Balearic gastronomy writers’ awards for 2017

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Chefs / Drink / Eat / Restaurants / Wine
Before the awards ceremony

L-R Bernabe Caravotta and Sebastian Perez from Vandal, Maria Salinas, Alvaro Salazar, and well-known chef/culinary consultant Koldo Royo

The Balearic Association of Gastronomy Journalists and Writers (Associació de Periodistes i Escriptors Gastronòmics) yesterday presented its annual awards for 2017. Here are the winners that may be of interest to readers of this blog.

Chef of the Year 2017 – Álvaro Salazar

Alvaro Salazar, chef at Argos

Award-winning chef Alvaro Salazar

Álvaro was born in Linares in 1985 and studied in Cordoba, before gaining experience working in starred restaurants in places including Paris, Kuwait, and Stockholm. He came to Mallorca in 2011 and worked for Andreu Genestra. In 2014 he moved to the new restaurant Argos within the newly opened La Goleta del Mar hotel in Port de Pollença; that same year, he was named by the San Pellegrino guide as one of the 10 best young chefs in Spain and Portugal. Michelin awarded one star to Argos for 2017 and 2018.

Argos re-opens for dinner after its winter break on Friday, March 2nd.

Revelation Restaurants – jointly awarded to Restaurant Maria Salinas and Vandal

Maria Salinas and Miquel Gelabert

Maria Salinas with her friend Miquel Gelabert from Can March, Manacor

Taking its name from the chef/patron Maria Salinas, this restaurant in Mancor del Vall is located in a typical Mallorcan townhouse and first opened in August 2016. We had a cosy lunch here with friends, enjoying the homely atmosphere and great-value cuisine.  Palma-born Maria is a warm-hearted woman whose lovingly made cuisine is based on produce she sources locally, thus supporting producers in the area. She has become known as la madame de la cuisine. 

Vandal opened in Palma’s Santa Catalina in the middle of last year and is the project of Bernabé Caravotta and Sebastián Pérez – who met whilst working for the Forn de Sant Joan restaurant group. It’s open for dinner only and offers cuisine from around the world. I haven’t yet eaten here, but it’s on the list…

Sommelier/Maître d’ of the Year 2017 – Sebastián Longo

Sommelier Sebastian Longo from Zaranda

Sebastian Longo

Sebastián Longo is from Argentina, where he studied at the country’s college of sommeliers. His skills were further honed in Bolivia, Brazil, the USA, and Italy, before he came to Mallorca and the hotel Castell Son Claret in Es Capdellà. There he works closely with chef Fernando Pérez Arellano of 2-Michelin-starred restaurant Zaranda and is in control of the cellar’s more than 600 wine references.

Bakery/Patisserie of the Year – Can Pomar

Can Pomar wins award

Francesc Pomar and his wife at the award ceremony

Can Pomar is run by the fifth generation of the business’s founding family. Francesc Pomar started his bakery in Campos in 1902 and today the Can Pomar sign hangs over two bakeries in Campos and two in Palma.  In recent years many Mallorcan bakeries have closed their doors, in the face of competition from supermarket bakeries. Authentic traditional bakeries – where the dough is made on site – deserve to be valued. And Can Pomar clearly is.

Best Bar/Gastrobar – Rambar

Best bar/gastrobar 2017

We won!

The most recent addition to Ramon Andreu’s Tast Group of culinary businesses, Rambar in Palma’s Ramblas opened in 2017 and has gained a reputation for its high-quality meat dishes, cooked on a Molteni grill that was tailor-made for this business. A place for tapas, other dishes, vermouths, and cocktails – and very popular with locals.

Best local cuisine restaurant – Can Amer

Tomeu Torrens and Lydia Corral

Ultima Hora’s Lydia Corral presented Tomeu Torrens with his certificate

Over the years since we’ve lived here, we’ve eaten many times at this atmospheric family-owned-and-run Inca cellar restaurant, where chef Tomeu Torrens has been at the stoves since 2004. Celler Can Amer should be on the must-visit list of anyone coming to Mallorca; find it opposite Inca’s indoor marketplace.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Splash out on a Valparaiso spa day in Mallorca

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Hotels / Sleep / Spas


Water feature at the front of Valparaiso Palace & Spa in Palma, Mallorca

Views down to Palma Bay

Want to escape the weather for a while in Mallorca? Whether it’s a rare chilly wet day, or you’d like to escape the heat of the summer sunshine, a hotel spa could be the perfect refuge. Many of Mallorca’s 4- and 5-star hotels have a spa where visitors can pay a set fee to use the facilities for a few hours. It’s an opportunity to boost your sense of wellness with some serious relaxation and perhaps a few pampering spa treatments (although the latter are not usually obligatory).

My friend Sandra and I are fond of a spa day and our most recent was at the GPRO Valparaiso Palace & Spa in Palma. Although I’ve lived on the island for almost 14 years, this was my first visit to this 5-star hotel, which was acquired by the Chinese GPRO hotel group in autumn 2016.

The urban resort hotel was inaugurated in 1976 in a hilltop location on the outskirts of Palma. From the front, the building exterior looks rather dated in design, but the new owners are investing in the property and have already made some considerable improvements. To be honest, I expected to see more Chinese influences – lots of red and gold, for example – in the interior design but the Oriental ownership isn’t that obvious. There isn’t even an upmarket Chinese restaurant!

The Thermal Circuit experience

A weekday thermal circuit day (from 10:00-15:00h) at Valparaiso Palace’s spa costs 35€, entitling you to use all the wet facilities. The use of a robe, towels, slippers, and locker, and a bottle of water (unfortunately a plastic bottle) are included in this price. Spa facilities include a large indoor pool with various jets of water; you can also swim through to the outdoors from here. Despite the unappealing cold wet February weather, we did just that and the water outside felt bathwater-warm. Unlike the water falling from the sky…


Other thermal circuit facilities at the Valparaiso spa include Jacuzzi, Finnish sauna, salt-inhalation sauna (beneficial for anyone with chest problems) with tiled ‘armchair’-style seating and a light show (!), herbal sauna, Hammam, ice fountain, Kneipp passage (invigorating alternate jets of hot and cold water target your legs as you walk through). We didn’t get around to using everything – a good reason to return some time – but did each have a half-hour facial treatment whilst there.

The huge spa is at basement level and offers plenty of areas for relaxation. I was surprised by the size and scope of the spa’s facilities. A good range of wellness and beauty/hairdressing treatments is offered and details are on the website.

The several treatment rooms include one for Ayurvedic treatments, and another especially for couples. Six different packages are available for couples alone – including the Honeymoon package (two hours for 360€), which includes a full-body massage with white chocolate! The mind boggles…


We had a quick lunch in the Valparaiso Palace hotel’s Mar Blau Mediterranean restaurant – a large light and attractive space overlooking the hotel’s main outdoor pool. Still feeling virtuous after a morning of splashing around, pampering, and relaxing, we chose healthy dishes from the lunch menu – which offers soups, salads, sandwiches (including pa amb oli – bread and oil), pizzas, pastas, and tortillas. Oh, and puds. We thought the lunch food was good value for a 5-star hotel restaurant.

Our tips:

  • Ask on arrival if there are any special spa package deals available, as they didn’t offer us any as a matter of course. Sandra asked and one package combined the use of the thermal circuit with a blissful facial treatment (followed by our choice of tea and some Mallorcan almonds to nibble in the relaxation area).
  • If you decide to have a treatment, it’s best to do it as late as possible, after you have finished using the other facilities.
  • Mornings are the quietest time. When we were there, only a few other people were using the facilities. Expect the spa to become busier later in the afternoon and evenings as the spa has a membership deal for locals, who mainly come after work and, of course, hotel guests have use of the place too.

The Valparaiso Palace Hotel & Spa’s thermal circuit is also offered in the evenings and at weekends, for a higher price; expect it to be busier then.

Prices are correct at time of writing.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review of Summum Prime Boutique Hotel, Palma

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Hotels / Sleep
Summum Prime Boutique Hotel, Palma

Exterior shot of entrance to hotel, showing a reflection of the church portal opposite.

The choice of boutique hotels in Mallorca’s capital, Palma, continues to grow. Because I have a huge interest in hotels – having worked for several years in the past in hotel PR – I love to check out new places to stay and, when funds permit, to experience them as a guest.

St Valentine’s was the perfect excuse for a night away in one of the several new boutique properties that have recently opened in Palma:  the 5-star Súmmum Prime Boutique Hotel. Since the time we booked it, two more boutique hotels have opened in Palma and at least two more will be opening in the coming months.


Carrer Concepció starts as a lane leading from the shopping street Jaime III. It’s a quiet lane that is now home to several good restaurants (Fera Restaurant & Bar, Aromata, Emilio Innobar), the new Zonasander champagne bar/interiors/vintage store, and several art galleries.  Súmmum Prime Boutique Hotel is at number 26, right opposite the church.

Champagne sign in Palma

Zonasander: Vintage studio and champagne bar combined – opened in January this year and run by the Sander family from Sweden

The property

No. 26 has had an interesting past, dating back to medieval times. The original property was built in the 15th century and was a notable palace in Palma, known as Can Berga-Ladaria. In 1874 the original Gothic building was replaced by a new property, which became the Vidal family’s home in the 20th-century and renamed Can Vidal.

The building was in a poor state of repair when it underwent the considerable renovation and transformation that have resulted in today’s beautiful 5-star boutique hotel.  Many original architectural features have been restored and serve as a reminder of this Palma property’s history. If you’re in the hotel’s wooden-panelled Club room (with original fireplace and restored panelling), be sure to watch the video (on a loop) showing what the property looked like before it was lovingly restored.

The hotel

Súmmum Prime Boutique Hotel has the following facilities:

  • Eighteen rooms (including suites).
  • Wellness spa (with sauna, spa bath, massage bed, and exercise equipment), which can be booked in advance for exclusive use.
  • Equus French restaurant – which offers more than a few decorative hints about the space’s former use as the property’s stables.
  • 1874 Lounge bar and adjoining rear terrace for drinks.
  • Rooftop terrace and plunge pool.

Our room

We stayed in the Parietti Suite, which faces the Concepció church.  This spacious elegantly proportioned suite was once the principal salon of the mansion and has a restored mural on the ceiling – the creation of the 19th-century Mallorcan artist Francesc Parietti. It is thought to represent the goddess Minerva surrounded by cherubs; it’s a beautiful sight when you wake up beneath it, after a very comfortable night’s sleep in the king-sized bed (high-quality bedlinen, a choice of pillows, and a feather mattress-topper made sleep super comfy).

Our large bathroom was behind the sleeping area and offered an excellent walk-in shower, separate loo and bidet, bathtub, and two washbasins.  Toiletries are by Chopard. We liked the provision of small individual bottles of mouthwash too, as well as items such as robes, slippers, hairdryer, etc that are expected in 5-star hotels. We noted a set of bathroom scales, which we didn’t use: too many of the delicious breakfast croissants (raspberry or chocolate, and made by a bakery in the village of Muro) and a weigh-in could come as a bit of a shock!

All rooms have Nespresso coffee machine, safe, good free Wi-Fi, feather mattress toppers, Bluetooth speaker, air conditioning and heating, satellite TV.


The French restaurant Equus (open for lunch and dinner) is also the location for breakfast. It’s a very attractive space, with plenty of decorative hints to remind you that this was once where the horses would have been stabled.

Breakfast is a good varied buffet, with the option of freshly cooked eggs and other breakfast dishes prepared to order. We opted for the cold items but guests on a nearby table had eggs Benedict, which looked appealing.

I was pleased to see the option of freshly prepared healthy juices here; my dark green juice – served in a small bottle – was delicious and, combined with some fruit and a few other items (including a raspberry croissant), set me up for the morning.

Special touches

Other things we liked:

  • The ‘welcome’ note from the general manager awaiting us in our room was truly personal and not just the standard ‘have a nice stay with us’-type of message. It made a good impression on us. We found the staff to be helpful and friendly.
  • The hotel was lovely and warm – February can be chilly in Mallorca!
  • A Handy (brand) smartphone is available in each room for guests to use free of charge during their stay. It was the first time I had seen this facility offered in a Palma hotel.

When we first came to look for a property to buy on Mallorca (back in 2001), we stayed at a handsome rural hotel called Casa del Virrey. The Morgana Group – which owns Súmmum Prime Boutique Hotel – has recently acquired this property, now re-branded Virrey Prime Boutique Hotel. Yet another boutique hotel to check out on Mallorca!

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review of lunch at Ca’n March, Manacor

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Eat / Restaurants

Ca’n March is without doubt Manacor’s best-known restaurant – but you’re unlikely to stroll past it by chance while wandering around town. Ca’n March is located in a side street a little way from the town centre itself. The surrounding area may not have tourist appeal, but this popular restaurant is worth the detour from Manacor’s main shopping area. And, if you arrive by train, it’s within easy walking distance of the station.

Ca’n March first opened as the family-run Fonda Ca’n March in 1925 and is still in the same family. Brothers Miquel Gelabert (a different Miquel Gelabert from the one of wine-making acclaim) and Tolo Gelabert relaunched Ca’n March as a new project in the year 2000.

Chef Miquel and his brigade create New Mallorcan cuisine (modern interpretations of traditional recipes, with international culinary touches), using prime-quality local ingredients. Tolo oversees front of house with a warm welcome for all arrivals.

Having eaten here a few times, I can confidently recommend Ca’n March, which also offers a good-value lunchtime menu – or menú del día. This three-course lunch is offered Tuesday to Friday for just 13,50€ (including IVA, the Spanish VAT).

The interior

Ca’n March has an attractive interior, with modern wooden floors, white wooden furniture, white table linen, and a few interesting decorative touches (including an interesting display of framed old photographs and a handsome antique longcase clock). The glasses and cutlery gleam on the tables and, despite its size, the room feels welcoming and homely.

In the centre of the restaurant you’ll find a display of local gastronomic products (including some of Ca’n March’s own) and handicrafts for sale. It’s a good place to find an authentic Mallorcan foodie gift or souvenir to take home.

We arrived early for lunch by Spanish standards – having made a spur-of-the-moment decision to  eat out on our way home from an appointment. Tables filled quite rapidly with locals and I’d recommend making a table reservation if you want to come for lunch.

On the menu

The Ca’n March menu card includes à la carte dishes and other set-menu options, but it’s quite easy to miss the fact that there’s a menú del día offered, so do ask. Our server explained what was on the day’s lunch menu, reading from her notebook, as this menu doesn’t come in written-down form.

We both chose the chicken salad starter – a generous portion, which included dried apricots, pieces of chicken, walnuts, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and more. For our main course we had gallineta – a red-skinned fish that I didn’t know – served in a spinach sauce with potato. The piece of white fish was perfectly cooked and the whole dish was tasty and satisfying.

For dessert I had a light cake-like coca made with cottage cheese, with yogurt and baked-apple purée, whilst The Boss had the classic crema catalana.

And more…

In addition to the menú del día and à la carte dishes, Ca’n March offers some special menus:

  • CM menu – available Friday night to Sunday lunchtime – for 24€;
  • Gourmet set menu – 4 courses for 24€; 7 courses for 35€;
  • One Thursday each month from October to June, they offer a gourmet dinner with wine pairings. We attended one last year and thoroughly enjoyed the evening, where diners shared one long table and enjoyed wines from the bodega Can Axartell in Pollença.

I really enjoy Miquel Gelabert’s cuisine, which is a modern taste of Mallorca. I’m looking forward to tasting it again when he’s one of the chefs offering tapas at the next Chefs(in) event known as Peccata Minuta. We have already bought our tickets for this foodie evening, taking place on February 28th. Read about the last Peccata Minuta here and find out more about the one later this month here.

Prices correct at time of writing.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review of Arume Restaurant, Palma

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Chefs / Eat / Restaurants
Chef Tomeu Marti at work

Tomeu Marti – chef/patron at Arume in Palma


Like many other  Mallorca-based foodies I know, I love discovering and trying new eateries in Palma; of course, it’s not always practical (or affordable) to do so – especially as new restaurants have been opening frequently in Mallorca’s capital in recent years. But I also think it’s important to remember those restaurants that have been satisfying their diners for years – and keeping pace with evolving trends in gastronomy.

One such place is Arume Restaurant, which offers Asian/Med fusion cuisine. Chef Tomeu Martí is at the helm of this business, as well as the Arume Sushi Bar & Dim Sum (in Santa Catalina market) and Catering Arume. (If you want to have an event catered, you’re spoilt for choice in Mallorca).

Tomeu Martí

Tomeu won the title of Spain’s best young chef at the age of 21 and five years later (in 2006) opened Arume. I like him – and his food – enormously and whenever we’ve seen him working at the gourmet tapas events known as Peccata Minuta organized by Chefs(in) – he’s had a smile on his face.

Tomeu Marti

Tomeu cooking on site at Peccata Minuta, summer 2017

In August, Tomeu closed Arume for a renovation. When it re-opened in late October, the new-look Arume had a large open kitchen and, right in front of it, counter seating so you can watch Tomeu and his brigade in action.

Japanese teapots and cups

Oriental tableware on display

Arume restaurant interior detail

Art at Arume

Lunch for 18€

I couldn’t wait to eat at the new Arume, but – due to festive events, other commitments, and a Twixmas bout of the lurgy that lingered – it wasn’t until this week that we went for lunch. The lunch menu is still a bargain: for 18 euros you have three courses, after a complimentary appetiser. (The latter was so delicious I could have eaten a plateful).

We didn’t sit at the counter (next time), but took a table for two at the rear of the restaurant. We had arrived promptly at 13:30h, as the place opened, and it wasn’t long before almost all the tables were full and spaces at the counter were filling. There’s also a cosy upper floor with a few more tables, which were soon mostly occupied.

Our waiter explained that there was no written lunch menu (menú del día) as it changes daily: he recited the menu’s dishes on offer and we made our choices. Our bill came to 41€ for two lunch menus, a bottle of water, and a bottle of beer, which we felt was great value for what we’d had. The food was delicious and each course had a good punch of flavour.

Other menus

Arume also offers an à la carte at lunchtime and for dinner, which includes starters, main courses, sushi and sashimi. At night there is also a choice of two tasting menus: Arume (seven ‘experiences’) and Golden (10 ‘experiences’). Wines are fairly priced and include a good choice from Mallorca.

Detail I like: I noticed a diner at an adjacent table using rather fancy chopsticks instead of the disposable wooden ones provided. Apparently, if you’re a regular at Arume, you can keep your own chopsticks there ready for your use. How cool is that?

Location: Arume is at the Avenidas’ end of C/ Sant Miquel and is just a couple of minutes’ walk from Palma’s train, bus, and metro hub (Estación Intermodal) in Plaza de Espanya – which also has a large public underground car park.

Arume Restaurant is open for lunch from 13:30-15:30h and for dinner from 20:30 to 23:00h.

©Jan Edwards 2018

Review of Art Hotel Palma

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Hotels / Sleep
Breakfast space Art Hotel Palma

Breakfast room at Art Hotel Palma

We treat ourselves to a special dinner in Palma just before every Christmas and this year we ate at Fera – one of the Mallorcan capital’s newest restaurants. Before this, we met friends for cava at Nicolas Bar and attended a special festive performance by Flamallorca with them at Teatre Sans in the Old Town. A full-on night like this called for an overnight stay and I had booked Art Hotel Palma.

The 13-room boutique Art Hotel Palma has a convenient location just off the Rambla and close to the Teatre Principal, Plaza Major, and its underground public car park. I’d had a show-round of the hotel last year after reviewing the owner’s nearby Mari-lin Café-Lounge and had wanted to stay here ever since. The premises once housed an antiques gallery but the owner converted his business into a boutique hotel, home to some of the artworks and antiques he collected over the years.

Our stay

I took the option of paying in advance for our room, which entitled me to a discount. The room rate also included a glass of Mallorcan wine and two tapas each at Mari-lin. Subject to availability (only two spaces are available) you can book a parking place – through the hotel – in the adjacent Plaça Major public car park, for a supplement of 20 euros per 24 hours.

We stayed in room 10 on the third floor. It had views – but no sounds (good glazing) – of the leafy street below. There were lots of plus-points here: good WiFi, coffee machine (capsules), kettle and tea-making facilities, mini-bar, safe, plenty of wardrobe space (with umbrella provided), and very comfortable large bed. Best of all, on a cold December day in Mallorca, easy-to-control heating (the whole hotel felt really cosy and welcoming). Our room had an original fireplace, although it wasn’t in use.

The bathroom of room 10 doesn’t have a bath, but a very efficient shower with different water jets (two of which took me by surprise!). You emerge wet and clean to a towel warmed on the heated towel rail – my idea of bliss.

My only tiny gripe was the lack of a full-length mirror.

Things we liked best about AH Art Hotel Palma

  • Friendly staff offering a genuinely warm welcome and service.
  • The vast amount of art and antiques combining harmoniously with 21st-century comforts and convenience.
  • The cosy home-from-home feeling (not that our home is stuffed with antiques and masterpieces!).
  • It’s a tranquil and relaxing place to stay after a day (or night) out in the vibrant Mallorcan capital of Palma.

Useful to know

AH Art Hotel Palma doesn’t have a restaurant but serves a buffet breakfast in a pleasant breakfast room (or on the narrow rear terrace in fine weather). Palma has a wealth of eateries and, of course, you have a voucher for a glass of Mallorcan wine and two tapas at nearby Mari-lin.

The hotel offers discounted rates for Mallorca residents.

©Jan Edwards 2017

What’s next for chef Claire Hutchings

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Chefs / Eat

It’s almost semi-finals week on BBC TV’s MasterChef: The Professionals. Mallorca-based Claire Hutchings will know how the contestants are feeling: she was the youngest of the three finalists (and the only female chef) in the 2011 competition. I remember being impressed by her creativity but never imagined that I would ever get to taste her food here in Mallorca.

“She serves unique, inventive, creative food with a style of her own. She is destined for greatness.” Gregg Wallace

A few weeks before the end of this summer, Claire told me she was leaving the 2-Michelin-star Zaranda restaurant (within the 5-star hotel Castell Son Claret) at the end of the season. I caught up with her recently to find out about her plans.

Claire Hutchings and Fernando P Arellano at Castell Son Claret

Claire with her mentor Fernando outside the gates of Castell Son Claret – home of 2-Michelin-starred Zaranda. Photo provided by Claire Hutchings

Why did you decide to leave Zaranda?

I have spent five years in Zaranda from the first opening of Castell Son Claret. It has been an amazing experience to be part of a new opening and help shape the culture of the hotel. I’ve decided it’s time to move on as I have grown so much – not only as a chef but also as a person – and feel I am ready for a new adventure. In saying that, I always feel there is the possibility in the future to work alongside Fernando again.

What will you remember about your time there?

I have been lucky to have so many experiences working alongside Fernando, and have travelled around the world cooking with him at various events. To me, he is my mentor and has helped sculpt me as a chef.

Fernando has always looked after me and we have developed dishes together that I am sure will stay on the menu as classics. These include the famous burrata: I spent many months making mozzarella trying different fresh milks from all over Mallorca and finally we mastered the art and made a delicious fresh burrata.

What have you learnt at Zaranda?

I learnt that with will and ambition the world is your oyster. I moved here, not speaking a word of Spanish, to a Michelin-star kitchen where nobody spoke English. It was very tough at first to prove I was a worthy chef as, without the language, it’s hard to communicate the skills you have. With passion and persistence, I succeeded and, after two years, was appointed sous chef. I have also learnt Spanish in my time in the kitchen.

Zaranda also gained two Michelin stars, which is an amazing achievement and I feel special to have been a part of it.

How have you changed as a chef? As a person?

I have become a lot more confident of my capabilities as a chef. As a person, I have grown up. I moved here at the age of 24 and have created a life here in Mallorca that I am very attached to.

What would be your dream role?

I would love to open something in the future very much based on what I do in my pop-up events: giving diners a show-cooking experience and interacting with them. This way they not only get something more personal, they also get to see and learn the complexity of everything we do in the kitchen – which I feel can be hidden in a normal restaurant.

Zaranda is seasonal. How useful has it been having time off in the winter?

It is great to have 2-3 months off every winter. The season is very intense and I think a break is essential; it gives me time to relax and recap on what I have learnt throughout the year. I also feel this is the time when I am most inspired, thinking about new ideas and plates.

Also it gives me a chance to continue my own personal UK business – my pop-up events, which I have now been doing for six years.  I love the pop-ups because they are my chance to be free and creative with my ideas and allow me to interact with the diners.

I do a stint of several nights in a beautiful rural location in Derbyshire, show-cooking and offering a 5-course tasting menu for 25 people each evening. These events are very popular and sell out almost immediately – and most of this is repeat custom.

What’s next for Claire Hutchings?

So my next step is in Mallorca. I am going to be the private chef of Señor Kühne on his private yacht. I had thought about working on boats before but an opportunity like this never arose. I am very much looking forward to this as it will be a totally different experience.

I will be in charge of cooking for the crew and the guests. I will get to do all my own shopping, which excites me a lot: walking around the markets myself and picking my own ingredients. I will also have the freedom to create my own dishes. This is a new path where I am confident I can grow more as a chef. Also it gives me the opportunity to step away for a while from the restaurant business and think about what I want for my future.

We wish Claire every success in her new role and hope we’ll one day have the opportunity to eat her food again. Perhaps at a pop-up event somewhere in Mallorca?

©Jan Edwards 2017

Review: new restaurant Fera in Palma

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Eat / Restaurants

New restaurants open on a pretty regular basis here on the island of Mallorca, but I was particularly looking forward to trying Fera Restaurant & Bar in Palma, which opened in October. I had been hearing about it for some time and knew it was going to be something special.

Simon Petutschnig’s in the kitchen

Executive chef Simon Petutschnig is a charming, hardworking Austrian. His food is a creative (and delicious) blend of Mediterranean and Asian; that’ll be MediterrAsian, then. I first interviewed Simon on Mallorca Sunshine Radio when he was the chef at Quadrat at Palma’s 5-star Sant Francesc Singular Hotel. He moved from there to become executive chef at The Lab (a pop-up, now closed) and The Kitchen, also in Palma. Fera and The Kitchen are both under the same ownership; Simon has responsibility for the cuisine at both.

Style and substance

Fera Palma (as it’s known on Facebook) has a tucked-away location, but is just a few footsteps away from the store-lined street known as Jaime III in the heart of Mallorca’s capital. The upper floor of the building – with separate external entrance – is home to the Círculo Mallorquín, the social/cultural organisation founded in the mid-19th-century. The 21st-century Fera fills the ground floor with considerable style and good taste.

The place looks warm and inviting from the traditional front courtyard and, once we were through the doors, Alina – a smiling young lady with an air of quiet efficiency – greeted us and escorted us to our table. In Mallorca, a hostess is more likely to be found in a 5-star hotel restaurant than in a city establishment, and this was the first tick on my list for Fera. Another one: I don’t like to see discarded coats and jackets hanging over the back of restaurant dining chairs; it spoils the look of a smart interior. No problem at Fera, as Alina whisked ours away to be stored until we were ready to leave.

The lunchtime menu

We went to try the menú del día – the three-course lunch menu for 22,90 euros, including VAT (IVA in Spain). This menu offers a choice of three starters, three mains, and two desserts. It includes home-made bread (three types), moreish kimchi butter with dried apricots, basil alioli, and a small appetizer of green-apple gin fizz. (We must try recreating that at home – in a larger measure!).

Having chosen our food, we were able to concentrate on our surroundings. Contemporary art, neutral and warm earthy colours in the decor and furnishings, and stylish tableware combine to make the place feel comfortable and relaxing. The owner’s wife apparently applied her expertise in feng shui when designing Fera’s interior. Which is probably why we didn’t want to leave…

In a restaurant of this standard – elegant décor and accomplished cuisine – you’d expect good service. We had it at Fera. Smartly uniformed and briskly efficient, the servers were also friendly. Two of them looked so alike I had to ask if they were brothers. They’re not, to save you the bother of asking…

We didn’t have wine on this occasion but I can tell you that, in addition to bottles, there’s a choice of seven wines for anyone who doesn’t want a full bottle. Choose from measures of 100, 300, or 500ml. This is a practical idea for anyone limiting their alcohol intake. Looks like another tick for Fera…

If this seems quite a glowing review, it’s because I found no fault with the experience. Of course, the place is still new, so let’s hope they can maintain the high standards in the future.

And more…

Fera Restaurant & Bar is open for lunch and dinner and, between times, you can also come just for drinks and cold snacks, such as sushi. These are prepared in the open cold-kitchen, where you can see the chefs working. The main kitchen is down a short flight of stairs from the dining room.

There’s something even more unexpected about the classy Fera: a large enclosed garden at the rear. In the heart of the city! It’s not yet in use but I hope they will be able to offer al fresco eating there next summer.

We’ll be going back soon for dinner, when there’s a choice of tasting menus; I’ll be trying the vegetarian one, out of curiosity. A vegetarian tasting menu in a restaurant that’s not specifically vegetarian? Now that’s quite a rare thing in Mallorca; I’m pretty sure it’ll be memorable…

©Jan Edwards 2017

Bib Gourmand restaurants Mallorca 2018

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Chefs / Eat / Restaurants

Two restaurants on Mallorca have gained a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide Spain & Portugal 2018: Aromata in Palma and Sa Fàbrica in Inca. Michelin awards the Bib Gourmand to establishments that they consider have the ‘best quality-price relationship’.  Son Tomás in Banyalbufar retains the Bib Gourmand it had for 2017.

We’ve eaten in both of these newly-awarded restaurants a few times and they offer impressive value for money for the high standard of cuisine. Aromata and Sa Fàbrica are both open for lunch and dinner. If you’re looking for a high-quality lunch, with a price to make you smile, rather than wince, check out what’s on offer.


Aromata’s Mallorcan owner Andreu Genestra is renowned for his eponymous (seasonal) restaurant in Capdepera, which holds one Michelin star. (His Senzill bistro – within the same hotel – is also worth a visit). Aromata is in Palma and the weekday lunch menu (which changes weekly) is one of the Mallorcan capital’s best bargains: three courses (with choices) for 15,50 euros including bread and a glass of wine or beer or water.

Here are the flavourful dishes I ate at Aromata during our last visit, in October:

Sa Fàbrica

Located in the renovated old Ramis leather factory in Inca, Sa Fàbrica has Marcel Ress at the helm. This 29-year-old German chef won  the Spanish TV series ‘Top Chef de España’ in December 2015, while he was working at the Michelin-starred Simply Fosh (now Marc Fosh) in Palma.

Sa Fàbrica’s weekday lunch menu (Tuesday to Friday except public holidays) also changes weekly and offers three courses (with choices) including bread for 15 euros. If you have a healthy appetite – or just can’t decide what to choose – go for the 5-course option for 25 euros, which includes two starters, two mains, and a dessert. The 5-course option is also available on Saturdays and public holidays.  Well worth a visit – and only a few minutes’ walk from Inca’s train station.

Here are a few photos from one of the lunches I had in the summer.

Sadly, my iPad battery failed before I could photo any of the dishes; for examples of the cuisine, here are the dishes we ate one evening when we had the Chef’s Choice menu (35 euros for five dishes). Sa Fàbrica also offers an à la carte menu.


Is it lunchtime yet?

©Jan Edwards 2017

Mallorca’s Michelin stars for 2018

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Eat / Michelin / Restaurants

For many chefs and restaurant teams across Spain and Portugal, today’s date is significant: this evening the Guía Michelin España & Portugal 2018 held their annual event to announce the restaurants awarded Michelin stars for the coming year.

Last year (for the 2017 edition of the Michelin Guide for Spain & Portugal), two restaurants in Mallorca gained their first star (Argos and Adrián Quetglas), bringing the total of stars on the island to 10 (across nine restaurants).

This year, the eagerly awaited event was held in Guía de Isora, Tenerife, at the Ritz-Carlton Abama – which has two Michelin-starred restaurants (a total of three stars) among its various restaurants and eateries. (Interestingly, Miguel Navarro, chef at Mallorca’s Es Fum, used to work in this hotel).

Can you imagine the pressure of creating a gala dinner for 500 starred chefs and top gastronomic critics? Despite that, those lucky enough to be spreading their napkins on their laps there tonight will have eaten very well!

The new stars in the Michelin Guide for Spain & Portugal for 2018 were 19 restaurants with one star; five with two stars, and two with three stars.  Stars awarded for restaurants in Mallorca last year have deservedly been awarded again, as follows:

Mallorca’s Michelin-starred restaurants for 2018

Two stars:


One star:

I feel proud to live on an island with so many excellent restaurants and talented chefs, who have helped to make Mallorca a must-visit gastronomic destination. I also feel fortunate to have eaten in all of the Michelin-starred restaurants in Mallorca and, if I had the money to do so, I’d eat in them more often. But there are also several other deserving restaurants, in my opinion. I was convinced that this would be the year Santi Taura was awarded a star for Dins Santi Taura and that Bou, Tomeu Caldentey’s restaurant in Sa Coma, would gain a second star. Neither happened. Perhaps next year?

For the time being though, my congratulations to everyone raising a glass tonight to celebrate recognition for 2018 by Michelin – the publishers of the famous red book.

©Jan Edwards 2017