that can go right from the oven to table, saving you clean-up time. So before you even start the exercise of preparing the menu card, find out how equipped is your kitchen. If your kitchen is cramped for space and you don’t have a separate pantry, cooking elaborate meals should be out.
2. KNOW THY COOK: Find out what your cook is good at. It’s better to stick to tried and tasted recipes in which he is good at. You must understand that the margin of error is very thin, so if you really want your cook to try out any new recipe, at least don’t make your guests your guinea pigs. Ask him to try it once for you, taste it and make the changes accordingly.
3. DECIDE ON THE INGREDIENTS: It is fact inarguable that planning on a menu card actually begins at the market. Even before you decide on a single dish, find out what is in season and which ingredients are at their best. There is no point in planning to make something that is not available in the market. For instance it makes no sense to have a chicken and mango salad in your menu card when it’s not mango season.
4. KEEP IT SIMPLE: Always remember that simplicity is essential to a successful menu card. It is not about showing off complicated recipes, but about getting it right every time. However that doesn’t mean the quality of our dishes has to be limited. A good dish is the one which is simple in execution and made with just a few flavorful ingredients.
5. ADVANCED COOKING: Opt for recipes that can be prepared well in advance and needs little final attention. This helps in keeping stress low and means the cook will have time to make the dishes on the serving plate more presentable.
6. PERISHABLE VERSUS LONG-LIFE INGREDIENTS: If you menu card is full of dishes which require fresh vegetables or perishable ingredients, it will mean that your cook has to make several rounds to the market. So it is better to limit dishes that require perishable ingredients.
7. CHOICES: Give some choices to guests. Based on what is available in the kitchen give at least 2-3 options for guests to choose from. For instance, you can give breakfast choices of: (i) a full English breakfast with scrambled eggs, sausage, black pudding, bacon, mushrooms, baked beans, hash browns, and half a tomato, or (ii) a continental breakfast consists of slices of cheese and cold meat, with a croissant or bread roll, and an accompaniment of coffee or juice, or (iii) any local breakfast basket that has global appeal.
8. SEASONAL DISHES: If the weather is not too hot and you have a swimming pool, add a couple of barbeque dishes to your menu. Change your menu card according to seasons. Since different seasons will have different vegetables and ingredients available in the market, it will be easier for you to get them. Also if you allow alcoholic drinks, add a couple of snacks to your menu card. However when you are preparing the snacks menu which would also be served near the pool make sure that you don’t put in the crispy ones because guests might be touching them with wet hands. Crispy snacks near the pool get soggy and tasteless. Imagine having soggy chips!!
9. ADD SOME LOCAL FLAVOR: Guests invariably love to try out local cuisine. So add a couple of local dishes in your menu card. However add those which are not very complex in taste. Local dishes that require guests to get used to the taste should be avoided.
10. ALL DAY FAVORITES: Keep some space in the menu card which can be served at a short notice throughout the day. Maybe a couple of ready-to-eats which can be baked or fried easily should be added, in case the guests get the craving to munch on something.
11. DESSERTS: Lastly, don’t forget to add a couple of desserts in the menu card. Since guests will be ending a meal with the dessert, it will linger on in their minds for a long time. So make sure that your cook gives equal attention to preparing it.
Hope these pointers will help you in preparing the right menu card for your holiday home/ homestay. If you have any suggestions, feel free to share with us.