Learn the Art of Food Plating & Presentation in Mallorca
Food plating and presentation can make the difference between an enjoyable meal and a memorable one. It’s said we eat with our eyes because the appearance of the dish when it’s put in front of us makes the first impression – and stimulates our digestive juices.
Aspiring chefs, professional chefs, yacht chefs, and yacht stewards/cooks have an opportunity later this month to learn the art of food plating and presentation, for career acceleration, from two chefs with top reputations in Mallorca: Fernando P Arellano and Claire Hutchings.
Fernando P Arellano (Michelin-starred Zaranda restaurant in Palma) and Mallorca-based private chef Claire Hutchings (former sous chef to Fernando at Zaranda) – who reached the final three contestants competing in the BBC’s Masterchef: The Professionals and won the 2018 rematch – are getting together to share their proven expertise and culinary knowledge in two one-day workshops. All the details are shown below.
‘Food presentation is the key to pulling all five senses into the experience of eating,’ Claire tells me. ‘Food plating is so important as it’s the first impression a customer has of you; they visually eat your food before tasting it. If a dish looks clumsy and too big, then it’s instantly not appealing to the eye and changes your opinion of it even if the taste is good. Good plating and presentation add elegance and the element of design to your food.’
Get Your Discount
Places are limited for these potentially career-enhancing one-day plating and presentation courses, so book early to be sure of yours.
Quote eatdrinksleepmallorca when you book and you’ll get a 10% discount on the price shown.
New Repsol Sols & a Michelin-star Move
Alicante was the centre of attention for the Spanish gastronomy world last evening: the Repsol Guía held their annual gala dinner to announce the new ‘Sols’ for 2023. These awards are the Spanish equivalent of Michelin stars.
Mallorca’s new Sols are as follows – and both recipients are in the resort of Canyamel:
Voro – 2 Sols (Voro also has 2 Michelin stars)*
Can Simoneta – Canyamel – one Sol. I am delighted for chef David Moreno and his excellent team at this 5-star hotel.
Total Sols in Mallorca
One 3-Sols restaurant
Six 2-Sols restaurants
Eleven 1-Sol restaurants
The following Mallorca restaurants are new recommendations for 2023:
Es Pi – Deià
La Gran Tortuga – Peguera
La Vieja de Jonay Hernandez – Palma*
Nus – Santa Catalina, Palma
Sa Pleta by Marc Fosh – Canyamel
Terrae – Pollença
As you may have noticed, Canyamel is now quite the foodie destination!
*These reviews are pre-pandemic, but will give you an idea of the cuisine available. Any prices mentioned will have changed, of course.
For a full guide to all the Repsol Sols in Spain (new and existing) for 2023, click here.
A Michelin-Star Move
Mallorcan chef Andreu Genestra is relocating his one-Michelin-star, eponymous restaurant from Capdepera to the countryside near Llucmajor. After a decade at Predi Son Jaume Rural Hotel, Genestra will re-open in April in the new location of Hotel Zoëtry, a 5-star hotel on the 14th-century Finca Sa Torre. Andreu Genestra restaurant also has a green Michelin star for sustainability. Senzill, Genestra’s bistro at Predi Son Jaume, will remain there.
Although the hotel in Llucmajor has changed hands and name in recent years, it won’t be the first time that a Michelin-star restaurant has been under its roof. When Andreu’s friend, chef Fernando P Arellano, relocated his starred restaurant Zaranda from Madrid to Mallorca, it was on this very same property.
Jan Edwards ©2023
New Reasons to Stay at Finca Can Beneït, Mallorca
We had our third stay at Finca Can Beneït hotel in Binibona last week, to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Our first stay was to check the place out in April 2021, shortly after Toni Duran – a charming Mallorcan with more than 20 years of international hotel experience – bought the place.
The following year we stayed there for our wedding anniversary; it was such a memorable and enjoyable experience that we checked in again this year.
Since Toni Duran has been the owner, he’s been investing in sensitive enhancements to this centuries-old property with his Can Beneït guests and sustainability in mind. We couldn’t wait to see what had been done since our last stay.
New Garden Spa
Before going to our suite, adjacent to the 200-year-old chapel and the surviving medieval walls, we had a look at the new wellbeing facilities. The former sauna, which was close to the outdoor pool, has been converted into a spacious treatment room where therapist Joana offers facials, massages, and body rituals.
Products used in these treatments are from the Barcelona company, Natura Bissé – which has four times been voted the world’s best spa brand in recent years.
The wooden sauna is now housed in a restored stone building in the garden area. To improve sustainability, it’s the type that functions only when someone is using it, thus saving energy.
Mere steps away from the sauna are a plunge pool (heated in the cooler months), an outdoor shower, and a couple of chairs for relaxing in the outdoor but sheltered, private space. The sauna and this plunge pool area are bookable by the hour for exclusive use.
Close by is a new open-air yoga lawn.
To create these new spaces and preserve the integrity of Can Beneït, Toni Duran chose to renovate old stone buildings on the property that no longer had a purpose – thus giving them a new lease of life and creating something special for discerning hotel guests.
Other New Features
The 200-year-old chapel is now a space for art, although elements identifying its original purpose are still in place.
The hotel has invested in new, more comfortable dining chairs too – perfect for a long, leisurely lunch or dinner in the Mirabona Restaurant.
Produce from Can Beneït’s organic kitchen garden has increased with the addition of more beds for vegetables and herbs.
Good to Know
- If you’re into yoga, pack your gear: the hotel has regular morning classes and that yoga lawn where you can salute to the sun amid fresh air and the sound of birdsong.
- Take walking boots/shoes to take advantage of some of the bucolic lanes and tracks around Binibona.
- The hotel offers bicycle hire (including electric bikes) and has storage facilities for bikes.
- A few places nearby are worth a visit – if you can tear yourself away from tranquil Can Beneït. Nearby Campanet is home to some caves that are well worth a visit. The Black Vulture Conservation Foundation at Finca Son Pons is also interesting to find out about the world’s only island population of black vultures and the associated work to protect these and other birds of prey in the Serra de Tramuntana. Look up to the sky above Finca Can Beneït and you’re likely to see some of these magnificent birds on the wing.
- Read more about Can Beneït here.
Review of Lunch at Senseless Art Gallery & Cafe, Sencelles
Walk around the small town of Sencelles – in the heart of the agricultural plain known as the Pla de Mallorca – and you’ll realise there’s something special about this place.
Many of the old houses have a decorative ceramic plaque or tile fixed next to the front door to commemorate the town’s most famous daughter: Sister Francinaina Cirer lived from 1781 to 1855 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II. The nun founded the town’s Convento de las Hermanas de la Caridad de Sencelles.
A Taste of Belgium in Sencelles
Sencelles is also a place to experience the day-to-day life of a typical Mallorcan rural town. And the delicious Belgian fries on offer at Senseless Art Gallery & Café. Yes, you read that correctly. Belgian fries. In an art gallery. Which is also a café.
Senseless Art Gallery opened in 2018 and began serving breakfast, excellent coffees (try their speciality coffees), and lunch in November 2021, when it added ‘& Café’ to its name.
We parked in the public car park (free) and walked towards the church, pausing to look at the variety of tiles depicting Sor (Sister) Francinaina. A left turn just before the church took us into the street named after her, where we found our destination at number 51.
Senseless Art Gallery and Café was smaller than I had imagined, but small can be beautiful (and it is here). Immediately we spotted the welcome log fire – even on a sunny winter’s day in Mallorca, it can feel chilly. Owner Julia Fischer-Bernard greeted us warmly and offered us the last available table in this cosy space. We hadn’t booked but shall do so in future, having realised how fortunate we were to get a table without a reservation.
Lunch for 19€
We were there for the three-course lunch, which was not only delicious but also good value. It began with a cup of delicious courgette soup, with a hint of coconut (not pictured).
Although Julia wasn’t born in Belgium, she grew up there and her partner is Belgian; when I asked her why Belgians make such good fries, she laughed, saying, “I think Belgians are born with the ability in their blood!” All the food is home-made and fresh each day.
Alcoholic drinks include Belgian beers, a small selection of wines by bottle or glass, red vermouth, and L’Apéro Amargo – a drink made from organic oranges at the finca Can Cavall Blau in Sencelles. After a sample, we bought a bottle for home.
Lunch ended with a speciality coffee from Indonesia (2€ for an espresso). Trenggiling has notes of spices, chocolate, and brown sugar, and is roasted and supplied by Syra Coffee in Barcelona.
Don’t leave Senseless Art Gallery & Café without having a look at the artworks and the selection of artisan items for sale.
Julia is also a talented artist – see her website link below – and you can see some of her lighting designs in the gallery. She’s also a translator with her own agency, Conexion Mallorca. Check out the reels on the Senseless Instagram page and you’ll see that Julia also has a terrific sense of fun. I liked her and her partner immediately.
Verdict & Good to Know
We loved our lunch at Senseless Art Gallery & Café and shall certainly return.
- It’s open only on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 09:00h to 18:00h; their breakfast items are popular with locals. They also serve lunch between 13:00h and 15:00h. Each week Senseless Art Gallery & Café publishes its set menu (19€) on its Instagram page.
- Make a reservation by calling (or WhatsApp) Julia on +34 674 72 90 98
- Senseless is on Instagram as senseless_art_gallery
- Find out more about Julia Fischer-Bernard’s unique designs of lights and lamps here.
- Between Sencelles and Costitx, you’ll find what’s known as the archeological route of Sencelles, which covers some interesting remains from the Talaiotic period in Mallorca.
- The Sencelles area is also home to two wineries: Son Prim and Celler Can Ramis (in the town itself).
©Jan Edwards 2023
Fire up the BBQ for a Calçotada in Mallorca
Nature provides certain foods for us at the most appropriate time of the year. Consider citrus fruit: oranges and lemons are abundant in Mallorca at this time of the year – when we most need a good dose of Vitamin C. And in the cooler months in Mallorca, when a fire or BBQ makes being outdoors cosier, the calçot season arrives.
What are Calçots?
Resembling slightly unkempt leeks, calçots are green onions but (with apologies to Star Trek) not as we know them, Jim. From planting seed onions to harvesting calçots takes around eighteen months, because the growth period is interrupted for a while.
Usually planted in autumn, they are harvested the following early summer and stored until late summer, when they’re trimmed and replanted.
As in the method for growing celery, the calçots are then ‘earthed up’, as though wearing shoes, to encourage growth. And that’s where the name comes from: the Catalan word for a shoe is the similar calçat.
When harvested in the early months of the year, most of the length of the calçots has become white and the flavour is much milder and sweeter than onions or spring onions (or scallions).
The calçot originated in the province of Tarragona in Catalunya and has PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status. There, the city of Valls is famous for its Gran Festa de la Calçotada, which takes place on the last Sunday in January every year. As I write this, the day after the 2023 event, I imagine the cleaning up in Valls will take some time.
What Happens at a Calçotada?
A calçotada is when people gather to cook and eat calçots together. Traditionally, calçots are cooked until blackened over a fire of vine cuttings, then wrapped tightly in newspaper and allowed to steam, which loosens the burnt skins to reveal the tender heart of the vegetable.
Eating calçots is a fun and sociable, but messy business, especially as they are dipped in a spicy, nut sauce before they are eaten. Don’t wear your best clothes if you’re going to a calçotada – unless you’re looking for an excuse to buy some new ones.
Salsa per Calçots is available in jars in food shops and supermarkets, but it’s not difficult to make your own.
By the way, if you’re worried that eating only calçots won’t satisfy your appetite, they’re usually followed by a meat dish.
Calçots in Mallorca
You don’t have to travel to the Peninsula to enjoy calçots or, indeed, a calçotada. At this time of year, you’ll find them in Mallorca – although, depending where you buy your vegetables, you may have to place an order for them.
Local food-store chain Agromart Balear has more than 20 stores in Mallorca and if they don’t have calçots in stock will order them for you. My photo above was taken in the Manacor store.
If you’d rather someone else did the cooking, some restaurants offer calçots at this time of year and a Google search should reveal these. The best calçotades though are probably the simple ones enjoyed with friends at a rustic finca in Mallorca. Time to fire up the BBQ?
©Jan Edwards 2023
Review of Restaurante Peperoncino, Son Servera
NOTE: PEPERONCINO IS CLOSED FOR THE WHOLE OF FEBRUARY 2023 FOR STAFF HOLIDAYS
I could credit the amiable Stanley Tucci or those adorable nonne on Pasta Grannies (on YouTube), but the fact is that my love for Italian cuisine began a long time ago at a restaurant in Cambridge, where I also drank my first Campari. That Italian restaurant, Don Pasquale, didn’t reopen in the city’s Market Square after the pandemic lockdown, bringing its almost fifty-year history to a close.
Enough of the nostalgia though, as I return to the business in hand: a review of an Italian restaurant in Mallorca that’s been a fantastic find.
Restaurante Peperoncino is in the town of Son Servera, in the Llevant region of Mallorca. It’s a family-run establishment by chef Giuseppe Carbonaro and his family, who took it over from his in-laws in 2015 and gave Peperoncino’s premises an attractive makeover in 2019. There are several distinct dining areas, including a roof terrace (seasonal) and a natural-light-filled covered interior courtyard (heated in winter). Our favourite space is the front dining room, for its ambience.
You could be forgiven for mistaking the bearded, tattooed, and capped Giuseppe for a rock musician; his distinctive appearance is used to good effect in the Italian restaurant’s marketing. But there’s a lot more to Restaurante Peperoncino than Giuseppe’s image printed on some of the displayed items for sale. These items include his cookbook, Tuttavia, although it’s only available in German. Giuseppe grew up in Germany, where his parents ran a restaurant.
The menu is à la carte, with a selection of chef’s suggestions, and is offered for lunch and dinner. You’ll find a choice of mozzarellas and garnishes; pasta; meat and fish; risottos and focaccia, pizzas, and desserts. Giuseppe sprinkles his culinary creativity over authentic Italian dishes that are attractively presented and served by a team including his charming son Gian Luca.
Wine enthusiasts will find an excellent choice at Peperoncino, including some very fine wines at prices to match the quality. It’s a restaurant where you could come for anything from a celebratory meal to, as we’ve seen others do on our recent visits, a pizza, a pud, and a beer or glass of house wine.
If Stanley Tucci ever visits Mallorca, I think he’d really enjoy Restaurante Peperoncino. We’d be delighted to accompany him … and not just for the pleasure of his entertaining company.
Good to Know
Peperoncino is open every day except Tuesdays, for lunch and dinner. Lunch service is earlier than in some restaurants: from 12:30-15:00h.
During the holiday season, you need to make a table reservation a few days in advance but we’ve managed to book a table at a day’s notice recently. We’ve found the booking procedure on the website works well and is followed by a prompt email confirmation.
Son Servera has a large, signposted public car park that’s free of charge, about five minutes’ walk away from Peperoncino.
We’ve also enjoyed dinners at the Porto Cristo Italian restaurant Osteria Dolores which, in the winter, has a log-burning stove to keep the place cosy. Sadly for diners, this restaurant is closed this year for a winter break until February 2023.
©Jan Edwards 2022
Chef-Aid Mallorca Supports World Central Kitchen
No, I hadn’t heard of World Central Kitchen* either until a few days ago. But thanks to the efforts of fourteen of Mallorca’s top chefs (six from Michelin-star restaurants), more people will become aware of this non-profit organisation, which has been feeding people in crisis situations around the world since 2010.
Remember Band Aid in the ’80s? Now, we have ‘Chef-Aid Mallorca’ with a specially composed song entitled ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ – a fundraiser for World Central Kitchen.
The song was written by Marc Fosh, the only British chef in Spain at the helm of a Michelin-star restaurant (the eponymous Marc Fosh in Palma).
You can listen to ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ on Spotify or check out this video to see the chefs performing the song. And if you can afford to, make a donation here to help World Central Kitchen continue its vital work.
The following chefs took part: Marc Fosh, Adrià Quetglas, Santi Taura, Andreu Genestra, Maca de Castro, Fernando Arellano, Tomeu Caldentey, Pau Navarro, Miquel Talent, Ariadna Salvador, Víctor García, Joan Marc Garcias, Jonay Hernández, and Lluís Pérez.
Musical arrangement was by composer Sergio Llopis and well-known Mallorcan singer/songwriter/musician, Jaime Anglada. The video was by multi-award-winning photographer and videographer, Nando Esteva, and Juan Monserrat from Foto Ruano in Palma. The final mastering of the song was done at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios in London.
I spoke to Marc at the media launch of ‘Don’t Ask Me Why’ by Chefs-Aid Mallorca and asked him how the idea for the fundraiser came about. Here’s what he said:
*What is World Central Kitchen?
World Central Kitchen was founded by famous Spanish chef, José Andrés, in response to the huge earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. Since then, WCK has provided food relief in places including Puerto Rico, Australia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Cambodia, Uganda, Beirut, Texas, Louisiana, and Ukraine.
Just one day after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, WCK began providing food to Ukrainians affected by the war. The organisation has partnered with many restaurants in Ukraine to serve meals and set up sites across the border in other countries to feed refugees who have fled for their lives.
©Jan Edwards 2022
Son Mesquidassa – Olive Oil Tourism in Mallorca
On a narrow country lane between Felanitx and Porreres you’ll find the Son Mesquidassa estate … eventually. We were beginning to wonder whether we’d somehow missed the finca until I spotted the sea of olive trees to our left. Moments later, we saw the Son Mesquidassa sign at the entrance and knew we’d arrived.
It’s an impressive estate covering almost 100 hectares and is home to more than 150,000 olive trees. The majority are of the Arbequina variety but estate owners, the Rosselló-Castell family, have also planted l’Arbossana, Koroneiki, and Siktita varieties. They harvest around eight million tonnes of olives a year, from which they produce up to 200k litres of extra virgin olive oil. Son Mesquidassa is the largest producer of intensive olive farming in Mallorca, using sustainable agricultural practices. Their oils have Oli de Mallorca Denomination of Origin status.
Son Mesquidassa’s History
The Son Mesquidassa estate was founded in 1818 and you pass the original house as you drive towards the large, contemporary structure housing the shop, tasting room, video-screening space, tafona (press), bottling plant, and space – indoors and outside – to host a variety of events (including weddings). Work on the impressive building began in 2015, and it was inaugurated in 2019.
The Rosselló-Castell family bought the finca in 1986 and have since spent some eight million euros in creating the impressive Son Mesquidassa that visitors find today. It’s a fine example of olive-oil tourism in Mallorca.
Their Range of Olive Oils
We went to collect some Son Mesquidassa EVOO I’d bought online as a birthday gift for a friend. Inevitably perhaps, we came home with a bottle for ourselves too, as well as a jar of their preserved olives and a bottle of their wonderfully named Olidays EVOO.
These are their extra virgin olive oils:
Son Mesquidassa – Arbequina variety
Joan Rosselló (a homage to the founder of the business) – Arbequina and Picual
Can Troquet – Arbequina and Picual
Ni Verd Ni Blau – Arbequina
Olidays – early harvested Arbequina
I think the latter would make a great (and healthy) souvenir of Mallorca or a meaningful gift for someone back home. Olidays won the EVOOLEUM Silver Award in 2017 for ‘Most Innovative Label Design’.
Good to Know
Son Mesquidassa is open to visitors from Monday to Friday from 09:00-16:00h. Group visits should be arranged in advance.
Beware: The country lane between Felanitx and Porreres is narrow in places but some of the locals who use it drive like Fernando Alonso. You’ve been warned!
©Jan Edwards 2022