Mallorca’s Ten Michelin Star Restaurants

Mallorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands, keeps its 10 Michelin Stars. The ninth annual Michelin Star Awards were held in Tenerife, one of the Canaray Islands and another fabulous ‘foodie’ destination.

Mercat l'Olivar

Mallorca has been experiencing a food revolution in the recent years with some great new restaurants  opening. The fine-dining ‘Vandal’ and the ‘You Buy We Cook’ restaurant in the Mercat de l’Olivar. It also has a new gastro market recently opened in its capital Palma and with the growing trend of  gastro markets the new Mercat 1930 is the place to go to sample many different dishes in one setting.

Mercat d'Olivar

Mallorca Michelin Star Restaurants 

The restaurants which kept their Michelin Stars are:

Simply Fosh, Mark Fosh’s restaurant is in the lively  heart of Palma in a 17th century mansion. Simply Fosh offers traditional Spanish cuisine with a modern twist and the award is for its emphasis on seasonal ingredients and ‘clean flavours’.

Another Palma based restaurant is Restaurant Adrian Quetglas, named after the creator and head chef which has retained its star for its outstanding menu offering a combination of natural products, traditional flavours, and avant-garde techniques.

Restaurant Zaranda,  a more rural setting in the luxury hotel Castell de Son Claret in the Tramuntana Mountain range and headed by Fernando P. Arellano maintained its two Michelin Stars. The award is for its impeccable fusion of flavour, aroma and texture.

Head Chef Alvaro Salazar who won San Pellegrino Young Chef’s award in 2016 and is a finalist for Best Chef of 2018 heads Restaurant Argos in Port de Pollença. Argos describes itself as ‘free cuisine’ – traditionally prepared dishes using seasonal and local product whilst tapping into creative gastronomy.

Marc Fosh Restaurant

Located within the traditional Mallorcan Finca Predi de Son Jaumell in Capdepera, now a luxury hotel is the Restaurant Andreu Genestra, named after the head chef. Genestra goes to great lengths to make the cuisine innovative yet traditional, often picking products from his own garden.

To the south of Capdepera, Es Molí d’En Bou in Sa Coma boasts a ‘unique sensory journey’ showcasing new techniques but also rooted in the island’s culinary traditions. Led by Tomey Caldentey, it is the 15th consecutive year that the restaurant has been awarded a Michelin Star.

Es Racó d’Es Teix in Deiá offers the best ingredients combined with the highest culinary art. Complemented with stunning views of the mountains alongside elegant cooking from Chef Josef Sauerschell, this is a gastro gem.

Palmanova restaurant Es Fum within the grand luxury hotel St Regis Mardavall – is often described as a ‘culinary pearl’. Head Chef Miguel Navarro, who started his culinary journey aged 16, offers delicate combinations and an ‘epicurean experience’ while gazing over the Mediterranean Sea.

Tomato, pomegranate & feta salad

The fare in Jardín in Port d’Alcudia blends flavours from the sea, fields, mountains and forests of Mallorca and tends to use ingredients “forgotten in our busy modern world”. Run by siblings Maca and Dani de Castro it has held its Michelin Star since 2012.

For more information on what to see and do in the Balearic Islands visit www.illesbalears.travel

Unique, Handmade Spanish Leather Bags

Fernando Garcia of FG Bags designs, makes and sells unique 100% leather handbags, satchels and purses in his shop in Grazalema near Ubrique in the south of Spain. Ubrique is a small mountain town in Cadiz province which has a long tradition of making leather goods.

Handmade does mean exactly that. Fernando doesn’t use any machines all his bags are stitched by hand and every item is a one-off gorgeous bag that he produces, each piece begins its life when he chooses a piece of leather. The  top-quality leather, its thickness, its uniqueness is what inspires him.

When Fernando abandoned his stressful job in Madrid and came to the area he brought with him his uncle´s leather-working tools. He´d chosen to live in a place ‘famous’ for its leather-working traditions and so had full and easy access to tools and top-quality animal hides. He started small, selling from home and craft fairs around the provinces. Then he obtained the shop in Grazalema and now he runs a very successful business which supports his family.

“ I never do the same thing! I never repeat a design for a bag. I go down to Ubrique to buy the hides….. I look at them, smell them, feel and handle them. Then the ideas are sown. Every hide is different so every piece which comes from that hide is different.  All my bags are unique….. When I´ve used a pattern to cut out a bag I throw the paper away”

 

Fernanado Garcia Bags

Fernando left his stressful job in Madrid and went to the area around Ubrique with his uncle’s leather-working tools. He’d chosen to live in a place which was famous for its leather-working traditions and top-quality animal hides.

 

FG Bags also has an ‘organic’ range with leathers that are made from natural vegetable tanned cowhide which influences the form, texture, thickness and natural colour of the material.

From starting small, selling at craft fairs and from home around the provinces, he now has a shop in Grazalema, the town next to Ubrique,  and  runs a very successful one-man business.

For gorgeous, individual bags you must check out Fernando Garcia. His unique and bespoke designs can be bought directly from his shop and they can also be ordered online from FG Bags.

 

 

Winery – Bodegas Tradicion in Jerez

Bodegas Tradicion

Although Bodegas Tradicion is a fairly new winery it is the successor of the oldest one in the Jerez wine producing area.

The original winery was Bodega CZ, J.M. Rivero which  dated back to 1650 and was the supplier of the Royal Houses of Spain and Portugal winning many different international rewards.

Art Gallery Bodega Tradicion

Opening in the late 1990s by a descendant of the oldest sherry house the bodegas are open for viewing as well as wine and brandy tastings while viewing the considerable private art collection. It is reported to be one of the best  collections of Spanish paintings  in Andalusia and contains over 300 paintings, some of the works are by Grand Masters Goya and Velazquez  amongst many others 15th – 20th century  artists.

 

There are two types of unique and limited production Tradicion Brandies and six fabulous wines:

Fino
Palo Cortado VORS
Amontillado
Oloroso VORS
Cream VOS
Pedro Ximenez VOS

A trip to this winery will have you taking away a great choice of fine wines and brandy – if there’s any remaining.

For more information or to book visits go to the Bodega Tradicion website.

Eight Historical Paradors in Andalusia

Ranging from mansions to palaces and situated in 16th century plazas, to possessing fabulous sea views or sitting on a hill-top, visit the eight out of 16 paradors of Andalucia which are in gorgeous historical buildings.

Carmona Parador

Carmona Parador

What better way to tour five out of the eight provinces in Andalusia than to become royalty for the night in the 14th century Moorish fortess of Carmona with Mudejar fountain, landscaped gardens and sweeping views over the hot dusty plains. Located between Cordoba and Sevilla, Carmona itself is a lovely town with plenty to explore so several nights stay here would be ideal.

Granada Parador

 

Granada Parador

Or what about the 15th century convent San Francisco in the Alhambra Palace grounds with views of the Generalife Gardens and a magical Christian/Moorish blend of architecture. An ideal place to stay while visiting the UNESCO and must-visit Alhambra.

Jaen Parador
Jaen Parador

Next it’s ‘on top of the world’ at the 13th century Parador de Santa Catalina, an Arabic fortress overlooking Jaen city and its sea of surrounding olive groves. Its small pretty flower-filled patios, thick walls, solid wooden doors, topped by a 20 metre high drawing room ceiling make it one of my favourites.

Arcos de la Frontera Parador

Arcos de la Frontera Parador

The historical palace of Casa del Corregidor in one of The White Villages of Arcos de la Frontera in Cadiz province sits on an enormous limestone ridge with far-reaching views. The town was declared a national historic-artistic monument in 1962 and is charming although driving in the town itself and parking is difficult. But don’t let that put you off, both the town, the Parador and the views warrant the inconvenience.

Just as Arcos de la Frontera has to be the most spectacularly sited town in Cadiz province so is Ronda Parador in the province of Malaga. The 100m deep Tajo Gorge on which the town sits provides head-spinning views from the balconies along the ridge and from the Parador, a former Town Hall, close to its edge.

Malaga Parador

Malaga Gibralfaro Parador
Another Parador with a view is Malaga Gibralfaro. Once a castle, founded by Greek colonists, part of its name ‘faro’ means lighthouse being a beacon on the Gibralfaro hill for ships heading for Malaga’s port. It’s opposite the Alcazaba a delightful Moorish fortress like a mini Alhambra Palace, with a Roman Amphitheatre at it’s base.

Ubeda Parador

Ubeda Parador

Lastly heading from the Mediterranean Sea to the green sea of olive trees in Jaen province and on the edge of Cazorla, Spain’s largest natural park, is the splendid Ubeda Parador Condestable Davalos a 16th century Renaissance Palace, set in an incredible huge plaza filled with superb sandstone monuments of the same period.

Covering covering centuries of history these paradors are just part of a great Andalusian travel experience waiting for you in Southern Spain.

See the Paradors on Booking dot com, this link is for the Granada Parador.

All photos courtesy of Paradors.es except the Ubeda one which is mine.

See other Parador posts –

Parador Hotel Routes Around Spain

A Parador Tour Around Andalucia.

Writer’s Retreats & Writing Courses in Spain

I live in Spain, work in Spain and write in Spain so my first choice for a Writing Retreat is in the Spanish countyside of which there is plenty. A recent yearning for another writer’s holiday had me researching possibilities and so I’ve compiled a list of the courses I fancy attending, they are in alphabetical order and not the order I’d like to do them.

Casa Ana

Chalk in the Sun

Get Away to Write

Write Away Europe

Write-it-Down

Writer at Work

What is it about courses for writers that appeals to me?
 
I think the opportunity to get away from work, home, life, family for a short time is very important. It’s an opportunity to just be. To be you or in some cases find yourself. You get moments when all you have to do is the writing exercise with no interruptions, no I must just do this…

Depending on what type of course it is, for me I prefer all women groups, it’s a chance to share. A meeting of new people and experiences which very often creates an atmosphere of trust meaning a new level of opening up and depth in your writing. Again it depends on the type of course or workshop you do.

The list above ranges from courses on journaling to planning and preparing a non-fiction book. The course I went on in Barcelona with Pink Pangea was a travel writer’s course, the range is as huge as are the genres of writing.

There is of course another option which for some poeple is far more preferable and that is to rent somewhere to be alone and write – here’s one option to rent a writer’s retreat in the depths of Andalucia for that.
 

 

 

Local Cheese & Wine in Jaen, Andalusia

I don’t know whether it’s ever happened to you but on a recent outing with visiting family we headed to a local winery for some more of their fabulous Syrah grape red wine. The nicest Spanish Red I’ve had, and living in Spain I’ve tried a few of them – and then we find some great cheese to go with it.

Bodegas CampoAmeno

This winery or bodega – CampoAmeno – in the Sierra Sur de Jaen bordering on Granada province produces four reds, three whites and a rose with locally grown grapes. I’d had one of them in a restaurant in Alcala la Real and rather liked it. Then while visiting the fabulous Fortress La Mota there were a couple of different ones in the shop – we had to try them. My stepfather took a bottle of the CampoAmena Syrah back for a wine conoisseur friend who very much enjoyed it. So we then had to visit the winery shop to try all the reds before his next visit.

Bodegas CampoAmeno

Having sampled three of the reds, both hubby and I liked the same one best (always handy that!) So with stepfather visiting again the winery was definitely on our visiting list. We bought several boxes, not all for us, a presentation pack for said wine conoisseur and happy with our purchases headed into  Frailes for a much needed bar and beer. But as things happen and as wine goes with cheese, there was a cheese factory on the way selling it direct and – Quesos Artesanos de Frailes was open. We had to go in.

After sampling two – a cured and a semi-cured goat’s cheese made on the premises from the neighbouring goat herd’s milk we all liked the smooth and creamy texture of the semi-cured one, which has won many a prize, best.

Quesos Artesanos de Frailes

So back to the wine laden car laden with the cheeses we had the best pairing possible of locally produced and bought slow food and slow wine, both exquisite.

Quesos Artesanos de Frailes

Sadly to say neither lasted long and one of the cheeses took a journey to the UK and so adding a few food miles and making it not so slow. Ours didn’t.  It went from factory to car to fridge to stomach and there it was gone.

The up side of that is we live near enough and so have to go again – the down side we’re probably always going to have to do it now we’ve discovered both!

If you like cheese and wine I know a very good spot to shop.

Visit the Cheese shop website (in Spanish) the winery website  (in Spanish) read about Fortress La Mota and here’s where to stay in Alcala la Real – Atelier 88.

Starlight Reserve in La Gomera, Canary Islands

Where better to contemplate the universe than on an island which has the cleanest and clearest skies in Europe? La Gomera one of the seven larger Canary Islands offer fantastic starlight reserves for star gazing. Two of the world’s widest range observatories are on another of the Canary Islands – Tenerife because of the low level of light pollution over the Canaries.

La Gomera is least touristy of the Islands and it has many viewpoints with far-reaching vistas for both day and nighttime.

Playa del ingles, La Gomera, Canary  Islands

 

Star Gazing Apps

To experience the incredible star parade you should  download a virtual observatory app. Some of the popular ones are Star Walk 2, Sky Map or SkyView all of them provide detailed information and all you have to do is face your smartphone towards the constellations you want to learn about.

Cesar Manrique Viewpoint

A good place to  start in La Gomera is the Cesar Manrique viewpoint on the road to Valle Gran Rey. A perfect spot to spot the easily recognisable groups of stars –  Orion.   February and March are a good time for spotting stars  when see the contrast in colours at the edges of the stars, the reddish Betelgeuse in the shoulder of the giant and the blue Rigel in his foot.

Mirador de Santo Viewpoint

The next viewpoint is the Mirador de Santo in the hamlet of Arure. When it’s moonless night the complete absence of any light gives you a front row seat of the Milky Way galaxy.

Looking northwards in the early evenings of February and March you’ll be able to see Gemini, one of the 48 constellations of the zodiac.

Fortaleza Juan Jose Barrera, La Gomera, Starlight

Mirador de Alojera Viewpoint

The Mirador de Alojera viewpoint is the next stop on your stargazing journey and it is accessed by a narrow dirt track. From here you’ll see  two mythical and easily recognisable constellations, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor  which are also known as the Big Dipper and Little Dipper.

Garajonay Summit

The last stop on the La Gomera viewpoint route is the Garajonay summit which rises to 1,487 metres high and is an incredible spot, nearer the sky to see the panoramas of space.

The treasures of La Gomera go far beyond it’s beautiful beaches and its natural spaces, all you have to do is look upwards to see its stars.