Mallorca may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of culinary excellence, but an auspicious combination of Mediterranean tradition and exquisite natural ingredients, the artisan revival of local products and a growing number of acclaimed restaurants have conspired to place the island firmly on the food lovers' map.
As a gastronomic destination it is attractive for a whole number of reasons, not least because it is small, beautiful and sun-kissed, and makes for a great holiday spot while you're sampling and tasting your way through its many delights.
Late and early season are best for this kind of foodie trip as the roads and beaches are emptier than during the peak summer rush, and you get ample choice on flights, transport, accommodation, and most importantly here, a table at your eatery of choice.
Our small boutique hotel is based in Port de Pollensa, way up on the northern coast, an area with a good selection of restaurants, but as the island only takes about an hour to cross by car, and at this time of year the roads are clear and empty, there's no need to stick to any one single area.
Driving over to the opposite coast, or inland to the wine country, becomes an adventure.
It wouldn't be feasible in peak summer, but now, on the edges of summer, you can pop over to a small bistro in Inca or up the hill for lamb in Alaro without much effort and in no time at all.
Palma, the city capital, offers a bonanza of choice and is the island's main foodie destination. Accommodating half the island's population and replete with trendy eateries, Palma is a must-do stop off, if only before you catch your return flight.
And while you are here, have a look at our list on all the other things you can see and do in Pollensa!
1. Argos – 1 Michelin Star
Chef Álvaro Salazar. Puerto Pollensa, located in La Goleta Hotel del Mar on the seafront of the Bay of Pollensa. This restaurant we are particularly proud of as it is right here, down the road from our hotel.
2. Es Fum – 1 Michelin Star 2011
Run by Tenerife born chef Miguel Navarro, Es Fum is located on the gorgeous Costa d'en Blanes, on the Palma-Andratx road.
3. Es Racó d’es Teix – 1 Michelin Star 2002
Chef Josef Sauerschell and his wife Nori Payeras have been running this delightful family restaurant in Deià now for 15 years.
4. Jardín – 1 Michelin Star
Bistro Jardin (now Maca de Castro) is run by Chef Maca de Castro "La Mallorquina" and her brother Dani in Alcudia, with the flagship restaurant, catering service and events.
5. Marc Fosh – 1 Michelin Star
The first and only British chef to be awarded a Michelin Star in Spain, he runs his Palma Restaurant, originally known as Simply Fosh, from within the 7th century Hotel Convent de la Missió, alongside the Fosh Farm and his highly acclaimed catering service.
6. Zaranda – 2 Michelin Stars
Chef Fernando P Arellano first opened Zaranda in Madrid in 2005, where he received a Michelin Star. 5 years later, he moved to the luxury Hotel Castell son Claret in Es Capdella, deep in the Mallorcan Tramuntana and in 2016 got a second Michelin Star.
7. Adrián Quetglas – 1 Michelin Star 2017
Paseo Mallorca, Palma de Mallorca. The chef trained in Mallorca, London, Paris and Moscow before settling back on the island and opening his own restaurant. They serve tasting menus and innovative cuisine in the form of a 5-course lunch and a 7-step tasting menu at dinner.
8. Andreu Genestra – 1 Michelin Star and Repsol Guide Sun
Capdepera, Mallorca. The chef has worked in Barcelona, the Basque Country, at Ferran Adrià’s Bulli, in London, Stockholm, Brazil, Moscow, Paris and Miami. and for the Royal Family of Kuwait. Working out of Hotel Predi Son Jaumell, he offers tasting menus, a bistro by the pool and a luxury catering service.
The Primitive Wine Association in Pollensa old town, which just happens to be the next village across from us, hosts the yearly Wine Fair, and provides the perfect platform for the island's wine producers to showcase their best wines and for everyone else to taste them. If you miss the date, which in 2019 will be held on the weekend of the 11th-12th of May, you can always go on a wine tasting tour at the wineries.
There are 4 main Apellations of Origin on the island: Vi de la Terra Mallorca, Vi de la Terra Serra de Tramuntana-Costa Nord, DO Binissalem and DO Pla i Llevant, but smaller innovative wineries have been popping up elsewhere too. For a more in-depth look at Mallorca's wines, see: Mallorca wine regions and tours.
Favoured by cyclists stopping mid route for a breather and a energy boosting snack, almond cake (gató d'ametle) is one of the few cakes made here. There is also a delicious local flan and a variety of pastries. Almonds grow all over the island but as tourism replaced farming as a way of life, almond picking, which is a time consuming and hard work, slowed to almost a halt. Almond prices have picked since and there are now more and more almond products available.
When I was little we were given sandwiches with sobrasada sprinkled in sugar, presumably to make us like it more, but adults usually spread this soft cured sausage meat onto bread without the sugar. It's slightly spicy and made from the choicest pork, and you will find it is used as a base for a whole variety of traditional rice dishes, pulses, soups and stocks.
Pan amb Oli
Available on practically every menu on the island, pa amb oli literally means bread with oil, which is exactly what it is; the dry unsalted Mallorca loaf made tastier by rubbing vine tomato, olive oil and sea salt into it, before layering on any number of garnishes including, cured Serrano ham, Menorcan cheese, pork, tortilla or sobrasasda, as mentioned above. It's best served with local olives and pickled fennel.
My all time favourite Mallorcan dish, arros brut, meaning dirty rice, is a hot soupy rice dish filled with rabbit, pork, mushrooms, sobrasada, tomatoes, peas, the odd artichoke and a spicy mix of saffron, cinnamon, garlic, chilli peper thyme and parsley. Though not always as appetizing in the extreme summer heat, arros brut is nevertheless a delicious Mediterranean pot, not to be missed!
Lamb is not only delicious and healthy but totally free-range and local, and you will find it on the menus of the more traditional restaurants.
Es Verger, on the hillside of Alaró mountain, is one such place, busier now since Rick Stein claimed it was the best lamb he'd ever tasted, but still as surprisigly rustic and low-key as ever, though I hear they will now take payments by card. Another spot that's great for lamb is Es Guix in Lluc. It's a spectacular location too.