Local Food Minorca – a Walk Through the Island’s Flavours
05 August, 2015
I could spend hours singing the praises of this wonderful Balearic island, but these lines are dedicated to its gastronomic facet, its rich larder and its restaurants. Among the preparatory tasks all travellers should undertake is to research the flavours they are likely to encounter at their destination. Experiencing tourism on one’s palette is a way of coming to grips with local culture.
Thus, Minorca cannot be fully grasped without accounting for its cheeses (DO – Queso de Mahón-Menorca). They are hand crafted using cloth, and painted with oil and red pepper. Drop in on cheese factories like S’Arangi (Es Mercadal) or Son Mercer de Baix (Ferreries). Likewise, their sausage: carn i xulla (raw and cured lean pork and bacon), sobrasada, botifarró (blood sausage) and camot/cuixot/camaiot (similar to botifarró, but stuffed in skin). And, needless to say, their Gin Xoringuer, a traditional distillation that goes into the making of pomada and gin amb llimonada. Also de rigueur are their wines which, after a merely cursory presence at the beginning, are experiencing a sweet resurgence under the label “Vi de la terra Illa de Menorca”. The stores of El Paladar offer some fine examples of all kinds of local produce.
And, don’t forget to try some of the wines at Hort de Sant Patrici, Sa Forana, Binifadet… whenever you sit down to any of their tables. They are highly distinct from one another, from creative cuisine to jam-packed menus, but they all have one thing in common – a desire to offer local produce and dishes of yesteryear that are still current today.
Binifadet – Among Vineyards
Sign up for a guided tour, purchase some wine and enjoy a hearty breakfast on your morning jaunt in Sant Lluís, hard by Mahón. Local cheeses, toast with sobrasada and wine marmalade, carré (spare ribs of lamb) and fresh white hake.
Biniarroca – Among Gardens
A charming rural hotel in Sant Lluís with a restaurant among the most highly recommended on the island. During the day, their porch and gardens are areas where time stands still to the warmth of a cup of coffee. By night, the setting is cuisine based on Minorcan produce with fine service. The accommodation is a wise choice – you will feel very much at home.
Terra Bistró – In the Harbour
This establishment has been open for just one year. It is based on well presented, locally sourced produce and dishes, set in cosy premises and at reasonable prices. Try the botifarró with onion confit and tomato jam, or black calamari and mussel rice. Go for a table on their terrace, and make sure you order one of their homemade desserts.
Rías Baixas and Loar – a Break on the Journey
We stopped off at Ferreries, on the road to Ciutadella. We had heard of a restaurant which combines the best Galician seafood with Minorcan cuisine – Rías Baixas. An ad hoc feast based on fried fish (sea and vegetables), mussels and aubergines stuffed with prawns. Stewed lobster and delicious sweets. Also scrumptious is the menu of the day at the Cala Galdana del Hotel Loar restaurant, where locals pack the tables for lunch each day to savour the island’s traditional fare. À la carte is also available. Comfortable accommodation if you fancy spending the night inland.
Mon – Felip Llufriú and Guillem Pons’ Personal Enterprise
We reached Ciutadella and were blown away first by the cuisine, and then by the locale. The project was once housed in Can Faustino. A quiet establishment with views of the kitchen where you can savour such dishes as marinated rock fish on melba toast and escalibada (smoky grilled aubergine), crawfish in three portions – pincers tartare, ceviche (lemon-and-garlic marinade) of the tail, and soup with the heads – or local cochinillo (suckling pig) with bitter orange and pungents obrasada. Creativity and produce. Indispensable. (Passeig de San Nicolau, 4 - Tel. 971381718.)
Ses Voltes – Casual Roof Terrace in the Heart of Ciutadella
For those seeking a fine cuisine alternative at good prices and for all tastes. Here they feature a huge menu of salads, pasta, rice, meat and fish and an interesting pizza section. They also offer local dishes such as scrambled eggs with sobrasada and milhojas de cuixot.
Torralbenc – Haute Cuisine with the Paco Morales Signature
A privileged spot, a rewarding peace, splendid cuisine. At Torralbenc you can fly on the wings of a royale of cured Mahón cheese – a mysterious and tasty perfect-imperfect – steak tartare and a dessert called “orange” which makes you cry. Great wines and great service.
Further Suggestions for Sleeping… and Continuing to Eat
The Artiem hotels (Audax, Carlos III and Capri), part of a sustainability project called Aportam! were founded with the concerted aim of providing local produce among their culinary offerings. Having ensaimadas and local sponge cake for breakfast, and homemade sausage for dinner, is a real luxury.
For something more rural, Sant Ignasi lies just a stone’s throw away from Ciutadella. They also feature an interesting restaurant concept and a stunning terrace where you can have a relaxing breakfast with a big variety of homemade jams.
We wind up the journey and the day having a drink to a DJ rhythm on the spectacular roof terrace at the Barceló Hamilton in Es Castell, a hotel for those seeking an “adults only” option with views of the Mediterranean.
I bet we have dispelled any doubts you may have had. Check out our flights here.
Text by Silvia Artaza of Gastronomistas.com
Images bySilvia Artazaand establishments
05 August, 2015