Oranges, stars and the Golden Valley of Mallorca

On the menu at Marc Fosh in Palma, Mallorca (c) Marc Fosh
On the menu at Marc Fosh in Palma, Mallorca (c) Marc Fosh

Majorca also spelt Mallorca, as in Catalan and Spanish is the largest island in the Balearic Islands, is covered with delightful citrus groves full of lemon and orange trees. With a lovely climate throughout the year and beautiful views everywhere you look, the island is a popular holiday spot where tourists slake thirst with juicy oranges.

Lying of the north-east coast of Spain, the island’s citrus industry is based around Sóller, a traditional seaside town on the Mediterranean island’s remote, craggy west coast. It’s at the centre of the island’s Golden Valley, a region bursting with voluptuous oranges and lemons. During Autumn the island hosts fairs and festivals dedicated to such products as the olive, mushrooms, pumpkins, wine, sobrassada (a spicy meat paste sausage made with paprika) and honey. Mallorcan farmers also produce Porcella, suckling pig; about 15,000 tonnes of sea salt from Salines de Colonia Saint Jordi, on south east corner of the island; olive oil and cheeses. The island is also famous for Angel d´Or, an orange liqueur. A naturally fruity and just slightly bitter tasting liqueur enjoyed straight, on ice splashed into various cocktail varieties. For example the refreshing Fresquito (fresh juice on ice); the sparkling ‘Angel d´Or con Cava’ (with sparkling wine) or even the exotic “Caipirinha d´Or” (with lime and brown sugar). Other liquors are made with almonds and dried herbs.

London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi offers several great dishes using Mallorcan produce including Caramelised Fig, Orange and Goat’s Cheese Salad; and Apricot and Almond Ensaimada – a delicious pastry made with pork lard and grated orange zest.

Other local cuisine includes such dishes as ‘sopa de nadal’, a traditional Christmas chicken broth made with foie gras and pasta; ‘Porcella amb anfòs’, a stuffed suckling pig with roasted onion and apple puree, and ‘Ensaimada de torro’, a speciality almond filled sweet bread.

In late May/ early June Sóller hosts the Fira Taronja, a festival dedicated to the orange which takes centre stage in street celebrations and many restaurant offering citrus themed menus. Hotels and B&Bs get in on the action as well, so if you want to stay amongst the orange groves and taste the local produce, try Finca Ca’s Sant with home grown/made marmalade served at breakfast served on elegantly laid tables under citrus trees and an estate dating back more than 600 years.

 

Citrus harvest

Navelina oranges are harvested from November through early January and are characterised by strong acidity and medium sugar content. A close relative to the Navelina is the Navel which is harvested during January and February are busiest time for picking with the popular types being with Navel oranges are the most popular fruits grown on the island and Canoneta oranges which is pack with juice and is more often squeezed for drinking. Bitter oranges (a cross between grapefruit and tangerines) are available until the end of February and make delicious bitter orange marmalade. Lemons and grapefruits are also grown on Mallorca.

The less common Ortanique is sweet with enough acidity to a delicate skin which makes them ideal for eating. The Valencia Late is another delicious orange for eating or juicing. It crops in May and July. And finally, the pear-shaped, greenish with yellow appearance Peret is delicious to eat and makes a spectacular juice in the summer.

 

Michelin stars

Across the island of Mallorca, its restaurants recently retained ten Michelin Stars at the ninth annual Michelin Star Awards, further propelling the destination to the top of the list of desirable ‘foodie’ destinations for 2018.

Mallorca has recently experienced a food revolution with an exciting number of gastro developments, such as the opening of new restaurants including fine-dining eatery Vandal and the You Buy We Cook restaurant in the Mercat de l’Olivar, as well as the launch of the new gastro market – Mercat 1930, in the capital, Palma.

Restaurants which retained their stars include Marc Fosh’s Simply Fosh restaurant. Located in the heart of the island’s capital Palma in a 17th century mansion, the restaurant was awarded for its emphasis on seasonal ingredients and ‘clean flavours’, offering diners traditional Spanish cuisine with a modern twist.

Restaurant Adrian Quetglas, also located in Palma named after the creator and head chef, has retained its star in the awards for 2018 with its outstanding menu offering a combination of natural products, traditional flavours, and avant-garde techniques.

Moving out of Palma towards Es Capdellà, the restaurant Zaranda, located in the luxury hotel Castell de Son Claret in the Tramuntana Mountain range and headed by Fernando P. Arellano, maintained its two Michelin Stars for its impeccable fusion of flavour, aroma and texture.

Argos in Port de Pollença describes itself as ‘free cuisine’ – traditionally prepared dishes using seasonal and local product whilst tapping into creative gastronomy. Head Chef Andalucian Álvaro Salazar won San Pellegrino Young Chef’s award in 2016 and is a finalist for Best Chef of 2018.

Located within the Predi de Son Jaumell – a traditional Mallorcan Finca converted into luxury hotel -the restaurant Andreu Genestra, named after the head chef, is located in Capdepera and works on the ‘gastronomy equals performance’ basis. Genestra goes to great lengths to make the cuisine innovative yet traditional, often picking products from his own garden.

Slightly south of Capdepera, Es Molí d’En Bou in Sa Coma boasts a ‘unique sensory journey’ showcasing new techniques but also rooted in the island’s culinary traditions. Led by Tomey Caldentey, this is the 15th consecutive year that the restaurant has been awarded a Michelin Star.

Es Racó d’Es Teix in Deiá combines the best ingredients with the highest culinary art. Complemented with stunning views of the mountains alongside elegant cooking from Chef Josef Sauerschell.

Palmanova restaurant Es Fum – located in the prestigious luxury hotel St Regis Mardavall – is often described as a ‘culinary pearl’. Head Chef Miguel Navarro started his culinary journey aged 16, and he offers delicate combinations and an ‘epicurean experience’ at Es Fum which also overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.

The food in Jardín in Port d’Alcudia blends the flavours of the sea, fields, mountains and forests of Mallorca and tends to use ingredients “forgotten in our busy modern world”. Siblings Maca and Dani de Castro, share responsibility of Jardín, with Maca being head chef and Dani covering catering. It’s had a Michelin Star since 2012 and retained it once again for 2018.

For more information about travelling to Mallorca and her sister Balearic islands of Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera click here.

Bruce McMichael

I am freelance journalist and published author focusing on food and drink; business startups and enterprise; culture and travel. I have also written about the global upstream oil and gas industry, shipping and current affairs. Based in London, I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur.

2 thoughts on “Oranges, stars and the Golden Valley of Mallorca

  1. Bruce,
    Thanks for this post, very interesting but check out link to travel information at the bottom, it doesn’t seem to work (at least for me using my mack book).
    Have a prosperous new year,
    Nigel.