Travel bites: Mallorca, a foodie’s highs and lows
Spain and the islands
I confess, I am not a lover of Spanish food whether in Spain or elsewhere. Every time I happen to travel to the country, I return disappointed by loads of things, including the food and I remember the worst lunch I have ever had, which in fact happened in Barcelona, in the famous gourmet spot that is la Boqueria. I still shiver at the memory, for which I have my pro foodie sister to thank for.
So upon booking a long weekend in Mallorca, I was not sure what to expect but I had some hopes that being an island, the cuisine would be somehow different. I had read in fact of famous ‘mallorquine’ cuisine and I had formed some sort of expectant opinion.
Our first experience of the local fare was nothing special. Kind of fresh, kind of average, breakfast at our agriturismo (Son Siurana). Already I was feeling cheated as in Italy agriturismi are only supposed to serve you produce from their land.
Unfortunately we were served non local fruit (bananas), orange juice from a packet (!) and cheese that looked remarkably supermarket bought. Yet the place was beautiful and we were on holiday so it did not seem to matter too much.
For our first island lunch, we ended up in the mountain town of Soller. Very touristy, we feared the worst, yet we picked a smart looking cafe’ on the square (Cafe’ Cipriani). Thankfully, no plastic photos menus, and some local dishes on offer.
I ordered a cerveza and my first Pan Amb Oli, lightly toasted slices of bread with tomatoes and different topping… the Mallorquine ham was a little tough but the cheese was soft, and the combination worked. My other half chose well, and his ‘frito’ lamb was a stir fry of lamb liver, kidneys, potatoes, peppers. The waiter was surprised he had chosen it and explained carefully it had liver in it! A little heavy on the oil but husband really enjoyed it.
It seemed we had made a good start!
Our hopes for the evening were high – I had booked Genestar in Alcudia, having read good reviews and having liked the website. Genestar received a Bib Gourmand, so it’s probably doing something right. Our first impression wasn’t very exciting… in such a warm island, it felt strange to go indoors, when it’s still day light outside and outdoor dining is so the norm. Also, a strange smell permeated the place, it reminded me of oven cleaner. Mmm… oh dear.
Soon however, the chef came to introduce himself and shake our hands, and explain the menu. This, I felt, was a nice touch, which you do not get all the time.
Unfortunately the menu is only available as 5 course tasting menu.
Not so ideal if you cant eat certain food or simply do not like some other. So for my other half, dinner was challenging. The starter was a nice cold soup of tomato, possibly a salmorejo. I found it enjoyable but Rob had it replaced by a small salad. Next, came a strange dish. I think (my spanish fails me) it was seafood dumplings. It surely had Asian influence and the light chilly and soya dressing was great, but the filling lacked salt and flavour.
The first main was actually very good – a squid filled with chunky cous cous and a fresh tomato and courgette sauce. It was delicious but the squid felt a little undercooked to my taste.
The second main was my favourite. A pork chop with mushrooms sauce. My chop was well cooked but Rob’s was raw (and bloody) and he cannot eat mushrooms. Sadly he left half of his portion.
Finally the dessert. The chef had described it (or I had understood it to be) as a fresh mango with a biscuit base. Imagine my disappointment when it actually turned out totally different and a bit too much. Good marks on the wine – we asked for a dry, local white and we loved the Xeloc. We looked for it the next few days but could not find it anywhere to buy!
So Genestar was a bit hit and miss. Loved the chef’s approach, but some of the dishes were just not that great.
The following day we had another random lunch and I loved my second Pan Amb Oli with ibericos cuts. L’Illa Cafe on Puerto Pollenca was a good find (and had free wifi).
For the evening, we took things easily and had dinner at one of the small cafes in Alcudia old town which is quiet and relaxing at night and has a lot of charm. Cafe la Ronda was not bad at all, my grilled port steak well flavoured with lemon, peppers and onions and it was pretty cheap (24Euros for two).
For our final evening, the next day, we thought we’d try the other old town, Pollenca.
After an aperitif at a strangely frequented local bar, we choose one of the restaurants on the main square. They all looked decent, they all looked touristy and they pretty much had the same food. To be fair, our first choice only had available tables indoor and given the nice warm evening we moved on to the restaurant of the boutique hotel Cal Lloro.
Poor service, and quite average food sadly. The starters were allright, if a bit too greasy. I tried the local chipirones, the baby cuttle fish (MCS forgive me) while my other half had the calamari. The mains were totally disappointing, and my suckling pig roast, however big a portion, was quite dry. Uneventful dinner.
We opted to have some food at the airport. Where I thought that having a chicken wrap from Henry J Beans was some sort of guarantee.
It was actually the worst chicken wrap ever, a mushy ensemble which reminded me of that lunch at la Boqueria.
Spanish food strikes again! Yet we enjoyed Mallorca and I am hoping to go back one day to discover more of the landscape and the nature.