Foodie Heaven, Deià, Mallorca
With all due respect to Robert Louis Stevenson, to travel hopefully isn’t always a better thing than to arrive. Not when, at your destination, there’s duck breast with beluga lentils waiting for you. Or lobster with green asparagus ravioli. Or a millefeuille of Cuban chocolate with spiced bread. All this and much more is the signature of Deia, a magical gastronomic village on the north west coast of the island of Mallorca. Made famous by the writer Robert Graves (‘I Claudius’ who bought his villa there) a visual feast of colour and history is complemented with sublime cuisine.
As Bray is to England, so Deia is to an international set of discerning palettes (and indeed wallets). Andrew Lloyd Webber, a local resident, describes Deia as the “gastronomic capital of the Mediterranean’. Michael Winner, with typical understatement, described it as “fantastic, beautiful beyond belief… and the food is stupendous”. In Deia, you have a paradise with food to match. Here, we explore a few recommendations that are worth the trip alone.
A firm favourite of Hollywood A-listers, La Residencia nestles between the impressive craggy Tramuntana mountains and the endless blue of the sea. Some 30 acres of olive and citrus groves guard your privacy, where this hotel artfully blends glamour and fine living with a reverence for its ancient Mallorcan past. Indeed, this exclusive haven has been created out of 16th and 17th century traditional manor houses, now equipped with state of the art luxury. Its restaurant El Olivo is not only one of the island’s finest, but one of Spain’s. Be warned: in this impossibly romantic setting, it is nothing less than sheer gastronomic seduction. Guillermo Méndez’s Tasting Menu destroys your defences with such creations as venison carpaccio with caviar from “Rio Frio” and Port wine vinaigrette; and John Dory with langoustines, crabs and coconut; cod fillet with callos and herb oil; and then millefeuille of pigeon breast in a truffle sauce. The dessert menu also takes no prisoners, and a mighty tome of a wine list ensures the perfect accompaniment to every nuance and flavour.
Ca’s Patro March
Daily fresh fish and dream views in Cala Deià. This fantastic restaurant can be accessed by sea, in just half an hour of navigation (or less) sailing from Port de Sóller.
Cala Deià. It is a small rocky cove, located at the foot of the beautiful mountain village of Deià. Its privileged location by the sea, on top of a small cliff overlooking the clear waters of Cala Deià, is one of its strong points. Its appearance, somewhat rustic, makes us think of the fishermen who lived here for years, when fishing was a way of subsistence. Local fresh fish is the specialty of Ca’s Patró March with fish caught on the same day just a few hours before serving.
Restaurant Es Raco de’es Teix
Another alumnus of El Olivo is Josef Sauerschell, who won his first Michelin Star there in 1991. He then departed to set up Es Racó d’es Teix (which, not surprisingly, is known simply as ‘Josef’s’ to the locals). He opened in 2000 and won his Michelin Star there in 2002. Sir Michael Caine proclaimed “let’s up him to two!” mid-way through an outstanding dinner there. Leonor Sauerschell is the maître d’ and presents Josef´s “dish-poems”. These include fillet of red barb with gambas and vegetable vinaigrette in saffron; roasted goose liver on balsamico dressing and canapé; or his renowned rack of lamb with olive crust and potato au gratin. Desserts include tart tatin of peach with pistachio-lavender ice cream, cold melon soup with mint, mango and yogurt-lemon ice cream or berries with white and black mousse of chocolate.
A restaurant with a breathtaking location – it is perched on the edge of a cliff – and with equally memorable food. The Chef/Patron here is Benet Vicens who combines a passion for french gastronomy with his own signature style of traditional Mallorcan cuisine. A typically elaborate starter might be a carpaccio of red prawns, freshly sourced from the local port of Sóller, or caramelised foie gras, spiced fig bun and fine frost pumpkin. Then it might be rock fish with fresh almond cream and citric artichokes, or lamb from Sierra de Tramuntana. As for puddings, these are surely compulsory: from white chocolate mousse with wild red berries to millefeuille of Cuban chocolate with spiced bread, fresh mint sherbet and Angel d’Or.
La Residencia Hotel is a fine old building originally two rustic 16th and 17th century former manor houses. It is set among terraced orange groves and ancient olive trees, beneath the Tramuntana mountains.
La Residencia Hotel
The same artistry on offer at El Olivo is carried through to its hotel, the legendary La Residencia. This fine old building is set among terraced orange groves and ancient olive trees, beneath the Tramuntana mountains. Its rooms, which look out through shuttered windows over fruit, flower and herb gardens, are decorated in calm natural tones and feature traditional antique Mallorcan furniture. There are 67 rooms, ranging from single rooms and superior doubles to a selection of suites with four-poster beds. At the top is the Tower Suite, for honeymooners and incurable romantics giving privacy, elegance and a panoramic vista of the mountains, village and sea. It’s also the perfect venue from which to explore the gastronomic delights of Deia featured in this article.