Binibona’s Ca’n Beneït – a Rural Mallorcan Gem

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Eat / Sleep

Welcome to Ca’n Beneït, Binibona

If you live outside Mallorca, you may not have heard of Binibona. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the foreigners who live on the island had never visited this charming hamlet. We’ve lived in Mallorca for 17 years and been to Binibona only once before (in 2014), when I interviewed a British resident there for a newspaper article.

Binibona, if you don’t know it, is in the Raiguer district of Mallorca, in the foothills of the Serra de Tramuntana mountains. It’s part of the municipality of Selva and comprises a small cluster of stone-built properties, four of which are hotels. Yes, four! The hamlet of Binibona was a pioneer in rural tourism, or agroturismo/agroturisme, and it’s easy to see why.

The name Binibona has Arabic roots and was documented in 1300, although other names have been recorded previously. When Cardinal Antonio Despuig surveyed his 1785 map of Mallorca – one of the most important cartographic works in Spain – he recorded the hamlet’s name as ‘Mira-buena’, meaning ‘good view’.

Finca Ca’n Beneït

The Cardinal must surely have been gazing out at the expansive island view from the centuries-old Finca Ca’n Beneït. We did the same last week when we went to stay at the Ca’n Beneït agroturisme, which reopened in March this year following the reformation carried out by the new owners of the hospitality business.

Toni Duran is now at the helm of the 10-room hotel he owns with his partner. The multilingual hotel director has worked in several five-star hotels in Mallorca and has international hospitality experience from working in Switzerland and England. But his new project hasn’t a whiff of pretentiousness about it: the focus is on warm service, comfort, and rural Mallorcan authenticity.

We arrived to a warm welcome and a chilled glass of cava, served on the terrace of the hotel’s Restaurant Mirabona. The views across the island are glorious and, if the sun falls right, the silvery sea in the Bay of Alcudia glints in the distance.

History, Authenticity, and Charm

Before going to our junior suite (number four), Toni gave us a tour of the property – parts of which date back to the 16th century. We saw the two-hundred-year-old chapel and the century-old olive mill, where the estate owners still produce the olive oil used for the hotel’s restaurant.

The place is breathtakingly beautiful, with a garden, orchard, and stone arches, terraces, and courtyards. Authentic Mallorcan features are everywhere, from the vaulted ceilings and wooden beams to stone arches. Modern facilities include a swimming pool with large terrace, bicycle storage facilities, and a sauna cabin.

Rooms & Suites

Ca’n Beneït’s 10 rooms include two suites with a terrace. The décor and furnishings have been chosen to complement the character of the property. Luxurious touches abound – but of a purposeful nature: the bedlinen, bathrobes, and extraordinarily soft towels (bathroom and pool – which are provided in the room) are from a company called Spirit of the Nomad which uses the finest-quality Egyptian cotton. I fell immediately in love with these items – particularly the bedspread and cushion covers. If you lust after the comfort and quality of this company’s products, guests of Ca’n Beneït are entitled to a 20 per cent discount on purchases from Spirit of the Nomad’s website.

The rooms have a useful set of charging leads – concealed in an attractive wooden box – in case guests have forgotten to bring theirs. There’s also a discreet power bank.

Guests have a kettle and coffee-capsule machine in the room to make their own hot drinks and the minibar offers a selection of free cold drinks. Water comes from the estate, is filtered and provided in glass bottles. And it’s free.

L’Occitane products are provided in the light, spacious bathrooms. There are bamboo toothbrushes and chewable tooth-cleaning tablets, along with the now-essential health kits – comprising disposable mask, gloves, and sanitizing gel.

Almost a week on from our one-night stay, my overriding memories of our room are comfort (wonderful mattress), light, lovely views, and tranquillity. Bliss.

Mirabona Restaurant

Ca’n Beneït’s restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can have three plates (starter, mains, and dessert) for 35 euros, which we thought was excellent value for the quality; if you prefer only one or two courses, these are priced separately.

We dined inside, enjoying a table by the log fire that was burning on a very cool evening. We started with squid croquettes on a sobrasada reduction, and artichokes stuffed with pork and veal with almond sauce. Both were excellent. Our main courses were perfectly cooked fish (hake and monkfish respectively). We ended our dinner with a good crema catalana.

Our breakfast and lunch the next day were both taken on the raised terrace, with its expansive views across the island and the nearer sight of the finca’s citrus orchard beneath the raised terrace. Breakfast is à la carte – one of the very few good things, in my opinion, to come from the pandemic. No more getting up from the table to visit a buffet makes a more relaxing start to the day – for guests, anyway!

The Boss raved about his avocado toast with poached egg, and I had a generous fruit salad – after a tempting array of cold cuts, cheeses, bread from Forn Per de sa Palla, fresh pastries, and preserves.

At lunchtime we tried the lamb terrine and chocoholic cake – both recommended. Then we reluctantly made our way home, talking all the way about our wonderful time in this hideaway part of Mallorca. We both concluded that when foreign travel opens up again, the 10-room Can Beneït will be a magnet for discerning guests who value the authenticity of rural Mallorca. It may be difficult to get a booking once that happens so, if you’re on the island and feel like stepping off the crazy merry-go-round of everyday life for a while, take your chance while you can.

Seven years had passed since our previous visit to Binibona, but we won’t leave it as long to return to Ca’n Beneït Agroturisme.

Good to Know

A glorious walk into the forest

The easiest route to Binibona from the MA-13 motorway is via Campanet, thus avoiding traffic in the centre of Inca and passing through the villages of Selva and Moscari. I’d recommend using the Campanet route there and the Moscari/Selva/Inca/MA-13 for the return journey, to see more of this area.

Ca’n Beneït has bicycle storage for those exploring on two wheels.

Children are welcome.

Take some appropriate shoes if you enjoy walking. The beautiful forest walk from the hotel to Ses Figueroles and Alcanella, with its soundtrack of birdsong, will lift any jaded spirits.

Find out more about Ca’n Beneït here.

*** Book with Mallorcan Tonic and you can take advantage of 5% off all room rates, receive a complimentary bottle of cava, and best room available on check-in. Quote promo code TONIC.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Repsol Guide 2021 – Sols for Mallorca

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General

Spain’s nearest equivalent to the famous Michelin stars are the ‘Sols’ — awarded each year in the latest edition of the Repsol Guide, or Guía Repsol, as it’s known in Spain.

The latest guide was launched yesterday in San Sebastián, with 96 new ‘Sols’ awarded across Spain. In total 618 ‘Sols’ were awarded for 2021 — 31 of them in the Balearics.

Guía Repsol awarded the following ‘Sols’ to restaurants in Mallorca:

Dani and Maca De Castro (pictured at Maca’s Palma restaurant Andana)

‘Sols’ for Mallorca in 2021

The following restaurants in Mallorca have ‘Sols’:

3 ‘Sols’

Maca De Castro – Alcúdia

2 ‘Sols’

Andreu Genestra – Capdepera

Béns d’Avall – Sóller

Dins Santa Taura – Palma de Mallorca

El Olivo – Deià

La Fortaleza – Llucmajor

1 ‘Sol’

Aromata – Palma de Mallorca

Bodega Barahona – Casa Manolo – Ses Salines

Ca na Toneta – Caimari

Can Toni Moreno – Port des Canonge, Banyalbufar

DaiCa – Llubí

Es Racó d’es Teix – Deià

Marc Fosh – Palma de Mallorca

Voro – Canyamel, Capdepera

Congratulations to all these restaurants. There are only three of these I haven’t tried and they are definitely on the must-visit list for 2021.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Deià’s Belmond La Residencia is Star of a Memoir

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Hotels / Sleep

The late Princess Diana was only one of the many famous guests who’ve sought relaxation, sanctuary, and privacy at Mallorca’s 5-star Belmond La Residencia hotel, located in the mountain village of Deià. But you won’t read tabloid-style revelations about celebrity guests in Louise Davis’ debut memoir, Hideaway Hotel – Secrets of a Mediterranean Celebrity Retreat (pub Ant Press). Instead, readers will find a discreet and fascinating behind-the-scenes look at this much-loved hotel.

Louise worked as public relations manager at La Residencia for twenty-two years, witnessing changes to the property, its ownership, and management. She wrote her debut memoir after retiring from what is probably one of Mallorca’s most enviable PR roles.

Having worked in hotel PR myself (for a couple of international chains and a country house hotel in the UK), I found Louise’s book an interesting read. I imagine anyone who’s stayed at Belmond La Residencia or has an interest in hotels, hospitality, tourism, or public relations, will also enjoy finding out more about this iconic hotel. I found the details about its history and cultural and community involvement particularly interesting.

I interviewed Louise Davis for my podcast ‘Authors in Mallorca’ and you can hear our conversation on the link at the end of this post..

If you’d like to read Hideaway Hotel – Secrets of a Mediterranean Celebrity Retreat by Louise Davis, you’ll find it on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats. If you’re in Mallorca, check out Universal Bookshop in Portals Nous — where owner Kay Halley is an enthusiastic supporter of local authors.

New General Manager for 2021

Thomas Moons

There’s been a change at the helm of Belmond La Residencia this year. Following the departure of Ulisses Marreiros — who was at the hotel for eight years and has now moved to Belmond’s Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro — Thomas Moons was appointed general manager.

Moons brings more than 15 years’ international hospitality experience to his new role in Deià, having worked at renowned hotels in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Dubai, before joining Belmond in 2012. He worked for the company in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, before moving to Peru. Under his leadership, Miraflores Park in Lima gained recognition as South American’s Most Romantic Resort, Peru’s Leading Hotel Suite, and Peru’s Leading Business Hotel in the 2020 World Travel Awards.

‘It is my great pleasure to lead the team at La Residencia,’ Moons said of his new role. ‘Together with my team, I look forward to welcoming guests back to the storied history of La Residencia when the hotel opens for the spring season, and taking the hotel and brand to new heights.’

The five-star Deià hotel is expected to open for the 2021 season on May 17th.

And so another chapter begins for Belmond La Residencia…

Josie Lloyd – Novelist (Also Writes as Joanna Rees) Authors in Mallorca

With a writing career spanning more than twenty years, Josie Lloyd knows a lot about the writing and publishing processes. Josie's written solo and with her husband Emlyn Rees, but also in another genre as Joanna Rees. Her loft in Brighton groans  under the weight of her and their many foreign versions of published books.  Josie's new novel The Cancer Ladies' Running Club draws on her own experiences of going through breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2017.  Despite the subject, it's an uplifting story of friendship and hope that also reveals Josie's sense of humour.  In our conversation, Josie talks about their holiday home in Mallorca, how she met Emlyn, working collaboratively, their parodies, writing in a different genre as Joanna Rees, and how the lockdown impacted on her work. Hear about the music that helped with one of her novels, her views on agents and publishing, the new novel, and more. The Cancer Ladies' Running Club is available to pre-order on Amazon, with a publication date of the thirteenth of May, 2021. 
  1. Josie Lloyd – Novelist (Also Writes as Joanna Rees)
  2. Louise Davis – Memoirist
  3. Pete Davies – Debut Novelist (Crime Thriller)
  4. Dr James Rieley – Multi-Genre Author
  5. Dawne Archer — Memoirist

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

The Unique Ten Mallorca Hotel

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Eat / Sleep
Table was set for my al fresco birthday lunch in November.

Mallorca has some superb boutique hotels outside Palma and the coastal areas. In my last post I wrote about a memorable dinner we recently had, featuring the cuisine of private chef Piers Dawson — of whom we are big fans. The hotel where this guest-chef dinner took place was Ten Mallorca and it’s at the very heart of Mallorca, in the authentically Mallorcan town of Sineu. We’ve stayed at the hotel twice — the first time for my birthday last November and then again for the recent dinner.

English-owned-and-run hotel in Mallorca

Ten Mallorca is owned by Joanna and John Yaxley who were property surveyors when they lived in England.

Their idea had been to semi-retire in Mallorca and buy an apartment overlooking the sea. It didn’t quite work out like that: John was busy with work in the UK and unable to come to Mallorca with Joanna to view some properties. Instead of the apartment by the Mediterranean, she put a deposit on the old house that the couple has turned into a must-visit hotel for many islanders and tourists.

Over a period of several years they painstakingly restored this property, which is tucked away in a quiet lane in Sineu, into a unique nine-bedroom hotel (a tenth is being added).

They did most of the renovation work themselves, including the interior design.

‘We wanted to create something unique,’ Joanne told me, ‘something that was a bit of us. Every boutique hotel we saw in Mallorca and Ibiza was white, with rustic wood and materials. All very nice, but very similar.’

In terms of style, Ten Mallorca has hints of London, Paris, and even New York. Every bedroom is different and the bathrooms are gorgeous — three have a freestanding bath, as well as a walk-in shower. You’ll find wallpapers by designers Matthew Williamson and Christian Lacroix.

The couple preserved some of the property’s original heritage, including the beautifully patterned original floors on the ground floor.

‘One of the joys of the project was us working together,’ John told me. ‘It was the first time we’ve actually done that, to create something for which we both had a passion.’

Hospitality Rules

A high-quality renovation and stylish design are not the whole story at Ten Mallorca. This owners of the hotel are also the hosts and, despite not having worked in the hotel business before, they are naturally hospitable and good fun. The warmth of this couple will make you feel right at home.

Food & Drink

Ten Mallorca has an attractive bar — both in terms of design and what it offers to drink. Gin fans will have fun choosing from a tempting selection of premium gins (including Mallorcan) but the bar is also well stocked with other drinks. The hotel has an excellent selection of Mallorcan wines, including organic.

Last year, once lockdown was over, Ten Mallorca offered Sunday roasts, courtesy of Joanne and John’s daughter, Hannah, an accomplished young chef. These lunches quickly sold out. Current restrictions mean the hotel cannot serve food to anyone not staying overnight in the hotel, but Ten Mallorca has some interesting Supper and Stay events including dinner, accommodation in one of their luxurious rooms, and a breakfast the next morning that will set you up for the day.

Our most recent visit was for one of these Supper and Stay nights and there are more of these events scheduled in the coming weeks. Hannah, Piers Dawson, and private chef Ross Hutchison will be taking their turns at the stoves in Ten Mallorca’s envy-inspiring kitchen during April. Follow Ten Mallorca on Instagram for details, or see their website.

Good to Know

Sineu is on the railway route between Palma and Manacor and the hotel is a short walk through the town from the station. If you arrive by car, a free public car park is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the hotel.

Ten Mallorca has a ground-floor wheelchair-accessible guest room.

Pack your swimmers! Ten Mallorca has an inviting courtyard saltwater infinity swimming pool.

Sineu has a huge weekly market every Wednesday morning; it’s one of the island’s biggest and most varied markets.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Piers Dawson @ Ten Mallorca

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Eat / Sleep

Eating dinner in a restaurant that’s not in a hotel is still not possible in Mallorca, because of Covid restrictions, but the good news is that the interiors of bars and restaurants will be able to open again from next Monday, March 15th. Whether this will be just during the day or include evenings too is not yet known… but it’s a step forward.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed a superb dinner out on Friday evening, combined with an overnight stay in the stylish boutique hotel Ten Mallorca, in the heart of Sineu (which, if you don’t know it, is right in the heart of the island). The English owners and hosts of the hotel decided to do something different to attract islanders and came up with the idea of supper-and-stay events, featuring well-known guest chefs who work on the island.

Piers Dawson First at the Stoves

Chef Piers and his charming (and efficient) right-hand woman (and wife) Holly

Private chef Piers Dawson launched this series with a few events during February and March; after an unsuccessful try to book the first event, we managed to book early enough to secure two of the limited places for Friday evening’s dinner. As at his Charlie’s Kitchen events, Piers came into the dining room as his wife Holly and the Ten team served each of his eight dishes, to describe the food in more detail than his minimalist menus give. When you listen to him, you realise just how much work goes into each dish he creates.

Having eaten Piers’ cuisine on a number of occasions, I am firmly of the belief that whatever he serves will be amazing – not only because of his talent for cooking and his incredible creativity, but also because of his evident passion for making people happy through his food.

You can see Piers Dawson in action on his You Tube channel. Check out his webhttps://www.piersdawson.com site too for more about this amiable chef.

Friday’s Menu

  • Trout, Apple, Charcoal
  • Pea & Mint – a pea-and-mint ‘milkshake’ with a wafer topping.
  • Sobrasada Lollipop – not a traditional way to serve sobrasada!
  • Butternut, Sage, Jamon, Parmesan – The bread-and-butter course. Sourdough bread and flavoured whipped butter with Parmesan and crumbs of Iberian ham sprinkled over.
  • Beef, Rocket, Artichoke – sirloin beef tartar with truffle oil and puree, shallots and chives, chargrilled baby artichoke
  • Salmon, Citrus, Vodka – fish course: home-cured salmon, avocado, pink grapefruit, orange, lemon and saffron aioli, granola, radish
  • Masterstock Pork, Tenderstem, Wasabi – local pork belly cooked in Chinese masterstock (6 years old!), jus, blackened onions, wasabi aioli
  • Chocolate, Peanuts, Banana

The Ten Club

Numbers for these supper-and-stay events are currently limited to 12 and the hotel is using its lounge as a dining room during this period, to facilitate social distancing. The events are very popular and the first of Piers’ dates was fully booked within 20 minutes of being announced.

Ten Mallorca came up with the clever idea of The Ten Club. For a fee of 35 euros per couple, members receive 48 hours’ advance notice of the March and April events before they are advertised generally. Members also receive a complimentary glass of house wine, beer, or cava on the evening. The cost does NOT include the price of the event, but does give early access to book events that are likely to fill quickly. If you’re in Mallorca and would like to become a member of The Ten Club, please email info@tenmallorca.com.

Prices for these supper-and-stay evenings vary according to the guest chef’s menu, but they are fair prices which include the overnight stay and a very good breakfast the next morning. Friday’s cost was from 150 euros per person (depending on the room booked). It’s blissful being able to enjoy fine food with one of the hotel’s carefully chosen wines (drinks are extra, but reasonably priced) and have only to climb the stairs to your room at the end of the evening.

Future Guest Chefs

This weekend, Sebastian Pasch – of the wonderful Restaurante Sebastian in Deya – is the guest chef. His menu looks superb and is based on dishes he’s cooked at his romantic restaurant since he opened it in 1994.

Other chefs who’ll be rocking up in the Ten Mallorca kitchen in coming weeks are Edu Martínez of Brut in Llubí and private chef Ross Hutchison A New Healthy Takeaway Option in Palma

Any of these events will be worth smashing the piggy bank for! Just trying to persuade The Boss to let me do it!

In Eat Drink Sleep Mallorca’s next post you can read more about Ten Mallorca hotel.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

A New Healthy Takeaway Option in Palma

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Eat

If you need time off from cooking duties in the kitchen, eating out is still not an option in Mallorca. It’s being reported that restaurants, bars, and cafes will be able to open their terraces again from next Tuesday, March 2nd — albeit with reduced capacity, a maximum of four people at a table, and an early closing time.

It was suggested that these establishments would have to close by 6pm; however, the Balearic government has now said they want a closing time of 4pm. You can bet some heated discussions will be going on over the next few days between hospitality sector representatives and the government, before the official announcement and details this Friday (26th).

What about Dinner?

The upshot is that we could possibly be eating lunch out next week (fingers crossed for the weather) but, for a-night-off-cooking dinner at home, takeaways and delivered food are still the best ways to achieve this.

Restaurant owners and chefs continue to adapt what they offer during the restrictions to appeal to consumers who may be tired of menu planning and seeking out new recipes to counter the routine of cooking every lunch and dinner.

Easy, Healthy, Affordable

Chef Ross Hutchison — aka Private Chef Mallorca — has just launched an appealing and affordable service from Palma de Mallorca for those of us fortunate enough to live on the island. From this week, he’s offering a choice of healthy, prepared dishes to pick up from his premises, The Kitchen Space Palma (Carrer del Torrent, 4). Prices are super-keen: soups and salads (presented in glass jars) are 6 euros each; return the empty jar for a one euro credit on your next jar. Main dishes (in boxes) are 8 euros each, and include veggies and healthy grains. Desserts are 3 euros each. Ross calls his new concept ‘Tuesdays & Fridays’.

How it Works

Ross publishes the weekly meal plan on a Sunday and asks for orders by 8pm the next day for a Tuesday pick-up and by 8pm on Thursday for a Friday pick-up. You could give yourself a whole weekend free of cooking by ordering a few dishes on Thursday for collection on the Friday.

Pick-up of dishes from The Kitchen Space Palma is on Tuesdays and Fridays between 11am and 4pm. Or get Glovo to collect your order to deliver to your home or workplace.

Payment is in cash for now, but you’ll soon be able to order and pay via card online. To order food or receive the weekly menu plan each week on a Sunday, visit this page on the PRIVATE CHEF MALLORCA website.

Sample Dishes

Here are just some of the dishes Ross offered for this week’s inaugural meal plan, to whet your appetite for future weeks:

SOUPS: Coconut, Cauliflower, Cashew; Vegan Chili; Spicy Broccoli and Spinach.

SALADS: Caesar with Anchovy Dressing and Croutons; Five Bean Salad; Spinach, Fried Chickpeas, Pickled Onions, and Orange Vinaigrette.

BOXES: Saffron Salmon, Garlic Chili Broccoli, Brown Rice Lentil Risotto, Orange Salsa; Real Tex-Mex (Ross is a Texan!) of Mixed Grilled Fajita with Beef, Chicken, Sweet Peppers, and Onions, Black Bean Rice, Two Home-made Tortillas, Pico de Gallo.

DESSERT: Almond Cake with Vanilla Cream and Salted Caramel.

Seawater Sourdough

Ross bakes fabulous seawater sourdough bread so while you’re ordering your easy, healthy, and affordable takeaway dishes, give one of his loaves a try.

He’s a great chef and we’ve eaten his food on many occasions, so we wish him luck with this new service — a real boon for anyone who lives and/or works in Palma de Mallora or fairly close by.

GOOD TO KNOW: Carrer Torrent is close to the Paseo Marítimo, near the AC Ciutat de Palma hotel. Street parking for the time it takes to pick up your food is available in the area.

Photos courtesy of ‘Tuesdays & Fridays’

FOLLOW EATDRINKSLEEPMALLORCA ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM FOR MORE!

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Mallorca’s Hospes Maricel Open to Guests

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Sleep

If you’re feeling a little stir-crazy because of travel restrictions, a night away in a local hotel offers a change of scene and a welcome break from the domestic chores that have become part of the daily routine. Such a break also helps a local business to keep operating and employing people during the pandemic.

Breakfast on the terrace in February! Not for us though…

In Mallorca, most hotels are closed at the moment and, although one or two are suggesting when they may open their doors to guests again, there’s uncertainty about when the tourist ‘season’ is likely to start this year.

Find Spacious Rooms & Mediterranean Views

One hotel in Mallorca that is open is the 5-star Hospes Maricel in Cas Català, a short drive from Palma de Mallorca. The property is built in the style of a 17th-century stately Balearic mansion right on the seafront but was, in fact, constructed as a rather different hotel in the late 1940s.

Hospes commissioned Barcelona-based architects ADD+Arquitectura Xavier Claramunt to create the beautiful hotel that awaits guests today. The property is rich in marble, wood, and golden sandstone from Santanyí. Beams, arches, and columns grace the huge public areas. In 2008, Hospes Maricel opened an extension across the road – again designed by Claramunt, and inspired by the terracing of the Mallorcan coastal village of Banyalbufar. The extension is contemporary, features a lot of stonework, and each room has its own terrace and private plunge pool. An underground passage connects these rooms with the main hotel building, so there’s no need to dodge the traffic on the road between them.

I first visited Hospes Maricel to do an interview in connection with an article for Interiores y Diseño by Deluxe magazine in 2008. I’ve subsequently reviewed the restaurant a couple of times and had a drink there, but we’d never stayed overnight.

The hotel had a special offer for Valentine’s Day so we booked one night away, having noted that the Hospes Maricel has the Institute for Spanish Tourist Quality’s ‘Safe Tourism Certified’ accreditation. Their protocols to protect against Covid-19 were prepared with the help of Quirónprevención, Preverisk, and the Institute’s guidelines. We were impressed by the attention to detail and felt safe during our stay. The spacious public areas make social distancing easy too.

We booked a room on the top floor, which had two windows looking out over the Mediterranean. Our bathroom had both a shower cubicle and a free-standing claw-foot bath.

A ‘Covid’ pack of two masks and a small bottle of sanitizing gel were in the room for us, although there were sanitizing stations throughout the hotel.

Rafa Sánchez – Chef

Rafael Sánchez joined Hospes Maricel to lead the kitchen in 2018. His previous experience includes working at the former Plat d’Or restaurant, which had a Michelin star. We had a special set menu for Valentine’s, which was tasty and balanced so we didn’t feel uncomfortably full afterwards. Due to the romantic (low) lighting, my photos don’t really do the dinner justice. We’ll return one day for lunch sitting on the terrace by the sea…

Breakfast

Breakfast at Hospes Maricel is an assisted buffet – help-yourself buffets are not allowed during the Covid restrictions. We had a choice of eating on the terrace or indoors. Quite a few people were breakfasting outdoors, but we opted for indoors on this occasion, as it was quite a cool early morning.

Guests queued to point out what they wanted from the breakfast buffet and the masked-and-gloved server plated up the selected items. Hot dishes are made to order and brought to the table.

We were pleased to see the service team reminding people of the need for social distancing while in the queue and the requirement to wear a mask. I saw only one person who arrived without a mask, who was told she had to wear one (which they fetched from a drawer) while she was waiting in the buffet queue. We also spotted the hotel’s general manager, who came to cast his eye over things.

Good to Know

One thing to note if you are staying in a hotel in Mallorca: bathroom amenities in the rooms are limited for hygiene reasons. We had soap, shower/bath gel, and shampoo – but were told other items were available on request.

The Hospes Maricel Spa is closed because of the pandemic.

If a luxurious night away in Mallorca appeals to you at the moment, check out the Hospes Maricel offers.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

French Oenologist Joins Mallorcan Finca Biniagual

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Bodegas / Drink

Mallorca’s Finca Biniagual – near Binissalem – has appointed the acknowledged French oenologist Matthieu Pichenot as the new oenologist and manager of their winery, viticulture, and agriculture.

Matthieu at work in the vineyards

Matthieu is a qualified oenologist and engineer in viticulture and oenology, and was winemaker for the pioneering ecological winery Domaine Gayda in Languedoc (France) for six years. For the past three years he was technical director and oenologist at the winery Château de Lastours in Corbières.

Thirty-eight-year-old Matthieu has left the South of France, his birthplace, to settle in Mallorca, and is full of enthusiasm for Finica Biniagual – where winemaking started twenty years ago. He is leading the team in the vineyards and in the winery, with cellarmen José Luis Seguí and Isaías Curiel.

“I love the potential of the terroir, of Mallorca’s autochthonous grape varieties and its complex and well-balanced wines,” Matthieu says.

Circular Agriculture

“Biniagual’s project also attracted me because of its philosophy of polyculture and circular agriculture,” the oenologist adds. “We have sown leguminous plants and cereals as green fertilizer and in order to compete with weeds in a natural way. The seeds come from our own production, and the manure and compost are produced by our sheep. Thus we return part of what the soil produces.”

Mallorca’s climate is not unfamiliar for the French oenologist. “I come from the South of France, which has lots of climatic similarities. Both are regions deficient in rain and with a Mediterranean climate. There is a difference in the wind – in the South of France, the Tramuntana blows with much more force; in Mallorca, the summer heat is more intense.”

The appointment of Matthieu reflects Finca Biniagual’s continuous progress towards excellence in their wines and major sustainability in the cultivation of the estate.

Finca Biniagual, apart from a winery, is a farm with 170 hectares: vineyards, olive groves, citrus trees, carob and almond trees, plantations of cereals and a flock of 300 sheep. The agriculture is certified as Integrated Production, a system that guarantees a sustainable production of food products using environmentally friendly methods.

If you’ve never visited the hamlet of Finca Biniagual, I’d like to recommend you do so while in Mallorca. It’s a place of extraordinary charm and timelessness – and a wonderful location for weddings and other functions (once Covid restrictions are lifted).

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Mana Pan Pita – Made in Mallorca

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Eat

Pita bread is the perfect and authentic accompaniment to some of the Middle Eastern dishes we enjoy eating at home, such as hummus, baba ganoush, and labneh. Until recently, we were able to buy only mass-produced pita bread in vacuum packs, from a local supermarket. We’d tried several brands of pita bread and found them dry and unappetizing. Why couldn’t we find pita bread as good as we’ve eaten in Santosha restaurant in Palma? We knew that was made in Palma de Mallorca by Mana Pan Pita.

When I heard the Eroski supermarket chain was selling fresh Mana Pan Pita, in packs of four, we hot-footed it to our local Eroski in Manacor.

Now here’s the thing: in 2004, when we were still new to Mallorca and checking out local supermarkets, the town’s small Eroski did not impress us and we didn’t shop there again.

What a pleasant surprise we had when we went to buy Mana Pan Pita: Eroski in Manacor has had a makeover at some point, and the variety of stock now impressed us. If it hadn’t been for our urge for some decent pita bread, we wouldn’t have discovered this. And not only did we buy the delicious, soft Mana Pan Pita (four pitas for 1,85 euros) , we came out with several other items that appealed to us.

About Mana Pan Pita

Naor Topaz, Mana Pan Pita’s proprietor and baker, answered questions from Eat Drink Sleep Mallorca.

Why did you start a pita bakery in Palma?
When we moved to the island, we soon realised the lack of good quality, fresh pita bread, so we decided to try and make our own.

Had you been baking pita before moving to Mallorca?
Not in a professional way; I had made some at home for us, but nothing professional.

How difficult was it to find/refine the recipe you use?
We started using a basic recipe and since then we’ve always been working on developing and improving it, either through the ingredients themselves, or through our method.

A video of the bakery on your Facebook page shows some specialist equipment for making pitas? How easy was it to source those items?
Yes, we use specialist pita-bread equipment, which was all made and designed in Israel especially for this specific type of pita bread we make. We had to import it into Spain, as it’s not available here.

How does your pan pita differ from the usual supermarket pitas in vacuum packs?
The idea of pita bread in vacuum packs came about as a logistical solution for importing pita from overseas, because of a lack of local producers. Generally speaking, bread should be sold fresh or frozen to be reheated and is not supposed to have a shelf-life of six months. The vacuum packs, combined with some preservatives, provide a solution for transport and help extend the product’s shelf life.

We believe in natural products, so we sell our pita either fresh and/or frozen. We use a shock-freezing process which keeps the bread’s texture as close to fresh as possible. Our bread is 100% natural, it doesn’t contain any preservatives. It also has a high percentage of hydration so it opens fully and easily, without crumbling, so you can fill its pocket with all your favourite fillings.

Which restaurants in Mallorca serve your pita bread?
As we mainly work through distributors we don’t know about all the restaurants that serve it. Simply Delicious by Ronen, Santosha, and Fosh’s catering division in Palma do.  We know it’s on the menu at the Balneario restaurants in Playa de Palma, at Naan Street Food (Santa Catalina, Palma), and a brand-new home-made kebab eatery called Urban Kebab (Palma). It’s also served with hummus at Cappuccino’s and many others.

You sell all over Europe, including Portugal, France, Italy, and the Canaries. How did you achieve this?
As far as we know we are the only pita-bread bakery selling frozen pita in Europe, so this has given us an advantage. We have worked hard on creating a good marketing network and, through this, most of our clients found out about us and approached us themselves.

It’s now sold in Eroski in their packaging (but with your bakery name on it). Are these available in all of Spain’s more than 1,300 Eroski supermarkets and hypermarkets?
To begin with we have started working in the Balearic Islands and it’s available at 74 Eroski supermarkets in the Balearics. We hope this will work well so it will expand and all of Spain can enjoy our fantastic pita bread.

It looks as though you offer mainly wholesale, but can the public come to the bakery to buy too? If so, when?
We are wholesale, we mainly sell to the professional sector. We used to accept drop-ins at our bakery, but now we have a selling point for the general public, at Eroski, we prefer private customers to buy their pita bread there.

What, if any, expansion or development plans do you have for the next couple of years?
We are always looking to improve the quality of our bread. Some of this requires new and more modern equipment. We are also investing in the development of new bakery products and hope to launch them later this year.

What’s your own favourite way to eat one of your Mana Pan Pitas?
What I love the most about our product is that I can take a pita bread out of the freezer, at any time of day or night, and simply defrost it in a microwave or toaster and, in a matter of 30 seconds, I can enjoy a fresh pita bread as if it had just come out of the oven at a bakery.

Read more on Mana Pan Pita’s website.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021

Eat Restaurant Food at Home in Mallorca

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Eat

Tough times are becoming even tougher for the hospitality sector in Mallorca. From mid-December, restaurants, cafes, and bars had to close at 6pm and could serve customers only outdoors (with reduced capacities). If you’ve been in Mallorca over the past few weeks, you’ll know the weather generally has been colder and wetter than usual for this time of year. Not the ideal conditions for eating or drinking al fresco.

Establishments without a terrace or other outdoor space had no choice but to close their doors, or offer a takeaway and/or delivery service.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 13th January, sees the start of a new measure, intended initially for 15 days: all restaurants, bars, and cafes must remain closed. Restaurants are allowed to offer only takeaway food (until 10pm) or delivery service (until midnight).

Adapt to Survive

If you’re in Mallorca and want a break from cooking at home, check out your favourite eateries to see if they’re offering take-out or delivered food. Some restaurants are also offering gift vouchers on their websites for use when they’re open again, which could make welcome gifts for family and friends. Adapt to survive, is the motto many are embracing. But they need our support, now more than ever, if we can give it.

A Small Selection of Takeaway/Delivery Options

Simple Smart Food Bar in Palma: One for those who like delicious healthy food, such as salads, poke bowls, fresh juices etc. Order through WhatsApp on 617 05 80 69. Takeaway or delivery (Glovo).

A taste of the Canaries in Palma, from chef/proprietor Jonay Hernandez

La Vieja de Jonay Hernandez in Palma: delicious Canarian cuisine. Jonay has set up a user-friendly website so you can see what’s on offer. Order a takeaway 48 hours in advance and you’ll get a 10 per cent discount. Your first order comes with a free La Vieja t-shirt.

La Barra Miceli in Inca: Takeaway food only. Monday to Saturday, 9am until 2.30pm. Order on WhatsApp 692115333.

Proprietors Murray (ace chef) and Doro of Raft 19 Bistro in Cala Gamba

Raft 19 Bistro in Cala Gamba (outskirts of Palma) is offering a weekend takeaway service to collect on Fridays and Saturdays only. Orders should be placed by 8pm on the Thursday. Their three-course weekend takeaway roast menu costs 25 euros per head. Orders on WhatsApp or by phone on 722 536 299.

Tomeu Caldentey Cuiner in Sa Coma: Sant Antoni public fiestas this January have been cancelled, but there’s nothing to stop families (who live together in the same household) from celebrating at home with a special takeaway meal from Tomeu’s kitchen. The Visca Sant Antoni takeaway menu is available on January 15th-17th inclusive. The menu costs 20 euros a head (including IVA) and includes a loaf of Tomeu’s moreish olive oil bread. Orders should be placed 24 hours in advance, with cash payment on collection. To book, email info@tomeucaldentey.com or WhatsApp 646 445 407.

Michelin-starred Marc Fosh restaurant in Palma is closed for the winter as usual (it’s located in a seasonal hotel), but you can still enjoy Marc’s delicious cuisine through his Fosh Food at Home service. Dishes are freshly cooked to order and delivered to your home. On his restaurant website you can also find details of gift vouchers the restaurant and Marc’s cookbook for sale.

Here are words from Marc and Iris Fosh’s message today to their loyal customers:

“Almost every colleague we know faces the hardship of a challenging winter ahead, and we would like to encourage you to patronize your favourite local restaurants, when they can open safely again, and support them through their pickup and delivery business, or by purchasing gift cards and vouchers in the meantime.”

I can add no more, Marc.

Jan Edwards Copyright 2021