Ban Lifted on Gorgollassa, Giró and Viognier Grapes

The 2012 wine harvest has started. It is always the white grape that gets harvested first, from August 15th onwards, roughly speaking. That is grapes of the Chardonnay, Macabeu, Malvasia and Giró varieties, amongst others. Some vintners swear by the moon and may have started harvesting this year’s grapes on August 17th, the August New Moon. Others consider that a lot of humbug and call it an unproven folk tale with no background in science.

Be that as it may, the Conselleria d’Agricultura, Medi Ambient i Territori recently authorized the use of three indigenous Mallorcan grape varieties for wine making under the label Vi de la Terra de Mallorca: Gorgollassa, Giró Ros and Viognier. The island’s wine makers have campaigned for legalization of these grape varieties for quite some time, up to ten years if I am not mistaken. Approval had to first be gained from the European Commission in Brussels, then from the Spanish Government bodies in Madrid, then from Industria, the Mallorcan regulatory body, until finally, six weeks ago, the Island Council Agricultural Department approved the amendment, recognizing and regulating the geographical criteria for wines made in Mallorca.

Wine had been produced from these grape varieties in recent years, but its sale was so far prohibited. Now, any supposed illegality has been lifted. You should try some wine made from Gorgollassa or Giró grapes; they are quite impressive. The Viognier variety I do not know myself; I can not vouch for this one.

The grape shown in today’s photo is probably a Manto Negro. This variety is distinctive, but is hard to grow and it oxidizes easily.

Manto Negro is difficult. It takes to the character of the land very well, but it’s like a wild animal, savage, and you have to educate it.” (Maria Antonía Oliver, Bodegues Ribas).

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 26th, 2012. The time was 19:58:41.

Ban Lifted on Gorgollassa, Giró and Viognier Grapes

Melting Down the Saïm

Cooking and baking in Mallorca would be inconceivable without Saïm (Castellano: Manteca, Lard), just as cooking would be without olive oil.

Saïm is pig fat in both its rendered and non-rendered forms, melted down for lard. Saïm is commonly used in Mallorca’s traditional cuisine as a cooking fat or as a spread similar to butter. It is probably best known for its use in Ensaïmadas, Empanadas or Emputidos, but is equally used in a variety of dishes such as Graixeras, Asados or simply, fried eggs. If you have not had your eggs fried in Saïm, give it a try. You may decide that this is the only way to have your fried eggs. You can buy Saïm in small containers at your local supermarket. I find that a better quality is usually sold by your local butchers.

Saïm rojo (red lard) is probably known to a lesser extent amongst the non-native community. Red lard is gained from decanting instead of melting. Saïm rojo is used for Botifarrons or Camaiots.

Bon profit.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 1st, 2009. The time was 17:40:52.

Melting Down the Saïm

Caterpillar Tracked Mechanical Donkeys

The ingenuity of humanity is quite mind-blowing. Does it not sometimes make you wonder how on earth these massive monastery buildings or defence towers were erected on relatively high mountains, here in Mallorca, when there was no road going up, let’s say five hundred years ago, and when there were no helicopters or lorries or other such wonderful modern implements available, when in fact not even the power engine had been invented yet, nor even the steam engine?

I tell you how the folks of old did it. They used the donkey. The history of Mallorca would be quite different without the ingenious use of donkeys or mules. These hoofed bestias have been used for centuries here on the island to carry loads and building material and water and whatever else to wherever these should be needed, with camino in existence or without.

Sadly, these ases (donkeys) or mulas (mules) are not much in demand any more, not here in Mallorca nor elsewhere. Instead, the caterpillar tracked mechanical donkey of mainly Japanese provenance seems to be taking over. Lately, I have seen these little power monsters with increasing frequency here on the island. Traditional small-scale farming is on the retreat as well, and the youngsters who might have inherited their family’s fields without knowing how to till the land because they have an office job or else, work in hotels or restaurants or drive a bus, seem more intrigued by mechanized toy gadgets such as the one shown in the photo (top).

The problem is that these caterpillar track barrows are quite lethal when it comes to any sensitive handling of old and historic tracks and caminos, for instance of the dry stone category. Historic Camins de pedra en sec have been lovingly restored over the last ten or fifteen years in the Serra de Tramuntana. An increasing amount of damage to these old caminos has been reported to the authorities, in all likelihood caused by the caterpillar tracked barrows, each capable of carrying up to 600 kilogrammes or so and causing the dry stones to be dislodged or broken under the weight and due to the friction caused.

I wish some people would come to their senses.

The photo (top) was taken near Deià, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 4th, 2012. The time was 14:39:04. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of riowang.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much.

Caterpillar Tracked Mechanical Donkeys

The Son Menut Stud Farm

A long time ago, in mainland Spain, the Carthusian monks were famous for their role in breeding the Pura Raza Española or Andalusian horse. Toni Barceló from Son Menut near Felanitx is not a monk as far as I would know but, yes, he breeds P. R. E. horses, and successfully so. He is a very dedicated man, not unlike his brother, Miquel Barceló, the artist. There are some 90 horses in Son Menut at the moment, and more than half of those are of the Andalusian race. Twelve of those stallions and mares are for sale now for amounts of between 4,000 and 6,000 €, should you be interested.

The Son Menut Stud Farm also offers equestrian holiday packages, including excursions on horse back, riding classes for beginners, for children and for more advanced riders, as well as tuition in jumping and dressage. Accommodation can be provided at Son Menut, a finca well dedicated to the world of horses.

The photos were taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 20th, 2012. The time was 14:55:33 and 15:15:24, respectively.

The Son Menut Stud Farm

The Enchanting Flowers of the Pomegranate

According to legend, the pomegranate (Punica granatum) grew in the garden of Eden. The pomegranate is a great and versatile fruit; it has been cultivated and naturalised in the Mediterranean region since ancient times. The fruit is surrounded by a long and colourful history of symbolic meaning and mythical tales. It is referred to in Greek, Hebrew, Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian mythology and writings. Many cultures use various parts of the tree and the fruit to make medicinal potions or other concoctions. The pomegranate is described in records dating from around 1500 BC as a treatment for tapeworm and other parasites.

The pomegranate tree can live for many years, some say for up to 200 years. I particularly like the pomegranate flower (see photo top).

The pomegranate fruit can be found in some coats of arms of royalty and nobility. It is also used as a pattern in old carpets and rugs from Persia, India, East Turkistan or China (see photo below).

The photo (top) was taken near Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 6th, 2012. The time was 11:47:18. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of metropolitancarpet.com.

Thank you very much.

The Enchanting Flowers of the Pomegranate

This Little Piggy Went to the Market

The eleven little piglets in my photo were fifteen days old or thereabouts when I took the photo a few weeks ago. All male piggies will be taken to the market when they are 45 days old to be sold as suckling pigs. The females may be reared to the age of 270 days before they are sold to the Embutidos factory to be made into Sobrassada, Butifarrón or Camaiot. These Mallorcan gastronomic delights are at their best when Porc Negre (black pig) is used. Give it a try, if you can.

The piglets in the photo are not of the pure Porc Negre pedigree but their black spots suggest that somewhere down the line a black pig was involved. These cross-overs are more and more common in Mallorca nowadays. The pure black pig as such is one of the earliest domesticated animals to be found in the Balearic Islands. According to some authors, the Porc Negre is one of the most primitive pig breeds. It is a well-defined race with characteristics differentiating it from other porcine races. The meat has a dry and tender taste to it, quite unlike ordinary pork. Just try not to think of the little suckers whilst enjoying your meal.

The photo was taken in Campos, Mallorca, Spain. The date: May 6th, 2012. The time was 12:42:05.

This Little Piggy Went to the Market

What Are Gatzolles, Trinxets, Ganivets, Porquers And Talós?

Gatzolles, Trinxets, Ganivets, PorquersEtxurats and Talós are the names for some of the traditional Mallorcan peasant pocket knives. You will not find a single Pagès on the island who would not carry one of those traditional knives on him, or an assortment of them, depending on the task in hand.

Traditional country folks in Mallorca always have a job to do, be that hunting, fishing, vine grafting, sheep or goat herding, harvesting, what have you. For such tasks and similar jobs, you need at times a sharp knife and you better have one on you, just in case. The typical Mallorcan pocket knife comes either with a wooden handle, often in Ullastre, the Wild Olive tree, or in goat horn finish. Prices range from 9 € to 45 €, depending on size, type and finish. I know of three reputable knife makers on the island, Ordinas in Llucmajor, Joan Campins in Consell (see photo top), and Miralles in Muro (see photo bottom), all of them producing the trusted pocket knives in stainless steel, beautifully hand-crafted.

The photo (top) was taken in Campos, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 6th, 2012. The time was 13:00:51. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of flickr.com and artesaniademenorca.

Thank you very much, and

muchas gracias.

What Are Gatzolles, Trinxets, Ganivets, Porquers And Talós?