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

Irreparabile Tempus

Time is relative. As Wikipedia puts it, time is used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects. In addition, the temporal position of events with respect to the transitory present is continually changing.

In the old days, let’s say, 188 years ago, in 1824, people here in Mallorca could on the whole not read nor write. Education was a privilege of the upper class then, of land owners and the landed gentry. Likewise with time keeping. Only the church and nobility needed to know what hour of the day it was at any given moment. The common man in the street would structure his year by the saints; today, July 14th, for instance, would be the day of Sant Camilo (Saint Camillus de Lellis). The hours of the day, as far as the farmer was concerned, would be governed by the position of the sun; daybreak would mean that animals wanted to be fed. Other than that, it was important to know when it was time for church mass; but for that one could rely on the church bells to be rung.

I can’t tell you more about the origin of sundials here in Mallorca except to say that they always counted the hours from sunrise to sunset, from dawn to dusk. Nighttime was for sleeping.

Irreparabile tempus. Time can not be recovered.

The photo was taken in Manacor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 13th, 2012. The time was 17:31:43

Irreparabile Tempus

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

Pla i Llevant Delights

Pla i Llevant is a relatively recent wine region denomination, or, as it is called here in Mallorca, Denominació d’Origen. The denomination covers the region to the East of the island, incorporating Manacor, Felanitx, Porreres, Petra, Algaïda, Muro and Capdepera. There are 12 recognised Bodegas under the Pla i Llevant Denominació d’Origen umbrella, but I know of at least another nine Bodegas that produce wine in this Llevant region that are not acknowledged by the Consell Regulator (the industry regulatory body), four of which are in Felanitx (ANegre and 4 Kilos being the two best known ones).

For the last two nights I have had the pleasure of being able to attend a Cata de Vins, a wine tasting gathering the Associació de Veinats de Son Valls had organised for the benefit of three dozen people from the region of Felanitx, yours truly being one of them. On Monday, we were given six white wines to try, including one with an interesting Macabeu grape. Last night, we tried four rosé wines plus three young red wines. Tonight, there will be an evening of ten more mature red wines, including one with the local Callet grape from three distinct vintage years, 2007, 2010 and 2011. I am looking forward to tonight’s offerings.

What can I tell you about this fascinating and compelling, albeit challenging exercise? For one, I like Mallorcan wines. I am not a great friend of white wines but, there were two Vins Blancs that I thought interesting, both from the Bodega Vins Miquel Gelabert in Manacor, one a blend of Macabeu and Premsal Blanc grapes (Vinya Son Caules Blanc 2010) and the other a mono-varietal Chardonnay (Chardonnay Roure 2010). Very good, if not excellent.

I don’t fancy rosé wines, much to the consternation of some of our friends. I can’t help it. I simply believe that rosé wines suffer from a fashionability and voguishness that I don’t seem to be able to get into. It’s a bit like the expression to chill out. I never chill out; I am quite happy to let all the chill-out people have all the rosé wine there is. Mind you, there was an exception last night, and I must tell you about it (there is always an exception to the rule, isn’t there?). Anyway, the wine I was surprised to like even though it was of a pale rosé colour is called Flor de Cerezo 2011 – Viña Querel. If ever you have a chance to try this surprisingly rich and subtly fragrant concoction of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, you must. They serve it at the Vall d’Or Golf Club, where they sell it at 19.50 € per bottle. The wine is elaborated and bottled under commission by Armero i Adrover in Felanitx.

My passion, however, is for Mallorcan Vins Negres (Vinos Tintos, red wines). Tonight will be the night, and if I survive this tour-de-force, I might tell you all about it unless you get bored with all this wine talk.

If you want to try wines from the Pla i Llevant region for yourself, there will be an opportunity this Friday night in Manacor. The town is currently celebrating its Fires i Festes de Primavera. Friday, June 1st, 20h30, at the Claustre de Sant Vicenç Ferrer, a Tast de Vins Pla i Llevant will be held under the motto Connegum els Nostre Vins. Admission charge will be 10 €. Participating Bodegas will be Toni Gelabert, Miquel Gelabert, Pere Seda, Armero i Adrover, Miquel Oliver, Jaume Mesquida, Butxet, Can Majoral, Vi d’Auba, Bordoy, Galmés i Ferrer, Cas Beato, Es Fangar and Son Artigues. I might see you there.

The photos were taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 29th, 2012. The time was 22:13:08 and 21:22:56, respectively.

Pla i Llevant Delights

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?