In the fruit and veg section of Palma’s Olivar food market, chef Marc Fosh points out bunches of tomatoes hanging on hooks above the stalls. ‘They’re ramilettes and last for six months when hung properly’, he says. ‘They have very little flesh, just juice and pulp, so they’re only used for pan am boli’ (Mallorca’s toasted rustic bread, rubbed with tomatoes, olive oil and a little salt). Heritage tomatoes are everywhere – beautifully corrugated cor de bou (beef heart) and tomate negro (black). Artichokes spill from crates and piles of oranges are testament to the sunshine and climate that make perfect growing conditions for them.
You can buy everything at Olivar, from Mallorcan olive oil to local cheese, wine, and the famous spreadable sausage, sobrasada. The fish section is the busiest, where everything is still twitching fresh, from cap roig (scorpion fish), inky cuttlefish, corvine and cod to fabulous red prawns. In the meat section there are stalls selling sheep’s heads, tongues, sweetbreads, and acorn-fed Iberico ham. It’s a good place to meet, shop and grab a glass of wine and some tapas. ‘Palma is a thriving food city now,’ says Marc. ‘There’s a new oyster and champagne bar, about which the traditional stallholders were initially skeptical, but have now come to accept as it encourages visitors. And you can buy a piece of fish from the other stalls and have it grilled here for a light lunch.’
Marc’s own restaurant, Simply Fosh, is five minutes away and shows touches of his time in San Sebastián – dish descriptions mention chlorophyl, and there are arty swipes on plates, but, importantly, it’s local produce that he likes to cook. Marc makes his own flavoured salts for the table, and serves Mallorcan wine (the main white variety is a drinkable prensal blanc; red is mento negro) in his sleek courtyard restaurant.
The old town of Palma, with its cobbled streets and leafy squares, has a number of fashionable bars and restaurants. Gin has been enjoying a revival in Spain and at Ginbo there are almost 150 to try, all served in wide goblets with plenty of ice. At Ombu, upmarket tapas includes Japanese and Peruvian style oysters, deep-fried rabbit with alioli, and stuffed courgete flowers.
Nothing could be further from the idea of Mallorca as a cheap and cheerful holiday than the sleek new boutique Hotel Sant Francesc Singular in the Plaça de Sant Francesc. A huge, airy lobby leads into a cocktail bar and Quadrat, the simply designed main restaurant with its own terrace. Cooking is already spot-on and reasonably priced despite its upmarket design and atmosphere – a bottle of local wine is €18 and the set menu (€25) features cheffy Asian bonito (tuna) with picked veg; sea bream; and a chocolate and orange mousse with light, buttery biscuits for dessert. Rooms are simply decorated, but the rooftop pool is a major draw with its views over the beautiful rooftops and square.
How to do it: Double rooms at Sant Francesc Hotel Singular cost from £148. Return flights from various UK airports to Palma cost from £70 (easyJet.com). More info: visitpalma.com
Marc Fosh’s favourite places to eat & drink in Palma, Mallorca
British chef Marc Fosh has lived and worked in Mallorca for over 20 years. Here’s what and where he likes to eat in Palma
* Black rice or paella on the terrace at Hotel Bendidat looking over the sea (about 20 minutes drive from Palma).
* Galician seafood at old-school Pura Louzao.
* Cocktails at Brass Club, a fantastic cocktail bar that’s home to Rafa Martin one of Spain’s top bartenders.
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