Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Menorca Maxi 2015. The sailing beasts are back.


This second edition will have the Wally and the Maxi72 classes, both are IMA divisions –International Maxi Association- consolidating the event in the exclusive Super yachts regatta circuit of the Mediterranean, that includes the elite ports like Saint Tropez and Porto Cervo.

Eleven Wallys and five Maxi 72 participate in the regatta, and guarantee the high level of competition and breathtaking show that will take place on Menorca's waters.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Rock Samphire

A few days ago, Mr. Johnson, a British guest who can cook Paella better than many Valencian chefs, showed to me a plant that had collected on the coast. He knew it well.

On the cliffs by the sea, in places where the waves often splashing rocks during bad weather periods, it grows the Crithmum commonly known as Rock Samphire or Sea Fennel

The plant developes with a minimal need for land, between the cracks of rocks and their growth depends on ground conditions or moisture.  

It is well known in England and in the 17th century, Shakespeare referred to the dangerous practice of collecting rock samphire from cliffs. "Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!". In the 19th century, samphire was being shipped in casks of seawater from the Isle of Wight to markets in London at the end of May each year. Rock samphire used to be cried in London streets as "Crest Marine"

This pickle is very popular in Mallorca, for centuries, as a companion to traditional dishes (pa amb oli, trempo, soups ...) previously prepared in vinegar. Its collection was banned for a few years, but it is so abundant that now, its collection is currently allowed for family or personal use. 

The ideal season for its collection is in May, before it starts  flowering.

John Curtis British Entomology (1824-1840) Folio 174 Coreus scapha synonym of Enoplops scapha (the Sea-side Coreus).The plant is Crithmum maritimum (Rock Samphire)

Rock samphire has fleshy, divided aromatic leaves that Nicholas Culpeper described as having a "pleasant, hot and spicy taste". Althought it is not as popular as it is in Mallorca, here in Menorca it is lately getting fashionable to do so. 

There is no a universal formula forits preparation. The basic thing is to put the fennel in glass jars, after washing and cover completely with goos quality vinegar. But there are who claim that it has to be washed in seawater and brackish will make it more resistant to the passage of time and will give more firmness to the products. There are also some superstitions that say you have to add chickpeas in each boat, always in odd number (3, 5 or 7) so they do not corrupt and keep in perfect conditions.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What is said about Lord Nelson, and our sincere thanks to Mr. & Mrs. Lee.

May I start by thanking to Mr. A. & Mrs. C. Lee for their gift of a beautiful antique satirical cartoon engraving known as "Nelson and crocodiles" that today hungs on the Hotel walls. It is a magnificent piece and another copy of it is at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

SW Fores (publisher). The Gallant Nelson Bringing Home two Uncommon fierce French Crocodiles from the Nile as a Present to the King (October 1798) James Gillray.

This caricature was published in the wake of Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile (1798). Anti-war politicians Charles Fox and Richard Brinsley Sheridan are shown in the guise of crocodiles, a recurring theme emphasizing Nelson’s exotic victory. Muzzled and in chains, they are led by the pro-war Nelson to George III and cry crocodile tears which fall on deaf ears.

 Horatio Nelson by Lemuel "Francis" Abbott

But was Nelson ever in Menorca? Is it any truth to the legend of his stay in the Golde Farm with Lady Hamilton? 

Nelson did visit Minorca in 1799 for the purpose of convincing Minorca's military governor, General James Erskine,  to give him troops for the siege of Malta.  Nelson’s diary indicates that he arrived in Mahon on October 12 of that year.  It’s also clear that Lord and Lady Hamilton stayed behind in Naples. There’s correspondence between Nelson and Ambassador Hamilton where Hamilton reports on his wife’s health and passes on her greetings to Nelson. Nelson’s diary confirms that, except for a visit to General Erskine and the Naval Yard, he did not leave his flagship.  As one historian concludes, the documentary evidence shows the story about Nelson and Lady Hamilton enjoying a romantic sojourn in Minorca to be “a fairy tale.”   Still, it’s a good story.

The photo above is of “Golden Farm” or San Antonio, a beautiful building high on the northern slope of Port Mahon Harbor. Some reports say that Nelson stayed here while visiting Minorca in HMS Foudroyant.  Menorca tourist guides and and the occasional publication will also refer to it as Nelson and Lady Hamilton’s “love nest.”  The fog of legend once again clouds the immortal memory.

Friday, May 8, 2015


Torralba is a countryside region South of Alayor, that has been dwelling since prehistoric times. There are scattered groups of cottages  and megalithic remains in the area.

Torralba de Sa Sorda and its traditionally whitewashed walls.

Farm houses in Menorca stand out often for the bright white of the plaster of their walls. That is due to the lime, a white caustic alkaline substance consisting of calcium oxide, obtained by heating limestone. It is unexpensive and easy to apply.

In some parts of the island there are still standing some decrepit and obsolete buildings that once were used as lime kilns. Some are over 500 years old.

Talayot at the prehistoric settlement in Torralba d'en Salord.