Culinary experiences in Menorca
Menorca might often be overlooked in favour of its bigger sibling Majorca, but that means it’s a special secret for those of discerning taste. The Balearic island offers a wealth of beaches, UNESCO-protected landscapes and oodles of charm. But its shining draw lies within the vistas of hilly green fields and rustic farmland, as the fresh and tasty local cuisine is perfect for holiday dining. With traditional methods still used across the island, it’s no wonder Menorca’s gastronomy is taking centre stage.
Across the Spanish islands, it holds a strong reputation for its cheese, oil, saffron pastries and mayonnaise, named after its capital of Mahon (or Mao). Its size means that producers can’t make enough for mass exports, but those who make the trip over can visit warehouses, dairies, restaurants and vineyards to get a look behind the production process – as well as sample their goods. Here are the Citybond team's top five Menorcan foodie experiences.
Finca to fork with Silvia Anglada
If you prefer spending time on the beach and only have a morning to investigate Menorca’s culinary culture a cookery class with Silvia Anglada is the perfect solution. Located in the former capital of Ciutadella, the chef takes your group shopping at the local food market, buying seasonal and local produce including veggies, fish and meat. Then it’s all back to her place to prepare a feast of a lunch. It’s just as delightful to watch her in her zone as it is to tuck into the spoils. Keep your fingers crossed for the rucola fritters with a light tomato sauce – the fresh herbs make all the difference.
Mayonnaise-making at Pont Modorro
As mayonnaise is said to have come from Menorca – a claim disputed by the French - it’s only right that a trip involves finding out more about the sauce. What better setting than Pont Modorro in Favàritx, the olive grove that produces organic extra virgin olive oil, which forms a key ingredient of mayonnaise. Owned by Juan Corezo, the fourth generation of his family to cultivate the land, it’s a tranquil area of natural beauty that’s as pure as their produce. You’ll also meet Patrick James, a chef who shows visitors how easy it is to combine egg yolk with constant drips of oil to form the fresh, creamy sauce.
Time to wine and dine at Torralbenc
After a day of rusticness, what’s better than to end it with a little luxury? Torralbenc is a five-star, 27-roomed vineyard hotel set about twenty minutes from Mahon. Drive in through its dirt track and eventually you’ll hit the whitewashed stone that immediately gives away just how exclusive a retreat this is. So far, Torralbenc’s on-site vineyards produce too small a quantity to export, but each of their nine varieties are on par with Europe’s reliables. Have a wander around the 70-hectare vineyard to see the production in action, then enjoy the resulting wine with a delicious meal from its modern Menorcan restaurant.
Traditional gin-making at Gin Xoriguer
A buzzing spot both day and night, the Port of Mahon is the tourist epicenter of Menorca. As such it’s full of spectacularly-located waterfront restaurants that remind you you’re on holiday. Along this stretch is Menorca’s oldest gin distillery – and gin is extremely popular here, thanks to the English occupation in the 18th century. Xoriguer use their original copper stills from 1750, as well as traditional techniques like getting in olive wood to heat them and sea water to cool them. The production area is kept behind glass to show off the stills to customers perusing the storefront, where you’ll be able to try some of their gin and unusually-flavoured liqueurs – the prickly pear aperitif is a particular treat.
Say cheese at Agroturismo Son Vives
Atop of Menorca’s fourth highest peak, offering views of the northeast of Menorca all the way to the Med, visitors might think the location the best thing about Son Vives, a boutique hotel, cattle farm, dairy and restaurant. But try the breakfast spread, and it’s apparent why they’re weekend tables are booked out for the rest of the year. They use herbs and vegetables from their kitchen garden, make beautiful homemade cakes and chopped fruit salads, and churn their own award-winning cheese too. Ask nicely and you’ll be able to take a peek at their dairy – you’ll hear the moo of the cows before you see them.
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