July 27, 2015

Mallorca/Majorca - Sun, Stone and Sea



Long time, no see...
Last month I spent in Europe. Different places, cultures, different languages.
But, my real vacation was mostly planned to be in sunny, for me new and exciting place in the Mediterranean - Balearic island of Mallorca.
And I really had a sunny and maybe too hot vacation - the temperature was close to forties in Celsius every day. But if I knew that rain and hardly double digits are waiting for me in Vancouver, I would appreciate it more!

Mallorca/Majorca is an beautiful island in the Mediterranean sea, half way in between European and African continent.
Culture, lifestyle, food..it all spins around very rich history - the island was first invaded and influenced by Romans, then Arabs - Moors and finally Spaniards.


About food

The food reflects all that, so you will find the mix and influence of all the cultures that went trough here. Which really made the gastronomy of Mallorca quite unusual and unique. Let's start with one of the characteristic dish that is every bakery and stores around here "coca" - direct relative of pizza that many says brought Romans on the island. Unavoidable are of course rice, nuts and dry fruits, and the most - type of pastry swirled as a Muslim pitas, thank to Arabs - ensaimadas. And finally, Spaniards brought potatoes, peppers and tomatoes with the unique local variety of tomato that does not need irrigation while growing and refrigeration after picking - ramellet.
Surprisingly, it is not these ingredients that distinct the Mallorquin cooking - it is the method of very slow cooking in shallow dishes - greixonera.

Most homes around here didn't have stove until recently so they had to invent the best way to cook large dishes over the open fire. Pork is the most important meat and any, absolutely any part, can be eaten here. Although, I have eaten the best and tastiest local lamb, veal, rabbit and free range chicken, that comparing to American "free range" is considerably superior in taste, which brings me again to the question what kind of organic and natural we eat here on the american continent and paying big bucks for something that even don't have a taste...??!!
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Prosciutto "sections" are in almost every bigger food store


John Dory I prepared 
Mallorquin dishes tends to use large amount of pasta, rice and bread with small cuts of meats. Mallorca is known for its sausage - sobrassada, cured saussage, probably brought from Italy centuries ago that islanders redid completely and created very unique and special soft spicy sausage that can be mostly fried and eaten as a part of the dish.
Other dishes to mention are: bacalao, of course, sal cod prepared here special way with an amazing local "Tumbet" style, empanadas - pies with lamb meat and pastries, especially emsaimadas - swirl pastry that got its name since it has been made with pork fat.

sobrassadas

ensaimadas


rabbit

Pa amb oli is a popular way of food party in Mallorca. The raw ingredients are piled on a table and everyone sits around. It involves rubbing tomato and some oil on slice of bread, then adding some meat and cheeses over.
Mahon - local cheese is very popular to use in this event. It involves rubbing tomato and oil on toasted slices of brad, and adding some meat and cheese. Olives and pickles on side.

Almond milk - homemade is proudly served everywhere

Where to shop for food


The markets - mercado are really great place to find anything you need. In Palma, I lived near Santa Catalina market and went there every morning to buy some fresh fish or cold-cuts, vegetables, fruits ..and it is really fresh and quality food, anything you find there. But, I was surprised one Sunday morning that all the market was closed, along with many other stores. So, if you plan to go, be prepare for this, do not run out of water etc, the night before, you can be in big trouble, especially in Palma. Luckily, I found out few other stores in center that carry big selection of quality food that were open Sundays: big department store - Corte Ingles. Unfortunately, I have discovered that this hidden supermarket in the basement of the main department store, have absolutely everything that mercados have, with even better prices! More supermercados and markets can be find around towns and Palma. I will give the list at the end that was usefull for me.
This piece made of compacted dry blood is a specialty found on markets 

Produsct of fresh and dry figs are something to taste

Locally made jams and preserves can be find in small stores

Interesting 

Orange trees can be find on many regular streets in the middle of towns like this one in Palma center with fruits fall freely on the street. I wasn't sure if you can eat them or not..

Little History and Culture hunt

Palma's main Cathedral

Area around the cathedral is the place to be in the evening strolls, as the park is fabulous and enjoyable place to have  fun with kids and look for the place to have a diner. There is a long lake in front of cathedral that during a day, people use to kayak and in the evening to walk around and have a refresher after hot day on the beach.

All around the island you can find traces of rich history.
Flour windmills, dating from 16th century, can be find everywhere, now with the petition to preserve them, they are mostly privatized and converted to restaurants, like this one in the Santa Catalina  - Palma's center


Valldemossa town is famous since Chopin and G Sand spent some time here along with Borges and some other famous people

Banyalbufar, village famous for its wine production and unusual relief


Connection between Mediterranean islands is obvious. One of them are these little mysterious whistle figurines called Siurells, thousand years old and find also on Crete, Sardinia etc..
Don't miss visiting  Arabic baths in Palma - the only left remains of Arabic presence on the island

Modern art exhibitions are also worth of experience in some of the old buildings around the towns

Beaches

Prepare plan and some photos before you go. Even if you have the best maps you need to know Spanish, to find how to get somewhere. Maps are not enough to lead you, for instance, to Cala Deia,  it can be realy complicated.
wild beach around Banyalbufar area


popular cool beach -Cala Deia

Port de Soller family beach

Palma's popular Cala Major
 May favourite - Cala Llombard 
It ia a place like no where on the earth. Comparing to all the beaches I've been from tropicl destinations to European, this one is for me close to heaven!

 Beach socializing in Port d'Alcuida



Eating

So many many places to eat really good.
Starting from early morning to have a nice cappuccino and piece of local pastry, you don't have to look far. These places - bakeries, pastry shops are everywhere. In little towns or Palma, the culture of eating out, on every level and any time of day is so wide that is hard to choose.
I suggest for the breakfast or even lunch, do like the locals do, go to one of the mercados and eat there, prepared morning tapas. The experience is really amazing with exchange of local Spanish jokes and great variety of freshly prepared dishes.
Dinning can be complicated, as it is really hard to pick good restaurant - there are simply so many. We didn't follow the lists that we had, we simply occasionally went out and walk trough the streets and always found great places to eat.
If you want to try as much as you can, go for tapas. Most restaurant s have them, from very simple to elaborate. Even if you are not in the mood for big eating go for the tapas but look for the homemade, as many can be just pickles from the jar..
Tapa means lid. Which referenced small plates that were used to cover up drinks to keep dust out of drinks. It was a custom for agricultural workers to eat small quantities of food  until the main meal of the day. Today tapas have evovled into gastronomic creations. Common dishes are cod fish, seafood, pork, paella, tuna, calamares and Manchego cheese. Jamon that is salted or wind dried, is the most common ingredient. The best type of jamon is the acorn-fed black pigs. Another favorite dish is pulpo gallega (octopus), They are often served with soft potatoes, olive oil and finely chopped garlic.

variety of paella is prepared everywhere 
I recommend one little restaurant where I had the best salt cod - bacalao "tumbet" and my daughter picked the rabbit - in  La Bodega on Carrer dels Ajuntadors.


grilled calamari make great tapa
Spanish way to serve small cappuccino - cortado
La Bodega  - not known , but great value!

snacks to go  - chicharrones - fried pork skin



 Coffee to order in Spain:


  • Café solo Espresso, the standard form of coffee in Spain, (finally to my taste!)
  • Café con leche Espresso with equal part of milk added. 
  • Cortado Espresso with a small amount of streamed milk. I really enjoyed it, it's explained to me as a "little cappuccino".
  • Leche manchada 'Stained milk', a little coffee and a lot of milk. More like coffee flavored milk than a proper coffee. 
  • Café con hielo An espresso and a glass of ice. You're supposed to pour the espresso over the ice.
  • Café bonbon Espresso with sweetened condensed milk. Sometimes referred to as acafé cortado condensada. A mix of half normal milk and half sweetened condensed milk is called a leche y leche.
  • Café carajillo -  coffee with brandy

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Must in Mallorca - my list:


great bakery  - bread esspecialy - Fibonacci
food shopping : Mercado L'Olivar, Santa Catalina, El Corte Ingles supermercado, 
fish: lubina-European seabass
snacks: cones filled with local sausages, prosciutto or chicharrones (pork fried skin)
late night food store - Opencor, big food shopping - Carrefour.
craft markets: Alcudia town, Plasa Major, 
shopping: El Corte Ingles, Palma center - Paseig del Born
beach: Cala LLombard
beach to experience real Mallorcan beach socializing: Port d'Alcudia
visit for the atmosphere : Alcudia town
great dessert plate - Tucana restaurant with the best coconut cake 
best bacalao tumpet - La Bodega restaurant in Santa
great street to dine: Carrer dels Ajuntadors
wine: Edera and Faustino
fashion: Custo, Desigual

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Local recipes


COCAS de Trempo 
For two cocas:
0.5 kg flour
1 tsp salt
10 g yeast dissolved in 3 tbsp warm water
150 ml olive oil
100 ml water

Trempo topping:
1 onion finely diced,
3 large tomatoes, chopped finely
4 chopped green peppers
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper

Form a dough by mixing all ingredients together. Let it rise for one hour in a cowered bowl. Punch down and divide in two. Form pizzas flats with your hands and cover with topping. Bake on 220 C for 15 minutes. 

COCAS POTATO de Valldemossa

Ingredients: 
- 100 grams of lard 
- 200 grams of boiled potato (boiled first and then weigh) 
- 200 g sugar 
- 3 eggs 
- milk 0.1 dl 
- 30 g of baker's yeast 
- 500 grams of bread flour
- average coffee cup of vegetable oil 
1. Put the lard with the hot potato, mix well
2. Add sugar and eggs 
3. Add milk and yeast,
4. Add flour, mix until incorporated
5. Put the oil slowly to make it a thin layer of oil throughout the mass and not absorbed. Allow to ferment in the bowl. Punch down and form balls. This should be a soft, sticky dough (balls gave way to more or less tennis). 
7. When they doubled the volume heat the oven to 180C and bake the buns for 8-10 minutes. 

Eggs Soller style

Soller is one cute town on the north western side of the island and its Port is one of the best places to spend family vacation!
This unusual recipe make a great lunch. And yes you need to find good sobrasada to make it.

Ingredients:


2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves crushed
400 g frozen green peas
1 l chicken stock
2 tbsp chopped parsley
150 g sobrasada or good choriso sliced into 4 pieces
4 large eggs
salt, pepper

Fry the onion in the olive oil or lard until soft then add the garlic and cook more. Add peas and stock, season and summer for 10 more minutes. Puree peas and parsley . Fry sobresada slices in little olive oil, remove and bake the eggs in the same oil. Place the eggs on the sausage slices and drizzle the sauce over them.

Tumbet
Bacalao - tumbet style from La Bodega restaurant in Palma ( 5* dish)
This is the recipe used alone or with fish or meat. Unfortunately, I have to say that because of the incredible and tasty vegetables and meat on Mallorca, this dish will never taste that good like there, but trying to make it in the clay dish similar to greixonera and using organic ingredients will bring this dish close to the original. Combining this dish with good salted cod or roast lamb can be quite spectacular.

Ingredients:
0.1 dl olive oil
3 eggplants, medium size
8 potatoes, medium,
3 red peppers cut into rectangles
8 garlic cloves crushed but unpeeled,
1 kg ripe tomatoes
2 bay leaves
salt pepper

Cut the eggplants, potatoes into 1 cm slices and fry them separately into the oiled pan. Fry peppers with garlic cloves but thin let them burn.
Grate tomatoes discard skin, sauté remaining garlic clove and bay leaves. Season lightly and pour over other vegetables. You can serve it like this or bake more in pre-heated oven, 190C for half an hour.

Mallorquin Almond cake

Mallorca is famous for its almonds, and they look and taste little bit different then the others I have seen and tried anywhere in the world.

Tip is to slightly toast almonds before grinding them

200 g ground almonds
200 g sugar
5 eggs, separated
zest of half a lemon 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

preheat the oven to 180 C.
Grease 25 cm cake tin with butter or lard,and dust with flour.
Beat sugar and yolks until pale. Stir in cinnamon and almonds. Whisk egg whites separately and fold into almond mix. Transfer this into cake tin and bake for about half an hour or bit more.
Dust with icing sugar and serve with almond ice cream.

Almond ice cream

1 l of water
250 g ground almonds
300 g sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick

In a sauce pan bring this mixture to boil and immediately take it off the heat. Cool and remove cinnamon stick. Freeze in plastic container and mix from time to time or follow instructions if you have ice cream maker.


After my visits to different regions of Europe in the last couple of years, I really wish that someone can now answer, why food in Europe taste so much better, even when is not classified as a free range?
I spend big bucks buying free range and organic in Vancouver, and I am really confused now what I buy and is it really organic? Food lost its taste in Canada!