Llampuga – Lightning Fish – Back on the Menu in Mallorca

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The seasonal llampuga is now on your local fish counter

On holiday long ago in the Florida Keys, I was offered dolphinfish in a restaurant. The waiter laughed when he saw how the ‘d’ word had alarmed me – I’d be a hopeless poker player. He then explained the dish didn’t contain a marine mammal, but a fish that’s also known as mahi-mahi, which we ate in the Caribbean.

This fish – known as dorado in Spanish and locally as llampuga – comes into Mallorcan waters in the late summer and early autumn. Its arrival coincides with the end-of-summer storms that start to cool the island after the high heat of August. The name llampuga means lightning, which seems appropriate.

Mallorca’s season for fishing llampuga is officially from late August until the end of the year, although it’s often hard to find on fish counters once the end of November comes. The boats that fish for llampuga are limited to a daily maximum catch of 150kg.

Cala Ratjada in the northeast of Mallorca is the port most associated with this seasonal fish, and it traditionally hosts an autumn fair over a weekend – Fira de la Llampuga – dedicated to it. This year the usual fair has been cancelled because of concerns about coronavirus among visitors who congregate in the port. But there will still be an opportunity to celebrate the llampuga and the variety of dishes that chefs can make from it, with a lightning fish tapas event.

Llampuga Tapas Event

More than 40 bars and restaurants have signed up to take part in La Ruta de Tapes de Llampuga, which will enable visitors to discover the versatility of this fish. The event takes place on Sunday, October 10th, from 14:00h until 22:00h. Each establishment will offer two different tapas made from lightning fish. More details will be available a few days before the event on Capdepera council’s social media pages.

Cooking With Llampuga

This delicious llampuga dish was part of a special menu last year at Ses Rotges in Cala Ratjada

Mallorcans have a favourite way of using lightning fish in the kitchen, in a dish called llampuga amb pebrots vermells. Thick slices of the fish are fried and served with a rich tomato sauce topped with fried red peppers. You’ll see it often at this time of year on traditional mallorquín restaurants’ menus. Do give it a try if you like fish.

British chef Marc Fosh, whose eponymous Palma restaurant has a Michelin star, offered some recipes and advice on cooking this seasonal fish in one of his Majorca Daily Bulletin columns last year; check out the link for some ideas.

Bon profit!

©Jan Edwards 2021

Guided Visit & Tasting Menu in Sa Vall, Manacor

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S’Hort de sa Vall

If you’re a fan of farm-to-table-eating events, I can recommend spending a Friday evening at S’Hort de sa Vall, just outside Manacor. This fertile valley is home to this well-kept farm, which recently opened its farm shop on Saturday mornings under the Venda Directa scheme. On Friday evenings – at least for the next two weeks – they offer a guided tour of the farm, followed by a tasting menu dinner with wine. They plan to introduce lunches rather than dinners soon as the evenings become cooler.

On September 3rd, we went along with some friends for the Friday-evening experience … and had a really enjoyable time in an authentically rural Mallorcan ambience.

We arrived at 7pm for the welcome and were then split into two groups for the tour; an English speaking guide is available. Our tour of the extensive farm lasted around an hour-and-a-quarter, accompanied by explanations about their processes and farming methods.


Along the way we stopped at a table outside some greenhouses to sample their tomatoes and a couple of their preserves. We passed rows of strawberry plants out in the open air and were told to help ourselves to any of the remaining strawberries (it was quite late in the season). Our search among the leaves yielded a few sweet, succulent strawberries that tasted nothing like the watery ones you find in plastic punnets year-round on supermarket shelves.

The tour concluded in an enormous barn, where we watched a video about the farm on a wall-mounted screen. I’d never seen such a thing in an agricultural barn before!

Time to Eat & Drink

We returned to the recently renovated building housing the shop and the large open kitchen for a glass of wine and samples of S’Hort de sa Vall’s own sobrasada (for me, the best I’ve tasted), and the cheese they sell. Then we went to our allocated table outdoors for our tasting menu, which was accompanied by wines from Macia Batle and followed by coffee and a rather delicious hierbas liqueur.

Our tasting dinner was a different style of cuisine to that served at Terragust events, where the chef has Michelin-starred restaurant experience on his CV. The cuisine at S’Hort de Sa Vall is more like good Mallorcan home cooking – very tasty and made from fresh seasonal produce.

Live music enhanced the evening: the trio Femení Plural comprises two good singers (sisters) and a guitarist. They are performing again on Friday 17th and Friday 24th September.

The cost per head for these evenings is 45 euros, including the tour, tasting menu, wines, coffee, liqueur, and the music. Oh, and did I mention we all went home with a complimentary bag of fresh produce from S’Hort de sa Vall?


An informative and thoroughly enjoyable evening. If you’re interested in finding out more about agriculture in the fertile Sa Vall area, this should appeal to you. Sitting under the stars beneath strings of lights added to the cosy ambience.

Good to Know

Wear comfortable shoes for the tour around the fields and surrounding tracks. And even though the daytime may still be warm, the valley cools quickly so be sure to take a jacket or sweater.

To book – or for more details – phone 627 753 038.

Copyright Jan Edwards 2021

A Hotel in Mallorca for Wine Enthusiasts

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Eat / Sleep
Looking striking at night

Our first stay at the 5-star Hotel El Coto in Colònia de Sant Jordi was in 2015, shortly after I read about it while editing a local guide to wines and wineries. Why was a hotel included in this guide? Because those in the know refer to El Coto as ‘the wine hotel’. With good reason.

No Ordinary Seaside Hotel

Hotel El Coto may be in a seaside resort with other holiday hotels and apartments nearby, but it’s a cut above many tourist hotels. The 50-room hotel has a superb cellar – both in terms of design and contents – with more than 200 Spanish (including a good choice of Mallorcan) wines on offer. Prices range from the affordable to the aspirational. Pingus, Vega Sicilia, or La Hermita, anyone?

Wine enthusiasts usually appreciate fine cuisine too and those who dine at Hotel El Coto’s poolside La Pergola restaurant are in for a treat. Several years ago, the Navarrete family – who own and run the hotel – brought in chef Gerhardt Schwaiger as their culinary consultant. Gourmets who’ve known Mallorca for years will probably remember that Schwaiger was at the former 2-Michelin-star Tristán restaurant in Puerto Portals.

Dinner at La Pergola

You don’t have to be staying overnight in Hotel El Coto to dine here – but you do need to book a table because this restaurant has become popular among locals. And if you want to do full justice to the wine possibilities here, booking a room for the night is a good idea.

A five-course dinner (with choices) costs 45 euros (including IVA). Individual dishes are priced so you can choose fewer courses if you wish. Drinks are not included.

A Birthday Treat

The Boss had his birthday at the weekend and I treated him to dinner and a night away at Hotel El Coto again. The hotel has the benefit of being around 100 metres from a beach and the fact that it faces one of the oldest salt flats adds to the interest of its location.

Our Saturday night dinner was accompanied by live music from a pianist, playing the hotel’s white baby grand beside the pool. At night, the sun loungers are moved out of sight and atmospheric lighting around the swimming pool creates a magical ambience.

For our 5-course dinner we chose: Waldorf salad; creamy soup of velvet swimming crabs with king crab (absolutely delicious); fresh red tuna with olive oil, sesame, and chive; hake with vegetable risotto and lemon butter, and fresh figs with cassis granita, vanilla ice cream and cheesecake cream. A memorable birthday dinner, for sure, but my camera photos didn’t do the food justice.

We Love …

… pretty much everything here. Hotel El Coto is spotlessly clean and well maintained. Each of the 50 stylish rooms and suites is individually decorated; types range from a single room to a two-bedroom suite with separate living area and views over the salt lakes. We stayed in the gorgeous Suite 211, overlooking the pool and gardens.

Most impressive of all is the high level of hospitality offered by owners Myriam and Pepe Navarrete, their son Cristian, and their hard-working team. Little wonder that Hotel El Coto in Colònia de Sant Jordi has a high number of repeat guests … including us.

©Jan Edwards 2021

Fresh Produce from this Manacor Farm

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Eat / Mallorcan produce

Anyone for plump, juicy tomatoes, recently harvested? Glossy peppers or aubergines? A thirst-quenching, cooling watermelon? These and more are among the summer vegetables and fruit grown in the beautiful, fertile valley in Mallorca near Manacor, known as Sa Vall.

Open Saturday mornings

This peaceful Mallorcan valley is home to the rural hotel Reserva Rotana, which has its own private nine-hole golf course. But most of the rest of Sa Vall is given over to agricultural activities.

We know Sa Vall quite well and I often wished we could find a farm shop in the valley as it’s not too far from our home. Thanks to a new initiative launched a few weeks ago, it’s now possible to shop for fresh, seasonal produce on Saturday mornings.

S’Hort de sa Vall

S´Hort de sa Vall is the result of Terracor – which grows produce on land in different areas around Manacor – joining forces with Estel de Llevant, a non-profit organisation in Mallorca helping people with mental health issues and, in the case of this latest project, providing employment for five people in the farm shop and kitchen.

Under the umbrella of the Venda Directa scheme, enabling the public to buy direct from producers, the smart farm shop opens to sell its well-displayed produce. As well as fresh fruit and veg, you’ll find local cheese, wines, preserves, pickles, sobrasada, olive oils, etc for sale.

Stop for a Drink Too

There’s more: the beautifully renovated building that houses the farm shop also has a large kitchen and space for event catering. On Friday evenings they offer a guided visit and tasting dinner – which must be booked in advance on the preceding Tuesday or Wednesday. As soon as the temperature drops, we’ll be there.

After we’ve done our shopping, we buy a coffee to drink there, standing at one of the old wine barrels serving as tables. You can also have tea, one of the infusions produced by Estel de Llevant, or even a glass of wine. Prices for everything here are good value. Each time we’ve been, we’ve also been offered free tastings of some of their products.

If your Spanish is non-existent, don’t worry: the lady in charge speaks perfect English, having lived in Birmingham, UK, for a while.

Good to Know

S’Hort de Sa Vall farm shop is open to the public on Saturday mornings from 9am until 1.30pm. From Manacor, take the road off the Via Palma signposted to Reserva Rotana, then continue on the same road past the hotel entrance, until you eventually see the greenhouses and green Venda Directa sign on your left. There’s plenty of parking.

The website for s’Hort de sa Vall is still under construction, but you’ll find them on Instagram and Facebook.

©Jan Edwards 2021

A Look at Manacor’s First Brewpub

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Manacor’s first brew pub awaits you

Beer enthusiasts are in for a treat in Manacor, with the recent opening of the town’s first brewpub, Brusca Brewpub. It opened on July the 15th and we made our first (of many, I’m sure) visit last evening.

Brusca Brewpub is located in an 18th-century flour mill, which has been tastefully and carefully renovated to create an appealing venue for a drink and meeting friends. It’s surprisingly spacious as there are several different rooms, as well as a large terrace with tables in front of the microbrewery – where the fermentation tanks are visible.

At the Helm of Brusca

The new brewpub is the project of Miquel Gilbert and his girlfriend Neus Llopis, who are both in their early thirties. Miquel is the son of Manacor winemaker Miquel Gilbert, and is a winemaker too. Neus gained her master’s degree in Biotechnology, Advanced Microbiology, and Fermentation at the University of Tarragona, where she met Miquel. He was studying biotechnology but switched to oenology.

They bought the old windmill in a quiet street (Carrer Ponent) in December 2017. The mill then was in a very poor state, as we saw when Miquel showed us a photo of the interior as it was when they first bought the place; we could only marvel at the amount of work that must have been necessary to create the Brusca we visited last evening. Paperwork, renovations, and Coronavirus meant that the project took a very long time; it has only just opened for business. Miquel and Neus did a lot of the detailed interior work themselves and they’ve created a good-quality product.

What’s on Offer

Brusca Brewpub has eight beers on tap – of which four are brewed on the premises. Beers on tap are available in 50cl or 25cl glasses. They also offer a gluten-free Toutatis beer and an alcohol-free beer in bottles.

Wines by the glass are also on offer. I was delighted to find two flavours of my favourite brand of kombucha – Brilla, made in Llubí – at 3,50 euros a bottle. Water and a few soft drinks are also available.

You can also snack at Brusca Brewpub, with eight dishes on the board last evening. We shared four good spinach croquettes with mixed salad and a portion of breaded chicken strips with home-made BBQ sauce.

Our Verdict

We loved Brusca Brewpub! We were there shortly after 6pm, the opening time. It was very quiet at that time – probably because the evening was still young and was very hot and humid. What a relief it was to enter the air-conditioned Brusca and enjoy some tasty drinks and food. We are already looking forward to our next visit.

Good to Know

Brusca Brewpub opens only on Thursday to Sunday evenings from 18:00h.

It’s a short walk from the railway station, its car park, and taxi rank.

Miquel and Neus speak English.

I’ll award a big brownie point for having the drink and food prices on their website. Many of us these days like to have an idea of these before we visit. Find Brusca on Instagram and Facebook too.

Jan Edwards ©2021

Say Cheese! Artisanal Goat’s Cheese from Manacor

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Eat / Mallorcan produce
Home of artisanal goat’s cheese

I’d rather eat goat’s cheese than cheese made with cow’s milk – for lots of reasons (some of which are below). The same can be said of yogurt (I make our own at home using either goat’s or sheep’s milk).

Nutritionally, goat’s cheese is easier to digest than cheese made with cow’s milk and it’s rich in probiotics and high in calcium. The fatty acids in goat’s cheese are metabolised faster too, which in theory, means we feel fuller more quickly. What’s not to love?

Eat Locally Made

Cheese from Mallorca? Yes. Menorca may be better known for its cow’s milk cheese, but artisans in Mallorca are also producing some excellent cheeses. Joan Gaià is one such cheesemaker and he’s based in Manacor, in the Llevant area of Mallorca.

Joan, who’s in his mid-thirties, listened to his heart and left his job to follow his dream: making goat’s cheese at the family finca. Formatgeria Es Collet is on the outskirts of Manacor (and has extensive views of the town and the backdrop of the Serra de Tramuntana).

Formatgeria Es Collet

Joan has been making his goat’s cheese for four years and learnt the process in the Pyrenees from a French producer. His goats are not the small, brown, wild type that sometimes jump into the road suddenly in the Serra de Tramuntana (be warned!). The goats pasturing at Formatgeria Es Collet are the Saanen breed, which originates from Switzerland. These white goats are the largest of the dairy goat breeds and produce the best quantity and quality of milk.

Joan knows a thing or two about marketing (I love his business’s logo) and customer service. To ensure his cheese arrives with customers in the best condition during the hot weather, he does summer deliveries on Mondays to customers in the Manacor area. The excellent Can March restaurant in Manacor uses his cheese, and it’s also on sale in the fruit and veg shop Na Camel-la in Manacor and at the Degust stall in Manacor’s produce market in Plaça de ses Verdures.

Open to Visitors on Saturday Mornings

Joan opens his gates on Saturday mornings (10:00-13:30hrs) under the Venda Directa scheme for visitors to see the goats, find out about production, and taste the cheeses (and buy if they wish). This Saturday-morning activity is particularly appealing for families, as children can feed the younger goats. The kids (four-legged variety) are now past the bottle-feeding stage, but I imagine that activity will be great fun for children when the next little ones are born.

We visited last Saturday – only the fifth week that Joan has opened to visitors. He explained that his goat’s cheese is not certified organic, but he follows the principles of organic production, such as using no chemicals on the land. Two families were also visiting when we were there and the small children were having great fun feeding the friendly young goats with pieces of bread.

Tastings of Es Collet Goat’s Cheeses

Joan brought out four types of his goat’s cheese and offered tastings and explanations. We loved them all, but our favourite was the Blau de Llet Crua de Cabra – a raw-milk blue cheese made with Penicillium Roqueforti.

We bought a piece of this delicious blue cheese and the Cremos – which makes a tasty addition to salads.

Joan Gaià has ideas to develop his business further and mentioned he may do evening tastings in the future, as the Es Collet finca is in a prime location for watching the sunset behind the Tramuntana mountains. He’s also taken part in cheese-and-wine pairing events. I’ll be keeping an eye open for these and any other future activities.

I started this post by saying I’d rather eat goat’s than cow’s milk cheese. I’ll add to that: I’d rather eat goat’s cheese that’s produced and sold locally (lower environmental impact, therefore more sustainable). I’d rather eat goat’s cheese made by an artisan with a passion for what he does. That’s why we’re going to buy goat’s cheese from Formatgeria Es Collet in future.

Formatgeria Es Collet is on Facebook and Instagram. Or call/WhatsApp 654 62 24 56 for more information.

Good to Know

Our map to get to Es Collet was a bit confusing. The finca is located in Cami de Tortova which, on the map, appeared to lead off the Ronda del Port (Manacor’s ring road). What you need to look for is the road Carrer de n’Antoni Fullana, which is almost opposite the multiplex cinema, at the side of a housing development. Cami de Tortova can be found a short distance along the Carrer, to the right. If the gates to Finca Es Collet are closed, there’s a bell to ring on the wall.

Jan Edwards ©2021

Countryside Dining near Manacor & Portocristo

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Front exterior view of Son Mas

If you’re staying in the east of Mallorca and want dinner in the countryside, we can recommend Son Mas Hotel Rural. It’s seven kilometres from the heart of Portocristo and ten kilometres from Manacor (from which you take the road passing the Rafa Nadal Academy). You don’t have to be staying in the hotel to have dinner here … but you do have to book on the day you wish to eat.

Son Mas isn’t hard to find, although it is tucked away off the beaten track – which adds to its appeal. Once through the gates, you have a winding drive up to the parking area, then a short walk (with steps) to the hotel building.

The well-spaced outdoor tables enjoy a beautiful bucolic view and, from the main terrace, you can watch the sun slip down beyond the horizon. Our table was under a tree, and we were delighted to see a pair of flycatchers feeding their young (late in the season) in a nest in the tree canopy. After dark, with the candles lit on the tables, the peaceful place has a magical feel. When the outdoor lights came on, so did the jets of the water feature in one corner, adding to the ambience.


The 4-star Son Mas Hotel Rural doesn’t have an à la carte menu for dinner. Each day they offer a different set menu, with a choice of two starters and two main course dishes. Here’s the thing: you must book in the morning of the day you wish to eat here; when you phone to make a table reservation, the hotel will tell you what the menu is for that evening and you need to choose your starter and main plate in advance.

On the night we were there, the starters were chilled white asparagus soup or pulpo a la gallega (Galician-style octopus). Main courses were grilled salmon on a bed of potato purée or chicken breast stuffed with prawns and red pepper with new potatoes. Son Mas Rural Hotel served us warm bread rolls with aioli and green olives at the start of our dinner.

Portions are quite generous and we couldn’t manage a dessert each. The waitress – who was very pleasant and smiled a lot – offered us pineapple carpaccio, which we shared.

The dinner menu costs 44 euros a head, which we felt was good value for the overall experience of eating at Son Mas Rural Hotel.


For a small hotel, Son Mas has a decent choice of wines by the bottle, with labels from Mallorca, Ribera del Duero, Rioja, Castilla y León, Utiel-Requena, Priorat, Rueda, Navarra, and Rias Baixas. France provides one wine too, the excellent Aix Rosé from Provence – which we enjoyed when we lunched at the home of good friends recently.

Prices for wine range from 17 euros for the Mallorcan rosado Butibalausi from winery Can Majoral, to 78 euros for the Hacienda Monasterio Reserva red. Nine wines on the list cost 20 euros or less.

Wine by the glass is from Mallorca’s Es Fangar winery and costs 5 euros for red, white, or rosé.


Service was friendly and efficient but a little more relaxed than in some coastal eateries; we had no problem lingering at our table in such tranquil rural surroundings. The tasty food was decently cooked and presented too, although eating here could be a challenge for vegetarians and vegans. We shall certainly return.

Son Mas Rural Hotel looks a very peaceful and appealing place to stay, and we spotted a good-sized pool for those who enjoy swimming lengths. We’d like to have seen one of their junior suites (all 16 rooms are in this category), but nobody was available after our dinner to show us one. I’d say it was worth checking their website if you’re looking for a rural hotel in the east of Mallorca.

FREE Summery Short Stories Set in Mallorca, Anyone?

Here’s a link to a set of five short stories set in Mallorca, in ebook form. I hope you’ll enjoy them. You’ll also receive a MONTHLY email with news about what’s happening in Mallorca, including interesting events and news from hotels and restaurants etc.


Jan Edwards © 2021

New Concept for Can Cera, Palma de Mallorca

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New-look courtyard at Can Cera – photo courtesy of hotel

Ten years after it originally opened, Can Cera Boutique Hotel has a new concept. During the Covid-related extended closure of Mallorca’s hospitality businesses, IT Mallorca Unique Spaces took the opportunity to renovate its adults-only, 5-star property in Palma’s atmospheric old town.

Can Cera was our first boutique hotel experience in Palma when we stayed not long after its opening in 2011. The 17th-century former palace was unlike any other hotel we’d stayed in before in Mallorca and we were seriously impressed. Even more so after this week’s return visit to the new-look Can Cera.

Welcoming Courtyard

The boutique hotel now feels more exclusive, because the heavy wooden front doors are no longer open to the gaze or presence of those who aren’t staying guests. After we pressed the intercom button on the wall outside, the door clicked open. It’s like being welcomed into the grand home of privileged friends, or a smart, private club.

We gasped as we entered: the traditional Mallorcan courtyard – stone arches, wooden ceiling beams, marble staircase, and Art Deco stair banisters – has been further enhanced by the addition of huge sofas, plump cushions, ceiling-to-floor curtains, marble low tables, artworks, and designer lighting.

Dream Designs & Designers

Jaume Roig ceramics

IT Mallorca Unique Spaces’ founder Miguel Conde and his architect wife Cristina Marti were responsible for Can Cera’s renovation and redecoration. They successfully married period features such as cabinets, chairs, art, hand-painted coffered ceilings, and 17th-century Murano glass chandeliers, with contemporary features from designers including Matteo Ugolini, Davide Groppi, Marcel Breuer, Jean Prouvé, and Adriana Meunié – the partner of Jaume Roig, whose distinctive ceramic art in the courtyard impresses at first sight.

Fresh Features

Designs galore

Climb the marble staircase from the courtyard and you enter what’s dubbed the ‘work’ room. Its key new features are the six-metre-long oak table, Marcel Breuer chairs, and Matteo Ugolini’s Moby Dick lamps. For guests who have to keep on top of work duties when travelling, this is a fine space in which to do so.

The adjoining room, the Salon Rojo, is now home to a black-marble cocktail bar, with facilities for cooking too.

Interior walls throughout the hotel have been painted with a sophisticated shade of light brown that’s made the ambience feel even more restful. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out the name of the colour, but it reminded me of Farrow & Ball’s lovely ‘Mouse’s Back’.

Guest rooms have also been renovated and we appreciated having both a long bathtub and separate, spacious shower cubicle in our junior suite (room 11). The windows of this room, by the way, offer some tantalising glimpses of Palma’s glorious cathedral, La Seu.

Sustainability is a key tenet for IT Mallorca Unique Spaces and you can spot evidence of this throughout, from the guest amenities in the rooms to the commercially compostable bags containing individual portions of bread and pastries on the breakfast buffet.

Gastronomy Offering

Eating in at Can Cera

We had dinner in Can Cera. The hotel offers a vermutería-style menu of tapas and a few light dishes. Menu sections include appetisers, breads, ‘La Cala’ canned fish (the Spanish are renowned for canned fish), cheeses (six types, including the excellent matured English Stilton from Colston Bassett), foies, cold meats, smoked & salted fish, vegetables, and more. The provenance of some of the hotel’s carefully sourced products is noted on the menu.

A Two-Centre Stay in Mallorca

Love the buzz of staying in a city or small town, with restaurants, bars, and shops in walking distance? Here’s my recommendation for a two-centre stay in Mallorca: Start at Can Cera in Palma, then check in at Can Aulí, another IT Mallorca Unique Spaces boutique hotel, in the attractive town of Pollensa. (Click the Can Aulí link above to find out more). If you love the hospitality and design ethos of Can Cera, you’ll find more of it to enjoy there.

Palma’s discreet Can Cera has a convenient location for exploring the Mallorcan capital. However, once you discover the various places inside the hotel where you can relax with a good book or magazine, you may decide not to venture out and, instead, make the most of your Palma home from home.

After your fix of city life, head to Pollensa – which has easy access to resorts, some quieter beaches, and the impressive mountains of the Serra de Tramuntana. Can Aulí also has the benefit of an outdoor swimming pool, so you may just be tempted to stay put and relax in considerable style.

You can see more photos I took at Can Cera on my Facebook page eatdrinksleepmallorca, where you’ll also find details of a special offer if you book a room at this hotel before July 18th.

Jan Edwards ©2021

60th Anniversary of Mallorca’s Castillo Hotel Son Vida

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Castillo Hotel Son Vida, set in the wooded hills above Palma de Mallorca (photo courtesy of hotel)

We recently ate dinner at Es Vi, one of the two restaurants at the legendary Castillo Hotel Son Vida, in the hills behind Palma de Mallorca. More about our dinner later.

We’ve attended quite a few functions at the iconic property and have had day visits to the hotel’s spa. As we ate, we gazed out at the spectacular view over Palma and its bay, watching as the lights of the city and coastline twinkled into life. We decided we’d come and stay a night some time this year – never having stayed here before.

As we left the restaurant, we passed a display on the wall illustrating the history of the hotel and I noted that today, Wednesday, the twenty-third of June, is the anniversary of the hotel’s opening in 1961. Sixty years ago, the Castillo Hotel Son Vida’s launch was celebrated at what I’m told was one of the most elegant events ever seen in the Balearics. No, I wasn’t there!

A Guest Book of Note

Castell Hotel Son Vida’s privileged location in the exclusive wooded hills above Palma has made it the hotel choice for many famous people, including royalty, political leaders, famous performers, and sports people. Over the past six decades, guests who have enjoyed the location, ambience, and hospitality here have included Mikhail Gorbachev, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Steve McQueen, Brigitte Bardot, Anthony Quinn, Michael Caine, Gunther Sachs, John Lennon, Julio Iglesias, James Brown, and Maria Callas. I met Sir Cliff Richard there a few years ago when we were both attending a special lunch, at which the BBC’s former chief political correspondent John Sergeant was the entertaining guest speaker.

Es Vi Restaurant

Twinkling lights around the Bay of Palma in the distance

During the warm months, everyone wants to sit on the terrace, enjoying the cooler evening air and the panoramic views. Settled at our table, we had a glass of cava while we studied the menu and enjoyed a complimentary appetiser of a vegetable taco.

Es Vi has a good list of wines by the glass, including caves, champagnes, Mallorcan and Spanish wines, as well as wines by the bottle.

We started with home-made Iberian ham croquettes with a marmalade of cherries from the Jerte valley (14 euros for four pieces) and crunchy Mediterranean prawns with basil and avocado sauce (18 euros for four pieces). Both these choices were delicious.

Only four main-course dishes are on the menu – two fish, two meat. We each chose fish (John Dory and salmon respectively); meat dishes were veal-cheek mini burgers with home-made bread, Mallorcan cheese, and plum ketchup, and grilled lamb chops with green asparagus and potato-and-chorizo ‘lollipops’. The menu has four desserts, including a delicious and generous crème brûlée with Soller orange and a reduction of Palo liqueur and fresh raspberries (10 euros). We both enjoyed this one.

We made our dinner a three-course affair, but I’d recommend coming to Es Vi for drinks and a few tapas to share with your companion(s) because it’s very hard to choose just one each from the list of tapas/starters. Prices are a little higher than you’ll pay in a tapas bar in Palma, but you’ll be experiencing one of Mallorca’s legendary 5-star hotels and the awesome views from Castillo Hotel Son Vida’s terraces. Views that kings, queens, and other notables have chosen to enjoy over the past sixty years.

Happy anniversary, Castillo Hotel Son Vida.

NOTE: Balearic residents can take advantage of some special deals at this hotel.

Prices correct at time of writing.

Jan Edwards ©2021

Review of the New Sa Clastra Restaurant, Castell Son Claret

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Sa Clastra in daylight

Mallorca has a new gourmet restaurant: Sa Clastra opened this season at the five-star Castell Son Claret hotel in the Es Capdellà countryside in southwest Mallorca. Sa Clastra has replaced the hotel’s former two-Michelin-star Zaranda and offers a new fine-dining experience for guests and members of the public who come for dinner.

Chef Jordi Cantó

Ambitious 33-year-old chef Jordi Cantó leads the kitchen, with a generous helping of Michelin-star-restaurant experience. Born in Palma, he’s worked alongside renowned chefs in some of Spain’s most famous Michelin-starred restaurants: Nerua (1*) at Bilbao’s Guggenheim; DiverXo (3*) in Madrid, and Casa Macial (2*) in Asturias. But his most recent experience was in Zaranda itself, so he already knew his way around the impressive kitchen space at Mallorca’s Castell Son Claret.

Jordi at the helm

Jordi’s travels through Europe, South and Central America, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Japan – have also inspired his creativity. In Mallorca, for Sa Clastra, he researched new local producers – honouring the philosophy of the Slow Food movement – and applied his talents to heritage recipes, creating memorable dishes.

Dine in the Castle’s Courtyard

Sa Clastra takes its name from the central patio or cloister found at the heart of many Spanish noble buildings and castles – including Castell Son Claret. As we sipped a glass of Gramona cava, we could only speculate on what the handsome old stone walls, wall-mounted sundial from 1888, and ornate central well might have witnessed in the distant past. It’s an atmospheric and romantic space for a special-occasion dinner and on a balmy summer night it’s wonderful to watch the sky turn cobalt blue before darkness descends.

The Cuisine

Sa Clastra offers two tasting menus, which will change with availability of seasonal ingredients: the seven-plate Menu Castell (95 euros) and nine-plate Menu Sa Clastra (120 euros). In addition are an appetiser and petits fours. We opted for the shorter menu.

Castell Son Claret has its own in-house bakery, and the breads and other baked goods here are incredibly moreish. We had a choice of three types of bread, served with two flavoured salts and extra virgin olive oil from Sóller.

The menu descriptions reveal only the key ingredients of each dish and part of the pleasure of the evening was the surprise as the smart serving staff delivered each course to the table. Presentation and taste exceeded our expectations. I’ve shown only some of the dishes below … not wanting to spoil all the surprises if you visit!

The Wines

Wine expertise at your service

There are some 600 wine references on offer at Castell Son Claret. A wine-flight paired to your chosen menu is optional at Sa Clastra, but we were happy to accept sommelier Sebastián Longo’s recommendation for a white wine – the Sangarida La Tarea 2019 (DO Bierzo) was an excellent choice.

The Service

We’ve been to Castell Son Claret on quite a few occasions, for meals, overnight stays, and various functions (including the acclaimed Castell Classics operatic concerts). Whatever the reason, we’ve always commented on the exemplary level of service. Staff in every department of the hotel – including Sa Clastra restaurant – make each guest feel valued. And who doesn’t appreciate that?

The Verdict

Sa Clastra is a recommended new option for a memorable gourmet dinner in an idyllic setting. The Michelin-star inspectors won’t have visited yet, but look up after dark in the elegant courtyard and, with no light pollution in this beautiful area of Mallorca, you can enjoy a sky full of real stars.

Jan Edwards © 2021