Mallorca: the perfect vacation spot
This year was our third year to vacation in Mallorca. We like to go there in April when we have had enough of the Russian winter/spring and need to see some sunshine and get away from the Moscow Madness.
This year was going to be a bit different as I had been asked to join Over the Top Travel as their Executive Chef for their Spoke Club Mallorca. Over the Top had rented a boutique hotel in the town of Soller called l’Avenida. There were a few challenges with dietary requests but I was looking forward to the adventure.
We arrived a week before the riding group to firm up details and for my husband Mark to assess the rides as he was going to be one of the guides. I had invited my best friend (sister) Ruth to come as well as my sister-in-law and our daughter Tash for the first week. We rented a 6 bedroom villa in Pollenca that wasn’t my first choice but the price was good. There were a few hiccups with the rental like fridge issues, no coffee pot, a mouse and it being a little cool at night but that is what made it an adventure.
For us, April is the perfect time to go as most of the tourists are cyclists and the temperature is usually around 20-25 Celsius. The crowds from Germany arrive May/ June and those from the UK arrive July/ August. As this is the start of the tourist season, prices are great.
Because I am all about food, you can see from the previous blog one of the restaurants we visited. We did a lot of our own cooking as we were trying to perfect our tapas recipes for the tour group. The picture up above was taken inside a mega grocery store. It was about 10m sq. and held about 250-300 different priced jamon. We would have loved to have brought one home but worried about customs. They ranged in price from 16 euros to 85 euros.... a definite bargain.
Mallorca has everything you would want in a vacation, beaches, great cycling, history, wineries, hiking, markets and fabulous food. The north side of the island has the best beaches from Puerto Pollenca over to the Arta area. The island has the Tramuntana Mountains on the west side from north to south. It can be a bit hairy driving the roads as they are generally fairly narrow( just wide enough for 2 cars), so when a big bus comes along at a curve, you hold your breath, squeeze your butt and close your eyes till he passes. It is difficult to pull over to the side of the road as there are no shoulders and if you happen to be on the water side, it is a sheer drop.
If you are into markets and people watching, Mallorca has multiple markets daily throughout the island. The biggest is on Wednesdays in the central town of Sineu. At this market you can buy everything from livestock to candy to underwear to snails. The market is spread over the whole centre of town so you have to get there early to find any sort of parking. Alcudia on the north side has the most history. It dates back to the 800’s and has Roman and Moorish influences still evident. The old town is surrounded by an ancient wall with very narrow streets. After visiting the market on Sunday, stop for a doble cortado (double Espresso) and watch the world go by.
If you are into cycling, this is where the professional tour teams train. Your can do a relatively easy ride through the central valley or very technical in and around Soller. This island relies heavily on the cycling tourist so most Mallorcans are very patient and courteous towards cyclists. Many areas have cycle lanes through the towns. Our group had a sag wagon most of the time but they would park near a winery then cycle from there. When they got back to the vehicle, they were able to do tastings at the wineries then drive home in comfort. The cyclists in our group rode hard (800km and 15,000 vertical feet in 6 days) but played hard as well. On of the wineries I particularly liked was Pare Sada on the east side of the island near Manacor. One of the owners, Lucas was extremely hospitable and even invited us to a wine tasting of the 11 wineries in their area. He mainly exports to Germany and China and has not been able to get a foot in the door in the north American market. It is a pity as he has some pretty excellent wines. One thing he taught us was that you always serve a rose with paella.
There are numerous areas on Mallorca to hike. In and around Soller had at least 10 listed hikes where you ended up walking through lemon, orange and almond groves as well as stumbling across sheep. The hikes ranged from 2 hours to 8 hours in length but the scenery was always breathtaking.
Each restaurant we tried had their own take on tapas. I have included a few that we created and replicated in the recipe section. Locally in Soller is a hidden gem of a restaurant called Ca’n Boqueta who’s owner and chef is Kiko Martorell. Kiko’s concept is for lunch a 3-4 course set tasting menu and for dinner a 5-6 course tasting menu. The menu on it’s own at dinner is 24 euros but with a flight of wines, 39.50 euros. He has worked with some of the best in Mallorca and is really a superb artist. No matter where you stay in Mallorca, it is definitely worth it to take the tunnel to Mallorca to eat here. Make sure you make reservations as the restaurant is only about 50 covers.
Once you have been to Mallorca, you will return time and time again.
Mallorca: the perfect vacation spot
Saturday, May 12, 2012