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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (+34) 871 51 53 45.
©Jan Edwards 2018