Discover the fantastic local produce of Majorca all year round. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to meat, fish, vegetables and fruit and lots more, so enjoy Majorca, it has plenty more than its outstanding beaches and great climate.
The landscapes of Majorca define the island's rich and historical culinary tradition. These are landscapes shaped over centuries from pre-Roman times. The cultivation by ancient civilisations and far more recent agricultural innovations have created a form of natural island marketplace that grows and lives in a climate blessed by the Mediterranean.
From distant times came the olive trees, the vines, the black pigs. Figs, almonds, carobs, cereals, lamb, oranges, rice, peppers, tomatoes and the humble potato; just a few that were to follow.
For the most part, they conform to the culinary culture of the Mediterranean as it has been moulded over the centuries and therefore are at the heart of the Mediterranean diet with all its health-giving properties, flavours, textures and sheer delights.
Yet all this produce and the products created from it has a singularity. It is Majorcan, for the landscapes have risen on the very land that nourishes a distinctiveness. "Nostra terra", our land, our Majorcan land with its clay soil and limestone has infused this produce in creating aromas, taste and absolute quality that are definably Majorcan.
The centuries of tradition have passed on the knowledge of working this land and of the artisan skills of transforming produce. A one-time peasant cuisine now underpins much of what Majorca's contemporary and celebrated chefs prepare.
Local produce is prized as are the products that have been developed over the centuries, added to which of course are the gastronomic treasures that come from a much vaster natural marketplace - the Mediterranean itself.
Majorca's culinary journey starts with the olive tree and in the Tramuntana
Mountains. Although olives are to be found elsewhere, it is the mountain range that is known for its wild olive trees which have combined with the old skills of dry-stone workers in contributing to a landscape and culture which was recognised in the Unesco World Heritage Site declaration.
Grown on terraces with dry-stone retaining walls, the green and black varieties are cherished as table olives and for Majorca's supreme olive oil. They are often picked by hand or by the traditional method of shaking branches with poles.
For the production, the Oliva de Mallorca DO designation (or denomination) of origin regulatory council applies rigorous standards, with much production coming under the Sant Bartomeu Cooperative, which is open for visits and provides an example of olive pressing. Almost 300 small growers in Soller, Fornalutx, Deya and Valldemossa are members of the cooperative.
Oli de Mallorca is the DO for extra virgin oil
The exacting standards demanded of the oil are reflected in the lavish care given to bottle design and labelling; the bottles themselves are clear indications of outstanding quality.
A way of experiencing this olive oil is the annual fair in Caimari. Dedicated to olives and olive, it takes place in November. An old olive press is a feature of this fair in a small village in the foothills of the Tramuntana.
Majorca's fairs offer their own journey of the island's traditional produce and food products. The island's largest fair and one of its oldest is Dijous Bo (Good Thursday) in Inca.
Also in November, a star attraction of this fair is the competition for black pigs. Reared to guarantee their purity, the organic farming of the pigs involves their eating cereals, acorns, figs and prickly pears from cactus.
The black pig has lent its name to another quality mark - Sobrassada de Mallorca de Porc Negre. Sobrassada is one of Majorca's most emblematic food products and is identifiable with Mediterranean culture. Sicily was once the main producer of this form of charcuterie. By the sixteenth century, it was established in Majorca, and it came to be an important food for sustaining families over winter months.
Sobrassada is significant in that it embraces other produce and products that are typical of Majorca. Honey is often an accompaniment. There is a fair for honey. This in Llubi, and it also takes place in November.
Sobrassada has become an ingredient with which the islands' chefs experiment in their innovative dishes, but it can simply be eaten with some of the olive biscuits.
Majorca's best-known biscuit maker are based in Inca and they have been given an official seal of approval by the local authorities through the so called "artisan certificate".
Pebre bord fair
The sobrassada comes in different forms. There is a spicy version, and this owed everything to the introduction to Majorca of paprika in the eighteenth century.
The local variety of pepper - "pebre bord" or "tap de cortí" - added both colour and flavour to sobrassada. It also provided greater preservative qualities. In October, the Felanitx autumn fair is dedicated to the pebre bord.
Campos and Sant Joan
At the same time, Campos celebrates its own autumn fair. A municipality closely associated with the production of sobrassada, the fair naturally highlights it. Also on the Campos menu is botifarró. Believed to have been a feature of Roman cuisine, this sausage - similar in some respects to black pudding - has its own fair in October.
The village of Sant Joan is the place to go for massive botifarró barbecues.
The fairs and fiestas offer first-hand opportunities to sample different produce and artisan food products. They don't neglect the fruits of the sea and the endeavours of traditional fishermen who operate from what were once just small fishing villages or ports.
Puerto Alcudia has sepia (cuttlefish) in April, Can Picafort calamari in May, Cala Ratjada dorado in October, Puerto Soller its fair of the sea in September, and Soller is known for having what some say are the finest prawns in the Mediterranean.
Fira de la Taronja
Soller itself has the Fira de la Taronja at the end of March. Oranges, clementines, mandarins; Soller's wealth was largely created through the export of oranges. The orange groves, as much as the olives, have forged the unique character and personality of this part of the Tramuntana Mountains: the Hidden Valley with its precious and delicious produce.
At the northern end of the mountain range is Pollensa, where the Farmers Cooperative specialises in lamb. The animals graze on natural produce and are fed with a compound exclusive to the Pollensa cooperative.
Lamb dishes are famed across Majorca, not least at one of the island's most renowned restaurants, by Alaro Castle, while in Pollensa, the cooperative received technical support from the agriculture ministry in guaranteeing absolute quality and traceability, i.e. the local origin of the lamb. The November fair in Pollensa is an event for sampling this local lamb.
Wine-making and its fair
Pollensa is also the location for a fair dedicated to one of the very oldest traditions in Majorca - wine-making. The Romans were Majorcan wine enthusiasts. Pliny the Elder in the first century AD reckoned that the island's wines were comparable to those of the Italian Peninsula. Majorca's wine boomed in the nineteenth century when the phylloxera pest devastated French vineyards, only for Majorca to suffer a similar fate. Pest and politics held back wine production. The renaissance occurred some forty years ago.
The Pollensa Wine Fair in May highlights the remarkable development since then. New bodegas from all over the island have been established, their wines presented - like olive oil - in bottles of superb design.
To the fore in the renaissance were the producers in Binissalem and surrounding villages. The Binissalem DO is one of two - Pla i Llevant is the other. September is the time for the Vermar fiestas and wine fair in Binissalem, a celebration of the grape harvest replete with grape-treading contests.
The DO, which covers Consell, Sencelles, Santa Maria del Cami and Santa Eugenia as well as Binissalem, organises Mallorca Wine Days in May. This combines wine-tasting and bodega visits with food, art and music.
In August, the village of Maria de la Salut stages an evening fair which is devoted to to the ramellet tomato. This variety of tomato holds a very special place in Majorca's gastronomy. It is considered to be essential for the making of genuine pa amb oli, as also are virgin olive oil and unsalted bread that is lightly toasted. There are seemingly limitless possibilities for toppings.
Anchovies, cod and ham cuts are among the many. In February this year, the first pa amb oli world championship was held in Palma.
At around the same time, and to coincide with Balearics Day at the start of March, there is another world championship. This is for what is arguably the single most emblematic product that Majorca has to offer - the ensaimada. The championship was this year won by a bakery from the small village of Buger. In 2018, a bakery from Llubi triumphed.
The secret, it was said, lay in the passed-on tradition since 1938 at the family business and in the time needed for fermenting the dough.
There is real art to the making of ensaimadas, not least in ensuring that the spiral goes in the correct direction. At its most simple it just has a dusting of sugar. As with pa amb oli, any number of variants are possible in terms of fillings.
For breakfast, with afternoon coffee, as a dessert, or at fiestas accompanied by hot chocolate, the ensaimada is an ever-present. It was once described as being one of the seven wonders of Majorca.
The sweet tooth is therefore not neglected in Majorcan gastronomy.
Other typical products include the bunyol doughnut/fritter, which is especially popular at the time of All Saints at the start of November, and rubiols at Easter, which can come with vanilla cream, chocolate or jams.
And then there is ice-cream, the origin of which in Majorca combines traditional cultivation and the culture of the Tramuntana Mountains. The original Majorcan ice-cream was made from almonds, and the invention dates back to the eighteenth century. Almond milk was mixed with ice. And where did the ice come from? Snow was stored inside snow houses in the mountains. Built with dry stone, these houses had pits in which to keep the icy snow.
For more information visit www.infomallorca.net