Mallorcan dishes star in Israeli TV show

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Eat

You know a place’s reputation as a gastronomic destination has spread when TV companies start flying in to record shows. And that’s exactly what’s happened here on Mallorca: both Rick Stein and Yotam Ottolenghi have been to the island in previous years with British TV production companies. In the past few days alone, the UK’s The Hairy Bikers – Dave Myers and Si King – have been on Mallorca filming for a new series. I’d hoped to interview them for my show on Mallorca Sunshine Radio but, alas, it wasn’t to be.

Hebrew TV comes to Palma

The popular Brit presenters weren’t the only ones making a food programme here. An Israeli company – Erez Dan Production – has also been on the island, filming for one of Israel’s most popular food programmes on a mainstream TV channel. Don’t ask me the Hebrew name of it, but the concept is to feature the top five dishes in major cities all around the world – as determined by social media.

The TV company was looking for a Mallorca food blogger to take part in the Palma edition of the programme and invited me to be involved in part of it. Quite a few years have passed since my time as a corporate video presenter, but the prospect of being back in the exciting world of filming for a little while was one I couldn’t resist.

Ensaïmada

The company’s online research had revealed that one of Palma’s five most social-media-featured dishes is the ensaimada – Mallorca’s best-known baked product – and we filmed at a place that’s famous for them.  Ca’n Joan de S’aigo is in C/ Sanç in Palma’s Old Town; the business was established in 1700 and is also renowned for its ice creams and hot chocolate. Ca’n Joan de S’aigo is one of the oldest ‘chocolatiers’ in Europe and it’s still a popular tradition to come here for hot chocolate and ensaimadas after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve – when the place stays open late especially.

Traditional décor, including chandelier from Mallorcan company Gordiola.

Nadav, the Israeli TV foodie programme’s presenter, and I were first filmed strolling around the Old Town, talking about ensaimadas. Then we arrived at Ca’n Joan de S’Aigo, where the charming manager Pedro took us through to the kitchen to film some ensaimada production with the baker.  Nadav even took a turn at rolling out the lardy dough and shaping it into a spiral, ready for proving.

The crew in Ca’n Joan de S’aigo’s kitchen: Nadav is wearing the white apron.

Pedro (left) with Nadav in the kitchen.

Finally Nadav and I sat down to eat a fresh-from-the-oven ensaimada, which we both agreed was delicious and as light as eating a cloud – even though the quantity of lard in them means they’re surely heavy in calories. Not that the slim Nadav – who must eat a lot of food in the course of his travels for this innovative TV show in Israel – has any problems on that score…

And I did get to interview Nadav; I asked him about the TV programme: [audio

Text and photos Jan Edwards ©2017

Mallorca’s best apricots have a fiesta

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Eat / Events for foodies

The best apricots on Mallorca undoubtedly come from Porreres. Before moving to live on rural Mallorca, I wasn’t too fussed about apricots but, when I tasted the delicious ones from this rural town, I became a fan.

In the 1960s and ’70s, apricots were an important part of the economy of Porreres and the fruits were even exported as far as America. To this day, the town still hosts an annual celebration of the fruit, La Fira de l’Albercoc, although far fewer apricots are cultivated than in the glory days of the last century.

A saintly reason to climb a ladder

If you’re on Mallorca in June, it’s worth a visit to this one-day event, which has a great ambience and seems to bring the entire population of Porreres into the streets to enjoy all-things-apricot. June has the saint’s day for Sant Antoni de Padua – sometimes known here as Sant Antoni of the Albercocs, because it’s a traditional date to climb that rickety old ladder and pick the ripened apricots, warmed by the sun, from the tree.

At this year’s Fira, we visited stalls laden with heaps of fresh and dried apricots for sale; there were jars of preserves, baked goods, ice cream, juice, and even artisan beer – all made from the luscious fruits. My favourite variety has a rosy blush, which I believe is locally known as the rojo carlet.

We were also able to watch a group of people stoning apricots ready to be laid out to dry in the sun, and visit an interesting exhibition of artefacts and photos relating to apricot cultivation in Porreres in the past.

While there, we tried…

… a savoury tapa garnished with apricot, accompanied by a glass of artisan beer; a glass of apricot juice, and some delicious tartlets made with apple and apricot under a crumble topping. The latter were so good that we bought two more to take home for dessert the following day (with some home-made apricot and cardamom ice cream I had already made). After all that, we didn’t need dinner last Saturday evening…

Text and photos Jan Edwards ©2017

Vermouth & tapas in Manacor’s market

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When we moved to rural Mallorca in 2004, one of the quickest lifestyle adjustments we made was the way we bought our fresh produce. In the UK, we mostly bought fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish in Sainsbury’s – our nearest supermarket – because there simply wasn’t enough non-working time to schlep around individual food shops or street markets.

We had plenty of time on our hands when we first moved here, so began to shop like the locals: going to the marketplace in Manacor to buy fruit and vegetables, the adjacent fishmonger’s  shop, and a butcher’s shop where we used to buy the small amount of meat that we eat.

This friendly stallholder has been selling produce on the market since we moved to rural Mallorca

Our Saturday morning shopping trips to the busy market usually meant a few encounters between our ankles and the bulging Rolser shopping trolleys that everyone seemed to use for their market shopping. It was atmospheric and fun…if sometimes a little bruising!

Supermarkets on the rise

Since those days, the town’s original supermarkets have been modernized and new ones have opened, including Lidl and Aldi. More people are now doing all their shopping in supermarkets. The couple that owned the butcher’s shop retired and sold up. The fishmonger’s closed long ago and the premises stand forlorn and empty.

We still shop in the fruit and veg market but have seen a decline in the number of people who buy – and sell – there. It’s sad, because the area around Manacor is mainly agricultural.

So we applaud the Vermutejant vermouth-and-tapas initiative, intended to attract people back to the marketplace – where it’s hoped they’ll start shopping again.

Tapas and vermouth, anyone?

The Vermutejant currently takes place every Saturday from 11am until 1pm: between one and three good restaurants/cafés each take a vacant stall in the market, from which they offer tapas and vermut for sale at surprisingly low prices. Live music of some kind adds to what is a great ambience.

The musical offering varies from week to week.

Young musicians of Manacor

We’re keen to support the local market, so we have treated ourselves to a tapa and small vermouth every week since the initiative began; it adds some fun to the weekly shop. If you’re going to be in Manacor on a Saturday morning, try the Vermutejant – and maybe buy some of the appealing fresh produce offered, to help keep Manacor’s market in business.

The Vermutejant takes a break with the official arrival of summer. The last one for this run of the tapas-and-vermouth event will be on Saturday, June 24th, 2017.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights of this Vermutejant season:

Jan Edwards ©2017

 

Tasting the wines of Mallorca

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Drink / Wine

Seen at the Fira del Vi 2017 and probably a sentiment shared by many visitors.

Thirty-nine wineries from Mallorca offered tastings at this year´s Pollença Wine Fair – in its 14th year in 2017. It was good to see five Mallorcan bodegas that had not previously exhibited at this popular annual fair – and to discover some wines we hadn´t tried before.

We took along friends visiting from Oxfordshire who really appreciate Mallorca´s wines. They are always disappointed that they can´t find the island´s wines for sale back in the UK  – although Marks & Spencer does sell a wine from the bodega Macia Batle, and I have recently spotted one (A/N2 from Ànima Negra) on Selfridges’ website. I´ve been told that the import duty that would have to be paid would make wines from Mallorca seem too expensive in the UK. Do you know otherwise?

Taste all you want for 10 euros

For an entrance fee of just 10 euros we were able to taste as many wines as we wanted. That may sound like an invitation to excess but, believe me, there´s a limit to how many tastings you want in the middle of a rather warm day, as it was when we visited! Our entry fees also entitled each of us to a discount of three euros on a wine purchase. Our wine rack is now looking a little more interesting…

Below are some photos I took at this year´s Pollença Wine Fair – or Fira del Vi as it is known here. If you´re planning a visit to Mallorca next spring and would like to visit this annual wine event in Pollensa town, the dates are April 21st and 22nd, 2018.

Jan Edwards ©2017

Cocktails? Sip some of the best in Palma

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Drink

I can’t say I remember my first kiss, but I certainly remember my first cocktail. I was in my early 20s and on my first visit to the States, staying in a Holiday Inn hotel near Philadelphia, which had a smart piano bar and impressive drinks list. For my first-ever cocktail I chose a Grasshopper – a pale-green minty creamy concoction that made me feel rather sophisticated (and just a teeny bit queasy, to be honest).

For me, cocktails are drinks to be enjoyed in a sophisticated setting. I rarely have a cocktail but on the occasions when I do, it’s in a proper cocktail bar, rather than a restaurant or regular bar – and usually with family or friends who are visiting Mallorca.

Cocktails in Palma

This week, as our friends from Oxfordshire were coming to the end of their annual holiday with us, we spent a day in Palma – ending it with the customary cocktail.

Palma has no shortage of cocktail bars, including the famous over-the-top Abaco in the area of La Lonja. Tourists make a beeline for this place, which is unlike any other I’d ever seen before – all fruit, flowers, and loud opera music. There are signs forbidding photography indoors but you’ll find plenty of images on Instagram (Bar Abaco). Clandestine social media photo opportunities aside, Abaco is worth experiencing for the setting and ambience, but the cocktails are pretty expensive…

Save some brass and go to Brassclub

Our choice this time was the cocktail bar Brassclub – owned by Rafa Martín, an award-winning mixologist who entered his first cocktail-making competition at the tender age of 16.

Brassclub’s stylish interior

Brassclub has terrace seating at the front, so you can watch the world go by but, if it’s your first time at this bar, I recommend going inside to soak up the smart interior – which wouldn’t look out of place in any major capital city, but manages to exude the ambience of the Mediterranean. Check out that ceiling! More than 3,000 bottles, positioned to resemble the waves of the sea, are hanging up there. It looks amazing, but imagine having to dust that lot…

Glass bottle ceiling

If the ceiling looks wavy it’s nothing to do with the cocktails!

The cocktails here are creative, delicious, and definitely Instagram-worthy. We chose Coco Mademoiselle (not pictured), Frida Mule, El Manierista and, for me (designated driver), the alcohol-free La Niña Prodigio. Nuts and popcorn were served with our drinks, so there was something to help soak up the alcohol for my companions.

Brassclub

Creating our cocktails

Tequila cocktail at Brassclub

Frida Mule – Jose Curevo tequila, aloja syrup, citrus fruits and apple soda – 10 euros

Cocktail

El Manierista: white and dark rum, elderflower, cinnamon, citrus fruits and thyme soda. All tied up in a glass wrapped in paper for 9 euros 50 cents.

Brassclub non-alcoholic cocktail

La Nina Prodigio: orange, grapefruit, lemon, ginger syrup, and sour apple – 9 euros, delicious and topped with two jelly bear sweets!

If cocktails aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other drinks you can have at Brassclub. If you fancy a sea view with your creative cocktail, head for Puerto Portals and BrassBaiben – the gastro-cocktail bar at restaurant Baiben. BrassBaiben is a collaboration between maestro mixologist Rafa Martín and Fernando P Arellano, of the 2-Michelin-starred Zaranda, who owns Baiben.

Text and photos Jan Edwards ©2017

Protur Chef 2017 was a great success

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Eat

On March 18th I had the great pleasure of being one of the non-chef judges for Protur Chef 2017 on Mallorca. The main judges for the competition – which was on from March 16th-19th – were the chefs Tomeu Caldentey, Marc Fosh, Fran López, and the famous twins Javier and Sergio Torres.  If it hadn’t been for the fact that the twins’ names were embroidered on their chef jackets, I’d not have been able to tell one from the other!  Chef and gastronomy consultant Koldo Royo acted as Master of Ceremonies.

My stint was just for the Saturday morning, as other food writers, bloggers, and broadcasters also took turns on the panel for different stages of the cooking contest. When I entered the auditorium of the Protur Biomar Gran Hotel & Spa in Sa Coma I was instantly impressed by the professional set-up awaiting the young chefs who would be cooking on stage later.

The stage set for young chefs from across Spain

10 cooking schools, 20 student chefs

The 20 student chefs each had to create a dish costing no more than seven euros and based on Mallorca’s famous black pork. They’d come from 10 different cooking schools all over Spain to take part. We were able to observe the young chefs on stage with the aid of video cameras that projected live images onto what I was told was the largest screen on Mallorca. Then we were able to see and taste the finished dishes and give our comments.

The pork dishes tried during my stint on the panel

The audience could also see the action on the giant screen

Participating cookery schools:

Mallorca:

  • Escola d’Hosteleria de les Illes Balears (EHIB)
  • IES Puig de Sa Font
  • Amadip Esment Escola de Mallorca
  • IES Juniper Serra
  • IES Alcúdia

Tenerife:

  • Hotel Escuela SC de Canarias HECANSA

Barcelona:

  • EUHT de Sant Pol de Mar

Mérida:

  • Escuela Superior de Hostelería y Agroturismo ESHAEX

Pontevedra:

  • CIFP Carlos Aroza

Madrid:

  • Centro Superior de Hostelería Mediterráneo

I was unable to attend the final, on the Sunday, but imagine the atmosphere was incredible as the results were announced afterwards:

José Antonio Rodríguez, pupil of EUHT of Sant Pol de Mar, was the proud winner of the First Edition of the National School Cooking Contest  ‘PROTUR CHEF 2017’.  Second place went to Tenerife, represented by  Javier Jiménez of Hotel Escuela SC of the Canaries HECANSA, and third place to Toni Riera from  Mallorca – a pupil of IES Puig de Sa Font.

Chef KIDS

I didn’t learn to cook until I’d left home and, as a result, believe that every child should have some basic cooking lessons. This contest for keen budding chefs of the future – aged between 8 and 12 – took place over the same weekend.

Waiting for the start

It must have been a great thrill for the kids to see these TV chefs waiting to judge their salads

During my stint on the judging panel we watched the first nine (of 18) youngsters preparing a salad, after they’d had three minutes to select their ingredients from a market-stall-type display. At a later stage, they would be decorating cakes. Anxious parents sat in the audience, willing their offspring to do well.

At the end of the contest, the winners were:

  • Antònia Roser Sitges – 1st prize
  • Marina Vaquer – 2nd
  • Aurelio Ucendo – 3rd

Well done to all the contestants and to everyone involved in the organisation of the competition. I’m sure I’m not the only person looking forward to Protur Chef 2018…

©Jan Edwards 2016

Mallorca hosts first national competition for culinary school chefs

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Eat

Long before moving to Mallorca, I worked in the small press and publicity department of Crest Hotels, then owned by brewing giant Bass and comprising more than 40 hotels in the UK and on the Continent.

One of the many things I loved about my job was involvement in the chain’s annual UK Young Chef of the Year competition, for chefs aged under 22. Each year we invited a well-known chef to join the judging panel for the competition final – an exciting event for all involved.

Brian Turner, Bruno Loubet, and David Chambers were among the top chefs who kindly agreed to be that famous chef on the jury. Apart from tasting some delicious creations at the finals, what I remember most is how excited the finalists were to have such successful and well-respected chefs judging their food.

Protur Chef Mallorca 2017

Fast forward to March 16th-19th, 2017: 20 young chefs from cookery schools all over Spain will be similarly impressed to have a panel of well-known professionals judging their work at Protur Chef. This event is the first national culinary schools competition and takes place at the 5-star Protur Biomar Gran Hotel & Spa in Sa Coma, on Mallorca’s east coast.

The Protur Chef judging panel includes (among others) chefs with a sprinkling of Michelin stars between them who are sure to impress the young contestants: Koldo Royo, Tomeu Caldentey (Bou), and Marc Fosh (Marc Fosh) from Mallorca, and Fran López and twins Javier and Sergio Torres, from the Peninsula. A mighty line-up!

Unlike the Crest competition, Protur Chef welcomes the public. You could be seeing Spain’s foremost chefs of the future and enjoying some of the add-on events happening at the same time. These include gastronomy workshops, a cooking competition for children aged 8-12 (Protur Chef Kids), gourmet products market, tastings, and food trucks offering tasty street food.

Read about the day itself here and look out for the dates of Protur Chef Mallorca 2018.

©Jan Edwards 2016

Spring’s foodie events on Mallorca

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Drink / Eat / Events for foodies / Food / Wine
Mallorca's famous almond blossom

Mallorca’s famous almond blossom

Mallorca shows early promise of spring with the arrival of the beautiful almond blossom that covers the countryside. When spring arrives on the island, it also offers some interesting foodie events, of which these are just some.

Nautical & Cuttlefish Fair (Fira Nàutica de la Sípia) – Alcúdia

This fair combines boats and boaty things with gastronomy – which revolves around cuttlefish. You may be surprised at the variety of dishes offered by local restaurants who set up stall to offer dishes at this event.   April – three-day-event usually in the first half of the month.

Street Food Festival – Port Adriano

Vintage-style food trucks park themselves in the southwest superyacht marina of Port Adriano for this three-day festival, which has become a popular fixture in the port. Vegetarian and healthy dishes are the main focus, but there’s plenty of choice for all. April – three-day-event usually in the middle of the month.

Salt and Spice Fair (Fira de la Sal i les Espècies ) – Colònia de Sant Jordi

Ses Salines - home of the famous Flor de Sal

Ses Salines – home of the famous Flor de Sal

Salt and spices are the stars of this event over a weekend in the south of Mallorca. Colònia de Sant Jordi is close to the salt pans of Mallorca, where the gourmet’s favourite salt – Flor de Sal – is harvested by hand. April – three-day event usually middle of the month

Wine & Cheese Fair (Fira del Vi i el Formatge) – Estellencs

Love cheese? Wine? These two things make a perfect marriage and are the focus of this fair in the village of Estellencs. We have not yet been to this one … maybe this year?          May 1st

Wine Fair (Fira del Vi) – Pollença

Once you've tried the wines of Mallorca, you'll be buying them too

Once you’ve tried the wines of Mallorca, you’ll be buying them too

This annual wine fair on Mallorca is one of our favourite events. Apart from the interesting location in the town’s Santo Domingo cloister and the ambience, it’s the perfect opportunity to try a wide variety of the wines produced on Mallorca. A discount is given on the price of wines purchased during the fair.  April 21st & 22nd, 2018

Snail Fair of Sant Jordi (Fira del Caragol de Sant Jordi) – Sant Jordi

If I thought you’d be interested, I’d tell you about my snail-eating experience in the south of Spain – but it’s really not for the squeamish. Safe to say, this is a fair we’re never likely to go to, but snails do play a part in the traditional Mallorcan diet and they’re plentiful (and free) after rainfall, as well as being commercially farmed on the island. Sant Jordi – very close to Palma’s airport – celebrates the humble snail at this annual traditional fair.

As a footnote, having once said I’d never eat snails again – I had them three times during 2016 and loved the way they were used in dishes at Bou restaurant in Sa Coma and Dins Santi Taura in Lloseta. Presented with a menu card, I would never have chosen snails, but they were served at both restaurants as part of a surprise tasting menu – and were delicious! But these are both remarkable restaurants…       May

Potato Fair (Fira de la Patata) – Sa Pobla

Spuds on show

Spuds on show

Many of the new potatoes that appear on dinner plates in the UK were grown on the island of Mallorca, around the fertile agricultural area of Sa Pobla. It’s no surprise then that the town should play host to a weekend fair dedicated to the potato. The large town square is filled with stalls selling a variety of dishes made potatoes.     Early June 

Bread-and-Oil Fair (Fira del Pa amb Oli) – Montuïri

The first edition of the bread-and-oil fair took place in 2016 so this is a relatively new but popular fair. Expect variations on the theme of the bread and oil dishes that are a staple of Mallorcan cuisine.   Early June 

Herb Fair (Fira de ses Herbes) – Selva

Myrtle liqueur being made at Selva Herb Fair

Myrtle liqueur being made at Selva Herb Fair

The small square in front of Selva’s church is filled with stalls selling a variety of products made from herbs.  Selva is also home to the excellent restaurant Miceli.   Mid-June

Text and images ©Jan Edwards 2017

Menorcan pop-up in Mallorca

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A taste of Menorca has come to Mallorca this weekend, courtesy of Chefs(in) – which promotes the gastronomy of the Balearics – and  Purohotel in Palma. Menorcan chef Sílvia Anglada – whose restaurant Es Tast de na Sílvia is in Ciutadella – is cooking for a series of Chefs(in) pop-ups in Purohotel’s Private Wing.  The chef’s restaurant is the only one in the Balearics that is certified Slow Food and 0KM – which means that all the ingredients she uses are locally sourced.

Silvia Anglada at work in Purohotel Private Wing's kitchen

Silvia Anglada at work in Purohotel Private Wing’s kitchen

A dozen of us sat down last night to eat Sílvia’s seven-course dinner of Menorcan dishes, which were accompanied by carefully-chosen wines from Mallorcan bodega Vins Nadal. Sílvia’s partner Toni Tarragó (who is front of house at their Menorca restaurant) looked after service.

As each dish was served, Sílvia came over to explain its elements and preparation. Her cuisine is inspired by dishes she ate in her childhood; her lovingly made food evokes happy memories of family meals at home.

The food

My personal highlights (quite a few) were her crispy ‘coca’ with sardine; red rock mullet with capers, ‘xeixa’ wheat flakes and a marine praline (made with ‘xeixa’ wheat and pulverised fish bones – surprisingly tasty); cabbage-wrapped pork (a simple combination, but delicious), and the three different Menorcan cheeses with their accompanying chutneys.  The dessert of warm ‘coca bamba’ with ice cream was a comfort-food treat that is something of a speciality of Sílvia’s.

'Menjar blanc de la edad media hasta ahora'

‘Menjar blanc de la edad media hasta ahora’

Red rock mullet dish

Red rock mullet dish

Pork wrapped in cabbage with a cauliflower puree

Pork wrapped in cabbage with a cauliflower puree

If you’re on Mallorca this weekend and would like to enjoy a taste of Menorca, in an exclusive Palma setting, how about lunch tomorrow? As I write, there are places available for lunch at 2pm, priced at 65€, including wines. Book your place(s) here.

Text & photos Jan Edwards©2017

Mallorca scores well in TripAdvisor’s Top 25s for Spain

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Sleep

Whatever your views about TripAdvisor, it is the world’s largest travel site and millions of people use it when planning a trip. The site has just announced its 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards and several hotels and bed-and-breakfast establishments on Mallorca have been named in the Best of 2017 lists for Spain.

Spain’s Top 25 B&Bs

Of the top 25 bed and breakfast places in Spain, only two are on Mallorca. I was delighted to see that one of those two is Finca Son Jorbo, Porreres, where we had a really enjoyable stay last year; read about it here. English hosts Annie and Martin are the most welcoming people and I’m only surprised that they aren’t higher up in the ranking than number 10. But then, the list does cover the whole of Spain.

Finca Son Jorbo B & B hosts

Your friendly hosts at Finca Son Jorbo

The only other B&B on Mallorca to win a place on the list is Finca Hotel Albellons Parc Natural, in the hamlet of Binibona, at number 24 out of 25. I’ve never stayed, so can’t give a view on this one.

Spain’s Top 25 Small Hotels

Eight of the top 25 small hotels in Spain are on Mallorca. Top of the list is the 7-room Hotel Salvia in Sóller, where I have eaten (the food is superb), but not stayed.

The others are as follows:

Ranking

6/25    Finca Hotel Son Palou, Orient

7/25    Petit Hotel Son Arnau, Selva. Alex and Susan are your welcoming hosts here and you can read here about our stay.

Alex and Susan Terry offer a warm welcome to Petit Hotel Son Arnau's guests.

Alex and Susan Terry offer a warm welcome to Petit Hotel Son Arnau’s guests.

10/25  Art Hotel, Palma. I’ve toured this beautiful antiques-and-art-stuffed boutique hotel but not stayed here. It’s on the list …

Art Hotel Palma exterior

Art Hotel Palma – photo courtesy of hotel

11/25   Ca’s Curial, Sóller

16/25   Posada Terra Santa, Palma

20/25  Sa Torre de Santa Eugenia, Santa Eugènia

25/25   Finca Ca’s Sant, Sóller

Of course, TripAdvisor is only one site offering rankings based on travellers’ reviews. Booking.com has just announced its Guest Review Awards 2016 and Hotel Can Mostatxins in the walled town of Alcúdia maintained a 9.8/10 guest score over the past twelve months – for a second year.

So, where would you like to stay on Mallorca this year? I have quite a list …

©Jan Edwards 2017