When starting to explore the Mediterranean Diet of Menorca there are so many delicious choices from which to decide what to eat. Either farm grown local produce or delicacies of the sea, the essence of the Mediterranean Diet is quality and simplicity. Menorcan Cuisine personifies this ideology basing traditional dishes on ingredients readily available from season to season.
There is no better place to start than with what is in season right now, and coincidentally one premium local product unique to the island is the Menorcan Lobster.
Whilst some of the islands richest tasting ingredients are the simplest fruit and vegetables, the Menorcan Lobster although simple and incredibly rich, is only available for a limited time each year and therefore a commands a much higher price tag!
La Langosta Menorquina as it is known here, is in season between April – August, when during the peak holiday period its value can be up to €130/kg in any restaurant. The traditional dish of the island for which it is famous is the Caldereta de Langosta, a Lobster Stew which is made with all natural ingredients such as fresh lobster, stock, bread or biscuits, tomato, onion, garlic, parsley and olive oil with salt. Fornells, the fishing village in the north of Menorca is the home of the Caldreta de Langosta which is also where the Spanish Royal Family is known to dine on this dish when they visit, most certainly a dish fit for a king!
We are spoilt for choice here with many excellent restaurants all over Menorca that specialise in fresh fish and seafood of the island, all of which will serve an exquisite Menorcan Lobster Stew in the traditional recipe. If you are a lover of seafood and can indulge in the luxury, then it’s a treat not to be missed. Best enjoyed in the shade of a restaurant terrace with a sea view for a long lunch followed by a long siesta; this is how the locals enjoy their Caldereta de Langosta!
Another equally filling splurge is to try a Paella de Langosta which is the typical Spanish Paella where the base is made with Lobster instead of or with traditional seafood. Sofrito, the tomato sauce base of the Paella is made in a similar way to that of the Caldereta. With a few changes to this sofrito it turns the dish into either a Caldereta (stew) by adding stock, or Paella (risotto) by adding both stock and rice. The lobster gives this rice dish a distinctive taste, an unforgettable feast for both the eyes and the stomach. In both dishes the fun part is dissecting the pretty pieces of Lobster to extract the succulent flesh inside the bright red shell.
These dishes are the essence of scrumptious slow food. A good couple of hours of time, love and attention is poured into the preparation of either a Caldereta or Paella with most of this time being dedicated to cooking the sofrito. A sofrito made of freshly chopped or tinned tomatoes, finely diced green peppers, garlic, oil and salt slowly cooked in a terracotta dish is the absolute staple foundation of any good Spanish dish without question. Adding additional ingredients such as red peppers or onion occasionally and then either seafood, fish, meat, rice, noodles, pasta or legumes to become the creation of the final plate. In this case, where the skill lies is in a slow cooked sofrito with the Lobster added so the flavours blend without burning it in the process!
Like all the best quality seafood, the Menorcan Lobster is perhaps best served as a plate on its own halved, either lightly fried in olive oil with garlic (a fisherman’s favourite) or grilled on a barbeque plate. D’alt de tot! Better than anything!