Must-visit Manacor gourmet shop for truffle products

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Owners of Trufavino

Happy to welcome you at Trufavino

Brillat-Savarin – the French writer of a famous gastronomic work – wrote that “the truffle is the very diamond of gastronomy.” If you  agree, a gourmet boutique in Manacor is well worth a visit. Trufavino opened on April 18th this year and is located in a basement on a pedestrianised street a few metres away from the fresh-produce market.

Owners Elena and Joerg Wilhelm are Russian and German respectively, although both consider themselves world citizens – having travelled widely, lived in different countries, and being open to other cultures. Between them they speak several languages – including excellent English.  As a result, you’ll find a delightful couple ready to show you around their attractive truffle-and-wine shop in the heart of Manacor.

The basement property is believed to be more than a hundred years old and the couple created a rustic-Mallorcan interior for their new business. “We did it all ourselves…with love,” Elena tells me. They have created a welcoming space that will be blissfully cool in the searing heat of the Mallorcan summer.

The sun-and-sea-loving couple have travelled often to Italy. “We visited markets and tried many truffle products that were so tasty, we decided to open a shop selling them in Mallorca,” Joerg explains. He and his wife hope to count local chefs, restaurants, and caterers around the island as future customers – as well as locals and visitors who want to enjoy truffle products at home.

What’s on offer at Trufavino

The range of products on the shelves includes white truffle oil, truffle paste, dried pasta with white truffle, cheese with truffle, charcuterie with truffle, honey with truffle (yes, it’s a thing – and a tasty one at that) and more. In addition, Elena and Joerg offer a few carefully selected wines from their favourite Mallorcan bodegas, Vi Rei and Castell Miquel: “Wine is very good to try with truffle products,” Elena says, with a twinkle in her eye.

Joerg has a corkscrew to hand and will happily open a bottle of wine so you can try before you buy. Similarly, the table area in the centre of the shop is where you can sample some of their tasty truffle products. There’s no pressure to buy though.

“It’s important that you can try before you think about buying,” Elena says. “In our shop we really appreciate that people like to taste first. We can open any bottle or product to show our customers that we have confidence in what we offer.”

It was evident during my first visit here (there have since been more) that these two people enjoy meeting people and spending time in conversation over food and wine. It’s likely that they’ll make new friends, as well as customers, at Trufavino.

If you do visit Trufavino in Manacor, check out the colourful staircase as you leave: the premises were previously a studio for children learning to paint!

Trufavino is open Monday to Friday (10-13h & 16-19h) and on Saturday morning. If you visit Manacor’s weekly Monday market, be sure to pay a visit!

Trufavino

C/ del Mercadel, 8

Manacor

 

 

 

Where to find organic raw chocolate in Mallorca

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“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”  If that friend comes with good-quality chocolate, so much the better!

In recent years we’ve become more discerning when it comes to buying chocolate here in Mallorca and rarely buy anything made from less than 70 per cent cocoa solids. My favourite chocolate available on the island is even healthier: organic raw (and vegan) chocolate, lovingly made from bean to bar by master chocolatier Tino Wolter at Cachao in Palma de Mallorca.

Tino Wolter is the master chocolatier behind Cacaho

The story behind Cachao

Tino is a clear-skinned, healthy-looking young German who began his career as a chef in Berlin, in 2000. He worked his way up to become a chef de partie in patisserie, which increasingly involved working with chocolate. When Christine Leja, owner of the stylish group of businesses known as bconnected in Palma de Mallorca, wanted to develop a business making and selling organic raw chocolate, she asked Tino to run it. It took him more than a year to perfect the recipe and some six years for the business known as Cachao to come to fruition. As well as the recipe, Tino had to obtain all the equipment and apply for the various licences necessary.

Sourcing the beans was an important part of the process: they had to be cultivated in a sustainable and organic way and come from farmers who supply a co-operative known as Big Tree Farms in Bali. The hand-peeled beans are not roasted, to retain the raw-food antioxidants, and are simply dried and fermented.

The process

The first step in making Cachao’s chocolate is grinding the beans, in a machine that churns the beans to paste over a four-day period. This machine lives in the back room of the premises and Tino calls it his ‘animal’, because it needs a lot of attention. “I had sleepless nights at the beginning, worrying in case it stopped working,” he admits.

After four days, Tino has to temper, flavour (where appropriate), and package the chocolate. He does all this on his own: “It’s a very young business,” he explains. “I’m alone and do everything from opening the shop to producing the chocolate, to packaging and selling it.” He works long hours and I sense that he’d like to share some of his working life with a colleague, but his passion for what he does drives him. The chance of some brief conversation is one reason he likes people to come into the shop to look around and taste some samples.

Some of Tino’s chocolate  is flavoured with local Mallorcan products. He has a supplier in Sóller for oranges and one in Porreres for apricots. Flor de Sal (from the south of Mallorca) is another flavouring ingredient. All his chocolate contains 71 per cent cocoa solids, except one at 54 per cent (sweetened with coconut sugar and nectar) and a cacao purist’s treat at 100 per cent.

“It was important for us to know about the ingredients we use,” Tino explains. “The same applied to the packaging.” The wrappings and boxes are made from recycled paper and the stylish design by a friend complements the high-quality product. “It’s what we call the holistic way: knowing who is doing what, and how.”

Cachao’s products

In addition to chocolate bars and boxes of chocolate thins, Tino has expanded the range to include products such as chocolate-covered almonds and chocolate-covered coffee beans (sourced from the company Mistral, which roasts organic beans in the heart of Palma de Mallorca). There’s also a distilled product made in conjunction with the award-winning Mallorcan company Gin Eva in Llucmajor.

Of course, you’ll pay more for Cachao’s artisan organic raw chocolate than you would for the commercially produced stuff. But what you get is a guilt-free nutritionally dense product that’s incredibly satisfying and delicious. It’s a grown-up gourmet treat that shouldn’t be missed if you visit Palma de Mallorca.

Cachao’s premises are in Palma de Mallorca’s Santa Catalina’s district, facing the indoor market. It’s an attractive place with the shop at the front dedicated to sales (and samplings) of the various products. Don’t be shy! Tino will give you a warm welcome and is happy to explain the process involved in his bean-to-bar creations.

The cacao or cocoa tree is officially known as Theobroma Cacao: Theobroma being derived from the Greek for ‘food of the gods’.  Why should we mere mortals miss out on such a divine product as Cachao?

Cachao

Plaza Navegació 14

Santa Catalina

Palma de Mallorca

Order your chocolate online here.

Charlie’s Kitchen Pop-up Dinner Delights Again

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Sóller-based Piers Dawson is the chef behind Charlie’s Kitchen pop-up dining events. Piers, his charming wife Holly, and infant Charlie (the inspiration for the pop-up’s name) moved from London to Mallorca in 2015. Piers had travelled the world, cooking for everyone from presidents to prime ministers to pop stars, in his twelve years with the London-based catering company Alison Price.

Charlie’s arrival was a catalyst for change: the couple wanted to spend as much time as possible with their little boy. They moved to Mallorca and based themselves in Sóller, where Piers’s mother lives, to begin new cooking adventures on the island.

Since then, Piers has established himself here as a private chef, but he’s still in demand for occasional international work. Over the last winter he toured Asia for 12 days, cooking for an “amazingly talented young American singer/songwriter”. Piers (using discretion where clients are concerned) wouldn’t reveal the singer’s name, but the tour took in seven cities, including Taipei, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, and Singapore.

Another Charlie’s Kitchen

Even if hiring a private chef is the stuff of dreams (it is for me), it’s possible to enjoy Piers’s innovative cuisine at one of his Charlie’s Kitchen pop-up dinners. Until now, they’ve been held during the quieter winter months, but Piers told me recently that they may be monthly this year.

The latest Charlie’s Kitchen event was the fourth I’d attended. That’s how much I enjoy these dinners in the Sóller valley – to which it takes us just over an hour to drive from home. Piers’s amazing food, Holly’s warm hospitality, and the convivial nature of these intimate dinners make the journey worthwhile.

Our latest Charlie’s Kitchen menu

The Charlie's Kitchen menu March 30th 2019

Each dish on the menu is simply described on the menu

And this is what they looked like:

Piers came to the dining table as each dish arrived, explaining the thought process that went into it and revealing the culinary brilliance of this amiable chef.

Alternatives to single-use plastics

Two dishes, in particular, sparked a lot of interest: BLT – a crispy baked ham wafer with rocket purée, basil, and olive oil powder, perched on top of a small bottle of tomato-essence consommé flavoured with lots of basil. We drank the latter through a drinking straw made from apple pomace (the pulp left behind after the fruit has been juiced). After we’d finished the consommé, we could eat the straw too!

The next dish was entitled Soller Garden: an edible flowerpot containing baba ganoush (BBQ’d aubergine with parsley, lemon zest, tahini, and roasted garlic), and a soil made from Piers’s own beetroot sourdough: “I dried black olives and blitzed them with olive oil, then sautéed the sourdough crumbs and poured black olive oil slowly through it.” As the bread crisped, it took on the oil’s colour. Piers planted the ‘soil’ with a sesame-seed sourdough wafer, heritage carrots, cornichons, a tiny olive, teardrop pepper, and fresh asparagus. Genius.

Piers told us he had sourced the edible flowerpot and straws as alternatives to single-use plastics. If you want to find out more about these edible and other solutions, check out The Three Straws – based in Port de Sóller.

This latest Charlie’s Kitchen was yet another memorable evening. We look forward to the next one!

Find out more about Piers Dawson on his website.

You can hear Piers Dawson in conversation with me on ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio – edition 49 – here.

Jan Edwards ©2019

Review of Botanic Restaurant in Palma de Mallorca

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When the property developer Mikael Hall bought the 16th-century manor house Can Bordoy in Palma de Mallorca, he could have converted the property into desirable city apartments. Instead, the Swedish businessman decided to turn this neglected house, in the atmospheric La Lonja quarter, into a luxurious 5-star hotel. One of the reasons behind this decision was the property’s outdoor space: it’s the largest private garden in Palma.

“If I’d made it into apartments, this garden would have been lost to the people of Palma forever,” Mikael told me when I interviewed him for ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio some weeks ago. “This garden is unique in the city. I want it to be part of Palma’s life.” Anyone can come into this garden and enjoy a coffee, tea, cold drink, or something to eat. Be warned: you may not want to leave.

The conversion project took several years and presented a number of challenges along the way. Mikael first saw the property in May 2012 and it wasn’t until late last year that Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden was finished and ready to welcome its first guests. The efforts of everyone involved in the development and operation of this stunning hotel have just been rewarded: the 24-suite Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden is included in the ‘Best New Hotels in the World Hot List’ by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

Chef Andrés Benítez at Botànic

Giovanni Merello (l) and Andres Benitez (r)

Giovanni Merello and Andres Benitez at the press breakfast I attended in December

The Palma de Mallorca hotel’s restaurant Botànic opened on December 20th, 2018. It was an opening I’d been waiting for since I heard that Andrés Benítez would be the chef. Andrés was previously head chef at Tomeu Caldentey’s Michelin-starred former Bou restaurant in Sa Coma and I’ve been a big fan of his modest personality and his cuisine for several years.

Botànic is open all day to the public. Come for breakfast – at any hour during the daytime – and feast on a tempting choice of dishes, including healthy bowls, a variety of free-range egg dishes, pastries and breads, and what Andrés calls combo dishes. I’ve had (a late) breakfast here on several occasions and have developed a serious weakness for the spelt toast topped with avocado, tomato, and home-made coconut-milk cheese (who knew of such a thing?).

On Sundays, there’s a table brunch with live piano music – which we’ve yet to try. I imagine that sitting in the garden, enjoying the food, a glass of fizz, and the gentle tinkling of the piano would be an idyllic way to spend some time.

Dinner at Botànic

At night Botànic offers healthy fine dining in the form of a monthly changing 7-plate tasting menu. We went last week to try the April menu and had a table in the library, which has an intimate ambience and subtle lighting – making it perfect for romantic dinners. A printed menu gives you an idea of what is to come.

Even before the arrival of the first dish – billed as Can Bordoy snacks – high quality was evident. Our server offered crusty bread from the admirable Forn Pes de sa Palla (the bakery of Amadip Esment, a foundation offering professional training and employment for people with mental disabilities). We had this with Mallorcan flor de sal and Can Bordoy-labelled organic extra virgin olive oil made from arbequina olives by Oli Novembre, which has the Denomination of Origin Oli de Mallorca.

Here are photos of just a few of the seven dishes from the menu we had. Sweet-toothed diners will be pleased to know that there is a pre-dessert as well as dessert!

In my opinion, the cost of 50€ for the 7-plate tasting menu at Botànic is excellent value, considering the quality of the food, service (Carolina from Colombia, who served us, was a delight), and the unique setting. The food is satisfying but won’t leave you feeling bloated or push your waistband to its limits.

Wine pairing optional…and recommended

If you enjoy wine, do try the optional wine pairing, for an additional 30€. We enjoyed the Italian sommelier Emiliano’s selection and his knowledge and opinions about wine make for interesting and informative snippets of conversation.

We had a different wine with each of the seven dishes – all matched, to our tastes, to perfection. They included: an elegant and crisp biodynamic Riesling (Achillée) from Alsace; Porrera, a white Garnacha from Priorat; an Albariño from Rias Baixas, and Gorgollassa from the organic winery Can Majoral in Mallorca. Our final drops were from a glass of natural sweet rosé from Selva Vins in Mallorca; this surprising wine, made from 100 per cent Merlot grapes and matured in chestnut barrels, was more red than pink and was the result of a ‘happy accident’ in the wine-making process. Thank you, Emiliano, for sharing your passion – and your wine choices.

There is a lot to admire about Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden. Being here is like visiting friends who live in a rather splendid house. Managing director Giovanni Merello is at the helm of a team that feels more like a family, devoted to offering warm hospitality and comfort to all who visit.

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to have a second home in Palma de Mallorca. Now, I think I know…

Jan Edwards ©2019

Find your new guide to Balearic gastronomy

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“Well I think that we are gradually getting closer to San Sebastián.” This was Andrés Benítez’s response when asked how he would rate Palma de Mallorca as a gastronomic destination, in comparison with the famous foodie city. Chef Andrés Benítez is at the helm of the restaurant Botànic at the 5-star Can Bordoy Grand House & Garden in Palma de Mallorca, which opened at the end of 2018.

His comment is just one of the many insights into Balearic chefs, featured in the second annual edition of the magazine Chefs(in) – published in March. It’s a treasure trove of information gleaned as a result of the close relationship between some of the Balearics’ best chefs and the organisation Chefs(in), which promotes Balearic gastronomy.

We were lucky enough to be invited to the launch event for the second edition of Chefs(in) magazine, which took place in the Teatre Municipal Mar i Terra in Palma’s Santa Catalina district.

A reference for Balearic gastronomy

I still have the first (2018) edition of Chefs(in) magazine. It’s more of a reference work to keep, than a magazine to be read and later discarded and I’m delighted now to have the second edition too. In my humble opinion, it’s essential reading for any foodie visiting (or living in) Mallorca or its sister islands Menorca and Ibiza. And the good news is that it is published in both Spanish and English.

Here are some of the highlights of the 2019 edition:

  • Interviews with chefs Ariadna Salvador, Iñigo Rodriguez, David Moreno, Cati Pieras, Joan Canals, Miquel Calent, Andrés Benítez, Marga Coll, David de Coca, Miquel Gelabert, Victor García, and well-known charcutier Xesc Reina.
  • A feature about 12 of the 65 businesses in Palma officially designated as emblematic by Palma City Council.
  • A guide to 43 of the best restaurants in Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza. In addition to the individual pages for each restaurant, there’s a quick-to-view guide to more than 30 different aspects about each one – including number of covers, frequency of menu changes, number of languages spoken, WiFi access, whether there’s a terrace, and average prices.

Once again, most of the photography in the second edition of Chefs(in) is by the multi-award-winning Mallorcan photographer Nando Esteva.

Chefs(in) is available in kiosks and newsagents across the islands and through the website http://www.chefsins.com at 10€ per copy.

Jan Edwards©2019

Els Ullastres Mallorca Sowing the Seeds for Future Growth

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Whether writing articles or blog posts, or interviewing for my Mallorca Sunshine Radio show ‘Table Talk’, I get to meet some very interesting people on this island. One family in particular made a huge impression on me and, through this post, you’ll find out why.

I’d initially seen some of their images on Instagram and curiosity then led me to their website, where I discovered that they were located in our part of the island. Their business Els Ullastres Mallorca cultivates and supplies a large range of organic microgreens to top restaurants across Mallorca.

Microgreens from Els Ullastres Mallorca

Christos Michaels with a tray of microgreens

Els Ullastres Mallorca on the radio

I got in touch and arranged to go and interview them – taking my father along too (with their permission), as he was visiting us at the time and is a keen vegetable grower in his own garden. Sue and Dad found some common ground and we left them in the house chatting about places they both knew from their past, whilst I went to interview Christos and Kathy outside.

I was humbled by the passion and sheer hard work that the three of them – Christos, his mum Kathy, and his nan Sue – put into their horticultural business. You can hear what they had to say here in the interview broadcast on ‘Table Talk’, edition 24.  

Els Ullastres Mallorca

Me (left) in the polytunnel with Els Ullastres Mallorca

Since then, the family and I have kept in touch and we’ve become friends – sharing interesting snippets of news from the restaurant world, such as changes of chef, or new openings.

Future growth

Els Ullastres Mallorca is doing well – purely through sheer hard work, determination, and responding to the needs of the chefs they supply. In April 2018 they secured their first restaurant as a customer. Today, Els Ullastres Mallorca supplies more than 40 restaurants and there is potential to expand their business further. They also plan to grow organic vegetables and have already begun putting in tomato and courgette plants. But there are a few things they need in order to take their business forward and, for that reason, they’ve launched a campaign on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo

I hope you’ll have time to take a few minutes to take a look at their Indiegogo appeal and particularly the video, which was made with the generous assistance of a talented young Polish couple who are videographers on the island of Mallorca. Like me, they were impressed by what this family is doing.

Should you find yourself eating out in one of Mallorca’s fine-dining restaurants, those microgreens that add visual and flavour impact on the plate, are likely to have been supplied by Els Ullastres Mallorca. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to contribute a little something towards their future success…

Jan Edwards©2019

New Restaurant Apolonia for Can Mostatxins, Alcudia

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The ship Apolonia at Can Mostatxins

A painting of the ship that inspired the restaurant’s name

If you’re looking for a boutique hotel in the north of Mallorca, I can personally recommend the British-owned Can Mostatxins in the charming old walled town of Alcúdia. It’s so good, they named it twice (like Sinatra’s New York): since last year there have been two hotels with this name – Can Mostatxins Frare and the original, Can Mostatxins Quinze. If it were not for the lane running between the two handsomely renovated old buildings, they’d be joined at the drainpipe.

New at Can Mostatxins for 2019

The two Can Mostatxins hotels are now open for the 2019 season, with something new to offer: Restaurant Apolonia. This 26-cover restaurant is open for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday evenings from 18:00-21:00h (quite early by Spanish standards). Alcúdia isn’t short of eateries, but this addition has a culinary offering with plenty of appeal for foodies.

Restaurant Apolonia has an elegant but simple décor, with linen-covered tables, attractive lighting and, on the main wall, a specially commissioned painting of the old sailing ship Apolonia, which was once the pride of the family who used to own the building. The pleasant background piano music when we ate there was unobtrusive and relaxing. It’s worth taking a peek at the floor in one particular area of the restaurant to see something surprising. I’ll say no more and let you discover this for yourself!

What does Restaurant Apolonia offer?

Apolonia offers two weekly changing tasting menus – one of which is vegetarian; there’s no à la carte. The menu is available in both six- and four-course versions and is priced between 36€ and 48€ per diner. An optional wine pairing is available for 20€ per person and includes a dessert wine or sherry. We had the six-course version.

The Mediterranean cuisine is the creation of a young female chef from Asturias, Cristina López, whose previous experience of working in Michelin-star restaurants shows. “I love to cook and work with seasonal products,” Cristina told me. We loved eating the results.

This is the pictorial version of the menu we enjoyed during our visit to Restaurant Apolonia:

If you’re not staying as a guest in the hotel, you can eat here only with a prior reservation, made by phoning reception at Can Mostatxins; Restaurant Apolonia does not take walk-in diners. My recommendation would be to treat yourself and book one of the 19 rooms available between Can Mostatxins Frare and Can Mostatxins Quinze so that you can take advantage of the choice of good-quality Mallorcan wines with your dinner.

Until the end of March 2019, book a stay at Can Mostatxins through Mallorcan Tonic and you’ll get a discount of 20% on accommodation.

Jan Edwards©2019

Opera and gastronomy: Castell Classics Mallorca 2019

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Castell Son Claret

Agapanthus – the flower of love – at Castell Son Claret

Mallorca’s 5-star Castell Son Claret hotel, in picturesque countryside near Es Capdellà, re-opens today for the 2019 season. If you’ve been to Mallorca but not visited this beautiful property, I would urge you to do so on your next visit. You don’t have to be staying overnight to enjoy the warm, professional service, stunning setting, and sheer tranquillity of the place (although once you’ve stayed, you’ll probably want to return). You can also bowl up, park your car, stroll through the gardens up to the impressive hotel building, and have a signature cocktail in the bar, lunch on the Olivera restaurant terrace, or splurge on a tasting menu in the 2-Michelin-star Zaranda.

Love opera? Gourmet cuisine? Combine the two at one of the cultural highlights of the summer in Mallorca. The annual Castell Classics operatic concerts, accompanied by a gourmet dinner under the evening sky, are the result of a close collaboration with the finest European opera houses and festivals. The three concerts each year bring young operatic singers with star potential to Mallorca to perform at Castell Son Claret.

Castell Classics 2019

June 6th        The most talented soloists from the Accademia Teatro Alla Scala in Milan.

July 4th          Young Singers of the Salzburg Festival – graduate soloists from the Young Singers Project.

August 17th    Soloists from the Zurich Opera House (NEW for 2019): soprano Olga Kulchynska and baritone Konstantin Shushakov.

Each of these al fresco events starts at 7.30pm with a welcome cocktail and includes a gala dinner menu, wines, and the concert, at a cost of 205€ per person. Book, or obtain more details about the Castell Classics 2019, by emailing events@castellsonclaret.com.

Our experience of Castell Classics 2018

It was still daylight when we arrived at the 5-star Castell Son Claret, in the southwest of Mallorca, for the second in the sixth season of  opera nights known as Castell Classics.

We declined the offer of an electric-buggy ride from the car park up to the hotel entrance so that we could walk (I, in high heels, tottered) through the landscaped gardens – with their water feature and beautiful agapanthus flowers wafting in a gentle breeze.  The flowers and greenery used in the hotel’s displays come from these exquisite gardens.

Although we arrived exactly at the event start time of 7.30pm, plenty of people had arrived before us and were already enjoying drinks and appetizers on the lawns. Many of the 150 guests who attended were German – in my experience, almost always punctual!

From Salzburg to Mallorca

We were there to see the Young Singers of the Salzburg Festival – eight talented young singers of different nationalities – who would perform highlights from this year’s Salzburg Festival.

After drinks and nibbles in the hotel garden, we moved up to the hotel’s large terrace, where we were all seated at round tables. It didn’t take long before we were chatting to the other people at our table – some Mallorcans, some Russians. These evenings are an opportunity to meet new people with a shared interest in opera and gastronomy.

Works by Mozart, Bizet, Gounod, Puccini, Chapí, Tchaikovsky, and Bernstein made for a varied programme of largely familiar pieces – including a couple of my personal favourites. Hearing such exquisite voices on a pleasantly warm evening under a darkening sky was nothing short of magical.

Gastronomic treats

The gala dinner, as one would expect from a hotel boasting two restaurants (one with two Michelin stars), was superb. Chefs Fernando P Arellano (Zaranda) and Pep Forteza (Olivera) and their brigades created a wonderful dinner once again. On the menu: a snappy wafer-thin ‘coca’ of confit tomatoes, Sóller prawns, and basil; medallion of spring lamb with stuffed onion and mint-scented pea purée, and the eagerly awaited ‘Selection of fine desserts’. How good were they! (Castell Son Claret has its own in-hotel bakery).

We drank La Cuvée 2014 Reserva from Bodega Gramona, and wines from Bodegas Valduero on the Peninsula.

The Castell Classics series is a cultural highlight of the Mallorcan summer and a personally recommended experience for anyone who appreciates opera, good food and wine, and memorable experiences.

NEW FOR 2019

Castell Son Claret is adding three new exclusive pool suites this year. With this extension the hotel will have a total of 41 suites and guest rooms on the 123-hectare estate. The pool suites will have a fresh and modern-looking interior and the outdoor pool (2m x 5m) will be heated by solar cells.

LISTEN UP!

The talented madrileño chef Fernando P Arellano of Zaranda is in conversation with me this Saturday morning (16th February) on ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio 106.1FM or streamed on http://www.mallorcasunshineradio.com.

©Jan Edwards 2019

Review of dinner at El Patio de Gloria

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The 5-star Hotel Glòria de Sant Jaume in Palma de Mallorca’s old town has been open for just over a year – during which time we’ve visited its intimate and comfortable bar several times for drinks with various friends. It’s a super little bar with a cosy ambience. The impressive old cash register on the bar counter is always a talking point – although I wouldn’t want to have to polish it!

We hadn’t tried the hotel’s restaurant El Patio de Glòria. Frankly, Palma de Mallorca has quite a few good eateries and this one wasn’t yet on our restaurant radar when eating out in Mallorca’s capital. And then, last month, we heard that a new chef had been appointed. That new chef is Javier Gardonio, who worked for Fernando P Arellano at his Michelin-starred Zaranda, initially when the restaurant was in Madrid. When Fernando moved Zaranda to Mallorca, he brought Javier (and others) with him. Javier’s years of Michelin-star restaurant experience with Arellano made him a shoo-in when El Patio de Glòria was appointing a new chef.

Like the rest of the boutique Hotel Glòria de Sant Jaume, the restaurant is elegant in a classical way. You don’t need to access it through the hotel foyer (although it’s worth seeing), as El Patio de Glòria also has a separate entrance direct from the street. Entering from the bar, you notice the handsome fireplace surround – which wouldn’t look out of place in the dining room of a grand private home. Attractive lighting, old paintings on the walls, and comfortable chairs add to this homely feeling. Sparkling glassware and cutlery adorn the tables and the artisan-made tableware (from Mallorca’s Ceramica Terra Cuita) is patterned in the style of the Mallorcan traditional ‘cloth of tongues’ fabric.

Our dinner at El Patio de Glòria

We were greeted warmly by Miguel Hermida, whom I instantly recognised. He too previously worked at Zaranda and now oversees front of house at El Patio de Glòria. Miguel is welcoming, helpful and has a good sense of humour. We watched him during the evening as he dealt with diners of different nationalities and were impressed by his ability to switch from Spanish to English to German. He’s highly professional.

Miguel Hermida and Javier Gardonio

Miguel (left) and chef Javier – a top team

Chef Javier Gardonio created the new El Patio de Glòria à la carte menu, which includes dishes cooked in a Kamado oven. For meat eaters, the roast shoulder of lamb (for two people) is highly recommended; it comes with home-made hummus, yogurt, bulgar, and pistachio and almond dukka. Miguel gently teased the succulent meat from the bone using only a pair of spoons. The Boss and I agreed it was up there with some of the best lamb dishes we’d had on the island.

Our dinner was a thoroughly enjoyable experience in terms of cuisine, ambience, and service. Interestingly, the well-known Mallorcan chef Santi Taura (who owns Santi Taura and Dins Santi Taura restaurants in Lloseta) was also there for dinner that night and, when we spoke to him before we left, he seemed to have enjoyed his meal too.

Menú del día

From February 4th, the restaurant is now offering a weekday three-course lunchtime menú del día, with a choice of two dishes for each course, for 21,50€ (including a glass of wine or beer). We haven’t tried it yet but, with El Patio de Glòria now on our restaurant radar, it’s only a matter of time.

El Patio de Glòria is open daily for lunch 13:00-15:30h and dinner 19:30-22:30h. I recommend making a *reservation. With Javier and Miguel now here, this restaurant seems set to become very popular.

*Email: patio@gloriasantjaume.com or tel +34 971 717 997

Jan Edwards© 2019

Review of new-look Son Vida Spa

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Hotels / Spas

It’s easy to be impressed by the 5-star Castillo Hotel Son Vida in Palma de Mallorca: its imposing castle tower, huge terrace with spectacular elevated views across Palma to the bay, and stately interior have appealed to visitors to Mallorca since 1961, when the property first opened as a luxury hotel. Many famous people have stayed here, including Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas, Anthony Quinn, Pedro Almodóvar, and Claudia Schiffer.

Although I’ve not stayed overnight at the Castillo Hotel Son Vida, I’ve been to several lunch or dinner functions at the prestigious hotel at the heart of the Son Vida estate – which is dotted with architect-designed villas and look-at-me mansions. I’d also had a relaxing spa day at the hotel two years ago with a girlfriend; we went on a weekday and had the place almost to ourselves.

Easy parking, easy access

The Son Vida Spa was renovated late last year and I was curious to see the new-look version, so The Boss and I went this week to check the place out. Our first surprise was finding that the hotel has added a separate car park for spa users. Park your car, take the lift or the steps up, and you arrive up right at the spa entrance. No need to walk through the hotel itself. Check in at the spa desk and you’re off to the changing rooms armed with locker key and disposable flip-flops. The locker contains a generous sized robe for use while you’re here. Piles of fresh fluffy towels are everywhere. No need to sit wrapped in a damp towel here!

Only the indoor pool area remains unchanged. It overlooks the wooded hills of Son Vida and, on a sunny day, it’s a glorious place to swim, poach yourself (in the Jacuzzi), and relax on the thick-cushioned poolside loungers. Everything else within the spa has been renovated.

Facilities include a gym (open 24 hours a day!), where 14 state-of-the-art Techno Gym machines await the serious exerciser. The new wet area has a Finnish sauna, bio sauna, and steam room, with ice fountain and the appropriately named adventure showers for the necessary cooling off afterwards. In the anteroom to the wet area, you can help yourself to fruit and flavoured water at no additional cost.

Through another wooden door and you’re in the relaxation area, where more loungers are available for those who prefer a quieter environment.

Tailored treatments

The beauty therapy rooms at Castillo Hotel Son Vida used to be in another part of the hotel but the spa renovation has brought the facilities together. The upper floor of the Son Vida Spa is home to the beauty and therapy reception area, changing rooms, and four (two single, two double) light-filled treatment rooms, with good views. This floor also has a door into the hotel itself.

Therapist Maria showed me to one of these rooms for my pre-arranged facial – a treat while The Boss was lounging and reading by the pool. Son Vida Spa uses two product ranges: Maria Galland of Paris – based on pure essences – and Demarés. The latter is a Mallorcan brand, with products made from natural ingredients – and no nasties.

My Mosaic Modelling Treatment lasted 80 minutes. Eighty of the most relaxing minutes I’d had for a very long time. Maria has worked as a beauty therapist at the hotel for 12 years and is a great asset here. Had she ever treated any celebrities? I asked, imagining her working her magic on Hugh Laurie when he was staying here during the filming of The Night Manager. The rich and famous have nothing to worry about here: Maria wouldn’t even mention any names, let alone share any famous folk’s foibles. She could probably be trusted with state secrets…

The Mosaic Modelling Treatment is personalised for each client by the therapist, who selects the most beneficial essences to use with the various potions and lotions. These jewel-coloured essences are from caviar, black orchid, malachite, white truffle, silver, gold, and hyaluronate (no, I hadn’t heard of that either). At one point, Maria applied a mask of clay, which self-heated as it hardened on my face. It made conversation a little difficult but felt strangely pleasant. By the time Maria had finished, my skin felt dewy, soft, and smooth. I’d go as far as to say that this was probably the best facial I’ve had on Mallorca: a comfortable environment, experienced and friendly therapist, and a divine treatment that made a positive difference to the feel and look of my skin.

What does it cost to use the Son Vida Spa?

If you’re an official resident of the Balearics, you can take advantage of special day-spa rates – which are published on this website. If you’re not resident, a day pass costs 65€ (at time of writing).  Son Vida Spa at Mallorca’s Castillo Hotel Son Vida also offers spa membership for 115€ a month (no registration fee).

Jan Edwards ©2019