I'VE BEEN away for a spot of late summer sun before the long climb towards Christmas begins. Oops, sorry, I said the C-word.
Still, it’s true that in the catering world we have to be well-prepared and we’re already gearing up for the festive season.
Hard to believe as I sat by the harbour in Puerto Portals in Mallorca, sipping a delightful rosé in bright sunshine, with just a light breeze from the Mediterranean to make outdoor dining a true pleasure. I do apologise. It’s not fair on you, is it?
Given the awful summer we’ve had, I have to say it was a real treat to be able to soak up some rays on a beautiful island.
People can still be terribly snobby about Mallorca, thinking that it’s like the much-maligned Magalluf all over the island. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are breathtaking mountains, coves, plains and forests. Up towards the foothills of the Tramuntana mountains one finds wide orange groves, almond farms and fields full of beautiful olive trees, with their twisted trunks and silvery green leaves.
Lower down, on the plains of Binnisalem, the landscape changes to the viticultural; rich, succulent Chardonnays and Sauvignons and some truly stunning rich reds, made with local grapes and incomers such as Cabernet and Merlot.
Of the best wineries, I’d suggest looking for bottles from Binigrau, Son Prim, and Can Majoral, whose whites are absolutely amazing, crisp, tasty and great value.
I picked up a few bottles of a smashing red from Bodegas Ribas in the village of Consell, and here’s the great thing – you can now have the wines boxed ready for flight, and check them in at the airport. They guarantee safe travel for your wine. Do go and explore!
Food-wise, there’s an amazing range of restaurants and bars, from Pollenca in the East all the way to Deia, but especially in and around Palma. Of course, this being Spain, there’s tapas, and you have hundreds of places to choose from.
I suggest La Bodeguilla (www.la-bodeguilla. com), where you can enjoy exceptional nibbles in a beautiful tiny wine shop, or dine upstairs in a lovely restaurant.
For the traditionalist tapas-hunter there’s El Pilon, a lovely old place with brilliant seafood and great hams.
One of my favourite places in the city is the Asador Tierra Aranda, where they wood-roast suckling pig and kid until falling apart and serve it, simply carved with crunchy potatoes.
It is sublime, especially when enjoyed in their tree-lined courtyard.
Further afield, I can recommend lunch or dinner at Flanigan in Puerto Portals, where they make the best steak tartare and brilliant local specialities like pork with lentils and my mum’s favourite ‘broken eggs’.
And I had an unforgettable sushi lunch at Tahini (www.grupocappuccino.com), also in Puerto Portals – the very freshest fish, immaculately prepared and presented.
I implore you to go adventuring if you go; there’s a culinary universe to explore in Mallorca. And not a sign of the Full English!
So, I thought I’d just leave you with a little recipe for a fantastic, simple local dish, Pa Amb Oli Y Allioli; or quite simply tomato bread with garlic mayonnaise. It is insanely moreish.
Pa Amb Oli:
6 thin slices of good sourdough or ‘country’ bread
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved
2-3 very ripe tomatoes, halved (plum toms are ideal)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
3 free-range egg yolks, four cloves garlic, minced, one lemon, salt and freshly ground black pepper, 75ml each grapeseed and extra virgin olive oil.
To make the allioli, whizz the egg yolks, a pinch of salt and the garlic in a food processor and then add the oil very very slowly, almost drop by drop, scraping down the sides occasionally.
After half the oil is incorporated, add a good splash of lemon juice, and whizz again, this time adding the olive oil in a very thin stream until it’s all used up.
You should have a thick, creamy sauce, powerful with garlic. Season if necessary and chill until required. Don’t use anything porous for storage, though!
Toast, or oven-bake the bread until lightly browned and crunchy. Rub the toast with a piece of garlic, and then with a tomato half, so the tomato disintegrates on to the toast.
Drizzle each slice with a good slug of olive oil, and season to taste. Serve as an appetiser or snack with a bowl of the allioli for spreading and a bottle of something big and red.