Long Weekend in Majorca: a culinary island trip
Dreamy beaches like Cala Xinxell in the southwest of Majorca aren't the only drawcard for travellers.
The first stop of our weekend in Majorca is a visit to the beautiful capital Palma, where we see a lot of art and get the vibe of the island.
Here in Palma, you will find busy streets as well as quiet alleyways flanked with old houses. Like in the Sa Gerreria neighbourhood, which borders the town hall zone. Formerly a rather poor and slightly disreputable part of town, it is now tidier, with many restored buildings and several very good restaurants, as demonstrated by Plaça Raimundo Clar where several hip eateries vie for customers. You are spoilt for choice whether your tastes lean towards Hawaiian, Japanese, Canarian or Majorcan.
All are good, all are recommendable and all with tables out in front of the restaurant, which gives the place a particularly lively flair. Here you need to tapeo, which means moving from one place to another and eating a snack everywhere. First there's an avocado from a Robatayaki grill with yoghurt and chilli sauce at Kasui, then a Lomi Lomi, salmon with marinated onions, pineapple, ginger, coriander and ponzu sauce at Shaka, and a taco made of Canarian gofio flour with goat meat, cheese paté and pineapple at La Vieja.
We continue past the town hall through streets full of boutiques with the latest fashion trends and lots of homewares. The beautiful weather makes us crave a sweet delicacy. We decide on something very traditional, namely Ca'n Joan de s'Aigo, one of the oldest cafés in Palma. Probably the best almond ice cream in town is waiting for us there. At the next table you see tourists, but also many older locals and families, and even Spain's former queen, Sofia, comes to visit from time to time.
Thus fortified, one is ready for some culture. Did you know that Palma has the highest density of galleries per head of population in all of Spain? Interesting, for example, is the Aba Art Lab gallery of twin sisters Maribel and Alejandra Bordoy on the square in front of Majorca's most famous museum of modern art, Es Baluard. Finally, dinner is reserved at El Txoko de Martín, the Palma offshoot of star chef Martín Berasategui, whose many restaurants have already earned him 13 Michelin stars, and who tends to serve traditional dishes with a twist in Palma.
Over breakfast, we get to know the island from a culinary perspective, then sample the ''Tapas King' and drive inland.
The perfect day starts with a perfect breakfast: at Arrels in Ca's Català near the capital, you are treated in the morning to five indulgent courses, some of which have several components, right by the sea. These range from fresh fruit or cold cuts, cheese, homemade jam and pickled anchovies to filled pastries, egg dishes with truffles, sweet delicacies and the popular ensaïmada. Each is accompanied by a matching drink. Everything, right down to the sparkling wine and truffles, comes from this island or Balearic island sisters Menorca and Formentera – so you can discover everything over breakfast and get interesting tips for important gourmet souvenir shopping.
Back in Palma, we look to put our culinary knowledge to use immediately. We go to the centrally located Olivar market hall, built in 1951, which is busy on Saturday afternoons. The whole complex is a lively mixture of stalls and small restaurant stands like Mercat Negre in the fish hall. Chef Pau Navarro has a soft spot for the otherwise often forgotten bits of fish beyond the fillet. They are perfectly prepared here and his squid tentacles in butter sauce are to die for! We buy some more Flor de Sal d'Es Trenc, sobrasada from Can Company and a good olive oil, like the one from Treurer.
Then everything gets too crowded and we flee – to the king. Spain is a monarchy, so you should visit the 'tapas king' of Palma, Igor Rodríguez at El Bandarra. He holds the title because of his numerous first places in tapas competitions in Palma and all over Spain. We try his Xuco, which looks a bit like a croquette, with a filling of cooked meat from a black pig native to Majorca, grouper and apricot puree as a little acid balance. Unusual, but also unusually delicious!
Now we take advantage of our rental car and drive into the countryside, towards the northeast. We climb a mountain, or rather a tall hill, in the centre of the island, because Puig de Santa Magdalena near Inca, at 300 metres, is truly no Matterhorn. At the top, we sit down for a late lunch in the mountain restaurant and feast on a typically Majorcan dish, a super-tender shoulder of lamb, locally sourced of course, which was braised for 16 hours at 60 to 80 degrees in its own broth. There is a dreamy view over the countryside and across to the Tramuntana mountains for no charge. In the evening, back in Palma, a few original croquettes are enough for us in Croqueteria, where there are a dozen variations, such as one with sobrasada, oysters and Menorcan cheese, or one with cod, prawns and squid. Delicious!
Majorca is not just about Palma, so we pick up some provisions and set off in our rental car along the coastal road to the romantic, wildly rugged coast to the west. We stop at the Mirador na Foradada scenic spot. A wonderful view awaits us there, although we are still hours too early for the best. This is where people usually meet at sunset.
We continue to Deià, a former artists' village. The descendants of the colourful, free-spirited people now have more boutiques than studios. But if there is a strange smell, don't be surprised – it unites the hippies of yesterday and the free spirits of today...A short trip down to a stone bay to fish restaurant Ca's Patró March, where you are served grilled fish whilst sitting under a wooden roof, is nice. Simply prepared, but super fresh.
Lunch, however, awaits us at Béns d'Avall, which has been around for more than 50 years, founded by the parents of the current owner, Benet Vicens, who works in the kitchen with his son Jaume and has enjoyed a Michelin star for two years. The cooking is Majorcan, often with a French touch, and almost exclusively organic produce is used from their own garden. We are already looking forward to the bouillabaisse made according to an old family recipe with local fish, gourmet prawns from Sóller, a rouille sauce and saffron gnocchi. And all this sitting on a terrace overlooking the sea.
Spoiled by the friendly service team, we find it hard to disengage, but at least one bodega should still be visited. But the question is which one? The island is full of national and international award-winning wineries. There is Bodega Ribas, run by the tenth generation of a family, or Bodega Can Majoral, which was the first in Majorca to practice organic winegrowing. But the choice falls to the not-so-well-known Bodega Ramanyà near Santa Maria del Camí. The Ramis family of owners is not only extremely cordial, they also offer a look back into the past with their small private museum. On the way back to Palma, however, you should definitely make a short stop at Sa Sini in Santa Maria. Andrea Terrades' cakes are legendary and are the perfect end to a great weekend in Majorca!
Restaurants & Co.
Plaça Raimundo Clar 6, 07002 Palma
Carrer de l’Hostal de Santanyí/Ecke Plaça Raimundo Clar, 07002 Palma
El Txoko de Martín
Plaça del Pont s/n, 07014 Palma
Passeig de Illetas 7, 07184 Calviá (Illetas)
T: +34 971 402511, restaurantearrels.com
Stand 6 a, Plaça de l’Olivar, 07002 Palma
Carrer de Can Brondo 5, 07001 Palma
Puig de Santa Magdalena
Carretera de Santa Magdalena, 07300 Inca
Carrer de Julià Alvarez 12, 07004 Palma
Ca's Patró March
Carrer Sa Cala 16, 07179 Deià
Carretera de Deyá, Km. 56, 07100 Sóller
Plaça Hostals 20, 07320 Santa Maria del Camí
Cami des Coscois 16, 07320 Santa Maria del Camí
Camí de Binibona, 07314 Binibona,
Cami de Son Net s/n, 07194 Puigpunyent
Carrer del Forn de la Glòria 14, 07012 Palma
Culture & Co.
Aba Art Lab
Plaça de la Porta de Santa Catalina 21 b, 07012 Palma,
Plaça de la Porta de Santa Catalina 10, 07012 Palma
Mirador na Foradada
Carretera de Valldemossa, Km. 65, 07179 Deià
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