Though smaller than some of its other Balearic counterparts, Menorca (or Minorca) is still one of the most idyllic islands to belong to Spain. Along with the relaxed lifestyle and stunning weather, the food is part of the reason why people keep coming back year after year.
As Menorca is a Spanish island, you should expect plenty of tapas dishes, many of which you can read about in our Guide to Menorca, but the island does have some of its own foodie delights too. From roadside eateries to coastal restaurants, wherever you're based on the island, it's a certainty that you'll be close to somewhere that gives you the opportunity to sample some of the local cuisine. Don't forget, you can always rub shoulders with the locals at the markets to experience truly authentic Menorcan produce.
Many markets will sell other goods alongside some food offerings, but there are several markets on the island that are food-centric. One of these is the market in Ciutadella. The Plaza del Mercat and its surrounding winding sidestreets are full of fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, much of which has been sourced on Menorca itself.
Similarly, Mahon comes to life on market days, and different days of the week see different types of produce arrive. Tuesday to Saturday are fish market days, and if you don't mind meandering through more craft markets that also sell produce, be sure to the visit the markets at Ferreries, Es Mercadal and Sant Lluis too. Although the majority of markets take place during the summer months, some do run throughout the year – but it's always worth checking when you arrive.
Menorca is particularly good at making the most of its resources, and is the home of a number of food products that are sold worldwide. Though just a few are mentioned here, be sure to explore new tastes and flavours on your visit to Menorca – you never know what you'll discover!
- Caldereta de llagosta - Though one of the more expensive of the speciality dishes available in Menorca, this lobster stew is divine, and a definite treat that should only be experienced here, with the freshest of produce. Having originated with the island's fisherman taking it out to eat whilst they work, the dish has come a long way, and is now considered an expensive but popular luxury dish.
- Mahon cheese - As you might expect, this cheese is native to the town of Mahon, but is produced under strict guidelines across Menorca. The taste of the cheese varies a lot depending on how mature it is, so be sure to find somewhere to sample the cheese at different ages – you'll also find it included in many dishes across the island, and at certain speciality cheese shops back home too!
- Bocadillos - Sometimes, at lunch all you want is a snack, not a full-blown meal if you're likely to be eating out in the evening. Though at first glance a bocadillo may just look like a filled baguette, the Menorcans have taken to substituting butter for a thick, tomato juice which gives the bread an entirely new flavour. These are often made fresh to order, too, with fillings that can include meatballs and local sausages like chorizo and sobrasada.
Few of us can truly replicate the authentic Menorcan way of cooking. Recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, perfecting the craft, but there are a few cheeky little treats that are easily made back on home ground.
You'll see Ensaimadas, a Menorcan sweet bread, everywhere on the island, and though it take a little time to prepare, that'll go quickly if you're sipping a homemade Pomada as you go!
For the Pomada, you'll, need:
- A bottle of locally made Gin Xoriguer – this can be sourced away from the island too in specialist stores.
- Slices of lemon
This simple recipe can be adjusted depending on how much gin you'd like to consume, but in terms of making the most out of the flavour, it's nicely paired with lemony drinks, such as decent quality cloudy lemonade – though regular lemonade is fine too. To mix, fill a tall glass with ice, before adding one part gin to two parts lemonade. Finish with a slice of lemon! Easy, but delicious.
For the Ensaimadas, you'll need:
- 4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Plain flour – enough to prevent sticking and to coat the dough
- 170g of butter
- 110g of sugar, plus a little extra for dusting
- 1 cup of warmed milk
- 450g of plain flour
Firstly, you need to dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and pop it to one side. Next, mix the salt and sugar together before mixing in the flour and the milk and yeast. Once combined, add the eggs and the olive oil before kneading until entirely blended and soft. Cover this with a damp cloth and allow to rise for one hour in a warm place – the dough needs to have doubled in size.
After the dough has increased in size, you need to knead the dough again, and roll the dough out as thinly as possible over a floured surface and brush the softened butter on top. Next, we need to roll up the dough as you would a newspaper or poster. Select a side, and carefully roll it up, being careful to not tear the sheet of thin dough. Once in a roll, leave to rest for an hour. It should still continue to rise during its rest time.
Once rested, coil the dough up loosely so that it almost looks like the swirl of a snail's shell. Now, for the last time, move the dough onto a baking sheet and allow to rise for several hours – it should be nice and puffed up before it goes into the oven.
The bread will bake at 190C for about 45 minutes, or until it is nice and golden on top. To finish, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle with some more sugar