Menorca is the second biggest island of the Baleares, and one of the Mediterranean gems that are on a verge of becoming one of the hottest travel destinations in this part of the world. While Menorca’s biggest sister Mallorca and the little Ibiza took all the fame for years, Menorca is finally getting the recognition it deserves. But enough about that—let’s talk about Menorca food. This island’s gastronomic scene is smoking hot. Special local food and dishes alone are good enough reason to fly there.
Ok, let’s do this. Let’s see what types of Menorca food are there, what’s the deal with Mahon cheese, and which dishes you just have to try when you visit Menorca.
Spain is most definitely a melting pot of cultures and flavours. Its cuisine is well known after gazpacho, tapas and paellas. But here we are to talk about traditional Menorca food, that can be slightly different from the typical Spanish cuisine. To some extent, Menorca food is a survival cuisine, which protects the original flavour of its high-quality products to the utmost.
Menorca food is simple, seasonal and always fresh. It is based on seafood, especially clams, lobsters and squid. Vegetables are cultivated in as much diversity as possible, and on a small scale—mainly for the local consumption.
Their art of cooking is influenced by many invaders—from Roman and French to British. As a part of Mediterranean cuisine, Menorca food could be one of the healthiest since it’s focused on vegetables, seafood and local, fresh foods. Even today, when most products can be accessed through all the year, Menorca has a seasonal cuisine, with seasonal ingredients and recipes, which pursue the cycle of nature, according to its traditions. So, yes, Menorca food is rich in flavours, unique in taste, and healthy for real.
Now that we peeped into everyday Menorca kitchen, are you ready for some treats?
Mahon cheese—sweet and fruity cheese from the winds of the sea
In Menorca products such as cheese or milk influence the markets. Menorca dairy products have an exclusive taste due to the forceful winds of Tramontana, that absorb the fields with sea salt. Mahon cheese (named by the capital of Menorca—Mao or Mahon as locals call it) is a flavourful example of such products and an essential gastronomic element of Menorca foodie scene.
Mahon cheese is a special Menorcan cheese, known for its mix of sweetness and slight saltiness. The practice of making is carried out according to family traditions. Mahon cheese is made out of pasteurised cow’s milk with small amounts of sheep’s milk from the Minorcan breed.
You can find Mahon cheese in every local shop in Menorca. You can order some in a bar or a restaurant as well, but true salesmen will gladly offer you a plate with a glass of wine. It would be a shame to miss that kind of opportunity. If you have a car, you can easily explore the whole island and find the most charming places where you can experience Mahon cheese at its best.
The shape of Mahon cheese has rounded edges, its size is medium to large, high in stature, with orange rind and weighs up to 5 kg or more. So, in general, the traditional Mahon cheese is sweet, fruity and slightly salty. But you can find some exceptions so that you can choose between aged and young Mahon Cheese. Artesano Mahon is young, aged no longer than three months, and softer than traditional Mahon, while aged Mahon cheese is more laborious and should be wrapped in foil.
Caldereta del Llagosta – the best lobster stew in the world
Caldereta del Llagosta is a Lobster stew with unique taste and of great importance to the Menorcan cuisine. Caldereta del Llagosta is a typical dish for the Balearic Islands, and celebrated all over Spain. The locals of Menorca and Majorca quarrel over who has the best Caldereta del Llagosta. Menorcans say that their stew is preeminent, while the Majorcans oppose their light red lobsters are superior. Now we cannot miss the opportunity to explain the history of the stew.
The name "Caldereta del Llagosta" comes from the container where they traditionally cooked this famous dish. Caldereta del Llagosta was for a long time the chief sustenance of the lower classes of the island, especially fishermen, that has later become a gourmet dish. Nowadays this food boon vivant is praised all around the Baleares for its exceptional flavour. Do you want to try it?
Preparation of the Caldereta del Llagosta
Tie the lobster and put it in a pot with 6.5 cups of boiling water. Cook it for 15 minutes. Then put it away from the heat and let it cool. Reserve the broth. Chop the lobster, if possible with your hands. Cut garlic, tomato and onion into small pieces. Heat oil in a clay pot and sauté the onion while stirring. Add the tomato and the garlic and continue stirring until you get a juicy fry. Then add the chopped parsley and the pieces of lobster. When it has been cooked for 5 minutes, add the reserved broth, season it, and let it boil for 25 minutes over high heat. Heat a little oil in a saucepan, and sauté the remaining tomato over low heat, until it is confectioned. Strain the sauce and add it, together with the brandy, to the casserole. Leave to cook for 5 more minutes.
Venus Verrucosa—a sea truffle
Venus Verrucosa is a small mollusc of the Veneridae family, also known as the sea truffle. We are talking about the oyster-like member of the clam family. Venus Verrucosa is a local delicacy, a typical Menorcan seafood; you don't want to miss. Due to its rarity, it is much more desirable than her sister - the famous oyster. So, if you are a fan of oysters, you will most definitely enjoy Venus Verrucosa. You want Venus Verrucosa to be served incredibly fresh with a drizzle of lemon juice.
Menorca is known for the most beautiful sandy beaches, and as the proud owner of one of the most romantic port cities in the Mediterranean Sea—Ciutadella. Even though today the capital of Menorca is Mao, Ciutadella use to be the main city of this charming island. Menorca dazzles her visitors with charming sunsets, blue bays, and friendly locals. Menorca has 88 000 inhabitants, while the size of the island is only about 700 square kilometres. Menorca's official language is Spanish; however, majority of locals speak Catalan (the second official language of Balearic Islands)—the Spanish dialect you can come across in Catalonia as well.
On the island, beautiful nature and nature reserves intertwine with a vibrant history, the traces of which are found throughout the island. Here you can even find the remnants of megalithic stone monuments that point to a dynamic culture of this isle in prehistoric times.
Menorca is predominantly planar, that’s why is very popular among cyclists and trail runners. Its highest peaks are El Toro with 358 meters above sea level. You can climb it on a winding road and see the magnificent view of the island.
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