Last week I was invited to attend an amazing gastro experience showcasing the beautiful flavours of Menorca, traditional recipes reinterpreted in a modern way.
I am a foodie and often one of my main reasons for traveling is the local food. I love to discover the local flavours and experience traditional ways of cooking. Cuisine can easily define a community because it’s been there since the beginning of time. Menorca’s cuisine is quite special, because of the influences left by all the nations who lived on the island, from the Carthaginians who were there around 200BC, to the Romans, Arabs, and more recently in history French and British. All these inhabitants have left traces in the local gastronomy. Menorca’s cuisine is all about maintain the tradition but advocating modernism. With a strong farming sector, restaurants are always innovating and adapting the traditional recipes using local ingredients grown on the island.
Menorca produces many POD (Protected Denomination of Origin) products such as the Mahón Cheese, cured meats, handmade herbal liquors, olive oil, honey, salt. The island has been producing gin as well for the past two centuries!
Menorca is not only a fantastic gastronomic destination, but it is also working on sustainability, by using reusable alternative sources of energy, trying to become plastic free and relying on the local producers. By promoting a conscious tourism, Menorca is empowering the local communities through the “Made in Menorca” initiative which markets the products which are typical on the island such as food, artisanal shoes or jewellery.
One of the quotes that stayed with me after the presentation is that Menorca is promoting the art of eating together, which is such a beautiful statement. How many of us actually take the time to sit down at the table for dinner and eat together with our families or friends?
On Friday I made my way to Mimo London, in Borough Market, to find out why Menorca is a candidate for the European Region of Gastronomy in 2022 and to have a fabulous lunch created by the staff and students of the IES Macardona culinary school who came all the way from the sunny Spanish island to cook for us. They developed a traditional Menorcan menu adapted to the 21st century, to promote Menorca as a Gastronomical Capital.
And oh my, what a menu!
The lunch started with a plate of cold cuts and Queso Mahón – a crumbly, sharp and slightly salty cheese with a strong taste, made out of cow’s milk. The cold meats included the sobrassada – a raw cured pork sausage and carn-i-xulla – a salami made with pork meat and bacon.
The starter was a cauliflower tortilla, crispy and aromatic, accompanied by a slice of tomato drizzled in olive oil. I have always admired how chefs can transform the banal cauliflower and use it as the main star of a dish.
The first main was a wonderful portion of rabbit filled cannelloni served with rabbit ribs and offal on the side. I know that rabbit is a very hard meat to cook so I was very impressed on how juicy the filling of the cannelloni was. The taste was rich, with so much meaty flavour. This was my favourite dish from the menu.
The second main was stuffed squid, served with a white sauce and, and what I believe to be fondant potatoes dripped with an herbal oil. The entire dish was so delicate, with the flavours complimenting each other in such a beautiful way. I don’t know what the squid was stuffed with, but it was delicious.
The dessert was outstanding as well, a slice of almond cake served with thick cream on top to balance the sweetness. The tiny beignet on the side was a very nice addition and a reminder of the traditional Menorcan Buñuelos, filled with Mahón cheese and served usually for All Saint’s Day.
In April, Menorca is hosting the “Fira Arrels”, its annual event showcasing the island’s distinct gastronomy, supporting the local producers and restaurants. I have a feeling that I might be heading that way next year. 😊
What do you think? Have you been to Menorca yet? Have you tried any of the Menorcan delicacies? I would love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.
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