Menorcan Food and Drink





Menorcan Food

When I first started to think about the food and drink which typify Menorca I began to think that I could fill a whole book with such information.

As a result of its cosmopolitan history the food and drink of the little Island the basic Catalan cuisine has developed a uniquely Menorcan slant.

Add to this the influences of tourism and the standard international hotel buffet and one realises that many visitors spend a fortnight in Menorca without really seeing, let alone sampling, its delicious dishes.

National Dishes

For a start with the National Dishes of Menorca. Firstly there is Sépia al Forn (baked cuttlefish), followed by Tumbet (a baked vegetable dish) and to follow Ensaimada (spiral-shaped bun)and Cuscusso (a Christmas dessert). However the King of Menorcan National dishes has to be its Lobster casserole. It is strongly believed that the King of Spain, King Juan Carlos, visits Fornells, in the north of the island whenever he is holidaying at his Palace in nearby Menorca, especially to enjoy the exquisite lobster stew.

Lobster Stew (Caldereta Langosta)

To be fair anywhere along the Menorcan coast can provide you with the traditional lobster stew, as well as other food and drink, but Fornells is an especially charming fishing village. Here you can he takes the opportunity of enjoy this delicacy in one of the few special restaurants in the bay, on its terraza or outside terrace, overlooking the sea with its fantastic views.

Lobster is the basis for this delicious stew which is similar to a French fish stew called Bouillabaisse. Many of the restaurants keep their lobsters on display in large fish tanks and clients can choose the one they like most for their dish. In order to establish if the lobsters are fresh they should be lifted up by their front claws to see if they move their tail energetically. If they do not, they are not fresh lobsters!

Fish Dishes

Lobster should not be allowed to eclipse Menorca's other fish and seafood dishes which also deserve a special mention. As befits an island surrounded by the warm sea provides a variety of fish and seafood. The result is that Mediterranean fish and seafood reaches Menorcan restaurants fresh and full of flavour and adds to the unique nature of Menorcan Food and Drink.

Menorcan Meats

Meat and meat products served in restaurants, tend to come from traditional Menorcan farms, known as Llocs.These are characterised by their extensive fields for grazing and breeding. Menorcan calves (‘vedella menorquina’), Menorcan lambs, a first-class breed of pig, plus various types of fowl such as chickens, capons and turkeys can all be obtained locally.

Menorca Cheese

Menorcan Cheese has now established itself internationally. Maó cheese (Menorca)is made from cow's milk, unlike Mallorcan cheese which uses goat's milk. Its popularity began to increase with the increase in cattle breeding, mainly friesian cows, and to the large production of milk which was obtained. It was held in such high esteem that an english engineer even said that 'the italians prefer menorcan cheese to their own parmesan.

Most of the production today is mechanised, however this cheese is still made the traditional way using the old methods. The milk is curdled using herbs, wrapped in a very fine white cloth and moulded into shape by hand until it becomes compact.

Maó cheese comes in several varieties depending on the maturation process, with different aromas and flavours. The maturing period of the mild cheese (queso tierno) fluctuates between 21 and 60 days. It is a yellowish colour, with an aroma which reminds one of butter and has a slightly acidic flavour.

If the maturing period is longer, the cheese is known as mature cheese (queso curado), much harder and with a more intense flavour. It is also made preserved in olive oil, giving rise to an exquisite product. There are several companies on the island which specialise in making cheese.



Menorcan Puddings

Menorcans have a very sweet tooth. This has led to the development of a vast array of pastries and desserts. During your visit you should at least try the almond macaroons (carquinyols) or have an ensaimada with your morning coffee. This fluffy spiral pastry is made with flour, lard and sugar.

Menorca also has its own ice cream called La Menorquina . Its smooth, creamy taste is highly popular and from its base in Alaior it is now sold throughout Spain.

Menorca's culinary diversity in food and drink is expressed in a huge range of fish, shell-fish and meat recipes. Dishes as diverse as ‘cous cous,’ of Arab origin and British ‘puddings.

Menorca Wines

Like its neighbouring islands, Menorca has an age old tradition of wine making amongst its food and drink industries. This tradition was interupted at the end of British rule and on a number of other occasions. In recent years vineyards have begun to cultivate different varieties of grapes and open wine cellars boosting an old tradition with new vigour.

Currently there are four wineries and their associated vineyards on the island. Vine Sa Cudía in S'Albufera des Grau Nature Park, Viñas Binifadet near the village of Sant Lluís, Ferrer de Muntpalau in the town of Es Mercadal and Bodega Vi de S'Illa in Alaior. All of these enterprises offer guided visits around the wine cellars and vineyards culminating in a wine tasting session.

Due to these enterprising initiatives Menorca now has an Illa de Menorca as a brand which includes white wines such as Chardonnay, Macabeo, Malvasía, Moscatel, Parellada and Moll, and red wines from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Monastrell, Syrah through to Tempranillo.

Menorca Liqueurs

Nowadays there are a number of locally made liqueurs based on Mandarin, Orange, Peach and lemon juices.

Estomagale

There is also Estomagale a mild drink with a unique taste and texture. Calent an artisan drink which combines herbs, anis, cinnamon, wine and saffron in a warm infusion. Tradition states that this drink has been prepared since antiquity, when the island was famous for its wines, and Calent based drink was prepared to give to their friends on holidays and especially at Christmas time.

Menorca Gin

No article on Menorcan food and drink is complete without the mention of Gin.

A locally made liqueurs is gin, made from grapes and perfumed with juniper berries. The Gin Xoriguer distillery has been making this drink now for almost a century. Minorcan gin (Gin Xoriguer) originated during the times of the British rule in the 18th Century. Thousands of English sailors and soldiers arrived on Minorca to garrison the island. During their time off they visited the Taverns and wanted to drink the fashionable drink of that time, gin. Gin was unknown on the island but local tradesmen soon devised a way to produce the drink using imported juniper berries water and plant-based ethyl alcohol.

They used old copper stills, into which high quality wine alcohol, juniper berries from the mountains and other aromatic herbs were placed. The resulting distillation was then stored in large oak barrels before being bottled.

Menorcan Gin can be drunk neat, although it is traditionally drunk with soda and lemon peel or with lemonade as 'pomada.

More Information

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  • Menorca Lobster The Flag of Minorca Menorca

  • Restaurants The Flag of Minorca Menorca

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