Review of Kasui Japanese Grill and Cocktail Bar in Palma de Mallorca

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Happy to follow these instructions…

Fans of Japanese cuisine have plenty of choice these days when eating out in Palma de Mallorca. I’m a big fan of Japanese cuisine and it took little to persuade me to try Kasui Japanese Grill and Cocktail Bar, in the regenerated area of Sa Gerreria. Once a somewhat shady red-light district, Sa Gerreria is now safe to walk around at night and is home to an increasing number of trendy restaurants and bars.

One of these is Kasui Japanese Grill and Cocktail Bar, which opened in Palma’s trendy Plaça Raimundo Clar in September 2019. Owners Paco García Sánchez and Miki Cerdá launched their project on the back of their international restaurant experience.

Paco worked in London for six years. He was at Lima Restaurant with the chef Virgilio Martínez (owner of Restaurant Central in Peru); Lima was the first Peruvian restaurant in Europe to gain a Michelin star (in 2014). Paco also worked at the Japanese restaurant Roka in London, as bar manager for their cocktail bar Shochu Lounge, and opened the company’s Roka Mayfair and, in Miami, ETARU Las Olas.

Chef Miki has worked for the Sheraton and Jumeirah hotel groups, and in Barcelona’s former Hotel Omm (now known as Sir Victor Hotel), and at London’s Roka. He also spent time working in Japan and Singapore.

From the moment you arrive, these two Mallorcan friends’ international experience is evident in the high standards of hospitality, food, and drinks.

Eat it, drink it, share it

On entering Kasui Japanese Grill and Cocktail Bar, you see a neon sign on the wall, reading, ‘Eat it, drink it, share it.’ The décor has something of a red vibe, which gives it a womb-like cosiness. Single tables line one wall, which faces the bar and open-kitchen counter, behind which Paco and Miki and his fellow chef Álvaro Busquets work their magic.

Miki is master of the ‘robata’ – the Japanese-style charcoal grill – and Paco mixes the excellent cocktails. A small alarm bell went off in my head when I saw the open grill. Would our clothes reek of cooking when we left?

We were remembering an evening when we went to a concert in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, after eating in a nearby Japanese teppanyaki restaurant. It was a delicious and entertaining experience (the chef was a whizz with a knife), but we didn’t appreciate how much the cooking smells had permeated our hair and clothes until we took our seats in Symphony Hall. The twitching nostrils of the well-dressed couple sitting next to us were due to the lingering odour of cooking as a result of our sitting around the restaurant’s open grill. I’m pleased to report that our Kasui experience didn’t affect us in the same way – no doubt because of a good extraction system.

Paco’s signature Japanese cocktails awaken the taste buds for the delicious flavours to come. All cocktails – Japanese (my Sumida Blossom was divine) and classic – cost a reasonable 7,90€. Beers include bottled Japanese Kirin (3€). Wines are available by glass and bottle and, of course, sake and a range of spirits (some Japanese) are available.

The food

The menu is divided into sections named as follows: Izakaya, Robatayaki (charcoal-grilled dishes), Kushiyaki (grilled skewers), Street Food, and Desserts. As the neon sign says, this is a place for sharing dishes. Two of us shared seven dishes (including dessert).

Every dish at Kasui was packed with flavour and interest and it would be hard to pick favourites. However, I’ll wave the flag for the soft-shell crab tempura with Japanese BBQ sauce (7,90€), the miso-marinated seabass with daikon emulsion (12,90€), and the meltingly tender beef-fillet skewers with spring onion and yakiniku sauce (8,50€). And for some sexy veggie dishes, try the Thai broccoli with sesame and ginger sauce (5,50€) and the lettuce buds with caramelized onion and apple ponzu (4,90€). Here are pictures of some of our dishes.

Our dessert of white chocolate and yuzu ganache with coconut crumble and passion fruit (5€) was both rich and refreshing. And too good to share. Something to bear in mind if you eat at Kasui Japanese grill and cocktail bar.

IMHO

We had a delicious dinner at Kasui Japanese Grill and Cocktail Bar and shall return soon. Because this Palma restaurant is quite small, I recommend booking your table in advance. After we had booked, we received an email confirmation; on the day of our booking, a reminder, and after our visit, an email to check on our experience. In my humble opinion, Paco and Miki and their small team deserve to do well.

戻ります (which apparently means ‘We’ll return.’)

Good to know: Kasui Japanese Grill and Cocktail Bar is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays; open for dinner only on Wednesdays and Thursdays; for lunch & dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, and for lunch only on Sundays.

Jan Edwards ©2020

Find a Romantic Stay in Palma de Mallorca for Valentine’s

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and, if you want to seriously impress your loved one with a city break, it would be hard to beat a gourmet dinner and overnight stay in Mallorca’s cosmopolitan capital, Palma.

Check out that winter sky above Palma’s cathedral, La Seu

But which of the many boutique hotels in Palma should you choose? If it helps, here are my top three hotels in Palma for a romantic night away (or longer, if you’re lucky) – based on my experience of our personal stays. All are 5-star rated and in quiet locations in the attractive old town. All have good restaurants too, which means you don’t need to venture outside the hotel for dinner on a chilly February evening.

Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden, La Lonja, Palma de Mallorca

We’ve spent Valentine’s night in a hotel in Mallorca every year since 2004, when we moved here. Most of these stays have been in rural establishments, but in 2019 we celebrated in Palma, staying at Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden.

This stunning 5-star hotel in the heart of Palma’s old town will win plenty of brownie points for the person who books a romantic stay here. Although open for only just over a year, the property has won more than 20 international awards. Check out these images of Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden.

With 24 suites, spa, roof terrace, and superb chef Andrés Benítez offering healthy gourmet cuisine, what more could you want?  Well, there’s also a very special outdoor space at the rear of the hotel: a large peaceful garden with terraced area, where you could toast your love with a glass of fizz. Even in February, you could take the plunge in the heated (oh, the luxury) outdoor swimming pool and whirlpool.

What makes the appropriately named Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden particularly special is the ‘family’ of people who look after you. The hotel has a butler service and concierge team run by Joan Morro – who recently gained the coveted ‘golden keys’. Joan is one of only 200 concierges in the whole of Spain in this elite global association. If you’re planning to propose to your beloved while you’re here, Joan’s your man when it comes to making special arrangements. He’s ‘the man who can’, as you’ll hear in the interview I did with him for my radio show.

Joan Morro with his golden keys

I interviewed head concierge Joan Morro on my gastronomy and hospitality show ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio. He came into the hotel during his holiday for the recording, which is why he’s not in his smart uniform and wearing his ‘golden keys’

I should, however, warn you that the rather handsome team member Mr B could be a heart stealer!

And this is heart-stealing Mr B!

And get this! The huge Swedish beds have mattresses with two separate firmness controls – perfect if you and your loved one have different preferences.

Glòria de Sant Jaume Hotel

This boutique hotel resulted from the painstaking renovation of a former Mallorcan manor house, which has its origins in the 16th century. The Cabau family – experienced hoteliers – put enormous amounts of love into the project and it shows in every detail.

The hotel’s El Patio de Glòria restaurant and bar are elegant spaces, that feel cosseting and cosy. Friendly staff members throughout the hotel make you feel welcome and at home.

The basement houses an attractive spa, with one of Palma’s longest indoor swimming pools, sauna, steam room, and a relaxation area, with tea service. Like many boutique hotels in Palma de Mallorca, Glòria de Sant Jaume has a rooftop terrace, where you can relax, sink into the Jacuzzi, and take in a privileged view of the old town’s rooftops.

Glòria de Sant Jaume has 14 very comfortable rooms (of five different types) over two floors of the building. Each room has a distinct identity and ambience, with perfectly restored traditional architectural features. Rooms on the second floor have sloping wooden-beamed ceilings, adding to the cosiness.

And get this! El Patio de Glòria’s Argentinian chef Javier Gardonio previously work for Fernando P Arellano in Mallorca’s only two-Michelin-starred restaurant, Zaranda – making this another good choice for foodies.

Sant Francesc Hotel Singular

A conversion of an old palacio, Sant Francesc Hotel Singular is my third recommendation. The stylish hotel opened in spring 2015 and has gained international acclaim. Although we’ve stayed a few times, we haven’t had a night there for a couple of years and, since we last stayed, the hotel has had a change of general manager and chef.

Find out what I thought about Sant Francesc Hotel Singular, after our first visit, here.

And get this! Sant Francesc Hotel Singular has a superb rooftop terrace and pool, with awesome views. At ground level, there’s a large courtyard garden with dining terrace used in the warmer months.

Jan Edwards©2020

Veganuary in Mallorca: Where to Eat Vegan this January

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Superfoods and vegan/raw treats for sale

A belated Happy New Year to you; I hope your 2020 has begun well. If you’ve committed to eating only plant-based food during January – or Veganuary, as the year’s first month has been designated since 2014 – you’ll want to know some places where you can find vegan dishes, if you’re going to be in Mallorca.

In 2015 the UK’s Vegan Society declared Mallorca the top holiday destination for vegans in Europe, so it’s just a matter of tracking down suitable eateries. You won’t be surprised to learn that the greatest choice is in the island’s capital, Palma de Mallorca.

Although I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian, I enjoy plant-based cuisine on a regular basis and relish the challenge of creating appealing veggie dishes at home. We have vegetarian and vegan friends who visit Mallorca for holidays and it’s good to know they can easily find suitable food when eating out (which wasn’t the case when we moved here in 2004).

Vegan & Raw

Beverley Pugh has lived in Mallorca for many years and has been a champion of raw and vegan food ever since I’ve known her. We recently paid our first (and rather overdue) visit to her Palma restaurant Vegan & Raw, for lunch. Beverley’s food is all vegan and organic, but she does offer some cooked, as well as raw, dishes.

Vegan & Raw is a little out of Palma de Mallorca’s touristic centre, but a walkable distance. It faces the square known as Plaza de los Patines (where there’s a convenient underground car park and, on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, an organic farmers’ market). In fine weather, you can sit outside at the front of Vegan & Raw and watch the world go by. It’s quite a pleasant square, which is also home to an organic supermarket.

You enter Vegan & Raw by the kitchen area and opposite is a corner given over to products for sale, including bags of superfoods. The place feels both wholesome and welcoming.

Vegan & Raw restaurant offers cooked and raw vegan dishes on its daily lunch menu, which costs 15€ for three courses (with choices and including water). We could have ordered organic beer and wine but, hey, it was just after Christmas and a little reprieve from the festive alcohol consumption seemed appropriate with a super-healthy lunch.

We could have chosen a soup, smoothie, or salad to start. We both had salad, which was bursting with fresh flavours and textures and was surprisingly satisfying. The main courses were a pumpkin wrap, Beyond Burger, buddha bowl, or vegetable curry with rice. Having started with a cold dish, we chose the curry, which was served in a bowl on a bed of wholegrain rice.

A raw carrot cake (not sure how that works) or mango mousse were our dessert options. Although curious about the raw carrot cake, I’m a mango fan, so it had to be the mousse. This was served in a chilled glass, sprinkled with desiccated coconut and crunchy dehydrated buckwheat; the latter gave a delicious nutty taste (and made me determined to buy myself a dehydrator this year). We both felt satisfied and a tad smug about our virtuous choice of lunch venue.

Vegan & Raw also offers breakfast dishes, power shots, cold-press juices, organic coffee, plant-based-milk drinks, smoothies and shakes. On Saturdays, there’s a buffet brunch for 15€. Beverley Pugh’s popular eatery is also the venue for occasional events, such as cooking classes, etc. Whether or not you’re committing to Veganuary, a visit to Vegan & Raw is an opportunity to eat healthy and tasty plant-based food.

Open: Monday-Friday 09:00-17:00h; Saturday 09:00-16:00h (buffet brunch 11:00-15:00h)

Other Vegan Eateries are Available

The following are some of the other places in Palma where I know you can eat good vegan food.

  • Bon Lloc
  • Sabores de Sandra
  • mymuybueno Deli
  • Ziva to Go
  • Bagel

Some regular restaurants also offer vegan dishes on their menu and, of course, new vegan eateries pop up from time to time. For details of these and other places in Mallorca offering vegan and/or vegetarian food, check out the specialist websites Happy Cow or Vegavu.

Jan Edwards©2020

The mymuybueno Cookbook Now Available for Pre-Order

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Remember this name: Justine Murphy. If you’re a foodie and love to cook – in a domestic or professional capacity – you’re likely to hear a lot about this Mallorca-based English businesswoman, chef, and mother  over the coming months (especially if you’re in the UK).

I met Justine, her husband Paul, and their first baby, at a pop-up Thanksgiving Dinner back in 2013. The event was held in the acclaimed naturist Skinny Dippers boutique hotel, near Campos, in Mallorca. (No, we weren’t dining in the buff – neither was anyone else, as the event was during the hotel’s closed season).

Justine had founded her business mymuybueno in 2011 and, since meeting her in its early years, I’ve followed the company’s progress. Recently, Justine celebrated the mymuybueno Group’s eighth anniversary. Headquartered in Palma de Mallorca, but with an office also in London, the group now has seven divisions and operates internationally.

Raising Awareness of Erbs Palsy

As well as being CEO of her company, this dynamic woman is now mum to two young angelic-looking boys – the eldest of whom has Erbs Palsy and has to have daily physiotherapy at home. Erbs Palsy is a disability caused when excessive force is used during the delivery of a baby. Justine started a support group in Mallorca for other similarly affected families and aims to raise awareness of what is a totally avoidable injury.

Women in Business Champion

Justine is also an avid supporter of other female entrepreneurs and her monthly Women in Business Breakfast networking meetings in Palma de Mallorca are a must for any woman making her own way in the world of commerce on this Spanish island.

On February 1st, 2020, Justine will host her third Women in Business Day. It’s a day when she shares her story, her philosophy and business methods – as well as some of her delicious food during lunch. At the first event of its kind, quite a few attendees (myself included) needed tissues when listening to the heartbreaking story of extreme adversity in Justine’s childhood and teenage years. Knowing her background makes what she has achieved with mymuybueno – and in her family life – even more remarkable.

Cookbook Author

Somehow during 2019, Justine found time to secure a publisher for her first book of recipes. The mymuybueno Cookbook (Mezze Publishing) will be published in April 2020. The publisher’s blurb says “this is a book to inspire, to share, to reflect – with good, healthy, refined-sugar-free food at the heart of it.”

Over 288 pages, this hardback book contains 160 recipes for healthy breakfasts, sharing platters, soups, curries, salads, main dishes and plant-based desserts. It also gives an insight into Justine’s world and her past, and offers tips on “how to juggle the many balls of modern life whilst ensuring that the joy of good food – and sharing it with those you love – takes centre stage in life.”

Now that you’ve bought Christmas gifts for your loved ones, how about a gift for yourself? Although The mymuybueno Cookbook won’t be published until April, it is now available to pre-order on Amazon (UK) at £17.50 (the RRP is £25). I’ve treated myself – and look forward to treating family and friends to some of Justine’s dishes in the future.

You can hear Justine Murphy in conversation with me here for ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio. Justine’s interview is the most recent (dated December 21st).

And finally, a Merry Christmas to you, dear reader. May your festive season be filled with love, good food and drink – shared with those who matter to you – and optimism for the next decade.

Jan Edwards ©2019

Mallorca’s Michelin-starred restaurants 2020

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Last evening saw the Oscars ceremony of the Spanish and Portuguese gastronomic world. It was the launch – and 110th anniversary – of the Michelin Guide for Spain and Portugal 2020, which took place in the Teatre Lope de Vega in Seville.

As usual, the new stars were announced, from one star to three, with each chef coming onto the stage to collect their new chef’s jacket, bearing the coveted Michelin macaron or rosette, indicating a star. Amongst those who came up to the stage was chef Álvaro Salazar, collecting the first star for Voro – the fine-dining restaurant of the Park Hyatt Mallorca in Canyamel.

Chef Álvaro Salazar had previously been at Argos in Puerto Pollensa which, like Voro, won a star in its first season. The Boss and I ate at Voro in June this year and I chose it as my Restaurant of the Week on Mallorca Sunshine Radio. (Read more about it below).

There were no other new stars awarded in Mallorca, but the following retained previously awarded stars: Marc Fosh, Adrian Quetglas, Es Racó d’es Teix, Maca de Castro, Andreu Genestra, and Es Fum – all with one star; Zaranda, with two stars. Once again, there are several excellent restaurants on the island that were overlooked when it came to stars. Next year, maybe?

VORO

Maitre Mario (left) with chef Alvaro Salazar

When the smart restaurant VORO opened this year at the 5-star Park Hyatt Mallorca, in Mallorca’s northeast resort of Canyamel, there was no doubt that the cuisine would be exceptional. This fine-dining restaurant has a talented young team in the kitchen, led by chef Álvaro Salazar.

The Andalusian chef’s culinary awards include Chef of the Year 2017, from the association of Balearic gastronomy journalists, and Cocinero del Año 2018 at the Feria Alimentaria de Barcelona. Álvaro describes his cuisine, based on high-quality seasonal local products and showing Andalusian influences, as free spirited.

Álvaro and his entire team left Argos to open VORO, where the environment better reflects the high standard of gastronomy and service. The dining room’s décor is sophisticated but unfussy and comfortable. Modern art hangs on the walls; the floor is of dark wood and attractive hydraulic tiles, and the lighting is stylish. The main dining room seats around sixteen diners and only one table was vacant on the Tuesday we visited. A huge table in a separate area is ideal for groups of up to 12 diners.

Open for dinner only, the adults-only VORO offers a choice of two well-balanced tasting menus: the 11-course VORO and 15-course DEVORO. We chose the 11-course version and each dish thrilled us with its exquisite presentation, textures, and flavours. Every dish was explained at the table by a member of the pleasant service team. Restaurant director Mario Wolgast is charming and speaks perfect English. He explained that the menus evolve with the seasonality of the ingredients. The dishes pictured below are just a few from our VORO tasting menu.

VORO offers around 100 wine references in an impressive list; the intention is to more than double this number. Can’t choose? Opt for one of the two well-chosen wine pairings.

Prices here do reflect the luxurious setting and high standard of gastronomy and service, but if you’re looking to impress someone, are celebrating a special occasion, or relish memorable dining experiences, dinner at VORO ticks all the boxes.

And now, Voro has a Michelin star for 2020; I wasn’t at all surprised to see Álvaro step onto the stage to collect his jacket. Congratulations to the whole VORO team – and to all the other Michelin-starred restaurants in Mallorca. What an amazing gastronomic destination this island is.

Jan Edwards ©2019

Discover the Terragust farm-to-plate experience in Mallorca

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A Terragust cap was useful for shading us from the very warm autumn sunshine

If finding unique gastronomic experiences in Mallorca is something you enjoy, you’ll love Terragust. Their experiences – uniting agriculture and gastronomy – take place in the fertile agricultural land just outside the town of Manacor, where the company Terracor grows its fresh produce. (Terracor and Terragust are sister companies).

Before the event, the Terragust organizers had sent us a Google map, which directed us one Saturday morning at 11.30 to an orchard, at the end of a long country lane. We knew we’d found the right place when we saw a group of people standing chatting.

The land and the produce

Our two Terragust guides were farmers Matias Adrover Sitger, who owns the orchard (and other agricultural land in the Manacor area) and Pere Lluis Julia Vicens (who speaks English and German as well as castellano and mallorquín). These two friendly and land-dedicated Mallorcans handed each member of the group a Terragust-branded cap and cloth bag – instructing us to use the latter to help ourselves to as much fresh produce as we liked as we walked through the pomegranate orchard in front of us.

In the middle of the orchard, a table had been set up with a variety of pomegranates – whole and halved – along with dishes of the fruit. A bowl of the jewel-like arils from each one enabled us each to taste the difference between the varieties – something you really only appreciate when you can compare them in this way. Our guides pointed out the trees for each variety so we could collect the ones we liked.

A little further into the orchard, we stopped at another table, on which there were different types of melon – including a pale-skinned variety known as Sineu (named after the Mallorcan town) or melon blanc – and some varieties of Terracor’s salad greens recently plucked from another field. We were able to taste the different melons and the lettuces – which were nothing like the bland-tasting salad greens found in a supermarket.

Having learnt something about these fresh products, we were then free to collect what we wanted before we set off – driving in convoy – to our next location, a place where voluptuous bunches of table grapes hung from tall vines. The journey was short and as we emerged from our cars, Matias had already picked a huge bunch of black grapes, hanging from the vines, and was passing grapes around for us all to try. They were probably the most delicious grapes I’d ever tasted.

And so to lunch…

A long table was set up and ready for lunch between the vines. It looked impossibly romantic – like something from one of those movies set in the Mediterranean. Before we sat down, we had a glass of wine and helped ourselves to the plates of snacks on offer. We were a mixed group of Germans, Spanish and Mallorcans, and us, the only two English people. Nevertheless, the conversation flowed and I was fortunate enough to sit next to Pere, who told us he he’d been privately educated and had lived and worked in Switzerland before deciding to return to Mallorca and his rural roots.

We were treated to a five-course menu, incorporating Terracor produce, created by the Mallorcan chef Biel Llull Galmés – nicknamed ‘Cornet’ (a type of sea snail, apparently – not something topped with a scoop of ice cream!). Still aged under 30, this Manacor-born chef previously worked at the former Molí d’en Bou (which had a Michelin star) and in Manacor’s acclaimed Can March restaurant.

Lunch included delicious ‘xeixa’ wheat bread which Biel had made in the small hours of that morning and delicious wines from local bodega Miquel Gelabert. I’ve included below a couple of photos of the dishes we ate for lunch.

Biel worked in the mobile Terragust kitchen and plated up outside, as the weather was good. Lunch was delicious and I wasn’t too surprised to see that a few additional people joined us at the table. You don’t have to do the full Terragust experience to have lunch (or, in the summer, dinner); you can just come to have a meal in a memorable setting that’s very different from a restaurant. Lunch with wine, water, and coffee costs a very reasonable 40€.

Matias and Pere would like us all to be able to find fresh produce for sale at its moment of peak ripeness. It’s not something you’ll find in supermarket produce which, they claim, supermarkets require to be harvested and delivered before it’s at that point.

And finally…

Terragust is offering these unique experiences until the end of November and then takes a break until February 2020.

If you’re interested in finding out more about seasonal fresh produce, would like to taste zero-kilometre produce at peak perfection, and discover a different form of rural tourism in Mallorca, I am pleased to recommend the Terragust experience. They offer these several times a week and, during the summer, the field tours and alfresco meal take place in the evening.

Next year, Terracor hopes to open their own shop to sell produce direct from the farm to the consumer. At peak perfection, of course. We look forward to regular visits with our straw basket to buy our freshly picked Mallorcan fruit and vegetables.

 

If you’re on Instagram, please do follow my feed eatdrinksleepmallorca and I’m also on Facebook under that name.

Jan Edwards ©2019

Enjoy Mallorca’s Autumn Produce in El Olivo’s Cuisine

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We have arrived in the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, as the 19th-century English poet John Keats described this time of year, in his poem ‘To Autumn’.

This season in Mallorca can be glorious: the intense summer heat has gone; the number of visitors has reduced, and – if we’re lucky  – the sun shines from a clear blue sky, as it’s doing today. It’s also when we enjoy some of the island’s delicious seasonal produce, from the land and the sea.

Many hotels and restaurants in Mallorca will close for the off-season over the coming weeks and won’t reopen until next spring. Some hospitality workers – tired after the long tourist season – will be counting down the days before their well-deserved break.

Creativity continues

This seems not to apply to Guillermo Méndez, executive chef at the stunning 5-star Belmond La Residencia in Deià. Although the hotel will close for the winter on November the 10th, the chef’s creativity is not winding down. Why would it, when autumn in Mallorca brings a rich bounty of fresh produce to inspire new recipes and culinary ideas?

The hotel’s El Olivo restaurant has launched Chef Méndez’s new Menu Extravaganza for autumn; this gastronomic dinner comprises eight dishes that showcase autumn flavours, textures, and colours.

I was fortunate enough to be treated to this menu at El Olivo last week and, if my writing ability extended to poetry, I’d write a more upbeat poem about autumn than the one written by Keats, just a year before his untimely death from tuberculosis at the age of only twenty-five.

Here are photos of just a few of the dishes (and please bear in mind that the romantic lighting at El Olivo is not as good for food photos as it is at flattering people!).

This luxurious celebration of Mallorca’s autumn gastronomy costs 150€ a head, without drinks.

A serious wine destination

Every year since 2004, El Olivo at Belmond La Residencia in Mallorca has been named as one of the winners of the ‘Best of Award of Excellence’ in The Wine Spectator‘s annual Restaurant Awards. These awards recognize restaurants with wine lists offering interesting selections – appropriate to the cuisine and with appeal to a wide range of wine lovers. The restaurants awarded ‘Best of Award of Excellence’ are described by The Wine Spectator as “destinations for serious wine lovers, showing a deep commitment to wine, both in the cellar and through their service team.”

The romantic El Olivo restaurant is a former tafona or olive press

Early autumn on this island is the time when grapes are harvested to make wine. Yet another good reason for autumn to be my favourite gastronomic season in Mallorca.

Jan Edwards ©2019

Hidden Kitchen Dinner in Mallorca Distillery

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Our Hidden Kitchen dinner table

 

Would you book and pay in advance for dinner, without knowing where and what you’d be eating? That’s just what I did when I booked seats, on the 9th of July, for the The Boss and myself for last night’s Hidden Kitchen dinner. In theory, we could have been eating anywhere in Mallorca – an island of roughly the same area as Hampshire in the UK.

If doing this sounds unusual – and perhaps a little risky – there were two reasons I knew this would become one of the memorable dining-out experiences of 2019. One: chef David Moreno – from the restaurant at the 5-star Can Simoneta hotel in the northeast resort of Canyamel – would be preparing the dinner with his team.

Two: this was a Hidden Kitchen event, organized by the Balearic gastronomic promoters, Chefs(in). These are popular dinners, for a limited number of diners. Places sell out quickly and I’d attempted to buy tickets for previous events without success. When the news of last night’s Hidden Kitchen popped up in my email inbox back in the summer, I got straight on the case and booked without delay.

What is a Hidden Kitchen dinner?

It’s a one-off dinner for 20 people, prepared by one of Mallorca’s best chefs, and served in a special location that is never a restaurant. More than 30 Hidden Kitchen dinners have taken place, with venues including a cave, museums, an artist’s studio, and even the pitch of Real Mallorca’s Son Moix football stadium!

Locations are never repeated. I couldn’t wait to find out where we would be dining – but we’d have to be patient, because we wouldn’t know until we arrived at the venue. How tantalizing is that?

We also had no idea what we would be on the menu, but having eaten Mexican chef David Moreno’s cuisine at the restaurant where he worked previously, we knew we’d love the unique dishes he’d be creating. We did know that we would share a table with the other diners. Who would they be? This is all part of the fun of a Hidden Kitchen dinner.

Clues began to arrive

Each day, from Tuesday this week until yesterday, Chefs(in) sent us an email (in both Spanish and English) containing a clue about the event. This helped to build the suspense and by the time the third clue arrived, I had an inkling that I knew where the event would take place. I was wrong.

On the day of Hidden Kitchen

Our instructions took us to the designated meeting point on the outskirts of Palma de Mallorca, where participants would park their cars and board the luxurious Transfer Class minibus that would whisk us to the venue. We were the first to arrive and soon met friendly Mallorcan couple Nelly and Gregorio, who’d been gifted their Hidden Kitchen places by (generous) friends.

When everyone had arrived, Araceli Bosch from Chefs(in) welcomed us in Spanish and English, explaining a little of what would be happening. She would travel in her own car to the venue and we’d be on the minibus.

“Do not ask the driver where you are going,” she said, smiling. “He will not tell you!”

The level of chatter on the bus rose as we set off. One of the clues had been that we had to be at least eighteen years old to go to the venue; a visiting American man, who sat across the bus from us, mused that it could be a strip club! Er, no. Chefs(in) is a class outfit.

Because I was in a window seat, I could see where we were going and, a few minutes before we arrived, I thought I knew the location – because I’d visited fairly recently to record a radio interview with the business’s British owner, Byron Holland. I don’t think anyone other than us had any idea what was beyond the doors of the place where the minibus stopped.

Mallorca Distillery

Three ‘volunteers’ from the bus were tasked with knocking on the door of the premises. This was the signal for the large garage-style door to be raised and our Hidden Kitchen location revealed. Araceli (who’d arrived by a more direct route), Byron and his wife Elena (who both joined us for dinner), chef David Moreno, his sous chef Edgar Rodríguez, and other members of their team stood waiting to greet us.

After brief introductions by Araceli and Byron, we chose our seats at the beautifully prepared table. We were a mixed group of Mallorcan, Scandinavian, American, and British diners – some resident like us, some on holiday here. After introductions, animated conversations began immediately.

A printed copy of the menu was at each table setting, along with a surprise gift: a bottle of the award-winning Palma Gin, produced by Mallorca Distillery. The above are just some of the dishes we enjoyed.

We ate a succession of delicious dishes – many with Mexican culinary touches. Drinks were included and we started the evening with a glass of delicious organic rosado cava. Wines, a glass of sake, and a sherry were matched to the dishes by Lloseta-based wine distributors Vinamica. After a speciality coffee by Palma roasters Arabay Coffee, the evening ended with a delicious Palma Gin and tonic.

Verdict

This Hidden Kitchen dinner is one we’ll remember for a long time. The cuisine, drinks, setting, and company added up to a most convivial evening. I can highly recommend a Hidden Kitchen dinner if you are open to the idea of surprises, sharing a table with friends you haven’t yet met, and have a sense of fun and curiosity.

If you’d like to find out more about Chefs(in) and their Hidden Kitchen dinners, check out their website. 

Maybe we’ll meet you dining at a future Hidden Kitchen?

Jan Edwards ©2019

New Master of Japanese Cuisine at Mallorca’s Kairiku Restaurant

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Drink / Eat

Have you ever had an omakase experience? If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine – or have been fortunate enough to visit Japan (I know I’d love to) – you probably know that omakase translates as ‘entrust’; in this case, it means you don’t know what the restaurant’s chef will serve you, but trust that it will be good.

Japanese restaurant in Campos? Yes!

See this and you’ve found Kairiku

The cuisine at Kairiku – Mallorca’s only omakase restaurant – was delicious when I visited this intimate cellar restaurant in Campos (within Sa Creu Nova Petit Palais Art & Spa) in May 2018. This season it’s even better, thanks to the arrival of Ryuichiro Katano – a Master of Japanese Cuisine. I noted greater precision in the preparation and presentation of dishes and an almost-tangible passion emanating from the open kitchen.

Ryu’s mission at Kairiku is to develop new talent Bruno Peixoto, who previously ran the service of the dishes and paired sakes here. Bruno’s enthusiasm, knowledge, and desire to learn from one of Spain’s best shishos – or masters – means an exciting new role for him this year and it’s obvious that he’s loving the opportunity to learn from such an experienced master.

About Ryuichiro Katano

Ryu is a venerable Japanese culinary master, with a long family tradition in the catering industry. He’s originally from Otaru, the northern coastal city and port that’s been called ‘the Venice of Japan’. He began working in  Kaiseki – his grandfather’s restaurant – at a young age and trained further in different restaurants in Japan to develop his skills.

Ryu arrived in Spain at the age of 46 and has since been Master of Japanese Cuisine in various restaurants, including Shibui and Fishshop. He’s an earnest-looking chef, with excellent knife skills honed over the decades, which he’s teaching Bruno.

The Master’s cuisine is technical, simple, and traditional – but at the same time innovative and creative, based on high-quality raw ingredients.

About Kairiku

Kairiku is one of two restaurants within the 5-star Sa Creu Nova Petit Palais Art & Spa in the centre of Campos. A small flight of stairs leads down to Kairiku’s intimate cellar restaurant, which has stylish understated Japanese décor. (Guests with mobility issues would probably find access difficult.)

Only ten diners are accommodated at one long table, but you don’t have to go as a party of ten. Whether you go on your own or with one or more people, you all eat at the same time (starting at 20:30h) and no doubt share conversation about the food and sakes – as we did with the Mallorcans who were dining there on the same evening.

Being an omakase restaurant, Kairiku has no printed menu, and the table setting is minimalist. Jeremias has taken over the service at Kairiku and his first role was to bring jugs of yuzu-powder-infused water to the table; these were topped up during the course of the dinner. Next, he served us a delicious pink cocktail of cranberry juice, sake, and yuzu.

In the open kitchen, we watched Ryu and Bruno assembling the dishes; as each one was presented at the table, there were exclamations of surprise and approval – and phone cameras were pressed into action.  Below are some of my own photos.

Sakes on the side

Every dish was exquisitely prepared and the precise cut of the raw sashimi we had was evidence of Ryu Katano’s influence here. Jeremias explained each dish to us (he also speaks English if you don’t speak Spanish) and told us about the various sakes paired with the dishes served during the omakase dinner.

I wasn’t quite a sake virgin, but it’s not a drink I’ve tried often. Like grape-based wines, flavours differ and it was good to learn about these from Jeremias. Sake is becoming trendy in Mallorca’s capital, Palma, and several bars and restaurants serve sakes.

After dessert and tea, we all climbed up the few stairs and went to Sa Creu Nova’s smart Es Vicari bar, where our omakase dinner finale was a special cocktail.

Kairiku team

L-R: Jeremias, Ryu, & Bruno

If you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine and visiting (or living in) Mallorca, I can recommend restaurant Kairiku as a different, interesting, and informative eating-out experience. Who would have expected to find a Japanese restaurant of such sophistication in the agricultural town of Campos?

Kairiku’s omakase dining experience – including all the drinks – costs 97€.

Price correct at time of writing.

Open: Wednesday to Sunday – one sitting at 20:30h

Jan Edwards ©2019

Review of Jacaranda Restaurant, Montuiri, Mallorca

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Eat

You don’t have stay overnight at the 5-star rural Finca Serena to eat at this hotel’s Restaurant Jacaranda – where chef Celia Martín has the benefit of the estate’s well-stocked organic produce garden.

View from terrace of Finca Serena

Feast your eyes on the view

Restaurant Jacaranda takes its name from the promenade of these beautiful trees near the main house at Finca Serena. The 5-star adults-only hotel is just a few minutes’ drive from the Ma15 Palma-Manacor road, in open countryside two kilometres to the west of Montuïri.

Once you’re through the gates of Finca Serena, you understand the choice of name. You’re in a world of tranquillity – an escape from the bustle and routine of daily life for a while. And it’s a known fact that eating in a relaxed state is good for the digestion.

Lunch

This is served on the front terrace, where venerable olive trees offer shade for those who want it and birdsong is the soundtrack. Give your eyes a break from the strain of reading mobile devices, to take in the spectacular views that stretch way into the distance. In the far distance you can can see the Ma15 – the dual carriageway linking Palma with Manacor – but you can’t hear the sound of the traffic from here. You can also see the Randa hilltop – well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

The lunch menu changes daily, offering a choice of dishes for three courses (40€) or, for lighter appetites, main course and dessert (30€). We haven’t yet tried lunch here, but the menu looked good on the day we saw it.

Dinner at Jacaranda

The dinner menu also changes every night, with a choice of three starters, three mains, and two desserts, at 55€.

Chef Celia Martín will also create vegan dishes on request and knows plenty about vegan food, as she’s a vegan herself. All her dishes – meat, fish, vegetarian and vegan – are healthy, delicious, and creative.

Jacaranda’s dining room – like the whole hotel – is elegant but unfussy; the décor incorporates restful muted colours and natural materials. It will be a cosy place to eat in the cooler months but, for most guests, the restaurant’s large terrace at the rear of the hotel is favoured for dinner on balmy summer nights.

We sat on the terrace, noting that the well-spaced tables allow intimate conversation not to be heard by other diners. It felt impossibly romantic, with views out to the rear of the hotel towards the Tramuntana mountains and the sound of water playing in the nearby fountain. From our table we watched the sun setting through the trees.

The Chef

Celia Martín is from Toledo but has worked in Mallorca since 2011; she moved here from her role as head chef at Font Santa Hotel. Celia takes inspiration for her daily menus from the organic vegetables and fruit she selects every morning. Here are a few of the dishes we tried.

Jacaranda Restaurant offers organic extra virgin olive oil produced from the estate’s 830 olive trees and it’s worth buying a bottle to take home from Finca Serena’s small gift shop.

The Wines

The wine card offers good wines from Mallorca and the Peninsula and has a sommelier’s special selection for wine connoisseurs, which includes Italian, French, and South African labels. Three years from now, the hotel will have its own wines produced from four different varieties of grapes grown on 10 hectares of the estate.

Vineyard at Finca Serena

Four varieties of grapevines have been planted

The Morning After the Night Before

Breakfast, of course! The first meal of the day is taken on the front terrace, with its awesome views. It’s a pretty good way to start the day. The breakfast buffet is set up inside the restaurant and offers a good choice. In addition, you can have a cooked breakfast; toast with avocado, or salmon, cream cheese, and dill; porridge; pancakes, or an omelette. Breakfast is available from 08:00-11:00h – which means there’s plenty of time for a walk or run before your first meal of the day.

 

Verdict

If you need a serving of serenity with your lunch or dinner and want a break from the summer crowds on Mallorca, Jacaranda Restaurant at Finca Serena is the place to find it. The food is honest, creative, and tasty; the service was good, and we felt the price reflected the quality of the produce used and the setting of the place.

If you’re not staying overnight at the hotel, be sure to book your lunch or dinner table in advance.

Read more about the hotel here.

Prices correct at time of writing.
Opening times: Lunch 13:00-14:30h Dinner 19:30-22:00h

Jan Edwards ©2019