Every year we set ourselves some Mallorca missions. One of this year’s was to have paella at Sa Foradada, a unique restaurant located opposite the eponymous rock, on the north coast of Mallorca. Sa Foradada (the restaurant) came to fame in the UK when it featured in one of the episodes of Yotam Ottolenghi’s series ‘Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Island Feast’. Seeing this enchanting restaurant on the episode about Mallorca strengthened our determination to go.
Sa Foradada is famous for its paellas, cooked over a wood fire, although they serve other dishes too. Many people travel here by boat, anchoring close to the imposing rock with a large hole in it. There are steps up the cliff to the restaurant, which is open to the elements, but for a rustic roof. The simple website for the restaurant gives instructions for access: “by boat directly from the sea or down from the viewpoint of Sa Foradada, through Son Marroig, and jumping the gate, down the mountain to the little beach, with a pleasant half-hour walking tour in the countryside.”
Not being very tall, I was a little daunted by the prospect of ‘jumping the gate’, but needn’t have worried. There’s a built-in stile and my less-than-lengthy pins had no problem getting over. Our walk down took about 40 minutes, as we stopped numerous times to take photos. There was plenty of evidence of donkeys on the ground but, sadly, I didn’t see a single one of these beautiful creatures.
A family affair
The property that is home to the restaurant was once owned by Archduke Luis Salvador of Austria, who fell in love with Mallorca when he visited in the 19th century and bought several estates in the Tramuntana mountains – including Son Marroig. In 1972, Emilio Fernandez leased the small rustic property that became the informal restaurant up on the cliff. Today, his daughter Lidia runs the place, which is open for lunch only (March to October, from 12 noon until 6pm). Chef Paula told us she’d been working there for five years.
Our lunch was a jug of sangria and their seafood paella. Seated near the cooking area, we watched as Paula cooked – and battled the wood smoke which was blowing into her cooking space, rather than up the ‘flue’ between wall and ceiling. It wasn’t just windy that day: the wind was also blowing in an unusual direction, but the accomplished cook had obviously encountered such conditions before . . .
Gin: a tonic for cutlery
As we left – at the end of a memorable and delicious lunch – Lidia was sitting at a table, with a large tray of just-washed cutlery in front of her. We watched as she poured gin over it, then removed each item from the spirit and gave it a polish. We’d never seen that before, but Lidia told us it helps to sterilize the cutlery and give it a shine. Now that’s what I call attention to detail . . .
It took us just over an hour to walk back up to the car park and we spent all that time talking about the experience we’d had. Sa Foradada is open for a few more weeks yet and if time and weather conditions permit, we’ll be going back this year.
NOTE: We did this in walking sandals, which proved adequate for the purpose, given that conditions were dry. The path is well defined but can be a little slippery with loose stones. Take a bottle of water and wear a hat if it’s sunny.