Sun, sea, sangria and scorpionfish
using seasonal products. We visit the market on a daily basis, creating the menu accordingly. We are bringing back slow food.”
Menorca is changing its game. As far as tourism goes, it has long been the unfashionable duckling of the Balearic Islands. It has never been able to boast the dramatic mountain heights or the busy-beach popularity of Mallorca, or the nightclub clamour and up-allnight party ambience of Ibiza – nor even the salt-flats wildness of little Formentera. Instead, the secondlargest fragment of Spain’s Mediterranean archipelago has lagged behind in perception – a place of gentle breaks and calm, where tourists sun themselves without getting too excited in quaint south-coast resorts Cala en Bosc and Cala Galdana.
Sílvia clatters down a set of pans on her work top, as if reminding me that she is part of an evolution in the island’s image that is pinned to all things gastronomic. A member of Chefs(in), the influential collective of the foremost chefs in the Balearics, she is about to begin making lunch for a group of 10. This is a semi-regular event that sees her guide her guests through the preparation processes for a five-course feast – then let them devour it.
She opens this seven-hour window into her world – which, titled “De la Tierra y el Mar a la Mesa (From Land and Sea to the Table)”, includes breakfast at the market before the hunt for ingredients begins – in conjunction with another local gourmet organisation. At first glance, Cómete Menorca is a website devoted to the best restaurants, cafes and bars – more than 300 of them – on the island. But it also offers experiences – cooking courses, culinary demonstrations – as part of its bid to position Menorca as a brightening light in Spanish cuisine.
“Menorca is a small island, but we have an incredible variety of produce here. The land is so fertile,” the group’s Antonio Juanella says when I meet him. Passionate about his home, he sees the growth of the food scene on Menorca as a logical future. “Conserving the island’s agricultural Flights to Menorca include easyJet (0330 365 5000; easyjet. com) from Bristol, Gatwick, Luton, Southend and Stansted, and BA (0344 493 0787; ba.com) from London City, Gatwick and Heathrow. Torralbenc (0034 971 377 211; telegraph.co.uk/ tt-torralbenc). Double rooms from €168 (£151) with breakfast.
Alcaufar Vell (0034 971 151 874; telegraph.co.uk/ tt-alcaufar-vell). Doubles from €113, room only.
Es Tast de na Sílvia (estastden asilvia.com); Passió Mediterrània ( passiomed.com; Casa Venecia (venecia menorca.com) The next “From Land and Sea to the Table” at Es Tast de na Sílvia, is on Sept 26; €145pp. (cometemenorca. com). For more details on the island, see menorca.es. economy is conserving the island.”
Sílvia is true to these words. Everything, it seems, is put to use in her kitchen. Even a clump of broad bean skins, which, their contents shelled, are pulped to provide colour and flavour to the panna cotta that will conclude the meal. “Nothing is wasted here,” laughs Antonio Tarragó, Sílvia’s partner in both business and life. “There’s always a way.”
The dessert will prove an acquired taste, even if the addition of caramelised fennel and a beetroot coulis quickens the incongruous combination of cream and vegetable. The rest of the lunch, though, is a delight – a sprout salad with strawberries and soft cheese; a fried patty of rocket and sun-dried tomatoes that exudes a green healthiness despite the method of cooking. The scorpionfish will reappear with a sweet potato mash and a rich sauce of chocolate, bread and its own liver – also carefully brought back from the market.
If this all feels startlingly modern,
Ciutadella’s picturesque harbour and, below, streets