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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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

Find Your Calm at Finca Serena Mallorca

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Sleep

Any ophthalmologist would approve of the 5-star rural hotel Finca Serena Mallorca. It sits on the hilltop known as Es Puig Moltó, a couple of kilometres from the small inland town of Montuïri. The panoramic views from the stone terrace in front of the main building stretch into the distance; it’s impossible to sit or stand here and not gaze out as far as the eyes can see. For those of us who spend most of our waking hours staring at screens right in front of us, it’s a rare opportunity to exercise those eye muscles. Happy eye doctor.

View from terrace of Finca Serena

Feast your eyes on the view

Finca Serena occupies an estate of forty hectares, in the agricultural part of Mallorca known as the Pla. Previously the location of an agroturismo named Es Puig Moltó, the new owner redeveloped the property into this 5-star adults-only hotel and spa – opened on April 15th this year. The estate has a much longer history: after King Jaime I’s Reconquest of Mallorca in 1229, he gifted it to one of his Catalan knights, who farmed here.

About Finca Serena hotel

By the time we’d passed through the estate’s gates and driven up to the car park, someone from the hotel’s reception was waiting to greet us and assist with our luggage.

Check-in formalities were completed whilst we had a welcome chilled drink on the terrace – marvelling at the view. We noted the large swimming pool and terrace below, accessed by either a stone staircase or a ramped path.

Soon we were accompanying a member of the reception team to room 16 – ours for one night. Finca Serena’s 25 guest rooms are in six categories, and occupy eight buildings on the estate. For the ultimate in privacy and peace, Villa Serena ticks all the boxes. For those who prefer not to walk between the outlying guest rooms and the main house, a tailor-made buggy will whisk you along the estate paths.

Our Finca Serena accommodation

Our room was a Deluxe Garden room with a private terrace overlooking the well-stocked organic produce garden (where we spotted the chef selecting her vegetables for the day’s menu). The attractive room had plenty of natural light and was decorated to enhance the restful ambience of the place. Soft furnishings were made from cotton and linen in muted shades. A straw basket was provided – useful for carrying ‘stuff’ down to the pool – along with two towels to use after swimming.

Everything we could possibly need – including a Bluetooth speaker – was provided. We chose to listen to the sounds of nature and the breeze rustling the leaves in the trees, sitting on our terrace.

Finca Serena’s logo includes the robin: hotel director Toni Durán told us these birds are found all over the finca. You’re most likely to spot these feathered friends in the cooler months and Toni told me the aim is for Finca Serena to be open year-round in the future. This winter, though, it will close in December and January for the construction of a private swimming pool for Villa Serena (which offers the ultimate in privacy and peace).

Leisure facilities

Using the large outdoor swimming pool in the heat of summer was blissful, but I think Finca Serena also has excellent potential for a restorative break during the cooler months. As well as the spa (with heated indoor pool, sauna, hammam, well-equipped gym, yoga room, and treatments), the estate has four walking/running routes of various lengths, through woods and fields of crops. I could happily stay several nights here and not leave this haven of tranquillity; everything I’d need is already there.

Explore the estate (a handy map is provided on check-in) and you’ll discover the recently planted vineyards (ten hectares of four local grape varieties). Three years from now, Finca Serena will have its first harvest and produce its own wines. But don’t wait that long to discover the benefits of finding serenity – and exercising those eye muscles – at Finca Serena Mallorca.

Read all about Finca Serena’s Jacaranda restaurant in my next blog post.

Good to know:

  • The Mallorcan hotel director Toni Durán has international hospitality experience – having worked in the Cotswolds (UK), Switzerland, and on the Spanish peninsula.
  • Stilettos are not the best footwear for walking on the authentic stone terraces of the hotel.
  • Remember your walking/running shoes if you want to explore the 40-hectare estate.
  • Finca Serena is part of Único Hotels, which has properties in Madrid and Barcelona.
  • Finca Serena is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Mr & Mrs Smith.
  • There’s a small shop here where items for sale include bottles of Finca Serena’s own extra virgin olive oil.
  • August 24th is the annual fiesta for Sant Bartomeu – the patron saint of Montuïri.

Jan Edwards©2019

Where to Eat One of Mallorca’s Best BBQs

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Mallorcan summers are perfect for BBQs. Long lazy BBQ dinners with a glass or two of Mallorcan wine sound perfect, don’t they? Not, perhaps, if the temperature’s soaring and the prospect of standing over a fiery grill at home (or at a holiday rental) is unbearable.

The solution is to let someone else do the cooking: find a restaurant where you’ll enjoy the tantalising aromas and delicious flavours of food grilled on a BBQ – without the work involved.

We did that on Sunday night, having heard that the front-line 5-star St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort in Costa d’en Blanes was offering a weekly Sunday-night BBQ. The day had been insufferably humid and hot – a combination that meant we wouldn’t be firing up our own Weber that night.

The BBQ at this smart but friendly resort hotel is held on the large terrace of its Aqua restaurant, with views of the garden. We chose a table right on the edge of the terrace, next to a lawn, from which we could see the hotel’s swimming pools and the Mediterranean beyond.

Our BBQ Dinner

A server quickly took our drinks order and another brought a platter of breads and dips, which were too good not to finish. Then we went indoors to the buffet area to choose our starters. Chilled soups, Iberian serrano ham, Mallorcan charcuterie, smoked salmon, coca (Mallorca’s answer to pizza – but without cheese), and a wide assortment of salads all vied for our attention.

We helped ourselves – reminding ourselves that we’d be eating from the BBQ afterwards – and returned to our table. On the way, a server relieved us of our plates and carried them to the table for us. Five-star service.

Two chefs – cheerful, despite the heat – were cooking in the BBQ area at one side of the terrace.  The choice and quality of meats and seafood were excellent and plenty of side dishes were available too. As well as salad greens from the indoor buffet, I helped myself to rosemary potatoes and mushrooms with my plate of prawns, succulent beef, and a lamb cutlet. What a delicious plateful!

The Sunday-night BBQ at the St Regis Mardavall Mallorca ends with another visit to the buffet for mini-desserts, ice creams, and choice of cheeses. Here are just a few from the night we were there.

Sadly we called a halt to dinner after the desserts, despite our server recommending us to have cheese too. We just didn’t have room for any more food. Next time, we’ll save space for some cheese.

Our Verdict

It’s a thumbs up from us! The setting, the food choice and quality, and the service ticked all the right boxes. Whether you’re holidaying or living in Mallorca, if you’re yearning for a BBQ – with not a burnt sausage in sight – choose the high-quality option and book a table for one of these Sunday night BBQs – which continue until the end of September. The cost is 65€, excluding drinks.

We’ve visited the St Regis Mardavall Mallorca hotel on many occasions for various events and activities and have always been impressed with the service and facilities.

 

Jan Edwards ©2019

Review of Cova Negra Restaurant in Capdepera

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A chef with experience of working in Lima’s Astrid & Gastón – often cited as Latin America’s best restaurant – is now at the helm of his own restaurant in northeast Mallorca. Valencian chef Pablo Tamarit opened Cova Negra in Capdepera in April 2019; his restaurant is within the 4-star-plus Hotel Creu de Tau – a superb renovation and conversion of a former Franciscan convent, but run independently of the hotel.

I first visited the property when it was still a construction site: the former manager of sister hotel Melbeach Hotel and Spa in nearby Canyamel took us on a tour and, as we picked our way through rubble and around scaffolding, it was obvious that this would become an impressive hotel. Hotel Creu de Tau and Cova Negra opened in spring this year and we visited the restaurant for dinner last week.

Chef/patron Pablo Tamarit

Pablo Tamarit

Pablo originally studied business in Castellón but changed course, moving to hotel school in Valencia. After his studies he worked for some 18 months at Restaurante Envero in Valencia, with ex-El Bulli chef Tomas Garcia. He came to Mallorca to work at Can Simoneta, the 5-star coastal hotel in Canyamel, where he worked for 12 years – becoming head chef in 2010.

Working in a seasonal hotel enabled Pablo to travel and gain more culinary experience during the winter and, in 2013, he joined the famous Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio in the kitchen of Astrid & Gastón. You’ll find some Peruvian influences in Pablo’s cuisine.

The restaurant

Many of the original architectural features of the building were restored and retained as part of the convent’s conversion. The smart bar reveals its history as the convent’s former chapel; have a drink here or on the bar’s terrace. One wonders what the former Mother Superior would think about this!

The most striking features of the dining room are the gothic arches along the length of the dining room and large windows with views out to the hills. There’s plenty of space between tables and, for even more privacy, a tucked-away private dining room. The restaurant extends onto a large covered terrace, where you eat at cloth-covered tables with restful long views.

Cova Negra has a Mediterranean concept at lunchtime, with an à la carte menu of starters, grilled dishes and, of course (Pablo being from Valencia), paellas. The dinner concept is gastronomic with a very tempting à la carte menu, including a starter of lobster four ways, fish of the day, and Rossini tenderloin of Simmental beef.

Unable to choose from so many tempting dishes, we opted for the tasting menu (65€): seven dishes showcasing Pablo Tamarit’s culinary techniques and creativity. This menu can be accompanied by sommelier and front-of-house manager Ildara Bajo’s wine pairing for 45€. We didn’t indulge because of the drive home, but next time maybe we’ll stay the night and take advantage of the wines.

To start, we had two types of bread (rye and herbed focaccia), truffled beetroot butter, salt, and Aubocassa extra virgin olive oil.

The cuisine

Here are pictures of the dishes we ate. I haven’t given full details of each one – just a hint of what you could experience.

 

Each dish was explained by the friendly and efficient service-team member who brought it to the table. The kitchen has some attractive plates and bowls on which to present the food and I found myself peering underneath a few of them to see who the manufacturer was!

As always, when we have a tasting menu, we discussed our favourite dishes. I found it hard to choose an overall favourite, as I really enjoyed them all – but eating the tasty taco with fingers proved a little messy. Thank heavens for the hot towel provided beforehand! The Boss’s favourite was the beef; it was delicious.

Although we didn’t drink wine, I checked out the wine list. Cova Negra offers some good Mallorcan wines, including some from the DO Pla i Llevant (Capdepera is in the Llevant hills). Others are from the Peninsula, France, and California. Bottle prices start at 28€, although there is one at 26€.

In summary…

Eating at Cova Negra in Capdepera is an experience we’re sure to repeat and I hope we’ll go for lunch soon to try out a paella made by Pablo Tamarit; as he’s from Valencia (home of authentic paella), I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth the drive to this beautiful northeast corner of Mallorca.

Good to know:

  • Anyone who can’t manage the steps up to the restaurant entrance can access Cova Negra using the elevator at the hotel entrance.
  • This is an adults-only (14+) establishment.
  • Cova Negra is easy to find in Capdepera and shares the hotel’s adjacent large free private car park.

Prices correct at time of writing.

Open daily: 13:00-15:30h & 19:30-22:30h

Jan Edwards©2019

Pop-up Dinner at Bodega Conde de Suyrot, Mallorca

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Eat

 

A fine start to the evening

Pop-up dinners have great appeal for me – as you may have read in previous posts on this blog. Dinner in a winery on Mallorca? Don’t mind if I do; so we did.

The winery in question was the French-owned Bodega Conde de Suyrot in Colònia de Sant Pere, not far from Artà. We’re big fans of their wines, so the prospect of a wine-paired dinner – with food courtesy of Santi Taura Events – was not to be missed. Santi Taura, if you don’t know, is a talented chef from Lloseta (near Inca), whose eponymous restaurant there has been known to have one of the longest waiting lists for a table in the whole of Spain. He also has a weeknight cooking show on the Mallorcan TV station IB3.

Our favourite sunset spot

Bodega Conde de Suyrot is housed in a former stable block and has a huge terrace, which is ideal for a variety of events. This terrace has stunning views over vineyards to the Bay of Alcúdia and the Tramuntana mountains beyond. On the coastline, Colònia de Sant Pere offers spectacular sunset views; Bodega Conde de Suyrot’s views are even better, as the winery is on a hillside.

Dinner last Friday was on this terrace. In some pop-up dinner events, diners share a long table but, for this one, tables and chairs were set out in the style of a restaurant terrace. Two front-of-house members of Santi’s team looked after us well and the wine flowed generously.

The menu

Appetizers: Cold soup of Mallorcan almonds, Croquette of the day, Vegetable coca with smoked sardine

Wine: 2018 Conde Blanco

Starter: Cannelloni of meat-stuffed aubergine with sauce

Wine: 2018 Es Cap Roig

Main course: Sea bass cooked en papillote with curried vegetables and aromatic herbs

Wine: 2018 Es Mussol

Dessert: Chocolate, coffee, Baileys

Wine: 2017 Sa Llebre

The food was delicious and we appreciated the Conde de Suyrot wine pairings. I must admit that I was a teeny bit disappointed not to see Santi himself at the event but he has a fantastic culinary team who did him and themselves proud.

If you like the look of this dinner – a combination of Bodega Conde de Suyrot wines, the cuisine and service of Santi Taura Events, and nature’s sunset spectacle – another pop-up dinner is scheduled for Friday, August the 16th. For more details, or to book, email af@condedesuyrot.com.

Santi recently closed his restaurants (Santi Taura and DINS Santi Taura), which shared premises in Lloseta and is set to open DINS Santi Taura in Palma very soon, within the new El Llorenç Hotel. He is also about to open Cor Barra i Taula in Palma, which will offer drinks and a simpler style of food. He also has GUST by Santi Taura on the coastal strip in Playa de Muro.

Jan Edwards ©2019

Try Mallorca’s Artisanal Gins

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Drink

At the end of a Mallorcan high-summer’s day – when the mercury has probably been flirting around in the upper 30s – nothing hits the spot like a gin and tonic. And Mallorca is the perfect place to try home-grown versions of the juniper-base spirit, with a refreshing choice of artisanal gins on offer.

I was eighteen when I started studying Spanish at evening classes in the UK; one of the first phrases I remember learning was ginebra y tónica. At that tender age, gin wasn’t even on my drinks radar, so it was a pretty useless phrase for me. When we moved to Mallorca, I realised quite how useless it was: I’ve never heard the drink referred to in Spain as anything other than gin-tonic.

Gin is definitely on my drinks radar these days, although it’s only an occasional tipple. When I do indulge, I like to try one of the new premium gins being distilled in Mallorca.

Last Friday we attended the 2nd Mallorca Gin Festival, at Pueblo Español in Palma de Mallorca. It was organised by the Palma-based drinks distributor Catavinos and Franklin & Sons (which has just launched a citrusy Mallorcan Tonic). Unlike their first Mallorca Gin Festival in December (at the snappily named Sheraton Mallorca Arabella Golf Hotel) for trade visitors, the summer version was open to all.

For an entrance fee of 15€ (10€ for each of the first 1,000 tickets sold), visitors could taste any of the 18 gins on offer and then have two gin and tonics, with their choice of gin. Three food trucks were there selling their respective specialities and a DJ provided the soundtrack to the evening.

It was a pity that Friday was probably the hottest day so far this summer, as the sunlit hours were not as busy as I expected. The festival started at 4pm but we deferred our arrival until 6pm. Hombre, we needed those delicious chilled G&Ts by the time we had wandered from stall to stall in the searing heat and selected which gins to have.

The benefit of fewer people being there at that time was that we could spend time talking to the distillers about their gins. We really enjoyed the event – if not the heat – and were grateful to end our visit with two delicious well-mixed G&Ts. We are already looking forward to the 3rd Mallorca Gin Festival.

As well as small-batch Mallorcan gins, there were a few others from further afield – even as far away as Bangkok (Iron Balls). The following were the local varieties on offer.

Cabraboc

Can be shipped abroad (except to Sweden) by Fet a Sóller for personal consumption (not retail). This gin from Sóller contains herbal extracts from the Tramuntana. Their varieties include Taronja (orange) gin and the Mandarina gin liqueur – which is not sickly sweet like some liqueurs.

Gin Eva

The Gin Eva distillery in Llucmajor is on a trading estate, but you’ll forget that fact once you’re inside (it’s open to visitors on Thursdays – see website for details).  Stefan and Eva Winterling are behind this successful business; originally winemakers, Eva is Catalan and Stefan is German and they have worked in wineries in several countries. They swapped wine-making in Mallorca for gin production to start Gin Eva in 2012, after making gin for the Mallorcan winery where they previously worked.

They make four gins and some artisanal spirits and have won several awards. My favourite Mallorcan artisanal gin is their La Mallorquina Olive Extra Dry Gin, made from the pomace of olives grown on the centuries-old Son Moragues estate in Valldemossa. Whenever I have a G&T made with this evocative gin, I think back to a wonderful day I spent at this estate in the mountains.

Gin Mercant & Mascori

The distillery Pareis makes these relatively new gins on Mallorca’s distilling scene, in the village of Llubí, not far from Inca. Gin Mercant is described as super-aromatic, with notes of fennel, cinnamon, Mallorcan oranges and other sweet spices. Mascori is made with Mallorcan lemons, fennel and citric spices. It has a delicate fruity aroma with an acid touch. Both of these London Dry gins are best with a neutral tonic.

Onze

This gin is made at the winery Bodegas Can Vidalet near Pollensa. This gin is made with eleven Mediterranean botanicals, including juniper, fresh citrus fruits, rosemary, and other botanicals sourced from the Sierra de Tramuntana mountains. It was the first Mallorcan artisan gin (which was then called Can Vidalet) that we tried here.

Palma Gin

The British-owned Mallorca Distillery in Palma has made a huge impression on the local gin market. Byron Holland is from Newcastle in the northeast of England and worked in the nautical sector before running a restaurant in Edinburgh. With roots put down in Palma de Mallorca – a city he’d visited during his career at sea – Byron started this business last year, with James Gibbons as his distiller. It’s been phenomenally successful and won several awards for its Palma Gin – in a distinctive white bottle. You can visit the distillery and even have a go at making your own gin there.

Suau

This Marratxí-based distillery is best known for its brandy. Its 1989 Club Suau is made up of members who have bought a barrel, kept in a locked cage-like section of its cool dark cellars. The distillery has recently returned to making artisanal gin, using the original recipe they used a century ago. Suau has been in Mallorca since 1851 and, if you have the opportunity, a visit to the distillery (which has a museum) is an interesting experience.

A summer gin festival

If you’re visiting Mallorca this summer, check out The Gin Oasis Festival, featuring 20 or so national and international gin brands and Fever Tree tonics. It’s taking place on the rooftop terrace of the Palau de Congressos in Palma on seven dates: July 8th & 22nd, August 5th & 19th, and September 2nd, 16th, and 30th. All the details can be found on the festival’s website.

Cheers!

Jan Edwards© 2019

Mallorca-based British Chef Marc Fosh Launches First Cookbook

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Eat

London-born chef and restaurateur Marc Fosh’s contribution to the vibrant gastronomic scene in Mallorca cannot be overstated. More than half-a-dozen young chefs who have worked under his tutelage have subsequently opened their own successful restaurants on the island. His teaching and mentoring skills can be in no doubt.

I first discovered Marc’s food when he ran the kitchen at the former Bacchus restaurant, at what used to be Reads Hotel. It became our go-to place for a Michelin-starred dinner and overnight stay for special celebrations. After Marc left Bacchus in 2009 to open his own restaurant in Palma de Mallorca, the hotel was never the same for us.

The only British chef in Spain at a Michelin-starred restaurant

Marc Fosh restaurant in Palma is one of two Michelin-starred restaurants in Mallorca’s capital; the other is owned by chef Adrián Quetglas (who coincidentally used to work for Marc). Fosh is still the only British chef in Spain leading a Michelin-starred kitchen. He also has a catering company (Fosh Catering) and a farm (yes, Fosh Farm) cultivating some of the produce for his kitchens.

This modest chef has now added published author to his talents:  His first cookbook (in English) has been launched in Spain and has its UK launch on July 9th. Entitled Modern Mediterranean – Sun-drenched recipes from Mallorca and beyond, the book reads like a love letter to the produce and food producers of Marc’s adopted island.

Marc Fosh restaurant recently hosted a book signing, combined with a tasting of wines from 3.10 Celler.

In his book, Marc shares recipes for eighteen of his favourite ingredients, which include almonds, lamb, lemons, olive oil, saffron, tomatoes, and chocolate. Each key ingredient has its own chapter of recipes, preceded by an informative introduction. The book is crammed with gorgeous photos by the multi-award-winning Palma-based photographer Nando Esteva. The publishers originally wanted to use a UK-based stylist and photographer but Marc insisted on using Nando – who has worked with Marc for many years.

Putting recipes to the test

When my review copy arrived from the London publishers, I invited two people – a professional cook and a reluctant cook – to choose and try one of his recipes and review it for my radio show Table Talk (edition 60) on Mallorca Sunshine Radio; (click the link to hear their reviews).

My professional tester Sandra van Oorschot is the cooking half of the business Captain Cook Culinary Sailing Tours. Sandra made and loved Marc’s Mediterranean Spiced Lamb Stew with Apricots and Coriander. This friendly Dutch woman is an excellent cook and if you love good home-cooked food (and well-chosen Mallorcan wines) and would like to combine it with a sailing trip, offering a different perspective of Mallorca, I can highly recommend a trip out with Captain Cook (which, unlike some other charters operating in Balearic waters, is fully legal and therefore suitably insured).

After browsing through the review copy I received from the London publishers, The Boss was so enthused by the book that he offered to cook Pomegranate-marinated Leg of Lamb. This was Quite Something, as he is a reluctant cook – unless a BBQ is involved. He followed the instructions carefully but, instead of cooking the lamb in the oven, he chose to adapt the heat settings and timing for our Weber BBQ. Fingers were crossed (by both of us), but I’m pleased to report that the dish was delicious and is now in The Boss’s outdoor-cooking repertoire. Thank you, Marc!

Unlike some Michelin-starred cuisine, Marc Fosh’s is based on simplicity. His techniques bring out the flavour of the prime ingredients he uses. His recipes seem accurate and the instructions easy to follow. Now I just need to work a bit on my plating skills…

Modern Mediterranean – Sun-drenched recipes from Mallorca and beyond (Nourish) is available to buy at Marc Fosh restaurant in Palma (25€), from Amazon, and other outlets on Mallorca. In the UK, the book will be on sale from July 9th for £20.

Jan Edwards ©2019