Once associated with a ‘dos cervezas por favor and a packet of ready salted’ kind of holiday, in recent years Mallorca has shed its reputation as being a bastion of British pubs and greasy spoons in favour of something all the more refined.
That’s not to say a culinary heritage wasn’t always here; Mallorquin food revolves around a unique terroir and proud techniques and traditions found only on the island. Mallorca’s limestone mountains, fertile central plains, olive and almond trees, vineyards, and of course, the surrounding Mediterranean, all combine to form a cuisine that leans heavily on locality and the seasons.
Wild black boar, mountain goats, and an abundance of seafood and vegetables form the backbone of meals here, with fine dining and rustic family meals making use of the same unique produce in very different ways.
If you’re heading to the relative serenity of the island’s north, away from the bustling capital Palma and the infamous party town of Magaluf, then rest assured; some of Mallorca’s best food is found here. Actually, some of Mallorca’s best food is also found on these pages; here are 5 of the best things to do in Mallorca for foodies.
ENJOY MODERN MAJORCAN CUISINE AT MACA DE CASTRO, PUERTO D’ALCUDIA
What better place to start exploring Mallorcan cuisine than at Michelin starred Maca de Castro in the beautiful Port d’Alcudia. At chef de Castro’s eponymous restaurant, Mallorcan terroir and tradition are celebrated via contemporary interpretation, and we love it.
The chef is obsessive about local ingredients and authentic Mallorcan recipes, sourcing fish from the markets of Puerto de Sóller, shellfish from Puerto de Alcúdia, mare’s milk from Lloseta, and even growing her own vegetables in Sa Pobla, an area famed for its fertile land.
The results of this quest for the very best Mallorca has to offer results in thoughtful dishes like a delicate potato ‘flower’ filled with local sobrassada (a chorizo-like sausage with a spreadable, pâté-like texture), almond butter and foraged lemon verbena. Or, how does steamed lobster with local ewe’s milk and grilled olive oil bread sound? If you’re looking for a modern reimagining of Mallorquin food, this is it.
Or, for a totally different, totally traditional restaurant experience, in the old town of nearby Pollenca, you’ll find Cellar El Moli, whose whole suckling pig is highly revered on the island. It’s a tough place to find, mind; our friends at Vida Villas who are experts on all things relating to accommodation in Puerto Pollenca, recommend that ‘’If you go to the roundabout (la Boca & Paco Muebles) with the sign post for Lluc you will also see a sign for Pollença and a sign for the El Moli restaurant. If you park your car along this tree lined road and walk the last few minutes as it’s difficult to park in the town you will see the restaurant on the corner.’’
Thanks guys…now, how do we get home?
TAKE A TOUR OF MORTITX VINEYARD
Mallorca’s distinctive terroir – with vineyards found in both the mountains and close to sea level, also lends itself to some incredible wines, some varieties of which have been garnering international acclaim in recent years.
In fact, Mallorca has received Denominaciones de Origen (DO) status for both the Binissalem and Pla I Llevant wine growing regions, commended for their irrigation systems, fertile soils, and unique microclimate of being both high altitude and close to the sea.
Nowhere is this better realised than the Mortitx vineyard (Vinyes Mortitx) in the island’s north, whose 19 hectares of vines manage to sit 400 metres above sea level in the UNESCO protected Serra de Tramuntana mountain range yet only a kilometre from the sea.
The vineyard’s white wines are particularly revered. Using the highly prized Malvasia grape variety, which can survive the Mallorcan winter snow, the product is elegant yet intense, and a must try while you’re on the island. Tours of the Mortitx vineyard, including those all important tastings of between 7 and 10 wines (seasonally dependent), are available for just €30. From Puerto Pollenca, the vineyard is just a 30 minute drive.
GO OLIVE OIL TASTING IN SON MORAGUES
Talking of tasting tours of the finest Mallorcan produce, the island is also famous amongst the culinary cognoscenti for its olive oil, with that unique terroir we were talking about also lending itself to abundant olive groves.
The Son Moragues estate in the village of Valldemossa, a half hour’s drive north of the capital Palma, has over 10’000 olive trees, some of which are at least 700 year’s old. Owing to the fact the estate is both south-easterly facing and part of the fertile plains of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range, the extra virgin, organic olive oil here is superb.
All olives (a prized Mallorcan variety) are hand picked and processed within a few hours in onsite farm kitchens, and it’s this attention to hyper-locality that leads to a complex, grassy oil with notes of raw almond, which, incidentally, also flourishes in the region.
The estate offers an impressive range of experiences, with tours, meals and even a glimpse at a traditional Tramuntana Olive Harvest all on offer. Olive oil tasting sessions, including a long stroll around the groves, are educational and in depth; 2 hours will set you back €65 per person.
VISIT THE ‘LAMB RESTAURANT’, ES VERGER ALARÓ
Perhaps you’re already familiar with Es Verger Alaró (simply referred to as ‘the Lamb Restaurant’ by those who know), as Rick Stein visited on his 2012 Mediterranean Escapes BBC series. The chef declared the restaurant’s speciality roasted lamb to be the best he’d ever tasted, and honestly, we can’t argue with that dispatch delivered from high up the Tramuntanan hillside, where, not exactly coincidentally, sheep are grazing.
Though it’s a bit of a climb to reach (many choose to drive the hair raising route up instead), the meal that awaits you at Es Verger Alaró is well worth the exertion. Their wood fired paletilla de cordero (lamb shoulder) is why you’re here, served simply with crispy cubes of potato and salad. You can enjoy it seated in the barn area next to the restaurant’s massive wood fired ovens, hunks of the good stuff rotating and giving off a heady, intoxicating aroma.
While you’re here, why not visit Alaró Castle, another 45 minute’s walk up the hill? 800 metres above sea leavel, it boasts incredible views of the valleys below.
The quaint town of Alaró is half an hour’s drive south from Pollenca and Alcudia. Be warned that the restaurant is closed on Mondays.
FINISH EVERY MEAL WITH A GLASS OF HERBES
Almost every meal in Mallorca ends with a glass of traditional local liquor, herbes, which is usually complementary and always delicious. As we’ve become accustomed to on the island, herbes is a wonderful way to sample some of Mallorca’s wild ingredients, with foraged rosemary, fennel, mint, marjoram, camomile and more mixed with a piquant, anise liquor.
The locals believe it keeps illness at bay, and who are we to argue? Is a second glass complementary, too, we wonder…