Foraged fruits in Mallorca

Leave a comment
Eat

Earlier this week we went hiking with our Dutch friends in the Orient valley – a truly beautiful part of rural Mallorca. As we kicked our way through fallen leaves on a forested path, we spotted several varieties of fungus – including a few that looked like something you’d find in a greengrocer’s.

Know what you’re doing

I love the idea of foraging: the searching, the gathering, and then using nature’s free gifts at home in the kitchen. But it’s vital to know what’s edible and what’s likely to land you in hospital (or worse still, the mortuary). As we spotted various different types of fungus, our friends told us a truly horrific story about someone they knew who had eaten some innocent-looking wild mushrooms they had gathered. No. Don’t be tempted by any wild fungi if you’re not 100% sure that they’re edible.

A wild fruit you can eat

Further along the forest path we saw an arbutus or, to give it its common name in English, a strawberry tree. This tree’s pretty little fruits – known in Spain as madroños – are edible, although I hear they don’t have much flavour. Still shaken from the horrors of the mushroom story, I chickened out of trying one.

Back at home, wondering how these abundant autumn fruits could be used in the kitchen, I did a little research. I found a photograph of a dessert Chocolate con madroños, which was on the menu at Tomeu Restaurant at the Hotel Sant Jaume in Palma earlier this week. Not sure if it’s still on offer, but the photo on Tomeu Restaurant’s Instagram page makes it look very appealing. Could be time for another visit to this relatively new (and excellent) restaurant…

©Jan Edwards 2017

Experience Andreu Genestra’s cuisine at Bistro Senzill

Leave a comment
Drink / Eat

If you like to eat at Michelin-starred restaurants on your travels and have visited Mallorca, chances are you’ve eaten at the excellent Andreu Genestra, named after its chef and proprietor. This restaurant has held one Michelin star since 2015 and much of the delicious creative cuisine is based on produce grown on the land adjoining the rural Hotel Predi de Son Jaumell (Capdepera), where it’s located under Andreu’s arrangement with the hotel owners.

But if your funds won’t stretch to a Michelin-starred splurge, I’d like to recommend the hotel’s other restaurant – also under Andreu’s control. After enjoying dinner there with friends visiting from the UK, we made a return visit recently for an al fresco dinner at Bistro Senzill. Again, we sat on the wisteria-covered terrace, which must look stunning when the climbing plant is in flower (a good excuse to return – not that one is needed!). The bistro is also open for lunch and some dishes are available throughout the afternoon from 12:30-18:30h.

The food

The menu has various sections: ‘Senzill Moment’, ‘Sharing Platters’ (available from 12:30-18:30h), ‘Our Specialities’,  ‘Josper Section’,  ‘Senzill’s Garden’ and ‘Sweet Sighs’. If that’s not enough choice, check out the ‘Suggestions’ menu and the four-course tasting menu.  The varied cuisine should offer something to suit most people, including vegetarians – as you would expect in a hotel that clearly has international appeal.

We started our dinner by sharing a portion of the Lebanese fattoush with marinated red tuna and Mallorcan cheese (15€) and samosas of red shrimp from Cala Rajada with sweet-and-sour yogurt (12€). We had already tucked into a selection of delicious home-made bread, which came with flavoured butter. The fresh-tasting fattoush was a generous portion and we had three well-filled samosas.

Bistro Senzill has a tandoor oven and, as a fan of good Indian cuisine, I couldn’t resist the tandoori sea bass with biryani rice (26€), which deliciously surpassed my expectations. (Andreu Genestra loves spices and, during his last visit to India, must have boosted the country’s spice trade before returning to Mallorca). Our very good dinner ended with us sharing the goat’s cheese ice cream with spicy honey and carrot cake (6€).

Wines & spirits

If you’re not driving, I’d recommend a pre-meal G&T, made from the cleverly named gin Ginestra (12€). It’s made by the Mallorcan drinks company Tunel (which makes the famous green liqueur known as ‘hierbas’) to the recipe created by Andreu and his knowledgeable restaurant maître d’ David.

The wine list at Bistro Senzill features wines from Mallorca and the Peninsula, with organic and biodynamic wines marked as such.  Helpfully, the white wines are divided into categories: fruity, light, & dry; intense & perfumed, and structured & aged in oak barrels. The reds are categorised as: young, fruit, & fresh; medium body, and powerful, rich & aged in oak barrels.

You may not be surprised to learn that the enterprising Andreu also has his own wines (and vines). The four wines on the list when we visited were Genestral Blanc, Genestral Rosé, Genestral Negre Jove, and Genestral Negre Criança. With the exception of the latter, these are also available by the glass (5€). If you eat at Andreu’s excellent-value Palma restaurant Aromata, you’ll find his wines there too.  (By the way, a three-course lunch at Aromata costs 15,50 euros – which includes bread and a glass of wine, beer, or water. For the quality, it is a genuine bargain).

Worth a return (or first) visit

As well as the relaxing ambience, attractive setting, and good food and drink, we had pleasant efficient service at Bistro Senzill; it all added up to one of those evenings that stick in the memory for all the right reasons. The hotel (including its two restaurants) is due to close mid-November for the winter break, so there’s still time to try Andreu Genestra‘s Bistro Senzill this season in Mallorca.

Prices correct at time of writing.

©Jan Edwards 2017

A third location for Palma’s Can Joan de s’Aigo

Leave a comment
Bakeries / Cafes and bars / Drink / Eat

Mallorca’s capital Palma has lost quite a few well-established businesses in recent months – many of them traditional cafés, bars, or bakeries. We said goodbye to Café Lírico in spring and, just a few weeks ago, Bar Cristal in Plaça d’Espanya closed; the latter had been founded in 1930 and managed by the same family since 1955. Over the past decade, more than 30 bakeries in Palma have shut their doors for good. This year’s closures have included El Forn (mallorquín for oven) des Paners, Pasteleria Llull, and Forn d’es Teatre (probably one of the most-photographed shop fronts in the city).

Old bakery in Palma

One of many bakeries to close its doors

Palma’s changing commercial centre

Reasons for the closure of these family-owned businesses include retirement (with no younger members of the family willing to continue the business), growth in supermarket shopping (impacting on traditional bakeries), and – the biggie – increased commercial property rents. International chains including Starbucks and McDonald’s have opened in the city (sadly, IMHO) and, recognizing that the Big Boys are prepared to pay top dollar (or euro) for a presence in Palma, some commercial property owners have hiked up rents to the extent that it’s no longer viable for some local traders to continue in business.

Can Joan de s'Aigo interior

Traditional details in Can Joan de s’Aigo’s C/ de Sans premises

Local business bucking the trend

People saddened by the increasing loss of traditional local businesses in Mallorca’s capital have welcomed recent news from Can Joan de s’Aigo (founded here in the 18th century). The café/bakery/ice-cream parlour is to open a third branch in Palma, in an architecturally interesting building that once housed the emblematic El Triquet bar but, more recently, a fashion store.  Its prime location on the corner of the Avenidas (inner ring road) and C/ Sindicat will make it more visible to passing visitors and locals than its existing branches in C/ de Sans and Baró de Santa Maria del Sepulcre.

The new Can Joan de s’Aigo is expected to open after Christmas 2017. Read more about the business and its branch in C/ de Sans here.

Update: When I wrote this post, little did I know that Palma was about to lose another traditional café/bar. Bar Cristal’s neighbour, Cafe 1916 – where we have had many coffees over the years – closed down at the end of September. The nature of Plaça d’Espanya continues to change…and sadly not for the better.

©Jan Edwards 2017

Cute coffee stop in Porto Cristo

Leave a comment
Cafes and bars / Drink

This summer we again regularly went down to Porto Cristo for an early morning swim before the holidaymakers hit the beach. We rewarded our efforts with a visit to La Magrana, a cute little café/restaurant which faces the side of the church (Plaça del Carme). The name of the place is mallorquín for ‘pomegranate’; you’ll spot a few of the fruits in the décor…

Parking is easy (pay at the meter if it’s after 10am) and it’s then just a few steps up the road to the traditional Mallorcan townhouse that’s home to La Magrana, where you can sit on the front terrace looking at the church, indoors (there are also a couple of cosy side rooms), or in the charming enclosed garden at the back.

Coffee…and more

Although we’ve never had more than a post-swim coffee, juice, and a pastry here, the homely La Magrana does offer cooked food (including a Sunday breakfast) and alcoholic drinks and is probably a popular spot for an evening drink in that pretty candlelit garden. We particularly like the woman who owns the place: she’s friendly and her creative artistry is evident in the décor. We also discovered that she speaks English (which may be useful if you don’t speak Spanish), when we overheard her talking to some Scottish customers on the next table during our last visit.

If you fancy a coffee in Porto Cristo and don’t mind being without the sea view, check out La Magrana.  And if you try the food, I’d love to know what you think of it.

La Magrana is closed on Mondays.

©Jan Edwards 2017

On the ball at Rafa Nadal’s Sport Cafe

Leave a comment
Drink / Eat

Taking my coeliac father out to eat during his visits to Mallorca used to feel as though we were playing Russian Roulette. Would he or wouldn’t he unintentionally ingest some gluten and end up in agony? Thankfully, following the changes made to the EU Food Allergen Laws in December 2014, I’m much more confident about him eating out in Mallorca.

Last week, during his late-summer visit, we went for lunch at Rafa Nadal’s Sport Café in Manacor, where a nutritionist is involved in devising the cuisine. The rain was bucketing down that day and our choice of eatery for lunch was determined by the availability of car parking right alongside the venue.

The café itself is within the complex housing the Rafa Nadal Sports Centre and his Museum Xperience – and you don’t have to be visiting either of those to eat (or have a drink) here. The café is spacious, furnished in minimalist style, and bright – with views onto a terraced area (for al fresco eating) and down over the tennis courts where the Academy’s international students play. It’s a friendly informal place for lunch or drinks and the bar end of the venue has several large wall-mounted TVs screening sporting events.

The lunch menu on the day of our visit:

Starters

Mediterranean salad (with tinned tuna and boiled egg)

Vegetable soup

Pasta with puttanesca sauce

Mains

Roasted chicken with oven potatoes

Grilled sea bream with vegetables

Timbal of quinoa and vegetables (vegetarian)

Desserts

Seasonal fruits

Almond cake with ice cream

Vanilla flan

Between us, we tried all of the starters, two of the main courses, and all the desserts. No complaints from anyone.

An à la carte menu (untried so far) is also available at lunchtime (13:00-16:00h) and in the evenings. As a price guide, main course dishes range between 15,90€ (vegetable timbale with smoked-cheese sauce) and 20,50€ (sirloin steak in truffle sauce with chips and baked apple).

Gluten-free bread

We ordered drinks (wine by the glass and water) and a basket of warm bread rolls was swiftly brought to the table. Several minutes later, having been told that my dad was a coeliac, our server brought him a mini-baguette of gluten-free bread (fresh from the oven and inside a special sealed bag). He hadn’t even asked about the availability of suitable bread, so top marks to them.

The Boss and I have eaten lunch at the Sport Café on quite a few occasions – including with vegetarian friends. In the week you pay 10€ for a daily changing three-course set lunch (with choices, but drinks not included at that price!). At weekends the price is a little higher at 15€.

Rafa Nadal’s Sport Café is one of my top recommendations for a great-value lunch in the Manacor area, with a free adjacent car park. The service is efficient and swift – thankfully not as fast as Rafa’s on a tennis court – and the food is well prepared and presented. And you never know who may be there: we’ve seen Carlos Moya in the bar area but, so far, no sighting of Rafa. We’ll just have to keep visiting…

©Jan Edwards 2017

Prices correct at time of writing.

Mallorcan olive oil wins British ‘Great Taste’ Award

Leave a comment
Eat / Mallorca extra virgin olive oil

An extra virgin olive oil producer in Mallorca is celebrating a prestigious food award from Britain. Judges in the British ‘Great Taste’ 2017 Awards – organised by the Guild of Fine Food – awarded two stars to L’AMO Aubocassa, which is produced on Aubocassa’s 12th-century country estate, in the municipality of Manacor.

L’AMO Aubocassa was named for L’amo en Sebastiá – which means Sebastiá the owner; Sebastiá lived at Aubocassa for 40 years. In naming this oil after him, the producers wanted to pay homage to all the ‘amos‘ who have maintained the agricultural heritage of Mallorca over the centuries.

DO Oli de Mallorca

This rural estate produces two extra virgin olive oils: Aubocassa and L’AMO Aubocassa – both of which have the (Denomination of Origin) DO Oli de Mallorca. L’AMO Aubocassa is made from Arbequina and Picual olives; Aubocassa from 100% Arbequina olives. Both oils have now won awards.

‘Great Taste’ 2017 Facts

  • The ‘Great Taste’ Awards scheme is the benchmark for fine artisan and speciality foods. It has been called the ‘Oscars’ of the food world.
  • A record number of 12,366 products were entered this year.
  • More than 500 experienced palates – those of chefs, food critics, restaurateurs, cooks, food writers, and journalists – blind-tasted each product.
  • 3,171 products were awarded one star
  • 1,011 were awarded two stars
  • 165 were awarded three stars

According to the Guild of Fine Food, the judges are looking for truly great taste. “Yes, they take into account texture, appearance and of course quality ingredients; they like a good aroma, a decent bite to a sausage, a smooth lemon curd, crunchy rich pastry, but everything comes back to the taste. Is it really, truly great?”

In the case of L’AMO Aubocassa, clearly, yes!

Where to buy L’AMO Aubocassa in the UK

If you’re in Britain, you can buy L’AMO Aubocassa and the original Aubocassa extra virgin olive oils from the Spanish food company Brindisa (established in 1988). Brindisa has shops in London’s Borough Market and in Balham (London borough of Wandsworth), and an online store too.

©Jan Edwards 2017                   Photos courtesy of Aubocassa.

Where Diana, Princess of Wales, stayed in Mallorca

comments 2
Sleep

Twenty years ago today. I will never forget the day that Princess Diana died.  The radio station where I was a presenter had arranged a huge roadshow event at Silverstone, with top bands and singers due to perform. Because I made an early start from home I didn’t catch any news before I left and it wasn’t until I was en route that I switched on the car radio and heard about Diana’s death. Obviously, the station cancelled the event.

I had met ‘the People’s Princess’ twice. Once, at the end of a sponsored wheelchair push from Edinburgh to London by three young paraplegics raising money for the International Spinal Research Trust. Diana was the patron of the charity and greeted the three wheelchair users on arrival at their final destination.  I was there as PR executive for the chain Crest Hotels, having arranged free hotel accommodation along the route for the three wheelchair users.

To my surprise, Princess Diana subsequently invited me to a special reception at Kensington Palace for all those who had been involved. She chatted to everyone there and we also saw her being a normal mum: at one stage Diana had to chide the two young princes for being boisterous. On both occasions, Diana charmed everyone she met.

Escaping the world

The Princess of Wales lived her life under a spotlight – sometimes of her own making. But in the spring of 1996 she found sanctuary during a weekend’s stay at the Mallorca hotel known today as Belmond La Residencia in Deià, where her framed letter of thanks to the hotel still hangs on the wall in the reception area.

Quite a few changes have happened at the hotel since Diana stayed and she’d probably love it even more now; especially as the hotel added some new suites this year – with a high degree of privacy.

Here are some of my photos of this beautiful hotel – a place where any girl can feel like a princess.

©Jan Edwards 2017

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Palma’s 2nd gastronomic market is open

comments 3
Drink / Eat / Markets

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If you’ve visited and enjoyed Mercado Gastronómico San Juan in Palma, you’re likely to enjoy the new Mercat 1930, which has opened in an iconic building on Palma’s Paseo Marítimo. Mercat 1930 – Palma Gastronomic Market opened earlier this month and has a similar concept to San Juan, although it is smaller.

It’s easy to find, being adjacent to Tito’s nightclub (can’t miss that one!) and opposite the new Social Boutique Club (due to open soon) in the middle of the Paseo. Mercat 1930 has a terrace area (in front of Tito’s) for al fresco eating and drinking, but I’d recommend eating indoors for the ambience and industrial-chic décor.

Back in the day…

The building itself has a great history: it opened as a hotel in 1910, when the Paseo didn’t exist; at that time, there were just a few rocks between the hotel’s terrace and the Mediterranean Sea.  In the 1930s the Mallorcan architect Francesc Roca Simó reformed the building, adding striking Art Deco features to the Gran Hotel Mediterráneo. It would have been a major landmark at that time and the developers of the new Mercat 1930 – Palma Gastronomic Market clearly hope that this prestigious building will again become a venue for socializing, eating, and drinking.

Eat and drink

Mercat 1930 has 16 stands – 13 for different types of food and three for drinks (beers, premium drinks – spirits, and a vermouth bar) – although all the food stands also sell wines and soft drinks. Browse from stand to stand to check out what’s on offer, buy your food, and eat it perched on a stool at the long central table.

I’d been to look inside Mercat 1930 on the Monday after it opened but had already eaten lunch, so The Boss and I returned yesterday to try the food. We’ll be back…

Mercat 1930 – Palma Gastronomic Market is open every day from 12 noon until midnight.

NEWS

I was pleased to receive a recent notification from Anuj Agarwal, founder of Feedspot, that Eat, drink, sleep, Mallorca had been selected as one of the top 50 Gastronomy Blogs on the web. Actually I was pretty stunned by that news – so thanks, guys.

 

©Jan Edwards 2017

Outdoor concerts and theatre at Mallorca hotels

Leave a comment
Drink / Eat / Hotels / Sleep

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Summer nights were made for outdoor events – at least on the island of Mallorca. I do remember The Boss and I once going to a concert on the lawns of Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire. We could barely hear the music for the sound of our teeth chattering – it was a really cold evening. However, the picnic basket for each concertgoer, prepared by the hotel’s famous French chef/patron Raymond Blanc, more than made up for the less-than-summery weather.

During the summer, Mallorca is the perfect place to enjoy al fresco cultural events – many of which start after the heat of the day has dissipated. Two of the island’s most luxurious 5-star hotels are well known for hosting such occasions.

Drama in Deià

Theatre al fresco

A magical setting for Shakespeare.

A few weeks ago we attended one of two magical performances of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the island’s Morgana Theatre Production Company in the beautiful garden of Belmond La Residencia in Deià. These two theatrical evenings were open to the public and free of charge. The hotel has strong artistic links and broadened its cultural offering this year to include literature. As well as the outdoor theatre performances, the hotel has created a Poets’ Walk within the grounds, which can be accessed at any time.

Belmond La Residencia is in the heart of the picturesque mountain village of Deià and welcomes members of the public to musical events and art exhibitions throughout the season. They have quite a programme for 2017 and events are scheduled into October.

Like and follow the Facebook page Belmond La Residencia to keep up to date with what’s happening.

‘Castell Classics’

Last Saturday evening we returned to Castell Son Claret – an independent country house hotel in a renovated 19th-century castle at the foot of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Serra de Tramuntana mountains. Castell Son Claret also has strong cultural links and every summer, since it opened in 2013, it has offered a series of outdoor concerts under the banner of ‘Castell Classics’, in which the cream of today’s young operatic singers perform.

Saturday’s ‘Young Singers of the Salzburg Festival’ concert was the third and final one for this summer and featured six talented performers (plus pianist Adrian Kelly – mustn’t forget him!). The programme included classical opera, operetta, and some surprise pieces, from composers including Rossini, Mozart, Puccini, Vaughan Williams, Schubert, and Lehar. A highlight for me was a memorable rendition of ‘I bought me a cat’ (Aaron Copland) sung by tenor Jamez McCorkle. I’m smiling now, just thinking about it!

The evening began with a drinks reception in the garden (accompanied by a variety of tasty snacks) and a three-course gala dinner with wines, on the spacious terrace where the stage had been set. It was an evening we’ll look back on during the coming winter months as a highlight of this summer.

Chef Fernando Pérez Arellano’s gala dinner

Although the hotel is set back from the road and behind large iron gates, its bar and two excellent restaurants – Olivera and the two-Michelin-starred Zaranda – are open to the public. Chef Fernando Pérez Arellano of Zaranda created the menu for this concert’s superb gala dinner. Diners were seated at large round tables so it was an opportunity to meet new people; our table included two British couples who had timed their holiday on the island to include this concert.

Like and follow their Facebook page Castell Son Claret to keep up to date with what’s happening.

©Jan Edwards 2017

A Palma spot for frozen-yogurt fans

Leave a comment
Eat

Palma is a popular city during the summer months and this August it’s even busier than ever, as a result of the numbers of Airbnb-ers staying in Mallorca’s capital and the huge cruise ships that dock in the port, disgorging thousands of passengers.

In Palma on Monday this week, I had a late-morning meeting and mid-afternoon radio studio booking. I figured there was just enough time between these two commitments to grab a quick something to eat for lunch. Except that ‘quick’ was out of the question: everywhere I checked was busy, busy, busy. I eventually found a place with a small vacant table for one (feeling like Jilly No-Mates), but waited long enough for the menu to make me realize that the food (which looked appealing) was unlikely to arrive before I had to leave again. So I left in search of something else.

Frozen yogurt for lunch

Plan B was to buy something snacky in the supermarket at department store El Corte Inglés but, on my way there (walking through the back streets of central Palma to avoid the crowds clogging the main thoroughfares), I came across a little café/frozen-yogurt parlour called Biscuiter. It looked new (it’s been open only a couple of weeks) and cute, so I decided frozen yogurt would be my lunch for the day.

It’s a place where you ‘build’ your own dish: you help yourself to a paper cup (una tarrina) and dispense the amount of plain yogurt you want from the machine (which is quite fun in itself). Then you add the toppings you want from those on display: sprinkles, sweeties, fruit, nuts, seeds, and the like. Take your cup to the counter, where it’s weighed and priced.

Eat in, on tables outside, or take away

I was quite pleased with the look of my creation, which featured fruit and nuts to keep it as healthy as possible; I enjoyed eating it too, perched on a stool by the window. There are a few small tables outside at the front or, of course, you can buy to take away.

Biscuiter also offers ready-made sandwiches and a few pastries, as well as hot and cold drinks, so if yogurt’s not your thing, you can at least grab something to eat here. It’s a very small place – the little ‘sister’ of Biscuiter in Barcelona – and I hope that the footfall in this street will be enough to keep them busy.

Central Palma has plenty of places where you can buy an ice cream (and frozen yogurt too), but at this time of year you can expect to have to wait in line for it. As Biscuiter is off the beaten track and still new, you should be able to get your fix of frozen yogurt without too much of a wait.

A word of warning

It would be easy to get carried away with the amount of yogurt and toppings you add. For the record, my frozen-yogurt ‘lunch’ at Palma’s Biscuiter weighed in at 230gm and cost me 5,17 euros. (If you’re feeling mathematically challenged – as a words girl, I often am – that’s 23 euros a kilo). Just saying…

©Jan Edwards 2017