For the Bulletin chef, Last year visiting friends in Majorca we bought a kind of mint cheese cake from a Balearic produce shop in the centre of Palma.

Our friends tells us the shop has since closed. But I remember the shop assistant telling us it was made in Manacor. Looking through Spanish cook books I have found a similar recipe from Ibiza, but it makes little sense to me. Can you help, I am sure the base for the cake was cream cheese.

Thank you,

Conil de la Frontera

Marc answers: The cheesecake you are refering to is called flao and does appear in various forms in the Balearic Islands. Although it seems to be more popular in Ibiza, its roots are believed to be Carthaginian in origin. I tried one recently flavoured with ginger but the classic recipe is traditionally cream cheese with fresh mint leaves, hierbabuena in Spanish. Many variations exist so here's mine

Flao pastry

- 250G plain flour
- 50g icing sugar
- 125g butter
- Dice 2 egg yolks
- Grated zest of lemon


- 500G fresh cream

Cheese (Requeson)

- 250g sugar
- 5 whole eggs
- 20 mint leaves

To make the pastry, Sieve the flour and icing sugar and work in the butter. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the lemon zest. Add the egg yolks and knead the mxiture gently with your fingers. Wrap in cling–film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board and line a flan ring with the pastry. blind bake the pastry in a moderate oven gas 4/180C for about 15 to 20 minutes. To make the filling. beat the cream cheese with the sugar and eggs, chop the mint leaves and add them to the mixture. Reduce the oven temperature to 120C/gas 2. Pour the filling into the flan ring and bake for 45 minutes in the oven until just set. Remove from the oven, chill and sprinkle with icing sugar, cut into slices and serve.

Plenty of flavour and straight from the wild
Around Santa Maria and all over Majorca I see people scouring the fields and roadsides in search of trigueros (wild asparagus).

Some folks get really serious about it and spend hours filling their baskets full of the stuff and I must admit that until recently I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. I mean they look fairly scrawny and unappetising and not at all like the big fat juicy green asparagus I was used to eating, but then a Majorcan friend of mine insisted I try some and that was it. They may not look like a gastronomic treat but these skinny under–nourished asparagus are big on flavour and if you go out and pick them yourselves they are heaven as undoubtedly the best asparagus is the freshest.

The triguero', pancratius magnus, is a wild plant and a member of the lily family and a relative of the grasses. Hence the word ASPARA–GRASS. The Spanish name triguero comes from the fact that they used to grow amidst wheat (trigo) and the consumption of asparagus was introduced to the Iberian peninsula by the Arabs.

The Mediterranean climate is ideal and in spring the cold nights and mild daytime temperatures allow for strong growth and the sharp differences in temperatures encourage intense colouring.

Trigueros are most typically served in omelettes and scrambled eggs, they also make for a great soup, but I prefer them plainly grilled or boiled with a simple vinaigrette or sauce. Reduce about half a litre of orange juice until it starts to thicken and whisk in 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil and some chopped chives and seasoning and you have the perfect accompaniment for simply cooked asparagus, add that to a fat piece of grilled salmon and a few boiled new potatoes and you can't go wrong.


- 350g wild asparagus
- 2 large potatoes
- 850ml chicken stock
- 1 large Spanish onion
- 200ml olive oil
- juice of one lemon

Chop the onion and potato and cook gently in the olive oil over a low heat. Stir in the wild asparagus and add the chicken stock. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and liquidize to a fine puree. Pass through a sieve, season to taste and serve.

Fillets of red mullet with escalivada and saffron ali–oli


- 8 fillets of red mullet
- 2 large aubergines
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- 1 Spanish onion
- 150 ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Seasoning

Place the aubergines, peppers and onion on a roasting tray, drizzle with the olive oil and season. Place in a hot oven or under a hot grill and cook until the pepper skins are charred and the vegetables tender, about 8–10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool enough to handle. Peel the vegetables and cut them into strips. Add lemon juice and taste to adjust the seasoning.

Saffron Ali–oli


- 1 egg yolk
- 200ml good olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves (Peeled)
- 1tspn saffron
- 2tbsp lemon juice
- Seasoning

Crush the garlic to a pulp and add the egg yolk and saffron. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream until the sauce thickens and emulsifies. Add the lemon juice and season to taste. To serve, pan fry the red mullet fillets in a little olive oil, 1 minute on each side should be enough. Place a big spoonful of escalivada on warmed plates, place a couple of red mullet fillets on top and serve with the saffron ali–Oli. *Marc Fosh is the resident chef at Read's Hotel in Santa Maria and represented Great Britain at a recent Road Show in New York.

Religious freedom and tolerance or excuses

Spain is quickly becoming a multiracial country, as is Britain and other European countries today. This results in a mixing of cultures and religions with the corresponding traditions and customs.

Moslem women will continue to wear the “chador” and recently a Moroccan teenager was refused entry to a state high school in San Lorenzo de El Escorial because her parents insisted that she should wear this traditional Moslem headdress.

Yesterday, Fatima will have gone to school, wearing a simple veil, since Councillor for Education for the Madrid Community decreed that there was no legislation on the matter, except the absolute obligation on behalf of the authorities and the parents to send their children to school.

Now new legislation must be decided upon to ascertain if such decisions and rules should be the responsibility of the State Ministry of Education or for each local autonomous community.

The Spanish Minister had seen the logic in the school's initial decision to refuse entry by the 13 year old with her head covered by a “hiyab” since the use of this garment is more related to discrimination against women rather than to a truly religious reason. He also compared other practices that are not acceptable in modern democratic countries, such as the ablation or female circumcision and likened this to the use of garments that encourage female submission.

All this reminded me of something a friend commented on recently in reference to certain people who wear particular head dresses and therefore say that they cannot wear a crash helmet. The reason given is religious requirement for the head dress. Is this enough?

Surely if one goes to live in another country, particularly if it is not in plan “missionary,” one may continue to practice one's religion as openly as one is allowed, or in secret if it is likely to cause public outcry.

Normally the men from countries that enforce this particular “purdah” on women do not continue to wear the traditional dress of their native countries but adapt to European styles. Why should the women be forced to do otherwise? In the case of the men who can not put on a helmet over a turban, should they not just avoid riding motorbikes? What is the difference between a so-called religious reason and that of someone who may not wish to change his or her hair style?

This all goes back to the relevant word of integration and the unpleasant word ghetto. People from different nationalities tend to cling together and to old customs and traditions from former countries of residence. The reason why they are living in the new country probably has nothing to do with wanting to learn about a new culture and integrating into the community. It has more to do with a better quality of life, earning more money, more freedom to do what one wants.

But surely that does not mean that there is absolute freedom to do exactly what one wants whenever one wants?


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