Friday, December 10, 2021

The Best of Mallorca

                        Mallorca can entice even the most discerning of foodies & Wine-Knows*

As the dark days of winter approach, I intend to keep the sunlight of summer flourishing with a trio of posts about three special Mediterranean islands.  Mallorca, located less than an hour's flight from Barcelona, will be the first.  The other two idyllic islands are in Greece; one is reachable only by boat, the other is a jet-setter's paradise with many daily flights and a parade of boats from ports all over the Mediterranean.

                         Dramatic coves, serene beaches & countryside dotted with windmills enchant

I've been fortunate to visit Mallorca six times, the most recent of which was with a group of Wine-Knows in September.   Mallorca is a large Spanish island (approximately 50 by 60 miles), but most parts of the island are easily reachable within a 60-90 minute drive of Palma on decent roads.  There's enough to do on the island to warrant a week's stay, and those who can eek out 10 days will be happy they did so.

                                          Old world haciendas & lush vegetation abound 

The most compelling reasons to visit Mallorca?   Here are just a few.....
  1. It's a wine lover's dream---indigenous varietals not seen else where.  Furthermore, they wines are moderately low in alcohol and reasonably priced!
  2.  While the island is immensely popular, there are still drop-dead gorgeous beaches & coves with few tourists.
  3.  Mallorca's culinary fabric is like no other.   There's a strong Moorish influence (think Morocco & its Cashah), along with a definite Greek, Roman and mainland Spain gastronomic impact.
  4. Gorgeous scenery abounds.  The countryside is dotted with Don Quxiote windmills, hilltop stone villages, a mountain range that has been declared by UNESCO as a cultural treasure, and there are >300 miles of beaches.
 Pedestrian only streets in ancient villages are perfect for walkers

What Not to Miss:
  1. Palma's cathedral----this one is unlike all others.
  2. Palma's indoor market Olivar---a foodie's one-stop shopping paradiso.
  3. The mesmerizing Caves of Drach (and lunch in nearby in sweet Porto Christo)
  4. The ancient Roman walled town of Alcudia---be sure to walk the old walls.
  5. Charming Santanyi's Saturday market.
  6. Es Trenc gourmet sea salt (you can visit!)
  7. Porto Soller (highly recommend the old fashioned train ride to & from Palma)
                             This 17th century palace in downtown Palma is now a luxury hotel

Where to Stay:
If you have a week, I highly recommend at least 3 nights in Palma (especially if you're recovering from jet lag), and then an escape to wine country from where you can reach all parts of the island in less than an hour.  The eastern shore is another option for overnighting if you have time.
  • Palma:   Boutique Can Sera Hotel, located in the historic center, offers old world splendor.  5 stars.
  • *Wine Country:   Look no further than Torre Santa Eugenia, an old estate that is now a lovely hotel with a don't miss restaurant.
  • Sa Pletassa:   Within easy shot of the Drach Cave, Santanyi, two superb wineries, and  Es Trenc sea salt, this reasonable rural property offers charming accommodations with pretty grounds.  The Swiss owner's hospitality can't be beat.
   The Moors, who brought rice & saffron to Mallorca, left a huge imprint on the island's gastronomy 

Where to Eat:
  • *Torre Santa Eugenia (see wine country):  this magical old wine-cellar setting trumps every other spot on the island.   Fab in every way.
  • L'Ambigu (Palma):  This has become my fave in a town of many favoritex.  Top notch service & food for its moderate cost.
  • CanCapo.  Located in an off-the-beaten-track village (near Sa Pletassa above), its charming central square position over-looking the church, & a terrific owner make this a don't miss.

Best Wineries
  • Binigrau:  the standout wine in this standout winery is Nounat.  If you're a white wine lover, look no further than Nounat---a blend of a native varietal & Chardonnay.  
  • Mesquida Mora:  owned by a charismatic female winemaker, highly recommend a tasting here because of its glorious vineyard setting.  
  • Mandia Vell:  one of the oldest estates on the island.  Bottles wine in unique stone containers.
  • Son Prim:  Great value.  Their Merlot is a stunner for <$20.

Later this month will be my two favorite Greek Islands.

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