Island Hopping

I love Island hopping around the Balearics as all of the islands are so beautiful and, they also have some great food. Recently my wife and I caught the ferry from Alcudia to Cuitadella for a little 24-hour break to Menorca. I just adore Menorca; it’s a little more laid-back and the pace of life seems to be just a tad slower and with its complex blend of influences left by the many invaders and occupiers over thousands of years, from the Romans and Arabs to the French and British, its gastronomy is rich, varied and unique.

The island also has a long history of cattle farming – both for meat and diary production and with so many herds of dairy cows on the island, butter, milk and cheese are very important for Menorcan cuisine. The first British governor, Richard Kane introduced Friesland cows to the island in the early 18th century and today, the extensive use of butter can be directly traced back to the period of British occupation although cheese making artefacts have been found which date back to 3,000 BC and the local cheeses are famous for their quality. Excellent Mahón cheese is slighty salty in flavour due to the sea salt on the grass that the cows eat, the cheese is also rubbed with butter and paprika during the maturation process, which gives it its distinctive orange rind. The texture varies depending on age, with the younger cheese being soft and mild, and the aged Mahón having a harder, crumblier texture.

Seafood has always been of utmost importance here and we were lucky enough to grab a table at Café Balear for dinner. They have their own boat called “Rosa Santa Primavera” and as the owner Josep presented us with the freshest prawns, carabineros and John Dory from the afternoons catch; I knew we were in for a special treat. We also tried a popular seafood known as “escopinyes”. They are a type of clam eaten raw with a little lemon juice similar to an oyster with an amazing fresh flavour of the sea. What a fantastic restaurant!

Café Balear is also famous for its “Caldareta de Langosta”. It’s a mouth-watering dish that is served in most restaurants throughout the island and the lobster is the local spiny lobster known as langosta. It is cooked in a tomato, onion and garlic sauce, almost like a soup. It’s delicious eaten with chunks of fresh bread, preferably with a view of the sea. But be warned, it does not come cheap, as spiny lobsters are very expensive and prices vary between 60-100 Euros per person! There are many recipes for caldereta, but mine is a simple version for you to try at home. You can substitute the spiny lobsters with langoustines or normal lobster. Monkfish tails are also another great alternative and work well in this recipe, so it really doesn’t have to cost you an arm and leg!

Caldereta de langosta

ingredients.                                     serves 6

2 spiny lobsters

400g chopped onion

500g chopped tomatoes

300g chopped red pepper

300g chopped carrots

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2tbsp chopped parsley

2tbsp tomato puree

100g ground almonds

200ml good olive oil

800ml fish stock

1tsp paprika


Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish; add the chopped onion, red peppers, carrots, garlic and tomatoes. Let it cook slowly until it has almost turned into a puree. Add the tomato puree and paprika. Cut the spiny lobsters into serving pieces and add them to the casserole dish. Pour over the fish stock and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chopped parsley and ground almonds, stir well and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Season and serve immediately.

Recipe by Marc Fosh – Michelin Star Chef



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