Review: Spanish Sunday lunch in Palma

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Eat / Restaurants
Slogan about Sunday lunch

Sounds good to me!

Soon after moving from the UK to Mallorca, we realized the importance here of Sunday lunch. Families eat together on Sunday lunchtime, either at home or in a restaurant. Our valley sees little traffic during the week and Sunday is probably the busiest day, because grown-up offspring return to their family homes for lunch.

Tip: if you’re coming to Mallorca on holiday and want to eat lunch out on a Sunday, it’s best to book a table in advance to avoid disappointment.

We recently tried the new Spanish Lunch served on Sundays at the 5-star Gran Meliá Victoria hotel in Palma. We had stayed at the hotel for one of our first holidays together quite a few years ago, so it was something of a nostalgic visit.

Pre-lunch drink and snacks with a Bay of Palma view

The new Spanish Lunch at the Gran Meliá Victoria hotel begins on the huge terrace where you’ll find the open-air Dry Bar by Javier de las Muelas. It’s above street level, with spectacular views over the Bay of Palma. We sipped a glass of cava and enjoyed a generous platter of charcuterie and cheeses as we relaxed on plump-cushioned sofas, listening to a musician playing Spanish guitar music. It made me wish I’d kept up my guitar lessons…

Lunch itself was indoors – although I imagine it will be on the terrace dining area once the weather warms up. We began by helping ourselves to the array of starters on display. I don’t mind going to choose from a buffet if the food looks good and the spread is maintained in pristine condition; it was here.

The main course is ordered from the menu and is cooked to order on the grill in the kitchen and served at your table. We had a meat choice of 45-day-aged 1kg T-bone steak (for two) or 45-day-aged 200g fillet steak, served with a choice of green peppercorn or blue-cheese sauce (in my case, no sauce). Fish choices were BBQ’d cod fillet or grilled Galician octopus.

I can highly recommend having a dessert here. The dessert buffet includes some exquisite patisserie from talented pâtissier Lluís Pérez, whose business at Palma’s C/ Bonaire (no. 14) opened in 2015.

Tip: If you’re not in Palma on a Sunday for the new Spanish Lunch at Gran Meliá Victoria, be sure to call at Lluís’s gorgeous shop. You can have a coffee or tea (the latter served in pretty bone china) on the premises and indulge in something that’s been made in the kitchen at the rear of the premises.

Spanish Lunch, but English spoken

The hotel’s international clientele includes a lot of British people and there’s no problem if you don’t speak Spanish. In fact, the executive assistant manager here is English and worked at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London before moving here last summer. One of the charming Spanish waiters told me they call him ‘the professor’ because he is helping them to improve their English!

The elegant Gran Meliá Victoria has an impressive location and it’s usually possible to find a parking spot along the Paseo Marítimo (free of charge). As we did, you may want to follow this thoroughly enjoyable lunch with a leisurely afternoon stroll along the waterfront. Or you may prefer to do what the Spanish call sobremesa: relaxing and chatting with your companions at the table after lunch is finished. It’s what Sundays are for.

To book your table for the Spanish Lunch at Gran Meliá Victoria, phone +34 971 732 542. The cost was 45€ a head, including cava and appetizers on the terrace, the lunch, water, and coffee. You can have Mallorcan wines/soft drinks included for 56€.

Jan Edwards ©2018

Review of lunch at Baiben in Puerto Portals

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Chefs / Eat / Restaurants

 

Snacks at Baiben Cocktail Bar

Colombian cheese and yuca bread buns and crispy tacos of spicy confit suckling pig – moreish snacks from Baiben Cocktail Bar

Puerto Portals has been described as ‘the Puerto Banús of the Balearics’ – though I can’t comment on the accuracy of that, as I haven’t visited the famous Andalusian marina.

Built in 1986, the smart Puerto Portals marina in the southwest of Mallorca is a magnet for boat owners and other nautical types. It offers 639 moorings – from eight to 60 metres in length – which means you’ll always find plenty of gleaming vessels to lust over. It’s also a good place to spot luxury-marque cars parked dockside when the boat owners are on board.

The glamour of Puerto Portals’ setting and the impressive ‘hardware’ moored and parked here are enough to attract even the most-committed landlubbers. But there’s also an array of high-end fashion boutiques, jewellery stores, real-estate offices, cafes, bars, and restaurants – making this Mallorcan marina a luxury destination for visitors who want to spend, spend, spend…or simply fantasize a little.

Everything you’ve read here so far may suggest that Puerto Portals is not a place to find a bargain lunch. But if you know where to look…

Fernando Pérez Arellano’s Baiben

Last week we were in the Portals area on Monday and went to the port to try the weekly-changing lunchtime menú de la semana at Baiben restaurant. Opened in October 2016, Baiben is owned by Fernando Pérez Arellano – best known as the creator and chef of the Balearics’ only two-Michelin-starred restaurant Zaranda. Fernando originally opened Zaranda in Madrid but the restaurant has been located at Mallorca’s rural 5-star Castell Son Claret (which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year) since the hotel opened.

Here at Baiben – awarded one Sol in the Guía Repsol 2018 – the accomplished French chef Jerome Rohner runs the kitchen. The distinctive interior design was by Andrea Spada and Michele Corbani of Madrid-based company ILMIODESIGN.

Considering Baiben’s prime waterside location, its marina-and-Med views, and the attractive design of the spacious restaurant, cocktail bar, and terrace, you could be forgiven for thinking that eating here would be expensive. And you probably could run up a sizeable bill if you took full advantage of the excellent à la carte menu and the dazzling choice of around 700 wines.

But the lunch menu is, in my opinion, a genuine bargain: a satisfying three courses (with choice of three dishes for each course), water, glass of wine or beer, and coffee…all for 22€ (including tax).

Our lunch

Here’s what we ate in pictorial form:

The choices included vegetarian options and I was tempted by the main course of wok-cooked vegetables and mushrooms. Instead, I chose a dish that wouldn’t usually feature on my radar, as a test: Mediterranean-style fried chicken focaccia ‘sandwich’ with chips. The chicken was tasty, the bread wasn’t soggy with grease (a pet hate of mine), and the chips were crisp on the outside but fluffy inside. That’s a big tick from me, then!

If you fancy a taste of luxury lifestyle – without the associated high cost – head to Baiben for this superb-value lunchtime menu.

To drive into Puerto Portals, take a ticket from the machine at the port entrance barrier and then drive through. As long as your stay is less than four hours, parking is free. A large parking area can be found near the distinctive tower known as Torre de Capitanía (turn right to follow the Capitanía sign just after entering the port).  Baiben is the first eatery you’ll come to from your parking place. The restaurant is open every day, all year for lunch and dinner; Baiben Cocktail Bar is open daily from 12 noon to 23:30h and offers a menu of appealing snacks.

Price correct at time of writing.

NOTE: Fernando P Arellano is one of three chefs at the helm of Michelin-starred restaurants who will create a gourmet charity dinner on Saturday, April 21st, at Finca Son Mir, near Palma. Fernando will cook with Marc Fosh and Adrian Quetglas (whose eponymous starred restaurants are in Palma). This event – ‘A Soirée with the Stars’ – will include live entertainment and more and is in aid of the JoyRon Foundation’s projects to help needy children in the Balearics. A wonderful opportunity to help children and to taste the food of three chefs whose restaurants have four Michelin stars between them. Reserve now on http://www.soiree-with-the-stars.com.

Text & photos ©Jan Edwards 2018

Mallorca’s foodie events you may not want to miss!

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Chefs / Drink / Eat / Restaurants / Wine

The coming weeks offer plenty of gastronomic events and news that may be of interest if you’re on the island of Mallorca.

Protur Chef 2018

The weekend of 15th-18th March is Protur Chef 2018 – the second edition of the cookery competition for students of national cooking schools. It’s again taking place at the Protur Biomar Gran Hotel & Spa in Mallorca’s east-coast resort of Sa Coma.

Eighteen future ‘top chefs’ from all over Spain will be competing under the scrutiny of the judges (who include chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants and food critics) and an audience. The young chefs’ brief is to create their own recipe based on Mallorcan shoulder of lamb.

As well as watching the contestants in action on the stage kitchen, foodie spectators can enjoy other gastro-related activities – including tastings, food trucks, exhibitions, and some workshops. (Although it’s free to attend this event, there is a small charge to take part in the workshops).

Junior kitchen wizards (aged 8-12) also have their own section of this competition: Protur Chef Kids.

More information on http://www.proturchef.com

Opening for the 2018 season

Rice dishes reign at Ponderosa Beach

This! Ponderosa Beach opens again soon…

Many of the seasonal restaurants are due to open their doors again in the next few weeks. Here are a few favourite places opening very soon:

Andreu Genestra’s Senzill Bistro re-opens near Capdepera on Saturday, March 17th.

Ponderosa Beach on Playa de Muro will be back in action on Tuesday, March 20th.

Sadrassana – which featured in an episode of The Night Manager – re-opens in Palma on Thursday, March 22nd.

The Michelin-starred Andreu Genestra (located within the same hotel as Senzill) will be wowing its diners again from Friday, March 23rd.

Restaurante Melassa at Hotel Melbeach & Spa in Canyamel opens for the season on Friday, March 23rd. Looking forward to returning for the delicious cuisine of chef David Moreno and his small brigade…

Canyamel from Melbeach

How about dinner and overnight stay? What a view from Hotel Melbeach & Spa

Belmond La Residencia – the iconic 5-star hotel in Deía – re-opens on March 22nd. British fashion and interiors designer Matthew Williamson (who has a home in the Mallorcan mountain village) has designed the interior of the hotel’s new suite, number 67. You don’t have to be staying in the hotel (although I can recommend doing so!) to eat in the restaurants El Olivo or Cafe Miró. 

 

Terrace at Belmond La Residencia

Waiting to welcome you for the coming season…

11th Street Food Festival – Port Adriano

Love street food? Eating al fresco? Food trucks? And being close to the Mediterranean? Don’t miss this popular event in Mallorca’s  glamorous setting of superyacht marina Port Adriano – March 30th-April 1st.

Fira Nàutica i de la Sípia – Alcúdia

This traditional Mallorcan fair combines nautical matters with gastronomy and is from April 13th-15th.

Fira de la Sal i les Espècies – Colònia de Sant Jordi

Close to Mallorca’s Ses Salines salt pans, this year’s Salt and Spices Fair is on April 21st and 22nd.

Pollensa Wine Fair

Dog snoozing at Fira del Vi in Mallorca

Sleeping off the Pollensa Wine Fair

This year’s edition of the popular wine fair known as the Fira del Vi is again in the cloisters in Pollença over the weekend of April 21st and 22nd. It’s an opportunity to taste wines from around 40 bodegas across Mallorca. 

A Soirée with the Stars

This should be amazing: three chefs with Michelin-starred restaurants on Mallorca will create a gourmet dinner in the lovely setting of Finca Son Mir on Saturday, April 21st. Marc Fosh and Adrian Quetglas (whose eponymous restaurants in Palma each have one Michelin star) and Fernando P Arellano, of the two-Michelin-starred Zaranda (Castell Son Claret hotel), are sure to cook up a memorable dinner as part of this charity event.

The event will also include red-carpet cocktail reception; live music, and other entertainment; drinks throughout dinner; dancing under the stars with a singer and DJ, and raffle and auction with some tempting prizes. All proceeds will go to the JoyRon Foundation, which supports children in need in the Balearics.

Sponsors for what is sure to be the fundraising event of the spring include Joanna Walton Flowers (highly recommended) and craft beer makers Cerveza NAU.

Hidden Kitchen

Looking ahead here, but you’ll have to be quick to book one of these amazing events, organized by Balearic gastronomy promoters Chefs(in), as the limited number of places (around a dozen) fill very quickly.

You’ll sit down to a lunch or dinner – but not in a restaurant – prepared by a top chef from the Balearics. The venue is a secret until the day of the event and is usually an emblematic building on Mallorca. The next Hidden Kitchen dinner with places still available is on July 21st, where Manacor restaurant Ca’n March’s chef Miquel Gelabert will create a dinner to be served with matched wines.

Book early if you’d like to go. The event for May 27th – with chef Marga Coll – is already sold out!

©Jan Edwards 2018

Women on top in Mallorca’s gastronomy and hospitality industry

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Chefs / Drink / Eat / Hotels / Restaurants / Wine / Wineries

Today is International Women’s Day – the perfect opportunity to highlight a few of the many women I admire within the gastronomy and hotels sector on Mallorca.

Charlotte Miller – Bodega Biniagual

Bodega sign

Home is where the bodega is: picturesque Biniagual

Charlotte is at the helm of the winery owned by her German family, Bodega Biniagual, just outside the tiny hamlet of Biniagual – all of which belongs to the winery. The picturesque and peaceful hamlet is a magical place to visit – and the wines at the more modern bodega are pretty splendid too.

Ilka Karl – Es Princep Hotel, Palma

Ilka Karl on radio

Ilka captured during a radio interview

Ilka – also German – worked in Mallorca’s 5-star St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort and Gran Hotel Son Net before taking up her post as general manager of Palma’s 5-star Sant Francesc Hotel Singular for its opening in 2015.  In 2017 she left that hotel to take on the challenge of opening another new hotel: Es Princep in Palma.

Macarena de Castro – Restaurante Jardín

Macarena de Castro, chef

Macarena de Castro – the only woman at the helm of a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Balearics

Mallorcan Macarena is the only female chef on the island to have had her cuisine awarded a Michelin star. Her signature cuisine at Restaurante Jardín is derived from authentic Mallorcan recipes. In the past, the former Fine Arts student used to spend the winters – when her family’s restaurant in Alcúdia is closed – working alongside renowned chefs around the world, to enhance her skills.

Barbara Mesquida Mora – Bodega Mesquida Mora

Barbara Mesquida (right) pictured at Campos tile-maker Huguet

Barbara Mesquida (right) at Huguet – which made hydraulic tiles to match the label of her wine Trispol

This passionate young woman (and mum) is from the fourth generation of a well-known wine-making family on Mallorca. After she and her brother left the family winery they had been running, she launched her own Mesquida Mora winery in Porreres, in 2013, cultivating her vines in line with biodynamic practices.

Maria and Teresa Solivellas – Ca Na Toneta restaurant

Wall painting at Ca Na Toneta in Caimari

A wall painting from Ca Na Toneta – but not Maria or Teresa!

You’ll find sisters Maria and Teresa at their delightful family-run restaurant Ca Na Toneta in the village of Caimari – famous for its annual olive fair in the autumn. Organic produce sourced from as close to home as possible is turned into delicious cuisine by Maria in the kitchen. Her Mallorcan ‘coca’ – a cheese-less pizza-like dish – is a particular treat. Michelle Obama ate here during her visit to Mallorca last year.

Itziar Rodríguez – Zaranda, Es Capdellà

Itziar Rodriguez at Zaranda

Itziar Rodriguez serving finger food at a function at Zaranda

Itziar has been the manager of the Michelin-starred Zaranda since Fernando P Arellano first opened in Madrid in 2005. The restaurant moved to Mallorca and, today, it’s located within the 5-star Castell Son Claret hotel in the southwest of the island. It’s the only restaurant in the Balearics with two Michelin stars.

Maria Salinas – Maria Salinas Restaurant, Mancor del Vall

Maria Salinas at her eponymous restaurant in Mancor del Vall

See that smile!

Maria’s smile alone would be enough to light up her cosy little townhouse restaurant in the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains. Maria is often referred to as la madame de la cuisine. At the end of last month the Balearic Association of Gastronomy Journalists and Writers presented her with the award for Revelation Restaurant 2017 – shared with the restaurant Vandal in Santa Catalina, Palma. This month, Makro has named her their Ambassador Chef.

Marga Coll – Miceli, Selva & Arrels by Marga Coll, Illetes

Marga Coll, chef at Miceli and Arrels by Marga Coll

Marga Coll pictured at a Peccata Minuta tapas event

Marga shops at the market each day to decide what she will cook in her village restaurant Miceli in the village of Selva, just a couple of kilometres from Inca. The restaurant is the family home and her husband runs front of house. Arrels by Marga Coll offers her delicious cuisine in a 5-star hotel setting on the southwest coast. Her breakfast/brunch at Arrels has been highly recommended and is on our list to try this season.

Let’s not forget…

I must also mention chef Cati Pieras at DaiCa in Llubí; Justine Murphy – the English chef at the helm of six-division gastronomy business mymuybuenoin Palma;  Ruth Gindi, the Irish chef at the organic restaurant Santosha she runs with her husband in Palma; Marta Rosselló chef/patron at Sal de Cocó in Colònia de Sant Jordi; Claire Hutchings – 2011 MasterChef  The Professionals’ finalist in the UK and former sous chef at Zaranda; German chef Caroline Fabian from Private Cooking, and Swedish chef Svenja Galle – whose Bellaverde Restaurantin Port de Pollença was recently named Best Vegan Restaurant 2018 – Majorca. And, although she works in Mallorcan waters, rather than on land, Sandra van Oorschot – the cook in yacht charter business Captain Cook. All these women work with passion and skill.

And let’s not forget the many other women who play a less-prominent role, in front of or behind the scenes, in looking after their guests in the gastronomy and hospitality sector. Raise a glass of Mallorcan wine, if you will, to the unsung heroines of this industry in Mallorca on this International Women’s Day.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review of restaurant Sa Fabrica in Inca, Mallorca

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Chefs / Eat / Restaurants
Fabrica Ramis night shot

Exterior of Fabrica Ramis by night

A former textile and leather factory in Inca has become a must-visit place in the Mallorcan town renowned for the manufacture and sale of leather goods. When university professor Juan Ramis inherited his family’s former factory and shop, he renovated the building – which dates from the 1920s. He re-opened Fàbrica Ramis to the public in November 2015 as a centre for social, cultural and educational activities.

When I interviewed Juan for an abcMallorca article (Winter 2016/2017), he had still not found the right business to occupy the area designated as an eatery. That changed when the young German chef Marcel Ress moved in and opened Sa Fàbrica. Marcel used to work with Marc Fosh – first at Bacchus and then at Simply Fosh (now Marc Fosh) in Palma and was the winner of the third series of Spanish TV culinary competition Top Chef  in 2015.

The place

Interior shot of Sa Fabrica

Industrial-chic decor

Sa Fàbrica has a funky industrial-chic vibe to it. The space is large with high ceilings, exposed pipework and other ‘workings’, with black-and-white wall tiles around the open-kitchen area. The bar and a large seating area for drinks pre- or post-meals occupy one end of the ground-floor restaurant. Rather than cram in more tables in the dining area, Marcel Ress has left plenty of space so that customers can comfortably enjoy their conversation without being overheard by diners at the next table.

In warmer weather, some outdoor seating is available in the long garden area that is at the heart of the property (where Marcel grows some of the produce and herbs used in his kitchen).

Sa Fabrica culinary team

Kitchen team on parade (Marcel Ress is second from left)

The food at Sa Fàbrica

We’ve eaten at Sa Fàbrica several times for lunch and dinner and found it consistently good in terms of the food, service, and value for money. Our latest visit was last Saturday night and prompted this review.

For dinner, there is now a choice of two tasting menus: Sa Fàbrica at 55€ for eight plates plus appetizer and pre-dessert (pre-postre) and the  five-plate (plus appetizer and pre-dessert) Chef’s Choice at 35€. There’s no à la carte menu here and the tasting menu dishes arrive as a surprise. If there’s an ingredient you particularly don’t like or can’t eat, it’s worth mentioning it before dinner begins.

Our friendly server brought us a choice of two types of bread – seeded and rye. This came with butter flavoured with orange and brine, and the combination of the bread and butter was moreish.

Dishes from our five-plate Chef’s Choice menu are pictured below (please note, that the lighting is not ideal for spontaneous  photography). We began with the first appetizer of home-made paté – delicious and a promising start to our dinner. We enjoyed every course, although I am not fond of eggs and wished I had mentioned this at the start of the meal, because the chard soup in which an egg sat was itself delicious.

Although the appetizers and soup courses were not large (they would have been too filling), the fish and meat dishes were a satisfying size – and the beef dish was particularly tasty and tender. Flavours and textures were good in all the dishes but the soups could have been served a little hotter for our liking.

I had a glass of cava on arrival (The Boss had an alcohol-free beer) and we each had a glass of wine with our dinner, and shared a half-litre bottle of San Pellegrino. We would have opted for the optional wine pairing (20€) if we had travelled to Inca by train, rather than car.

Sa Fàbrica also offers a weekly changing lunch menu, with a choice of three or five plates (16,50€ or 27,50€).  The week’s menu is usually published on their Facebook page and website. The restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Good to know

Sa Fàbrica is only about five minutes’ walk from Inca’s railway station.

Find out more about activities at Fabrica Ramis here.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Balearic gastronomy writers’ awards for 2017

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Chefs / Drink / Eat / Restaurants / Wine
Before the awards ceremony

L-R Bernabe Caravotta and Sebastian Perez from Vandal, Maria Salinas, Alvaro Salazar, and well-known chef/culinary consultant Koldo Royo

The Balearic Association of Gastronomy Journalists and Writers (Associació de Periodistes i Escriptors Gastronòmics) yesterday presented its annual awards for 2017. Here are the winners that may be of interest to readers of this blog.

Chef of the Year 2017 – Álvaro Salazar

Alvaro Salazar, chef at Argos

Award-winning chef Alvaro Salazar

Álvaro was born in Linares in 1985 and studied in Cordoba, before gaining experience working in starred restaurants in places including Paris, Kuwait, and Stockholm. He came to Mallorca in 2011 and worked for Andreu Genestra. In 2014 he moved to the new restaurant Argos within the newly opened La Goleta del Mar hotel in Port de Pollença; that same year, he was named by the San Pellegrino guide as one of the 10 best young chefs in Spain and Portugal. Michelin awarded one star to Argos for 2017 and 2018.

Argos re-opens for dinner after its winter break on Friday, March 2nd.

Revelation Restaurants – jointly awarded to Restaurant Maria Salinas and Vandal

Maria Salinas and Miquel Gelabert

Maria Salinas with her friend Miquel Gelabert from Can March, Manacor

Taking its name from the chef/patron Maria Salinas, this restaurant in Mancor del Vall is located in a typical Mallorcan townhouse and first opened in August 2016. We had a cosy lunch here with friends, enjoying the homely atmosphere and great-value cuisine.  Palma-born Maria is a warm-hearted woman whose lovingly made cuisine is based on produce she sources locally, thus supporting producers in the area. She has become known as la madame de la cuisine. 

Vandal opened in Palma’s Santa Catalina in the middle of last year and is the project of Bernabé Caravotta and Sebastián Pérez – who met whilst working for the Forn de Sant Joan restaurant group. It’s open for dinner only and offers cuisine from around the world. I haven’t yet eaten here, but it’s on the list…

Sommelier/Maître d’ of the Year 2017 – Sebastián Longo

Sommelier Sebastian Longo from Zaranda

Sebastian Longo

Sebastián Longo is from Argentina, where he studied at the country’s college of sommeliers. His skills were further honed in Bolivia, Brazil, the USA, and Italy, before he came to Mallorca and the hotel Castell Son Claret in Es Capdellà. There he works closely with chef Fernando Pérez Arellano of 2-Michelin-starred restaurant Zaranda and is in control of the cellar’s more than 600 wine references.

Bakery/Patisserie of the Year – Can Pomar

Can Pomar wins award

Francesc Pomar and his wife at the award ceremony

Can Pomar is run by the fifth generation of the business’s founding family. Francesc Pomar started his bakery in Campos in 1902 and today the Can Pomar sign hangs over two bakeries in Campos and two in Palma.  In recent years many Mallorcan bakeries have closed their doors, in the face of competition from supermarket bakeries. Authentic traditional bakeries – where the dough is made on site – deserve to be valued. And Can Pomar clearly is.

Best Bar/Gastrobar – Rambar

Best bar/gastrobar 2017

We won!

The most recent addition to Ramon Andreu’s Tast Group of culinary businesses, Rambar in Palma’s Ramblas opened in 2017 and has gained a reputation for its high-quality meat dishes, cooked on a Molteni grill that was tailor-made for this business. A place for tapas, other dishes, vermouths, and cocktails – and very popular with locals.

Best local cuisine restaurant – Can Amer

Tomeu Torrens and Lydia Corral

Ultima Hora’s Lydia Corral presented Tomeu Torrens with his certificate

Over the years since we’ve lived here, we’ve eaten many times at this atmospheric family-owned-and-run Inca cellar restaurant, where chef Tomeu Torrens has been at the stoves since 2004. Celler Can Amer should be on the must-visit list of anyone coming to Mallorca; find it opposite Inca’s indoor marketplace.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Splash out on a Valparaiso spa day in Mallorca

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Hotels / Sleep / Spas

 

Water feature at the front of Valparaiso Palace & Spa in Palma, Mallorca

Views down to Palma Bay

Want to escape the weather for a while in Mallorca? Whether it’s a rare chilly wet day, or you’d like to escape the heat of the summer sunshine, a hotel spa could be the perfect refuge. Many of Mallorca’s 4- and 5-star hotels have a spa where visitors can pay a set fee to use the facilities for a few hours. It’s an opportunity to boost your sense of wellness with some serious relaxation and perhaps a few pampering spa treatments (although the latter are not usually obligatory).

My friend Sandra and I are fond of a spa day and our most recent was at the GPRO Valparaiso Palace & Spa in Palma. Although I’ve lived on the island for almost 14 years, this was my first visit to this 5-star hotel, which was acquired by the Chinese GPRO hotel group in autumn 2016.

The urban resort hotel was inaugurated in 1976 in a hilltop location on the outskirts of Palma. From the front, the building exterior looks rather dated in design, but the new owners are investing in the property and have already made some considerable improvements. To be honest, I expected to see more Chinese influences – lots of red and gold, for example – in the interior design but the Oriental ownership isn’t that obvious. There isn’t even an upmarket Chinese restaurant!

The Thermal Circuit experience

A weekday thermal circuit day (from 10:00-15:00h) at Valparaiso Palace’s spa costs 35€, entitling you to use all the wet facilities. The use of a robe, towels, slippers, and locker, and a bottle of water (unfortunately a plastic bottle) are included in this price. Spa facilities include a large indoor pool with various jets of water; you can also swim through to the outdoors from here. Despite the unappealing cold wet February weather, we did just that and the water outside felt bathwater-warm. Unlike the water falling from the sky…

Facilities

Other thermal circuit facilities at the Valparaiso spa include Jacuzzi, Finnish sauna, salt-inhalation sauna (beneficial for anyone with chest problems) with tiled ‘armchair’-style seating and a light show (!), herbal sauna, Hammam, ice fountain, Kneipp passage (invigorating alternate jets of hot and cold water target your legs as you walk through). We didn’t get around to using everything – a good reason to return some time – but did each have a half-hour facial treatment whilst there.

The huge spa is at basement level and offers plenty of areas for relaxation. I was surprised by the size and scope of the spa’s facilities. A good range of wellness and beauty/hairdressing treatments is offered and details are on the website.

The several treatment rooms include one for Ayurvedic treatments, and another especially for couples. Six different packages are available for couples alone – including the Honeymoon package (two hours for 360€), which includes a full-body massage with white chocolate! The mind boggles…

Lunch

We had a quick lunch in the Valparaiso Palace hotel’s Mar Blau Mediterranean restaurant – a large light and attractive space overlooking the hotel’s main outdoor pool. Still feeling virtuous after a morning of splashing around, pampering, and relaxing, we chose healthy dishes from the lunch menu – which offers soups, salads, sandwiches (including pa amb oli – bread and oil), pizzas, pastas, and tortillas. Oh, and puds. We thought the lunch food was good value for a 5-star hotel restaurant.

Our tips:

  • Ask on arrival if there are any special spa package deals available, as they didn’t offer us any as a matter of course. Sandra asked and one package combined the use of the thermal circuit with a blissful facial treatment (followed by our choice of tea and some Mallorcan almonds to nibble in the relaxation area).
  • If you decide to have a treatment, it’s best to do it as late as possible, after you have finished using the other facilities.
  • Mornings are the quietest time. When we were there, only a few other people were using the facilities. Expect the spa to become busier later in the afternoon and evenings as the spa has a membership deal for locals, who mainly come after work and, of course, hotel guests have use of the place too.

The Valparaiso Palace Hotel & Spa’s thermal circuit is also offered in the evenings and at weekends, for a higher price; expect it to be busier then.

Prices are correct at time of writing.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review of Summum Prime Boutique Hotel, Palma

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Hotels / Sleep
Summum Prime Boutique Hotel, Palma

Exterior shot of entrance to hotel, showing a reflection of the church portal opposite.

The choice of boutique hotels in Mallorca’s capital, Palma, continues to grow. Because I have a huge interest in hotels – having worked for several years in the past in hotel PR – I love to check out new places to stay and, when funds permit, to experience them as a guest.

St Valentine’s was the perfect excuse for a night away in one of the several new boutique properties that have recently opened in Palma:  the 5-star Súmmum Prime Boutique Hotel. Since the time we booked it, two more boutique hotels have opened in Palma and at least two more will be opening in the coming months.

Location

Carrer Concepció starts as a lane leading from the shopping street Jaime III. It’s a quiet lane that is now home to several good restaurants (Fera Restaurant & Bar, Aromata, Emilio Innobar), the new Zonasander champagne bar/interiors/vintage store, and several art galleries.  Súmmum Prime Boutique Hotel is at number 26, right opposite the church.

Champagne sign in Palma

Zonasander: Vintage studio and champagne bar combined – opened in January this year and run by the Sander family from Sweden

The property

No. 26 has had an interesting past, dating back to medieval times. The original property was built in the 15th century and was a notable palace in Palma, known as Can Berga-Ladaria. In 1874 the original Gothic building was replaced by a new property, which became the Vidal family’s home in the 20th-century and renamed Can Vidal.

The building was in a poor state of repair when it underwent the considerable renovation and transformation that have resulted in today’s beautiful 5-star boutique hotel.  Many original architectural features have been restored and serve as a reminder of this Palma property’s history. If you’re in the hotel’s wooden-panelled Club room (with original fireplace and restored panelling), be sure to watch the video (on a loop) showing what the property looked like before it was lovingly restored.

The hotel

Súmmum Prime Boutique Hotel has the following facilities:

  • Eighteen rooms (including suites).
  • Wellness spa (with sauna, spa bath, massage bed, and exercise equipment), which can be booked in advance for exclusive use.
  • Equus French restaurant – which offers more than a few decorative hints about the space’s former use as the property’s stables.
  • 1874 Lounge bar and adjoining rear terrace for drinks.
  • Rooftop terrace and plunge pool.

Our room

We stayed in the Parietti Suite, which faces the Concepció church.  This spacious elegantly proportioned suite was once the principal salon of the mansion and has a restored mural on the ceiling – the creation of the 19th-century Mallorcan artist Francesc Parietti. It is thought to represent the goddess Minerva surrounded by cherubs; it’s a beautiful sight when you wake up beneath it, after a very comfortable night’s sleep in the king-sized bed (high-quality bedlinen, a choice of pillows, and a feather mattress-topper made sleep super comfy).

Our large bathroom was behind the sleeping area and offered an excellent walk-in shower, separate loo and bidet, bathtub, and two washbasins.  Toiletries are by Chopard. We liked the provision of small individual bottles of mouthwash too, as well as items such as robes, slippers, hairdryer, etc that are expected in 5-star hotels. We noted a set of bathroom scales, which we didn’t use: too many of the delicious breakfast croissants (raspberry or chocolate, and made by a bakery in the village of Muro) and a weigh-in could come as a bit of a shock!

All rooms have Nespresso coffee machine, safe, good free Wi-Fi, feather mattress toppers, Bluetooth speaker, air conditioning and heating, satellite TV.

Breakfast

The French restaurant Equus (open for lunch and dinner) is also the location for breakfast. It’s a very attractive space, with plenty of decorative hints to remind you that this was once where the horses would have been stabled.

Breakfast is a good varied buffet, with the option of freshly cooked eggs and other breakfast dishes prepared to order. We opted for the cold items but guests on a nearby table had eggs Benedict, which looked appealing.

I was pleased to see the option of freshly prepared healthy juices here; my dark green juice – served in a small bottle – was delicious and, combined with some fruit and a few other items (including a raspberry croissant), set me up for the morning.

Special touches

Other things we liked:

  • The ‘welcome’ note from the general manager awaiting us in our room was truly personal and not just the standard ‘have a nice stay with us’-type of message. It made a good impression on us. We found the staff to be helpful and friendly.
  • The hotel was lovely and warm – February can be chilly in Mallorca!
  • A Handy (brand) smartphone is available in each room for guests to use free of charge during their stay. It was the first time I had seen this facility offered in a Palma hotel.

When we first came to look for a property to buy on Mallorca (back in 2001), we stayed at a handsome rural hotel called Casa del Virrey. The Morgana Group – which owns Súmmum Prime Boutique Hotel – has recently acquired this property, now re-branded Virrey Prime Boutique Hotel. Yet another boutique hotel to check out on Mallorca!

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review of lunch at Ca’n March, Manacor

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Eat / Restaurants

Ca’n March is without doubt Manacor’s best-known restaurant – but you’re unlikely to stroll past it by chance while wandering around town. Ca’n March is located in a side street a little way from the town centre itself. The surrounding area may not have tourist appeal, but this popular restaurant is worth the detour from Manacor’s main shopping area. And, if you arrive by train, it’s within easy walking distance of the station.

Ca’n March first opened as the family-run Fonda Ca’n March in 1925 and is still in the same family. Brothers Miquel Gelabert (a different Miquel Gelabert from the one of wine-making acclaim) and Tolo Gelabert relaunched Ca’n March as a new project in the year 2000.

Chef Miquel and his brigade create New Mallorcan cuisine (modern interpretations of traditional recipes, with international culinary touches), using prime-quality local ingredients. Tolo oversees front of house with a warm welcome for all arrivals.

Having eaten here a few times, I can confidently recommend Ca’n March, which also offers a good-value lunchtime menu – or menú del día. This three-course lunch is offered Tuesday to Friday for just 13,50€ (including IVA, the Spanish VAT).

The interior

Ca’n March has an attractive interior, with modern wooden floors, white wooden furniture, white table linen, and a few interesting decorative touches (including an interesting display of framed old photographs and a handsome antique longcase clock). The glasses and cutlery gleam on the tables and, despite its size, the room feels welcoming and homely.

In the centre of the restaurant you’ll find a display of local gastronomic products (including some of Ca’n March’s own) and handicrafts for sale. It’s a good place to find an authentic Mallorcan foodie gift or souvenir to take home.

We arrived early for lunch by Spanish standards – having made a spur-of-the-moment decision to  eat out on our way home from an appointment. Tables filled quite rapidly with locals and I’d recommend making a table reservation if you want to come for lunch.

On the menu

The Ca’n March menu card includes à la carte dishes and other set-menu options, but it’s quite easy to miss the fact that there’s a menú del día offered, so do ask. Our server explained what was on the day’s lunch menu, reading from her notebook, as this menu doesn’t come in written-down form.

We both chose the chicken salad starter – a generous portion, which included dried apricots, pieces of chicken, walnuts, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and more. For our main course we had gallineta – a red-skinned fish that I didn’t know – served in a spinach sauce with potato. The piece of white fish was perfectly cooked and the whole dish was tasty and satisfying.

For dessert I had a light cake-like coca made with cottage cheese, with yogurt and baked-apple purée, whilst The Boss had the classic crema catalana.

And more…

In addition to the menú del día and à la carte dishes, Ca’n March offers some special menus:

  • CM menu – available Friday night to Sunday lunchtime – for 24€;
  • Gourmet set menu – 4 courses for 24€; 7 courses for 35€;
  • One Thursday each month from October to June, they offer a gourmet dinner with wine pairings. We attended one last year and thoroughly enjoyed the evening, where diners shared one long table and enjoyed wines from the bodega Can Axartell in Pollença.

I really enjoy Miquel Gelabert’s cuisine, which is a modern taste of Mallorca. I’m looking forward to tasting it again when he’s one of the chefs offering tapas at the next Chefs(in) event known as Peccata Minuta. We have already bought our tickets for this foodie evening, taking place on February 28th. Read about the last Peccata Minuta here and find out more about the one later this month here.

Prices correct at time of writing.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review of Arume Restaurant, Palma

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Chefs / Eat / Restaurants
Chef Tomeu Marti at work

Tomeu Marti – chef/patron at Arume in Palma

 

Like many other  Mallorca-based foodies I know, I love discovering and trying new eateries in Palma; of course, it’s not always practical (or affordable) to do so – especially as new restaurants have been opening frequently in Mallorca’s capital in recent years. But I also think it’s important to remember those restaurants that have been satisfying their diners for years – and keeping pace with evolving trends in gastronomy.

One such place is Arume Restaurant, which offers Asian/Med fusion cuisine. Chef Tomeu Martí is at the helm of this business, as well as the Arume Sushi Bar & Dim Sum (in Santa Catalina market) and Catering Arume. (If you want to have an event catered, you’re spoilt for choice in Mallorca).

Tomeu Martí

Tomeu won the title of Spain’s best young chef at the age of 21 and five years later (in 2006) opened Arume. I like him – and his food – enormously and whenever we’ve seen him working at the gourmet tapas events known as Peccata Minuta organized by Chefs(in) – he’s had a smile on his face.

Tomeu Marti

Tomeu cooking on site at Peccata Minuta, summer 2017

In August, Tomeu closed Arume for a renovation. When it re-opened in late October, the new-look Arume had a large open kitchen and, right in front of it, counter seating so you can watch Tomeu and his brigade in action.

Japanese teapots and cups

Oriental tableware on display

Arume restaurant interior detail

Art at Arume

Lunch for 18€

I couldn’t wait to eat at the new Arume, but – due to festive events, other commitments, and a Twixmas bout of the lurgy that lingered – it wasn’t until this week that we went for lunch. The lunch menu is still a bargain: for 18 euros you have three courses, after a complimentary appetiser. (The latter was so delicious I could have eaten a plateful).

We didn’t sit at the counter (next time), but took a table for two at the rear of the restaurant. We had arrived promptly at 13:30h, as the place opened, and it wasn’t long before almost all the tables were full and spaces at the counter were filling. There’s also a cosy upper floor with a few more tables, which were soon mostly occupied.

Our waiter explained that there was no written lunch menu (menú del día) as it changes daily: he recited the menu’s dishes on offer and we made our choices. Our bill came to 41€ for two lunch menus, a bottle of water, and a bottle of beer, which we felt was great value for what we’d had. The food was delicious and each course had a good punch of flavour.

Other menus

Arume also offers an à la carte at lunchtime and for dinner, which includes starters, main courses, sushi and sashimi. At night there is also a choice of two tasting menus: Arume (seven ‘experiences’) and Golden (10 ‘experiences’). Wines are fairly priced and include a good choice from Mallorca.

Detail I like: I noticed a diner at an adjacent table using rather fancy chopsticks instead of the disposable wooden ones provided. Apparently, if you’re a regular at Arume, you can keep your own chopsticks there ready for your use. How cool is that?

Location: Arume is at the Avenidas’ end of C/ Sant Miquel and is just a couple of minutes’ walk from Palma’s train, bus, and metro hub (Estación Intermodal) in Plaza de Espanya – which also has a large public underground car park.

Arume Restaurant is open for lunch from 13:30-15:30h and for dinner from 20:30 to 23:00h.

©Jan Edwards 2018