Menorca is one of the Balearic Islands of Spain and it’s mild Mediterranean climate influences it’s cuisine. As would be expected with an island, seafood dominates. Local agriculture provides vegetables, and the many Dairy herds of the island provide the famous cheeses.
The most famous cheese of the island is ‘Queso de Mahon’ (Mahon Cheese). A cow’s milk cheese whose flavour is influenced by the marine salt carried by the wind to the grazing pastures. It is matured and sold at different ages, with surprisingly different flavours. The young cheese is mild and creamy, and the more mature cheeses are darker, saltier and harder. There are four varieties: mild, semi-mature, mature and aged. You can find this cheese everywhere on the island but it’s best to look in delicatessen shops for the authentic produce, where you will see the folds of the cloth it was matured in imprinted onto the cheese.
Probably the most famous Menorcan dish is ‘Caldereta de Langosta’ which translates to Lobster Stew. This was originally a Fisherman’s meal and is often served as a traditional family Sunday lunch. The recipe uses local spiny lobster cooked in a tomato, onion and garlic sauce. In restaurants you can expect to pay upwards of €60 for this!
As with other parts of Spain, cured sausages are a speciality. The most well known is ‘Sobrassada’ which is a spreadable pork sausage that is flavoured with paprika.
Legend has it that the condiment Mayonnaise (Mahon-aise) was invented by a French Chef in Mahon in the 18th Century, although the French would dispute this! The locals still make mayonnaise by hand using eggs and olive oil.
For the sweet toothed there are ‘Ensaimada’ which are light pastry spirals sprinkled liberally with icing sugar.
The most popular drink of the island is a ‘Pomada’ which is the local Xoriguer Gin mixed with lemon juice, or more commonly lemonade. Xoriguer Gin has been made on the island since the 18th Century when British Sailors stationed there insisted on their favourite tipple! The gin is made from a grape based spirit with added juniper berries. The distillery in the Port of Mahon is open to visitors for tastings. The miniature bottles make for ideal souvenirs!
Another place worth visiting in Mahon is the Fish Market (‘Mercado de Pescados’). Here there are a mixture of stalls selling fresh seafood and small eateries serving tapas and pintxos, as well as beer and wine. An ideal spot to enjoy a snack and soak up the atmosphere.
I holidayed in Menorca during August 2017 & 2018 and stayed at the fabulous ‘Grupotel Macarella Suites & Spa’ in Cala’n Bosch. Highly recommended.