Opera and Gastronomy: Castell Classics Mallorca 2019

Leave a comment
Eat / Hotels / Sleep

 

Castell Son Claret

Agapanthus – the flower of love – at Castell Son Claret

Mallorca’s 5-star Castell Son Claret hotel, in picturesque countryside near Es Capdellà, re-opens today for the 2019 season. If you’ve been to Mallorca but not visited this beautiful property, I would urge you to do so on your next visit. You don’t have to be staying overnight to enjoy the warm, professional service, stunning setting, and sheer tranquillity of the place (although once you’ve stayed, you’ll probably want to return). You can also bowl up, park your car, stroll through the gardens up to the impressive hotel building, and have a signature cocktail in the bar, lunch on the Olivera restaurant terrace, or splurge on a tasting menu in the 2-Michelin-star Zaranda.

Love opera? Gourmet cuisine? Combine the two at one of the cultural highlights of the summer in Mallorca. The annual Castell Classics operatic concerts, accompanied by a gourmet dinner under the evening sky, are the result of a close collaboration with the finest European opera houses and festivals. The three concerts each year bring young operatic singers with star potential to Mallorca to perform at Castell Son Claret.

Castell Classics 2019

June 6th        The most talented soloists from the Accademia Teatro Alla Scala in Milan.

July 4th          Young Singers of the Salzburg Festival – graduate soloists from the Young Singers Project.

August 17th    Soloists from the Zurich Opera House (NEW for 2019): soprano Olga Kulchynska and baritone Konstantin Shushakov.

Each of these al fresco events starts at 7.30pm with a welcome cocktail and includes a gala dinner menu, wines, and the concert, at a cost of 205€ per person. Book, or obtain more details about the Castell Classics 2019, by emailing events@castellsonclaret.com.

Our experience of Castell Classics 2018

It was still daylight when we arrived at the 5-star Castell Son Claret, in the southwest of Mallorca, for the second in the sixth season of  opera nights known as Castell Classics.

We declined the offer of an electric-buggy ride from the car park up to the hotel entrance so that we could walk (I, in high heels, tottered) 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 come 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 hotel garden, 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 (Zaranda) and Pep Forteza (Olivera) and their brigades created a wonderful dinner once again. On the menu: a snappy wafer-thin ‘coca’ of confit tomatoes, Sóller 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 for anyone who appreciates opera, good food and wine, and memorable experiences.

NEW FOR 2019

Castell Son Claret is adding three new exclusive pool suites this year. With this extension the hotel will have a total of 41 suites and guest rooms on the 123-hectare estate. The pool suites will have a fresh and modern-looking interior and the outdoor pool (2m x 5m) will be heated by solar cells.

LISTEN UP!

The talented madrileño chef Fernando P Arellano of Zaranda is in conversation with me this Saturday morning (16th February) on ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio 106.1FM or streamed on http://www.mallorcasunshineradio.com.

©Jan Edwards 2019

Review of Dinner at El Patio de Gloria

Leave a comment
Eat / Restaurants

The 5-star Hotel Glòria de Sant Jaume in Palma de Mallorca’s old town has been open for just over a year – during which time we’ve visited its intimate and comfortable bar several times for drinks with various friends. It’s a super little bar with a cosy ambience. The impressive old cash register on the bar counter is always a talking point – although I wouldn’t want to have to polish it!

We hadn’t tried the hotel’s restaurant El Patio de Glòria. Frankly, Palma de Mallorca has quite a few good eateries and this one wasn’t yet on our restaurant radar when eating out in Mallorca’s capital. And then, last month, we heard that a new chef had been appointed. That new chef is Javier Gardonio, who worked for Fernando P Arellano at his Michelin-starred Zaranda, initially when the restaurant was in Madrid. When Fernando moved Zaranda to Mallorca, he brought Javier (and others) with him. Javier’s years of Michelin-star restaurant experience with Arellano made him a shoo-in when El Patio de Glòria was appointing a new chef.

Like the rest of the boutique Hotel Glòria de Sant Jaume, the restaurant is elegant in a classical way. You don’t need to access it through the hotel foyer (although it’s worth seeing), as El Patio de Glòria also has a separate entrance direct from the street. Entering from the bar, you notice the handsome fireplace surround – which wouldn’t look out of place in the dining room of a grand private home. Attractive lighting, old paintings on the walls, and comfortable chairs add to this homely feeling. Sparkling glassware and cutlery adorn the tables and the artisan-made tableware (from Mallorca’s Ceramica Terra Cuita) is patterned in the style of the Mallorcan traditional ‘cloth of tongues’ fabric.

Our dinner at El Patio de Glòria

We were greeted warmly by Miguel Hermida, whom I instantly recognised. He too previously worked at Zaranda and now oversees front of house at El Patio de Glòria. Miguel is welcoming, helpful and has a good sense of humour. We watched him during the evening as he dealt with diners of different nationalities and were impressed by his ability to switch from Spanish to English to German. He’s highly professional.

Miguel Hermida and Javier Gardonio

Miguel (left) and chef Javier – a top team

Chef Javier Gardonio created the new El Patio de Glòria à la carte menu, which includes dishes cooked in a Kamado oven. For meat eaters, the roast shoulder of lamb (for two people) is highly recommended; it comes with home-made hummus, yogurt, bulgar, and pistachio and almond dukka. Miguel gently teased the succulent meat from the bone using only a pair of spoons. The Boss and I agreed it was up there with some of the best lamb dishes we’d had on the island.

Our dinner was a thoroughly enjoyable experience in terms of cuisine, ambience, and service. Interestingly, the well-known Mallorcan chef Santi Taura (who owns Santi Taura and Dins Santi Taura restaurants in Lloseta) was also there for dinner that night and, when we spoke to him before we left, he seemed to have enjoyed his meal too.

Menú del día

From February 4th, the restaurant is now offering a weekday three-course lunchtime menú del día, with a choice of two dishes for each course, for 21,50€ (including a glass of wine or beer). We haven’t tried it yet but, with El Patio de Glòria now on our restaurant radar, it’s only a matter of time.

El Patio de Glòria is open daily for lunch 13:00-15:30h and dinner 19:30-22:30h. I recommend making a *reservation. With Javier and Miguel now here, this restaurant seems set to become very popular.

*Email: patio@gloriasantjaume.com or tel +34 971 717 997

Jan Edwards© 2019

Review of New-look Son Vida Spa

Leave a comment
Hotels / Spas

It’s easy to be impressed by the 5-star Castillo Hotel Son Vida in Palma de Mallorca: its imposing castle tower, huge terrace with spectacular elevated views across Palma to the bay, and stately interior have appealed to visitors to Mallorca since 1961, when the property first opened as a luxury hotel. Many famous people have stayed here, including Prince Rainier of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Aristotle Onassis, Maria Callas, Anthony Quinn, Pedro Almodóvar, and Claudia Schiffer.

Although I’ve not stayed overnight at the Castillo Hotel Son Vida, I’ve been to several lunch or dinner functions at the prestigious hotel at the heart of the Son Vida estate – which is dotted with architect-designed villas and look-at-me mansions. I’d also had a relaxing spa day at the hotel two years ago with a girlfriend; we went on a weekday and had the place almost to ourselves.

Easy parking, easy access

The Son Vida Spa was renovated late last year and I was curious to see the new-look version, so The Boss and I went this week to check the place out. Our first surprise was finding that the hotel has added a separate car park for spa users. Park your car, take the lift or the steps up, and you arrive up right at the spa entrance. No need to walk through the hotel itself. Check in at the spa desk and you’re off to the changing rooms armed with locker key and disposable flip-flops. The locker contains a generous sized robe for use while you’re here. Piles of fresh fluffy towels are everywhere. No need to sit wrapped in a damp towel here!

Only the indoor pool area remains unchanged. It overlooks the wooded hills of Son Vida and, on a sunny day, it’s a glorious place to swim, poach yourself (in the Jacuzzi), and relax on the thick-cushioned poolside loungers. Everything else within the spa has been renovated.

Facilities include a gym (open 24 hours a day!), where 14 state-of-the-art Techno Gym machines await the serious exerciser. The new wet area has a Finnish sauna, bio sauna, and steam room, with ice fountain and the appropriately named adventure showers for the necessary cooling off afterwards. In the anteroom to the wet area, you can help yourself to fruit and flavoured water at no additional cost.

Through another wooden door and you’re in the relaxation area, where more loungers are available for those who prefer a quieter environment.

Tailored treatments

The beauty therapy rooms at Castillo Hotel Son Vida used to be in another part of the hotel but the spa renovation has brought the facilities together. The upper floor of the Son Vida Spa is home to the beauty and therapy reception area, changing rooms, and four (two single, two double) light-filled treatment rooms, with good views. This floor also has a door into the hotel itself.

Therapist Maria showed me to one of these rooms for my pre-arranged facial – a treat while The Boss was lounging and reading by the pool. Son Vida Spa uses two product ranges: Maria Galland of Paris – based on pure essences – and Demarés. The latter is a Mallorcan brand, with products made from natural ingredients – and no nasties.

My Mosaic Modelling Treatment lasted 80 minutes. Eighty of the most relaxing minutes I’d had for a very long time. Maria has worked as a beauty therapist at the hotel for 12 years and is a great asset here. Had she ever treated any celebrities? I asked, imagining her working her magic on Hugh Laurie when he was staying here during the filming of The Night Manager. The rich and famous have nothing to worry about here: Maria wouldn’t even mention any names, let alone share any famous folk’s foibles. She could probably be trusted with state secrets…

The Mosaic Modelling Treatment is personalised for each client by the therapist, who selects the most beneficial essences to use with the various potions and lotions. These jewel-coloured essences are from caviar, black orchid, malachite, white truffle, silver, gold, and hyaluronate (no, I hadn’t heard of that either). At one point, Maria applied a mask of clay, which self-heated as it hardened on my face. It made conversation a little difficult but felt strangely pleasant. By the time Maria had finished, my skin felt dewy, soft, and smooth. I’d go as far as to say that this was probably the best facial I’ve had on Mallorca: a comfortable environment, experienced and friendly therapist, and a divine treatment that made a positive difference to the feel and look of my skin.

What does it cost to use the Son Vida Spa?

If you’re an official resident of the Balearics, you can take advantage of special day-spa rates – which are published on this website. If you’re not resident, a day pass costs 65€ (at time of writing).  Son Vida Spa at Mallorca’s Castillo Hotel Son Vida also offers spa membership for 115€ a month (no registration fee).

Jan Edwards ©2019

Review of Vandal Restaurant in Palma de Mallorca

Leave a comment
Eat / Restaurants

Walk past the Palma de Mallorca restaurant Vandal during the daytime and you could be forgiven for thinking that this corner building – with a rather unexciting exterior in daylight – could be a nightclub. Come at night and it’s a different story. I’d wanted to try this Santa Catalina restaurant since it opened in 2017, but somehow we didn’t make it.

Back in February this year, I attended the Associació de Periodistes i Escriptors Gastronomics de Balears‘ annual awards ceremony and Vandal was awarded the title of 2017’s ‘Revelation restaurant’. I made a mental note that we really should try this restaurant.

OK, it took longer than expected, but we – in the company of some foodie friends – finally made it to Vandal recently. In the meantime, The Boss and I had had the opportunity to taste some of executive chef Bernabé Caravotta’s food as he was one of two guest chefs cooking at Ponderosa Beach’s Chefs’ Day, which ended their 2018 season in October. Resolve had been further strengthened by that particular culinary experience.

Influenced by world travel

Vandal is the product of its two creative owners’ international careers and offers one of Palma’s most diverse and innovative menus. Executive chef Bernabé Caravotta worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Denmark – Mirazur and with René Redzepi at the renowned Noma, respectively – and at the Blue Elephant Thai cooking school in Thailand, before moving to Mallorca in 2007.

Bernabé’s restaurant partner Sebastián Pérez is the sommelier and restaurant director. Sebastián also worked in several notable restaurants, including some in New York, before coming to Mallorca in 2002. Little wonder that the menu at Vandal is influenced by their global travel and experiences.

Vandal’s décor has an industrial vibe: the design even incorporates some corrugated iron on the walls. Stools at the green-tiled bar counter are ideal for a drink before eating and the semi-open kitchen allows you to see the chefs at work.

Temptations galore…

The menu card layout looks a bit bewildering at first sight because its design is also innovative. As well as the name of each dish, it shows the country of origin and what tools you’ll need to eat it (hand, fork, or fork and spoon). A suggested drink pairing is also shown for each dish but there’s also a good wine list which, like the cuisine, features international influences. The helpful serving staff are on hand with advice and explanations if needed. Our server was particularly patient: we hadn’t seen our friends for a while and had some conversational catching-up to do, which initially distracted us from the important business of perusing the menu.

We all ordered different dishes (some are shown above – but not captioned, because I don’t want to spoil any surprises) and there was some sharing. I’d recommend doing this as it’s hard to choose with so many temptations on offer – and some dish sizes are not huge. My personal food favourites were the ceviche cornet with coconut foam, the flavourful roasted chicken croquettes with curried apple purée, and the dish named ‘When suckling pig meets curry’. Save room for one of the desserts too: mine was named ‘Childhood feelings’ and the menu informed me this was to be eaten by hand. Not only were the flavours of all the dishes exciting, but the presentation also added visual appeal.

I love that Vandal is different to other restaurants in Palma and apparently so do plenty of other people.The restaurant booking website El Tenedor has named its 100 best restaurants in Spain – based on the opinions of its users, concerning the food, service and ambience of the restaurants. Seven restaurants in Mallorca made it onto the list and, yes, Vandal was one of them. Needless to say, if you want to eat dinner at Vandal (open daily from 19:30h), you do need to book in advance.

Jan Edwards ©2019

Mallorca’s Finca Aubocassa Marks 20 Years of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Leave a comment
Eat / Mallorca extra virgin olive oil

As celebrations go, the one to mark the 20th anniversary of Aubocassa Extra Virgin Olive Oil was one I shall remember for a long time – and not just because Mallorca’s autumn weather was particularly fine that day. I’d been meaning to visit Finca Aubocassa for some time, so an invitation to one of two events held to mark the anniversary was the perfect prompt.

Countryside around Finca Aubocassa

Rural tranquillity at Finca Aubocassa

Finca Aubocassa is not far from Manacor in the east of Mallorca and is a typical example of a Mallorcan country house, or possessió, with land given over to farming. The estate dates from the 12th century and had a succession of local owners before it became the property of Palma de Mallorca’s noble Despuig family, who built the Renaissance chapel standing in front of the house. Later, under the ownership of the Verí family, the estate became one of the area’s most productive working farms, with winemaking an important activity.

 

Evidence of a fruitful agricultural past still remains. The cellar is a reminder of the days of wine production; shady pastures and pens reveal that livestock was raised here, and almond, fig, and carob trees abound.

Liquid gold

But it was the revival of the olive groves that has made this finca famous today. In 1998, the owners of Bodegas Roda (on the Spanish Peninsula) and this estate in Mallorca, produced their first extra virgin olive oil here – named Aubocassa. Their cultivation of olives is done with respect for the soil, the flora, and local fauna, with minimal use of fertilizers and chemicals. The company embraces both tradition and innovation in the production of its two types of extra virgin olive oils (the original Aubocassa and later addition L’Amo Aubocassa).

Bodegas Roda’s general manager, Agustín Santolaya, and Tiffany Blackman – who looks after the Mallorcan estate – welcomed around 100 guests to Finca Aubocassa for the first celebration of the 20th anniversary. I was there with other members of the media, chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers, sommeliers, event organisers, and others.

Our finca tour

Armed with a megaphone, the charismatic Agustín gave us an informative and entertaining introduction to the estate, its history, and a commentary on the whole process of making Aubocassa’s extra virgin olive oils. We began the event on the large terrace in front of the house and made our way around the finca to the olive groves, where we watched part of the olive-harvesting process in action. Agustín told us that the harvested olives used to be taken to the co-operative press in Sóller but, in 2015, Finca Aubocassa inaugurated its own press – one that’s unique in Spain. These days the olives go straight from harvesting to pressing – you can’t get much fresher than that!

 

From the groves, we walked through the building housing the press and were able to see the precious juice of the olives as it was extracted. We learnt that it usually takes between eight and nine kilos of olives to produce a litre of Aubocassa. The aroma in this building was mouthwatering, giving us an appetite for the picnic lunch that awaited us.

The words ‘picnic lunch’ hardly seemed adequate to describe what we all sat down to. Two long attractively decorated tables, with crisp white linen, were set out in an olive grove; the delicious aroma of grilled meats drifted from the caterers’ BBQ nearby. Olive oil and wines from Bodegas Roda (Rioja) and La Horra (Ribera del Duero) – for which Agustín Santolaya is also responsible – flowed. Birds sang. It all reminded me of those dreamy Mediterranean scenes you see in films, where everyone sits down at a long table to share food, wine, and conversation after the olive or grape harvest is finished. The difference here was that we guests hadn’t had to do any work for our lunch!

 

Congratulations to Finca Aubocassa on 20 years of producing the award-winning Aubocassa extra virgin olive oil. Made from 100% arbequina olives, it captures the essence of this wonderful estate and the island of Mallorca in every luscious drop.  Both Aubocassa and L’Amo Aubocassa (made from arbequina and picual olives) carry the Denomination of Origin Oli de Mallorca.

Fancy a visit to Finca Aubocassa?

It’s possible – and highly recommended. The estate has recently inaugurated its Olive Oil & Wine Bar – open to all, where you can taste the oils and wines from Bodegas Roda and Bodegas La Horra.

In addition, Finca Aubocassa offers an olive-oil tourism experience: a tour of the finca and olive groves, visit to the press, and tasting of olive oil for 15€ per person; for an additional 15€ you can add a wine tasting to the experience. It’s essential to book if you want to enjoy one of these oleoturismo experiences: phone +34 971 100 388. And don’t worry if you don’t speak Spanish: Tiffany Blackman is American.

Tiffany was my guest on edition 19 of ‘Table Talk’ on Mallorca Sunshine Radio; listen to the interview about Finca Aubocassa here.

Jan Edwards ©2018

Mallorca’s Michelin Stars for 2019

Leave a comment
Chefs / Eat / Michelin

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018 was an important date on the Iberian gastronomic calendar. It’s when the Michelin Guide for Spain & Portugal 2019 was launched at a gala event at the Pavilhão Carlos Lopes in Lisbon. Seven of Lisbon’s chefs with Michelin stars prepared the dinner for the distinguished culinary guests – but the event was really all about announcing the new stars for 2019.

https://espacioprensa.michelin.es/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/GUIA_2019_01.jpg

Reminder of Mallorca’s stars for 2018

For 2018, nine restaurants across Mallorca were awarded a total of ten stars: Zaranda by Fernando P Arellano at the 5-star Castell Son Claret hotel in Es Capdellà was again the only Balearic restaurant with two stars.

This summer, Mallorcan chef Tomeu Caldentey – whose restaurant Bou (formerly Es Molí d’en Bou) had held one star since 2004 – said goodbye to his star when he closed that restaurant to replace it with a new one, offering a concept of more affordable dining. “We liberate ourselves from golden shackles and simplify the format in the search for truth,” Tomeu Caldentey says on his website. The term ‘golden shackles’ is an interesting one, don’t you think?  Michelin stars do have both advantages and disadvantages and Tomeu is one of a number of chefs who have relinquished their star(s) for one reason or another over the years.

Just this past week, the news broke that Álvaro Salazar – the young chef at the one-Michelin-star Argos (La Goleta Hotel in Puerto Pollensa) – had left the seasonal restaurant Argos to open a new restaurant at the 5-star Park Hyatt Mallorca in Canyamel in March 2019. Perhaps that hotel hopes to have a Michelin-starred restaurant for 2020…

Michelin stars for Mallorca 2019

Thirty new Michelin stars were announced tonight for restaurants across Spain (26) and Portugal (4). Sadly, the publishers of the famous red guide didn’t award any new stars for Mallorca or her sister islands.

However, the following seven restaurants in Mallorca have retained a total of eight stars for 2019:

Adrián Quetglas, Palma de Mallorca– 1 star
Andreu Genestra, Capdepera – 1 star
Es Fum, Costa d’en Blanes – 1 star
Es Racó d’es Teix, Deià – 1 star
Maca de Castro, Alcúdia – 1 star
Marc Fosh, Palma de Mallorca– 1 star
Zaranda, Es Capdellà – 2 stars

Congratulations to all of these restaurants and good luck for 2019!

Jan Edwards ©2018

Foodie News and Events from Mallorca

Leave a comment
Eat

 

Here are further details of some of the news and events from Mallorca’s world of hospitality and gastronomy, mentioned in my ‘Balearic Bites’ features this week on Mallorca Sunshine Radio.

Cooking the Books

Acclaimed British baker Justin Gellatly in the kitchen of mymuybueno Cookery School earlier this year

Justine Murphy of the multi-division business mybuybueno has cooked up a new idea for food lovers in Mallorca: the Cookbook Supper Club. The idea is that attendees gather together to prepare, cook, and eat supper (and clear up afterwards), creating an ambience much like that of a supper party at home cooked with friends. It’s a chance to be inspired by different chefs and put recipes from the month’s chosen cookbook to the test, alongside other keen cooks in the mymuybuenocookery school open kitchen in the heart of Palma.

Each month the price will change depending on the ingredients and recipes used. The Cookbook Supper Club will be for a maximum of ten people and take place on the last Thursday evening of each month.

The Cookbook Supper Club launches on Thursday, November 29th at 7pm, when attendees will cook and eat six dishes (including dessert of sweetened sticky rice, mango, and sweet coconut cream) from David Thompson’s cookbook Thai Food. The price for this inaugural event is 20€ a head. Take your own wine; Justine suggests a Riesling or similar would be most suitable. To book, email info@mymuybuenocookeryschool.com

A Ma Maison celebrates 7th anniversary

Two years ago, The Boss and I attended the 5th anniversary of the charming Tunisian restaurant A Ma Maison in Palma’s Santa Catalina district. The restaurant owner Saloua was a wonderful hostess – even donning a belly-dancing outfit and shaking it all about for part of the evening!  Two years on and it’s time to party again. A Ma Maison celebrates its 7th anniversary on Saturday, 24th November, with another ‘do’.  The event includes an open bar, Tunisian buffet, and lots of fun. Paul Martin – a talented Mallorca-based singer who gigs at several restaurants and hotels throughout the year – will entertain, so there will be dancing. A raffle with great prizes is also on the agenda.

Saloua is using this event to raise money for a Christmas lunch for 600 children in need on the island of Mallorca. Only 60 tickets are available for this anniversary party in Palma on the 24th, so it’s best to book now as they are selling fast. Tickets are 60 euros each and 10 euros from each ticket sold will go to Saloua’s Christmas lunch for kids in need. Book your tickets by calling on +34 971 919 697.

Tess de Mar introduces menú del día

Tess de Mar restaurant in Campos PHOTO COURTESY OF SA CREU NOVA ART HOTEL & SPA

Sa Creu Nova Art Hotel and Spa in the Mallorcan market town of Campos has closed for the winter break, but its two restaurants are still open for business. The Mediterranean restaurant Tess de Mar has launched a weekly-changing menú del día – a set three-course menu with a choice of starter and main courses and one dessert.  The menu at Tess de Mar is designed to be nourishing, balanced, and good value at 19€, excluding drinks.

Fera Business & Lifestyle Events

Dining area, Fera

One corner of the dining room at Fera

After celebrating its first anniversary recently, Fera Restaurant and Bar in Palma has announced that it will host a monthly networking Fera Business and Lifestyle Event.  These will include a lunch and masterclass – presented by an expert sharing their knowledge of business and lifestyle topics, trends, and opportunities.

Launch date is Tuesday, November 20th from 1pm. The first masterclass is entitled Discipline and Management and will be presented by Pablo Mielgo, director of the Balearic Symphony Orchestra. The cost is 60€ including IVA, for the masterclass, three-course lunch and wine. Contact Fera Restaurant and Bar in Palma to book your place.

Food Passion in Port Adriano

Port Adriano in Mallorca’s southwest is a tempting place to eat out this November. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout November, eight restaurants in the Philippe Starck-designed superyacht marina are taking part in the initiative Food Passion in Port Adriano. Each restaurant is offering a special tasting menu for lunch or dinner, costing between 16€ and 18€. Participating restaurants are coast by east, UMI, Ristorante Giuseppe, Bruno, Vino del Mar, La Cantina, El Faro del Toro, and La Oca 2. Find out more (including the menus) here.

Jan Edwards ©2018

Tess de Mar: a Great Reason to Visit Campos in Mallorca

Leave a comment
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

Leave a comment
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

Leave a comment
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 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!

* Your guide may not necessarily be Kate.

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. Prices correct at time of writing.

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