For two people who don’t have a bulging bank account, we’ve done rather well recently as far as eating Michelin-starred cuisine goes: The Boss and I were invited to the 3rd Safari Culinario at the St Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort.
The latter was foodie heaven: of the eight talented chefs (six of whom had flown in from Germany) who prepared the evening’s spectacular dishes, five are recognized for their Michelin-starred food. It was an amazing event that should be on the bucket list of any serious gourmet.
Eight chefs, one exceptional dinner, no power cut. L-R: Martin Fauster, Otto Koch, Christian Juergens, Thomas Kammeier, Thomas Kahl (Es Fum, Mallorca), Marc Fosh (Simply Fosh, Palma de Mallorca), Eckart Witzigmann, and Iker Gonzalez
But none of these culinary superstars offered what could have been the world’s most expensive soup. I’d already made that, back in the spring . . .
A Chilly May
Every May my father and his brother (my Uncle Ray) come to stay at our finca for the first of the two holidays a year that they have with us in rural Mallorca. But this year’s spring holiday was rather different to ones they’ve previously had: it was the coldest May here (and in other parts of Spain) since 1985.
Usually, they’d spend quite a bit of time relaxing in the steamer chairs on the terrace, soaking up some vitamin D (well they do live in England, where sunshine has become a bit of a rare commodity). Ray – who tans easily – would normally remove as many clothes as he could (within the bounds of decency) to build up that enviable just-back-from-holiday golden glow. But not this year. Over the eight days they were here, only one day was warm enough to relax outdoors. Sweaters and long trousers were pressed into service, and much time was spent indoors reading, listening to music, and chatting.
One day was particularly bad. A howling north wind, rain lashing down the windows and a top temperature of 13 degrees Celsius (we’ve had it warmer in January!) confined us to the house. When the ever-optimistic Ray (“It looks like the sun’s trying to get through”) gave up dreaming of a tan that holiday, I knew desperate measures were called for.
In the Soup
I would make carrot and cumin soup for lunch – soup being a wonderful comfort food. A delicious aroma was soon wafting through the house. At the appropriate moment, I poured the hot soup into our Kitchen Aid blender (recently back from Palma where it had been in for repair) and pressed the button to set the blitzing in motion. Or not. The instant I switched the thing on, the entire electricity system died.
Long story short, our dependable electrician came out on an emergency visit and returned later that afternoon when he’d been able to find the required new part for the fuse box. A rather complicated and expensive part that cost more than 300 euros.
In all the recent excitement of having our rural finca in Mallorca re-roofed, we were tolerating – rather than tackling – a small domestic irritation. And, like many problems we’ve had since moving to the Mallorcan countryside, it was water-related.
Here Be a Dragon
When we first moved here, the kitchen was little more than a room containing an old stainless steel sink, a gas-powered fridge/freezer (don’t ever go there), some pine shelves and a small pine cupboard topped with a slab of marble. Oh, and of course there was the gas cooker, which – for reasons you can probably imagine – I christened ‘the dragon’. Who needs eyebrows anyway?
Within a few months we’d sourced ourselves a fitted kitchen, which transformed what would have been Delia Smith’s worst nightmare into something any of Mallorca’s five* Michelin-starred cuisine-producing chefs would be happy to do a turn in. (Oh, I wish!).
We chose a very stylish kitchen sink, with the appearance of stone, and a smart matching tap. Rather expensive but, we thought, you don’t replace such things every five minutes. However, the water in Mallorca is very hard and contains a lot of cal – or lime – and it’s a pesky nuisance when it comes to clogging up water-using appliances, including taps.
Cal Claims Another Victim
In February 2011, the kitchen tap started spewing water everywhere like a fountain in a force 10 gale. We called Cito, owner of the local plumbing firm we’ve used since we bought the finca. We’re such regular customers that Cito treats us like best friends; if he sees us in town, there’s always a frenzy of kissing and hugging. So when Cito declared that our tap was beyond repair, we knew it wasn’t just a ruse to sell us a new one, rather than repair the existing one.
Plumber Miquel Angel knows our kitchen very well indeed
We took his recommendation and bought one that cost more than we really wanted to pay, but were assured that the manufacturer was a good one. The shiny chrome version (alas, the one that had matched the sink was no longer being manufactured) was duly installed.
Water, Water, Everywhere …
Some six or seven weeks ago, we returned home to find a large pool of water on the kitchen floor. We couldn’t blame Minstral, our Birman cat; he’s never yet been caught short on the way to his litter tray. It didn’t take long to realise that the water was leaking from a joint on the tap, running along the back of the worktop, under the dishwasher and then cascading onto the floor. Our very own indoor waterfall . . .
Not wanting any further disruption from workmen, we lived with this situation throughout the roofing job by wrapping a sponge around the base of the tap to soak up the leaking water. Not ideal. On Monday this week we finally called in Cito and, on Tuesday morning, Miquel Angel – one of his employees – came to sort out the problem. Once again, it seemed that the tap was unrepairable and a new one was fitted. The good news is that Cito believes the leaky tap probably had a manufacturing fault, so he’s returning it to the company for repair or replacement. Meanwhile, he’s only charging us for the labour. Now that’s what I call service . . .
Michelin-starred cuisine at Es Fum restaurant in Costa d’en Blanes, Mallorca
Yes, you did read correctly: Mallorca has five restaurants with Michelin-starred cuisine. The latest awards were made in the Michelin Guide Spain & Portugal 2013 last evening in Madrid. And there are also three restaurants with the Bib Gourmand, offering “high quality, affordable cuisine.” The island also has around 60 wineries – a number of which produce stonking prize-winning wines – and a host of products loved by gourmets way beyond our shores. Mallorca is often negatively portrayed in the British tabloid press, but please believe that there’s more to this Spanish island than the resort of Magaluf and its well-publicised problems. The great gastronomy is just one of the many reasons to visit Mallorca.
Pass the ladder, it’s time to get off my high horse . . .