Sun, sea, san­gria and scor­pi­onfish

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

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; from Lon­don City, Gatwick and Heathrow. Tor­ral­benc (0034 971 377 211; tele­ tt-tor­ral­benc). Dou­ble rooms from €168 (£151) with break­fast.

Al­ca­u­far Vell (0034 971 151 874; tele­ tt-al­ca­u­far-vell). Dou­bles from €113, room only.

Es Tast de na Sílvia (es­tast­den asil­; Pas­sió Mediter­rà­nia ( pas­; Casa Vene­cia (vene­cia 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 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

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