One of these belongs to Marc Fosh, originally from London’s East End but now totally immersed in island life and fluent in both Spanish and Catalan. When he’s not whipping up exquisite gourmet treats in the kitchen of the luxurious Read’s Hotel, he’s cooking for an audience in his Palma cookery school and shop, Fosh Food. An evening here with Marc or one of his top chefs from around Mallorca involves a three-course meal with wine in his demonstration kitchen, and with prices starting at just €45 a head, it’s remarkably good value.
Sophisticated modern cuisine is all very well, but if it’s the traditional heartland you’re after, a trip to the town of Soller is an excellent place to start. Sheltered in a valley between the craggy slopes of the Tramuntana mountain range, Soller has a unique micro-climate in which olives, oranges and lemons thrive.
The olives produced here have a distinctive, peppery bite to them, while the oranges are to die for. Piled colourfully in crates on the town’s streets, they look a world away from the waxy, perfectly spherical but usually disappointing specimens in UK supermarkets. But the proof’s in the tasting, and a serving of ‘orange Soller’ in the local ice creamery, Sa Fabrica de Gelats, is all the evidence needed. A concoction of freshly squeezed juice topped with a scoop of home-made orange ice cream, whipped cream and a dollop of chocolate sauce, it’s sunshine in a glass.
Soller is also home to La Luna, an artisan sausage and pâté manufacturer that is best known for its sobrasada – a uniquely Mallorcan spicy sausage, flavoured with paprika. Sobrasada has been produced on the site for over 100 years, and a museum on the premises lovingly records this history with antique equipment and old photographs on display. It’s a testament to the pride with which culinary traditions are regarded on the island.
Forn Can Miquel, Palma
One of the oldest bakeries in Mallorca, Forn Can Miquel turns out melt-in-the-mouth examples of the island’s breakfast pastry of choice – the ensaimada. Light as air and dusted with icing sugar, these are a must for the sweet-toothed.
Can Juan de S’Aigo, Palma
Another local legend, this is the oldest ice cream parlour in Palma and the perfect place to cool down after sightseeing in the historic centre. Traditional flavours are almendra (almond) and leche merengada (milk and meringue).
Can Amer, Inca
This traditional restaurant specialises in ‘cuina Mallorquina’ – generations of peasant cooking distilled into the ultimate comfort food. Try the crisp-skinned suckling pig, slices of sobrasada sausage with bread to mop up the juices or dishes of frita Mallorquina – an earthy fry-up of seasonal veg studded with whole cloves of garlic and nuggets of juicy offal
Piggy went to market
A trip round Palma’s Mercado Olivar offers an excellent insight into the raw materials of Mallorcan cuisine. The fish section is particularly impressive, with all kinds of wondrous creatures on display.
If you’re looking for something to take home, have a browse in the charcuterie section, because if there’s one thing the Spanish excel at, it’s ham. The ultimate example of this is Jamon Iberico, made from Iberian pigs fed on acorns. As a general rule of thumb, the darker the ham, the better it is.
If you’re squeamish, skip the butchers’ stalls as no part of the animal is wasted. Pig trotters, lamb tongues and glistening slabs of liver are par of the course, but then there are queasy delicacies such as slabs of congealed blood to be sliced up and taken home to be spread on toast.