Tess de Mar: a great reason to visit Campos in Mallorca

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Eat / Sleep

Campos. This market town is probably not on most Mallorca visitors’ top-ten list of must-see places, but I’d like to suggest three reasons why Campos – in the south of the island – is worth visiting. And these reasons share the same address. The restaurants Tess de Mar (Mediterranean cuisine) and the Japanese omekase restaurant Kairiku are both within the super-stylish boutique 5-star Sa Creu Nova Art Hotel & Spa, right in the heart of Campos.

Daytime view out to the terrace PHOTO COURTESY OF SA CREU NOVA ART HOTEL & SPA

The hotel side of the operation closes for a winter break on Friday, November 2nd, but its two restaurants have a separate street entrance and will remain open to the public until the end of the year. Kairiku closes on December 29th and Tess de Mar is open until January 1st, 2019. Great news if you love good food.

The street in which the hotel and its two restaurants are located is lined on both sides with trees and vernacular terraced housing. Some of the houses are old and shabby and a few appear to have been abandoned – awaiting someone (probably a foreigner) to buy and restore them. It would be difficult though to do a more impressive renovation than the one that resulted in Sa Creu Nova Art Hotel & Spa. Come after dark and the building appears like a mirage – its impressive exterior tastefully illuminated. It looks just as stunning in daylight.

Tess de Mar

Argentinian chef Juan Ocampo has been at the helm of the Tess de Mar kitchen brigade since the hotel opened; he previously worked in glitzy Dubai. The chef has a zero-kilometre philosophy regarding fresh produce and works with local farmer Don Antonio. Juan’s signature cuisine is creative, flavourful, and delicious; I highly recommend it.

On Thursday evening we went to a special one-off dinner event at Tess de Mar, entitled La Nit de les Garnatxes – Night of the Grenaches (or Garnachas). The evening comprised a five-course dinner paired with wines from Celler de Capçanes from Tarragona for a cost of 45€ per person (including the wines!). What fascinated us was that each of the wines we had with dinner was made from 100 per cent grenache grapes, using exactly the same method and in the same bodega. But each well-paired wine was different.

“It’s all down to the terrain,” Anna Casabona explained to us, when we asked her the reason for this. Anna is the sommelier from the winery Celler de Capçanes and was on hand at Tess de Mar to explain the wines. Apparently, the vineyards cover areas of differing terrain: limestone, sand, slate, and clay. What a difference a terrain makes.

Each of the wines we had was named for the terrain in which the grapes grew: Calissa (limestone), Panal (sand), Licorella (slate), Argila (clay). The bottles for these four wines are wrapped in paper, illustrated in the style of a comic. We also had a dessert wine – made from over-ripe grenache grapes; I rarely drink dessert wines, but this one was delicious and worked exceptionally well with Juan’s dessert.

Our dinner began with delicious warm home-made bread and whipped butter and a tasty appetizer of coca with anchovy. A promising start. It ended with a selection of petits fours and good coffee. The Boss and I marvelled at the amount of flavour that each course delivered – the mark of an accomplished chef.

Service in Tess de Mar was professional and friendly, led by the charming Portuguese maître d’ Filipe Silva (who speaks very good English, if you don’t speak Spanish). The whole La Nit de les Garnatxes experience was a real pleasure and we talked about it for most of the 40-minute drive home. Yes, it’s worth the drive…

This Friday – November 2nd – Tess de Mar has another special dining event with a new ‘Mallorcan Route’ menu. Juan and his brigade will be accompanied in the kitchen by guest chef Andrés Benítez – who used to work at Tomeu Caldentey’s Michelin-starred restaurant Bou (now closed). This set-menu dinner will cost 35€ (excluding drinks) – which sounds excellent value. Book your place by emailing info@tessdemar.com or phone (+34) 871 51 53 45.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Where to have a pop-up dinner in Palma this autumn

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Eat

The island of Mallorca has no shortage of excellent restaurants but, as I’ve written before, I have a particular liking for pop-up dining. It’s a combination of eating somewhere that’s not a dedicated restaurant, a dinner-party-like ambience, and meeting others who share an interest in good food and wine.

This week The Boss and I were fortunate enough to be guests at the first Pop-up Dinner at the mymuybueno Cookery School in the heart of Palma. This is just one of the six mymuybueno business divisions owned by Englishwoman and former superyacht chef Justine Murphy – probably the most dynamic businesswoman I have met in Mallorca. Justine and her husband Paul hosted this first dinner and joined us at the table.

From Auckland to Palma

Justine persuaded New Zealand-based chef and restaurateur Phil Clark (Phil’s Kitchen in Auckland) to come to Mallorca, during his holiday in France (his wife is French), to lead two one-day Plating-and-Presentation Courses at the mymuybueno Cookery School. Phil also agreed to create the first of what will be a series of Pop-up Dinners by a guest chef at the cookery school this autumn.

These Pop-Up Dinners are for only eight diners, who sit at a long table at one end of the cookery school. Between courses, diners are invited to perch on a stool in front of the kitchen area to watch the chef(s) assemble each dinner dish.

We began our evening with a glass of cava in hand, meeting our fellow diners, then sat on stools to watch Phil at work on our starters and ask him questions. Once each dish was almost ready, we took our seats at the dining table – which had been exquisitely decorated with some of the pieces from the mymuybueno Luxuryware division. We all lusted after the silver olive-sprig napkin rings from the range.

Divine dining

Phil Clark created a three-course dinner for us and each course was accompanied by a different Ribas wine. I had to confess that I don’t like poached eggs, so my starter came without the egg, but with extra truffle shavings! The main course was divine, with perfectly cooked smoked duck. The dish also included beetroot microgreens from Els Ullastres Mallorca (a family-run business growing organic microgreens and supplying some of Mallorca’s best restaurants – including the two-Michelin-starred Zaranda).

The deconstructed lemon meringue pie dessert was the perfect foil for the duck’s richness. It was matched with Ribas dessert wine; a good cup of coffee (served with macarons) ended our dinner.

Two of the other diners on Tuesday evening were superyacht chefs; one guest had previously worked on superyachts (and now works for Justine), and another was a superyacht captain. The conversation flowed as well as the delicious Ribas wines – giving The Boss and me a fascinating insight into the world of working on superyachts.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable Pop-up at mymuybueno Cookery School and more of these events are to come this autumn (see more below).

Menu

Slow-cooked poached egg, caramelised onion, parmesan velouté, truffle

Smoked duck breast, beetroot, plum, and goat’s cheese

Lemon meringue

Wines by Bodega Ribas

 

Claire Hutchings at mymuybueno Cookery School

Former UK TV MasterChef: The Professionals’ finalist, Claire Hutchings, is a popular search on this blog, as she has been living and working in Mallorca for the past six years. Claire is leading a one-day Plating-and-Presentation Course on Saturday, October 27th (10:00-17:00h) at mymuybueno Cookery School. As I write, there is just one place remaining; if you’re interested, make haste and find more details here.

Claire is also the guest chef for nine Pop-Up Dinners at mymuybueno Cookery School this autumn: November 8th, 9th, 10th, 22nd, 23rd, 24th and December 13th, 14th, 15th. Find more details on the website.

Claire was my guest on ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio recently, as were Kathy and Christos Michaels from Els Ullastres Mallorca. You can hear the podcast of these interviews here.

©Jan Edwards 2018

How to make your own gin in Palma de Mallorca

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Drink

Remember that line from the movie Casablanca? The one when Rick Blaine (Humph) says, “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”?

Well, I wouldn’t describe the new Mallorca Gin Distillery in Palma as a ‘gin joint’ – but it is all about the spirit that has inspired countless quotes from people in all walks of life…from movie characters to Sir Winston Churchill. And, funnily enough, we walked into the place and found Nofre and Cati there too, who own the excellent Ca’n Nofre decorating store in Manacor. If they spoke English, we’d have quoted Rick, for sure.

Waiting to make gin

(Left) Cati and (right) Nofre, with their daughter and one of their staff members from Ca’n Nofre – in our view, the best decorating store in Mallorca

Gins from Mallorca

The Boss and I don’t drink a lot of gin (how restrained of us) but, when we do have the occasional G&T, it’s usually based on one of Mallorca’s excellent artisan gins. Among those we’ve tried are: Gin Eva (their black-olive gin is a delicious revelation and my current favourite); Onze (distilled at the winery Can Vidalet); Cabraboc; Suau (which also makes brandy), and Gran Hotel Son Net’s strawberry gin.

Now we have a new addition to our drinks cupboard: a gin that we made ourselves. We haven’t set up a still in the garage at home (we don’t have one – either still or garage). But we did visit Palma’s new British-owned Mallorca Gin Distillery in the popular district of Santa Catalina – and I’d highly recommend it to any gin fan.

The Gin Distillery Experience

We went for the three-hour Gin Distillery Experience, which began with a well-mixed Tanqueray G&T (natch) and introduction to the spirit by our Liverpudlian guide, ‘Cocktail Kate’ Meehan. She’s a bubbly character with a superb sense of humour and, being a member of the UK’s Gin Guild, knows pretty much everything you could wish to know about her (and our) favourite spirit. This part of the experience takes place in the bar area at the front of the Mallorca Gin Distillery premises.

Kate then led us to a corner housing a traditional copper still (and boxes of new bottles waiting to be filled), where she explained the process of distilling. After one of three gin cocktails served during the three hours, it was time for some real hands-on fun. We climbed a few steps to a lab-like area at the back of the premises, where bench-style tables were set up with a number of small copper stills. I had a flashback to my fear of Bunsen burners in my school science lab but Steve and Ross, owners of the Mallorca Gin Distillery, took care of lighting the burners under the stills.

Blend, blend, blend

Working two people to each still, we set about creating our own gin. The shelves on one wall of this area were loaded with containers of flavouring ingredients from which to choose. A printed sheet provided some helpful guidance about flavours and the quantities needed of any chosen ingredient (surprisingly small).  But it was down to us – with the benefit of Kate’s chat about the flavours (and the gin essentials) – to create our own blend.

Whilst our group’s creations were distilling, it was back to the bar for a gin-based cocktail and some pintxos to soak up some of the alcohol. During the event we had three gin-based cocktails:

  • Spanish 75: Beefeater, lemon, sugar, cava, lemon oils
  • Stone-Fruit Slush: Beefeater, Aperol, Peach liquor, peach pureé, orange oils
  • Army & Navy: Beefeater, lemon, almond sugar, lemon oils

Name and seal

Once the gin was ready and poured into bottles, Kate gave us all card labels with string, on which to create a name for our own gin. The Boss and I had shared a still, so produced the same gin, but we gave our own bottles separate names. Mine was Jan’s Gin – not very creative (that’s what a few gin-based drinks does for me), but The Boss was inspired to name his IN.DI.GIN.(H)OUS. We each sealed our bottle tops by dipping them into hot wax, and it was then time for our final cocktail (Army & Navy), before we left, clutching our unique gin creations.

Gin made at Mallorca Gin Distillery

Here’s one I made earlier…

We left our two bottles of gin unopened until the end of August, when The Boss’s sons visited and we opened one to make G&Ts. Given that we were distilling virgins before we visited the Mallorca Gin Distillery in Palma, we were thrilled to find that our gin is simply delicious.

Verdict

We loved the Gin Distillery Experience and the satisfaction of creating our unique gin that we can offer to family and friends who come to visit. I certainly recommend this as something different to do in Mallorca. I would, however, suggest that you don’t drive after your gin-fuelled visit!

The cost is 120€ per individual or, for two people, 180€. It sounds a lot of money, but I think it’s great value for the experience.

Mallorca Gin Distillery also offers a Gin & Tonic Masterclass, at 50€ per person.

‘Cocktail Kate’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio

Hear the effervescent Kate talking to me on episode 14 of my Saturday morning show ‘Table Talk’ about the Mallorca Gin Distillery here

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review: Bala Roja gourmet restaurant, Palma

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Drink / Eat / Restaurants
Bala Roja gourmet restaurant

Elegant Bala Roja with its glass floor. Photo courtesy of Es Princep Hotel, Palma

Our evening at Bala Roja restaurant at Es Princep Hotel in Palma didn’t start too well. We arrived in time for a pre-prandial in the hotel’s smart Gremium cocktail bar (which has a separate entrance from the street, so you don’t have to walk through the hotel itself). It was then that I found that I’d forgotten to bring my essential reading glasses. How was I going to be able to read the menu and, more importantly, write notes about what we were eating? My handwriting is bad enough with reading glasses…

The Boss read the drinks menu to me and gamely offered to write my dictated notes over dinner. We both chose non-alcoholic cocktails. I believe that the test of a good barman or mixologist is their ability to create an alcohol-free cocktail that has great flavour and interest. I chose Red Love (again, I’d had it before): it was red and I loved it. A tick in the box for Gremium.

Open the cage door for the Red Love cocktail

Red Love cocktail arrives in a pretty bird cage!

What’s in a name?

Bala Roja restaurant takes its name from a time in Mallorca’s history when visitors arriving by sea didn’t come in mega cruise ships or luxurious yachts. Furnace-heated iron cannonballs were fired from the Baluard del Princep (the part of Palma’s old city wall in front of the hotel) towards invading wooden warships, to set them alight. Even if the flaming balls – balas rojas – were off target, they would have been quite the deterrent.

Es Baluard of Es Princep

View of the Baluard of Es Princep – old city wall

A sweet treat served prior to the main dessert

This ‘bala roja’ is the pre-postre or pre-dessert

A warm – rather than fiery – welcome awaits today from Bala Roja’s efficient restaurant manager David. I last saw him working at the excellent-value Sa Fábrica in Inca. I was even more pleased to see him when he pulled a metaphorical rabbit out of the hat: on hearing about my reading-glasses predicament, he disappeared and returned minutes later clutching two pairs of the type of reading specs sold at pharmacies – one of which was perfect for me. I could read the menu and write my own notes! The Boss looked relieved. I’m sure I wasn’t the first – and won’t be the last – to forget their specs.

The décor

Bala Roja’s connections to the past don’t stop at the restaurant’s name. Part of the floor is glass – revealing a discovery from Palma’s medieval period, made during Es Princep Hotel’s construction. This district of Palma’s old town was once the home of the local tanners’ guild and, under the toughened-glass areas of the restaurant floor, you see some of the old stone vats – used in the processing of leather hides. A talking point, for sure. If you prefer a solid stone floor beneath your feet (and table), then be sure to mention this if you book a table here.

Part of Bala Roja restaurant

A view of the restaurant from the preparation area, including Nando Esteva’s photos on the wall. Photo courtesy of Es Princep Hotel

Old tannery vats under the glass floor

History revealed under the glass floor of part of Bala Roja

My recommendation is that you steel yourself for the glass floor and turn left once you’ve entered the restaurant. If there’s a choice of tables, this is the more intimate end. Here, the richly hued wooden ceiling is lower, and stunning black-and-white food images – by award-winning photographic artist Nando Esteva – grace the white-painted walls. The best bit about a table at this end of Bala Roja though is being near the area where some of the appetizer preparation and plating is done. Once you’re seated, you’ll forget that the floor beneath you is glass and be too busy looking at each dish as it arrives, or watching a professional at work.

The cuisine

Living up to its name’s strapline, ‘Gourmet Artistry’, Bala Roja is a relative newcomer to Palma’s gastro scene, having opened only in May this year. We sat down at 20:30h and the restaurant quickly filled (apart from one table). My impression was that several of the diners were locals. New seasonal menus had just replaced the opening ones and we were fortunate to be trying the new dishes.

The chef leading the brigade is Felipe Moreno, but the culinary concept here is by the renowned Andreu Genestra. His eponymous restaurant in Capdepera has one Michelin star; he also has the bistro Senzill (in the same Capdepera premises) and, in Palma, Aromata restaurant.

Bala Roja offers two tasting menus: Menu Es Princep (56€) and the longer Menu Bala Roja at 74€. We opted for the smaller menu (but shall try the longer one on our next visit. Oh yes, reader, there will be future visits). I’ve included photos of just two of the dishes we had; if I included them all there’d be no surprises for you if you go!

Our dinner began with three small appetizers: gilda with pickled cauliflower and monkfish liver; mini cornet of foie ice cream on top of rhubarb, and a tiny-but-tasty king crab sandwich. This was followed by a cocktail (drink) concocted at the table: spinach, lemon, and grape juices, with a shiso leaf and two drops of curry-infused extra virgin olive oil. It tasted healthy and freshened the palate.

The next dish was another (larger) tasty appetizer of green-tomato gazpacho with Mallorcan burrata. Poached-pepper rice with red shrimp followed and we agreed that we would have enjoyed a large plateful of this, although some people may prefer shrimp cooked a few seconds longer.

Perfectly cooked succulent John Dory was next, which came with a delicious saffron hummus. Our final savoury course was black pork presa (shoulder-muscle meat) with raw-almond cream.

Our only tiny gripe was the bread: they served us a quarter of a llonguet (the traditional Mallorcan coffee-bean-shaped bread roll), with further quarters subsequently offered. The thick-crusts of these rolls made them quite difficult to eat and they definitely needed the olive oil from Caimari to help the process. They’re more usually served as bocadillos (filled rolls) in bars and cafes, and personally I prefer them in this way. Andreu Genestra was in the restaurant so I asked him why he’d chosen this type of bread. He said that he wanted to use a local bread and – in Palma – the llonguet is king. I remembered then that true locals are affectionately dubbed ‘llonguets‘.

Wines

As well as the type of wine list that The Boss likes to peruse – making appreciative noises as he reads – Bala Roja offers an optional wine pairing for each tasting menu (Es Princep, 30€; Menu Bala Roja 40€).

We took the option and were in the hands of sommelier Josep. He is charming (and very easy on the eye too!), but his wine knowledge and choices were what most impressed us. My memorable pairing was with the dessert: Mallorcan Bodega Ribas Sioneta rosé (Manto Negro and Moscatel) could have been made for the apricot cake, white chocolate, and almond. I thought it was a blissful note on which to end – but there were still petits fours to come!

The wine list includes ecological and biodynamic wines predominantly from Mallorca and the Spanish peninsula, but with some examples from France, Italy, Germany, and even one from Greece. Look out for the Genestral label: these delicious and well-priced wines are made for Andreu Genestra by Felanitx winemaker Luis Armero and Joan Arboix, the sommelier of the Michelin-starred Andreu Genestra restaurant.

Service

Es Princep Hotel has five stars, so professional service is expected – and was delivered. We noted servers wearing white gloves to delivery the cutlery for each course, which is seen in few restaurants in Mallorca. The whole experience – food, wines, setting, and service – added up to an evening out that we’ll remember. We can’t wait to take our Oxford foodie friends to this one…

OCTOBER 2018 UPDATE:

Bala Roja has also introduced a lunchtime executive menu. Opening hours are now:

13:00-15:30 Lunch

19:00-22:30h Dinner 

Bala Roja was my Restaurant of the Week from August 13th-18th on Mallorca Sunshine Radio 106.1FM. Restaurants do not pay to be featured; I choose the restaurants myself, based on good experiences of recent visits.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Lip-smacking food at Smack Mallorca

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Eat / Restaurants

When did we last eat in the same restaurant in Mallorca twice in one week? Never. The abundance of good restaurants on the island of Mallorca means that we are pushed (in terms of time and money) to try as many as we’d like to. But that was before we ate at Smack Mallorca in Palma. We enjoyed this French-owned restaurant so much recently that we returned just four days later! It’s also very good value for money – which is always an influencing factor.

The discovery of this restaurant in C/ Fabrica – the famous street of restaurants in Palma’s bohemian area of Santa Catalina – was no accident. In 2016 a couple from Paris contacted me through this blog and we met during their visit to Mallorca for a coffee and a chat about the island’s restaurant scene.

A dream comes true

Hélène Huret was a gastronomic journalist in France and Stéphan had previously worked in the restaurant Marc Meneau. Their dream was to move to Mallorca and open their own restaurant. They got in touch with me again after they had moved to the island and begun their search for suitable premises. In April 2018 they finally opened Smack Mallorca.

Hélène has created the recipes for the dishes on Smack Mallorca’s menu and their French chef Delphine (who has lived on the island for 15 years) is in the kitchen making them, whilst Hélène and Stéphan are front of house.

You can eat outside on the front terrace or indoors in the informal but stylish dining space. I think it will feel cosy in the winter, but for now we’re happy to eat and people-watch al fresco.

Eat, drink, Smack Mallorca

Smack Mallorca’s menu is short but seems to offer something for most tastes. Vegetables play the starring role in the Mediterranean cuisine here, with fish, meat, and cheese in supporting roles. If – like me on a virtuous day – you are trying to increase your intake of veg and cut down on fish and meat, several dishes will encourage you to do just that.

Roasted cauliflower with tahini and sauce vierge is one such dish, but check out the black tomato tart for something  different (and delicious). Stuffed courgette flowers and the watermelon, feta, and olives salad are on our must-try-next-time list. This is a good place to choose several dishes to share.

The wine list isn’t extensive but includes Mallorcan, Spanish, and a few French wines – with none (apart from the three Champagne choices) costing more than 29€ a bottle. Four wines are also offered by the glass. More than half of the wines are organic (bravo!).

Read the menu in Spanish, English, or French and, of course, you can speak any of these languages here. The Boss enjoyed practising his French with the charming owners.

Make the dishes at home

If you understand French, you may wish to buy a copy of Hélène’s recipe book – on sale in Smack Mallorca. Entitled Une Terrasse du Soleil et des Copains, the book is full of appealing photography and 45 summer recipes – including several for dishes on the menu at Smack Mallorca.

Recipe book cover

Time to get out the French dictionary. Cuisinons!

Hélène Huret was one of my guests on ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio in June and you can listen to the podcast of that show here (labelled ‘Table Talk’ 9). After eating (and paying the full bills) at Smack Mallorca twice, I chose this as my Restaurant of the Week for July 30th to August 4th.

By the way, if you’re wondering about the name, un smack is just one of the French words for a kiss!

©Jan Edwards 2018

New Can Mostatxins Frare boutique hotel in Alcudia

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Hotels / Sleep

 

Mallorca’s charming old walled town of Alcúdia has a new hotel: The Mostatxins Boutique Hotels Group has expanded with the opening of a new property, right next door to its original boutique hotel.

The first Can Mostatxins (above left), which opened in June 2015, has been renamed Can Mostatxins Quinze (the local word for 15, as part of the building dates from the 15th century) to differentiate it from its new sister property (above right).

Can Mostatxins Frare

Can Mostatxins Frare – a sensitively renovated 19th-century Spanish Modernist building – has 11 rooms (including one suite), plunge pool in the enclosed courtyard, Champagne bar, and restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.

We were invited to stay in one of the Can Mostatxins Frare rooms, at the top of the new hotel, prior to its opening to paying guests. The restaurant and bar were not finished at the time, but it was obvious that this will be a beautiful place to stay in an old town that has captivated us. We had a very comfortable and peaceful stay and appreciated that these two hotels are close to everything that’s of visitor interest in the town, but are tucked away in a quiet mainly residential street.

This year the Can Mostatxins Boutique Hotels are under the management of Valentina and her husband Luigi; their delightful daughter Aurora also works there. The whole team is super-friendly and helpful and staying here feels like being in someone’s home.

Mark Worthington on Mallorca Sunshine Radio

Mark Worthington is the British owner, developer, and hotelier behind this group and I had the opportunity to interview him for my weekly show ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio. He told me about the history of the two hotels; the differences between developing projects in the UK (his main home) and in Mallorca, the chefs at the new restaurant, and about the steps taken this year by the group to operate more sustainably. You can hear the three-part interview on the radio station website’s podcast section: Edition 14

©Jan Edwards 2018

Opera and gastronomy under the stars in Mallorca

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Eat / Hotels / Sleep
Castell Son Claret

Agapanthus – the flower of love – at Castell Son Claret

It was still daylight when we arrived at the 5-star Castell Son Claret, in the southwest of Mallorca, for the second in this year’s season of opera nights known as Castell Classics. This is the sixth year of these events, which are now a firm fixture in the Mallorcan cultural calendar.

We declined the offer of an electric-buggy ride from the car park up to the hotel entrance so that we could walk 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 are picked 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 gardens of the hotel, 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 and Pep Forteza and their brigades created a wonderful dinner once again. On the menu: a snappy wafer-thin ‘coca’ of confit tomatoes, Soller 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.

Unmissable in August

The final Castell Classics event of 2018 will be a fabulous climax to the season: the celebrated Egyptian opera star Fatma Said and Puerto Rican tenor Joel Prieto (who sang at the above Young Singers of the Salzburg Festival event) will perform. It will be a spectacular evening, including the garden reception and al fresco gala dinner on the terrace. The date for this Castell Classics concert is Saturday, August 11th, starting at 7.30pm.

See here for more information and to book your place(s) for the final Castell Classics event of 2018.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Eight chefs, seven Michelin stars, one amazing dinner

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Drink / Eat
Garden St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort

View from the St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort towards the Med

Eight chefs, with seven Michelin stars between them, are flying to Mallorca from countries as far away as Japan and Russia, to create one amazing gastronomic experience. Now a firm fixture on the foodie’s calendar, the 8th Culinary Safari takes place at the 5-star St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort on Friday, July 20th, 2018.

Chefs are packing their whites and flying in from Tokyo, Moscow, Vienna, Paris, Barcelona, and Bergisch Gladbach (near Cologne), to join Markus Wonisch (executive chef at St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort) and Miguel Navarro (chef of the latter hotel’s one-Michelin-star Es Fum restaurant) for the 8th Culinary Safari.

Es Fum team

Miguel Navarro (left) and the Es Fum team

Chefs visiting Mallorca

Joachim Wissler of the 3-star Restaurant Vendôme, Schloss Bensberg, Germany

Paolo Casagrande – Restaurante Lasarte (3 Michelin stars), Barcelona

Stéphanie Le Quellec – Hotel Prince de Galles, Paris

Ken Takahashi – The Prince Gallery Hotel, Tokyo

Stanislav Polesskiy – St Regis Moscow Nikolskaya

Francesco Genovese – The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna

The event

This gourmet feast begins at 7.30pm with Champagne on the sea-view bar terrace, to the sounds of the saxophone. From there begins a culinary journey through the St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort, where the eight chefs will offer tasty delights. The journey even takes you through the main kitchens – an experience I found fascinating when we went to one of these events in the past. The cuisine finishes with an irresistible dessert buffet (this is not a night for calorie-counting!).

And to drink?

What else? Wines from Mallorca, of course. A number of small bodega stalls will offer their finest wines during this event. Cocktail fans will appreciate the innovative creations of the renowned mixologist Rafa Martín from the Palma cocktail bar Brass Club.

Live music will play throughout the evening. It promises to be a good night out!

The price – including all drinks – is 209€ and places can be booked by phoning the hotel on +34 971 629 629.

Here you can read about our previous experience of a Culinary Safari event.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review of Melassa Restaurant, Melbeach Hotel & Spa

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Chefs / Eat / Restaurants
Melbeach Hotel & Spa. Photo courtesy of hotel.

You’ve found Melbeach Hotel & Spa – and Melassa Restaurant

Our foodie friends from Oxfordshire made their customary visit for a holiday with us in June and, as usual, we took the opportunity to introduce them to some of the restaurants we’d discovered since their last visit. One of these was Melassa Restaurant at Melbeach Hotel & Spa, in the pleasant northeastern resort of Canyamel.

When The Boss and I ate here last, we said (almost at the same time): “D and K would love this restaurant!” We took these friends last month and, indeed, they did.

Melassa Restaurant location

Melbeach Hotel & Spa is an adults-only hotel, on the beach at the quieter end of the resort. Its restaurant – Melassa – is open to the public as well as guests staying in the hotel; both dining room and terrace benefit from their proximity to the Mediterranean. The views are gorgeous – especially in the evenings around sunset time. Although you can’t see the sun sinking into the sea in this part of Mallorca, the changing colours of the sky and water are worth seeing. It was spectacular when we were there in June.

The gleaming white-painted building has a contemporary design and is, in fact, a total renovation of a more traditional-style resort hotel of a different name. The stylish hotel is seasonal, with an outdoor chill-out lounge – where you could have a drink before or after eating at Melassa Restaurant (also adults only).

Chef David Moreno

David Moreno is from Mexico and leads a small brigade of talented and enthusiastic young chefs. Prior to working at Melassa Restaurant, he was the sous chef at the Michelin-starred Andreu Genestra. His previous experience at that Michelin-starred restaurant in Capdepera is evident at Melassa.

We had reserved the tasting menu in advance for the four of us. Each dish would arrive at the table as a delicious surprise. David himself came out from the kitchen to explain each dish.

 

Dishes on the tasting menus change, depending on the fresh local produce available. One thing’s for sure: you’ll eat delicious creative cuisine that marries interesting flavours with a variety of textures. The majority of the wines on the list are Mallorcan and prices seem fair. Service from the young team is professional and friendly.

My ‘Table Talk’ Restaurant of the Week

My Saturday-morning two-hour ‘Table Talk’ show on Mallorca Sunshine Radio includes a Restaurant of the Week. This feature is a brief description of the restaurant and what it offers; it’s broadcast on the show at around 11.35h and also on the preceding Monday to Friday at around 12.35h. It is not an advertising feature: my choice of restaurant each week is based on my own experience of eating there. Melassa is my Restaurant of the Week from July 2nd-7th, 2018.

Good to know:

  • At lunchtime a separate menu of snack-type meals is available from 12:30-16:30h.
  • Dinner is from 20:00-22:00h and you can choose from the à la carte menu or the tasting menus (five- or seven-plate versions). If you want one of the tasting menus, please contact the restaurant in advance to reserve.
  • The chill-out lounge has live music in the summer on Tuesdays and Fridays from 21:00-23:00h

©Jan Edwards 2018. All photos are also my copyright, except those marked as provided by the hotel.

San Juan Chef Night at Ponderosa Beach

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Eat
A table flower arrangement at Ponderosa Beach

Happy flower, happy place!

Our foodie friends know that we are big fans of Ponderosa Beach on Platja de Muro, in the north of Mallorca. We’ve eaten here quite often at this seasonal beach restaurant since our first visit in October 2014. We’ve also taken friends and family members to share the joy of eating a delicious meal with your toes buried in the sand beneath the table.

If you go for lunch and like seafood and paella/rice dishes (arroz con cosas), I recommend ordering the Aristocrat & Baroque rice dish. It’s the most expensive rice dish on the menu at 28€ per person, but it’s the type of dish that makes me want to stand on my restaurant chair and sing with unbridled joy. It’s fortunate for fellow diners that I am able to control these urges…

Special event for San Juan

If you don’t already know, the festivities for San Juan – or Sant Joan in mallorquín – take place at night on June 23rd, the eve of the Saint’s day. Many people consider this to be the most magical night of the year, marking the arrival of summer. The celebrations involve superstition and rituals, which usually take place on a beach. Bonfires, candles, food, and drink are the essential ingredients – along with friends and loved ones to share the fun. Fire and water are important elements of the San Juan celebrations.

Fire and water are also important at Ponderosa Beach on this special night – when the place stays open late and the kitchen is busy for the eatery’s Sant Joan Chef Night. Each year they invite a guest chef to join its own kitchen brigade in creating a special tasting menu for the occasion. DJs provide the music (this year we had MI.RO from Mallorca and Nickodemus from New York).

For the first one we attended, two guest chefs – Pau Navarro and Ariadne Salvador – were in the kitchen. It was the first time I tried their creative modern food – based on local recipes and ingredients – and I was thrilled to try their restaurant Clandestí Taller Gastronòmic in Palma some time later for a restaurant review.

Chef Jonay Hernandez

This year’s San Juan Chef Night at Ponderosa Beach featured a chef I interviewed recently on ‘Table Talk’, my Saturday show on Mallorca Sunshine Radio. Jonay Hernandez is from the Canary Islands and his cuisine reflects that. He has two restaurants on the island: Flor de Sal in Camp de Mar and the recently opened La Vieja de Jonay Hernandez in Palma.

I haven’t yet eaten at either of his places but they’re on the list (it grows each week). For San Juan, Jonay and the Ponderosa Beach brigade created the tasting menu (details and some images) below, for which we paid 60 euros each.

The menu

Aperitif – Peach wine (made by the Ponderosa Beach mixologist, Alex Martinez Lebrero)

STARTERS (to share)

Roasted maize and cod cube croquette with red onion jam

Sea bass and pork belly tartar, roasted oil, and prawn dust

Broccoli in tempura, oyster mayo, smoked fat, and tuna heart

MAIN COURSES

Corvina with lemon and roasted pumpkin rice

Braised pork fillet with mojo picón, cranberry jelly, and papas arrugadas

PRE-DESSERTS

Pineapple and beetroot tepache – a bright-pink fermented drink

Chocolate and gofio fudge

DESSERT

Torrija with cardamom  cream, almond ice cream, and lemon caramel

Redivins wine distributors offered an optional wine pairing for this dinner, for an extra 20 euros. We didn’t take advantage of this, but their wines are excellent. The dinner was really tasty, although I confess that I have never been a fan of torrija (the texture is not to my liking). Having had this dinner, I have moved La Vieja de Jonay Hernandez a few places up my restaurant-visit wish list.

Ponderosa Beach has a few new waiting staff members this year but the ethos is the same: this is a place where you can chill and experience laid-back beach vibes, yet still eat creative, well-prepared cuisine – served with professionalism.

My tips:

  • Book well ahead if you want to be sure of getting a table at Ponderosa Beach.
  • Go in footwear you can kick off easily. Toes will want to be sunk into the sand.
  • If you are particularly attractive to insects (sand flies in particular), be liberal with the insect repellent before you arrive.

We’re already looking forward to next year’s San Juan Chef Night at Ponderosa Beach. Any bets as to who the guest chef may be in 2019?

©Jan Edwards 2018