il Giardino, Pollença, Mallorca

From April 2012

One of my favourite places in the world is Mallorca, a small island off the East coast of Spain. I have been to Mallorca every year for the last 20 years. Eeeshk! That makes me sound rather old! I especially love the North of the island, in particular Puerto Pollença and the old town of Pollença. My family have had a place there for the last 15 years and when I go there, its like going home. I absolutely love it.

As much as I love it in the summer when its nice and hot, I actually prefer it when it’s a bit quieter and there aren’t as many tourists. Easter is one of my favourite times to go there. The Spanish are really into their religious traditions and its lovely to see the community gathering together to watch the Easter processions.

The old town of Pollença is beautiful. It was founded by the Catalans in the 13th century and most of the houses were built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Extremely narrow streets populate this town and most lead to the central square, Plaça Major, which has numerous outdoor cafés and restaurants and a wonderful food market every Sunday.

The square is dominated by a large 13th century church Esglèsia de Nostra Senyora dels Àngels (Our Lady of the Angels) which was built by the Knights Templar.

One of my favourite restaurants, il Giuardino, is situated in this square and I go to it every time I’m there.

There is nothing better than sitting outside with the warmth of the sun on your face, eating their wonderful food and drinking their fabulous wine whilst listening to the general chatter of the locals and the sound of children laughing and playing. Then watching as the amber sun sets over the church and darkness falls as the fairy lights scatter the square.

I must admit, I order the same meal every time I eat here…their Ravioli ai porcini con salsa porcini…Wild mushroom ravioli in a cream and wild mushroom sauce.

This is the most wonderful dish. The pasta is light, the mushrooms are strong and woody, the sauce is rich and creamy. The last few times I’ve eaten here, I’ve promised myself that I’ll branch out and order something else but each time the waiter asks me what I’d like, “Wild mushroom ravioli please” inevitably trips off my tongue. I can’t help it! Funnily enough, my brother Chris said the same thing just this morning. He clearly can’t help it either! And so, this Easter weekend, I fell into the same pattern, but I never regret it. It really is my favourite dish.

Luckily, I was with my parents who ordered something different so I was able to taste other dishes from the menu. I was so glad as their dishes were just as delicious. My particular favourite was the risotto my mum ordered. It was Risotto ai carciofi e gamberoni…Artichoke and prawn risotto.

il giardino

This was incredible. I’m not normally a risotto fan, I usually find it too heavy and a bit boring if I’m honest but this was delicious. It was light as air and so tasty. There were large tiger king prawns and artichokes throughout. I hate when you order a risotto and you’re presented with a bowl of creamy stodgy rice and only a few of the ingredients it promises. This was different. My fork inevitably kept travelling over to my mum’s plate as she kept trying to clatter it away! I managed to get a few mouthfuls though.

My dad ordered the Filleto di Maiale alle mele….Pork fillet with caramelised apple and apple sauce.

This was also delicious. The pork was incredibly succulent and juicy while the sweetness of the caramelised apples and the apple sauce complimented it beautifully.

This was all washed down by their house wine which was excellent. We could have stayed there all night except it was Good Friday and Good Friday is the setting for the most dramatic parade of the year. First, on the road winding up the back of the hill, there is an enactment of the Stations of the Cross. This is followed by a mock crucifixion on top of the hill after which the figure of Christ is ceremonially removed from the Cross. There is a sombre, torchlit parading of the body of Christ through the town it is led by hundreds people in cloaks, masks and pointed hats and done in total silence save for the slow beating of a drum.

If you are ever planning a trip to Mallorca, I highly recommend going for Easter as its quite a spectacle. And if you’re ever in Pollença, please head to il Giardino for a meal. You won’t regret it.

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